Saturday, May 30, 2015


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Except for the old fashioned dictionary, yes it's a regular page turner to me!, I also use several websites to translate words. Best thing of these sites is they're not only useful to translate, they also provide additional information. If you're not a native speaker, like me, you will also need some websites to find synonyms. After all, if you didn't grow up in a country it's hard to understand the 'slang of the street'. 

For instance, when I first heard the song "Hip to be square", by Huey Lewis and the News, I didn't have a clue what the expression meant. 

One of the most helpful sites I have found is wordhippo. Unfortunately, when I looked for the meaning of the word 'square', I ended up with over 48 meanings. So sometime I need to use another source. Curious what the song is about? It's perfectly explained on Wikipedia. Or just listen to the song. After all that's what music is all about.
Oh, and 'square' of course also means four-sided or right-angled. Like the Sand Tile pictured above...

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Ex Index

There was a time I was student at the P.A. Tiele Academie (The Hague) to become a librarian. Didn't work out that way. However I still benefit the lessons about classification. I have witnessed the transfer from old style Librabry Index Cards to full digital systems. Yep, those were the days. Pulling drawers filled with numerous index cards. Some of them still handwritten. Would 'The Raven' be indexed as 'The' or as 'Raven'? Or should you have a look at 'Edgar', 'Allen' or 'Poe'? 

DDC vs UDC. Dewey's Decimal Classification versus the Universal Decimal Classification. Lessons about information storage and retrieval. I have strolled the catalogue of index cards of the former Library at the Museum of Natural History in Leiden many times. By hand. Running my fingers along the thousands of index cards. Searching for new data on some of my favorite fish. Making xerograph copies using one of those huge copiers. I travelled by bike from Delft to Leiden. Everyone who has been at the old museum, will never forget the way it smelled. The strange scent of books and formalin. It will not become succesfull in any perfume shop...

Nowadays the cataloge of the library is available online. Part of Naturalis Biodiversity Center. No doubt Google will be of help too. 
I have started to make Index Reference Cards on my books. Including additional information like a list of characters, my inspiration and more. These are now used as basic datasheet in my blogs about my books, Flash Fiction and Short Stories. 

Some of my visits have led to articles in hobby magazines, for instance on the genus Megalamphodus. Pretty characids and popular aquarium fish which are now (re)considered members of the genus Hyphessobrycon
This article includes some of my first fish drawings published in an official magazine. I noticed I still used my initials (EM) instead of my present signature in those days. And, now that I come to think of it, some of my first photos of fish. I used color slides in those days. (Oh boy! Another piece of history...).
Megalamphodus rogoaguae, additional lines, to indicate outline of fins, 
from M. sweglesi. (Drawing published in Meinema, 1988) 

Saturday, May 16, 2015


Holland is well known for its cultivated tulips. The flower has become a national symbol used by the Tourist Office and many other organisations. But, just like other European countries, The Netherlands also has a species of tulip 'living in the wild'. 

These small tulips, known as Tulipa sylvestris, orginally grew in Italy. Around 1600 the flowers were imported from Bologna, Italy, to the northern European countries where they were planted in gardens and parks. They didn't stay there...The little bulbs with yellow flowers have spread themselves in many habitats, and have become part of the endemic nature. Thanks to the trade in tulipbulbs the Dutch are still leading the trade in these flowerbulbs. Mind you, this trade has lead to the first economic crisis in Holland in 1637, known as Tulipmania. The price of a single tulipbulb had raised to Hfl. 10,000, enough to buy yourself a house along the canals of Amsterdam (in those days, that is...). Alas, the market collapsed, leading many people to despair and even bankrupcy. Moralistic Dutch painters have since then used this Tulipmania as inspiration, warning people not to become greedy, like the monkeys in Jan Breughel's painting, a great persiflage. I guess even the Dutch are only human...

Anyway, those days are far behind us. Trading tulips is still profitable. Painting them as well. I made this funny image, used in my Skredch-blog, which is now available in a limited edition of 30 ID's (original, handmade copies), Acrylics on paper. I made a combination of the tulip and my Dutch Quixote Skredch-character upon genuine Dutch wooden shoes (see picture on top of this blog). Just for fun, but also to please my granddaughter.
Also available: Mugs, Tees and more fun stuff including the image pictured hereunder. Click here to visit my pintshop.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Kiss Kiss

Few years ago I made a couple of surrealistic paintings. Little did I know, I would be able to use one of these paintings as inspiration for a book cover. I wanted the cover of ‘Erratic’ (the erratic life of Porsche Gibeon) to summarize the things women like best: make-up and shoes. Referring to the profession of the protagonist Porsche Gibeon, Tee-designer, the cover design also had to be usable as print on a T-shirt.

Reducing stories into one image is something I use in my Skredch-blog. Events of daily life are reduced into drawings, or pictographs, based on one or only a few basic lines. A style resembling comics or cartoons, which I think is not appropriate for this ‘edgy romance’ novel. I had to think of something new.

Finishing the first book on Porsche Gibeon, I remembered my surreal artwork ‘Kissemee’: a woman symbolized by lips. (The picture on the left is published in our catalogue for the Holland Art Fair, The Hague, 2005). Using this remarkable image as basis, I have created the character pictured above, which only consists of shoes and lips. A perfect summary, realistic, reproducible upon Tees and providing possibilities to create similar images for future books in this series.

Kiss Kiss, is a collection of short stories by Roald Dahl, master of the ‘Tales of the Unexpected’. As admirer of this great author, I have used surprising twists as an important element of Porsche’s story. 
My surrealistic painting as published on the cover of our catalogue for the
Holland Art Fair 2005 (The Hague, The Netherlands)