Thursday, December 12, 2013

Red snow in december

Recently, I read a book that made a real big impression on me. It's called 'Rode sneeuw in december' (red snow in december), written by Simone v/d Vlugt.
It's historic novel and takes place in the 16th century. The story is about a family and a period in history that's known as 'the eighty-year war' in the Netherlands  from 1568-1648.  The Netherlands were in war with Spain, and a lot of it had to do with religion: katholicism vs freedom of religion.

I always like to read stories that take place in past times. I learned a lot from this one, because I didn't remember a lot from history-class in school about this period in history. One day the Spanish invade a small city of 800 people called Naarden. Only 60 citizens of Naarden survive this invasion, almost every person in the city was killed at that time by the Spanish. The family in the story lives in Naarden at that time….The writer sketched a very vivid image about what happened in Naarden and wrote a beautiful book. Horrible things happening but hope still floats.

I just had to make a few drawings about this story.

The father in the family was a doctor and wrote and read a lot about herbs ('kruiden' in dutch).

The day the Spanish invaded Naarden, they destroyed the whole city and took peoples belongings like jewelry from the houses.

A passage from the book, translated from Dutch in English: 'She wipes away the snow from the stone-bench she used to sit on of years, in the sun. She did her sewing and talked with her parents and sisters while sitting on it. Cowered, motionless, Isabella warmed herself in the smouldering house. It didn't collapse but not much is left from it either but a smoking carcass of a place that had been a safe place for years. Vaguely, she realizes that the world as she knew it had disappeared, but for now she won't abide the size of this awareness. It's too big, too incomprehensible.'

I made these three drawings on a thicke, rough paper with gouache.


  1. Such a lovely post Esther and your illustrations are so beautiful. What a nice idea to make illustrations for a book that really touched you...

  2. I love love love your illustrations, especially the last one as it sketches the scenery so beautifully. This seems to be a strong passage out of the book and I like your use of colours: they contrast prettily with the white of the snow. It always touches me how the peacefulness of snow has the ability to cover the mess people make in this world in a certain way. On the other hand: the immense beauty of nature is extra confronting in a sad and poignant situation like this one. I hope the author will find out about your illustrations: this could be the birth of a new project, couldn't it? Also I like how you depicted the little fragments lying next to herb book: I love your choice for mixed media as it shows the mixed feelings very strongly ... Thank you for sharing, Esther!

  3. Gouache on thick paper suits you so well. I love these, all of them and I think you just have to make more.

  4. Congratulations, your drawings are fantastic! Feel free to use my horse shots if you wish. Glad you liked them..