Ah, getting back to things – I didn´t stop drawing, life just got so busy there for a while that I didn´t find time to scan and write in peace and quiet. Which means I have some catching up to do here!

I went drawing with Charlotte some weeks ago, at Beckholmen here in Stockholm. Beckholmen (which roughly translated means ‘Pitch islet’) is one of those odd places in this town that I really love. It´s a tiny islet in the central city, just off Djurgården – near the stream of visitors to Gröna Lund´s amusement park and Skansen outdoor museum, but with quite a different atmosphere.

Some hundred years ago, this was a place for boiling pitch – hence the name. The little island was perfect for this inflammable business, just distant enough from the rest of the city. Since the mid 19th century, the islet is a shipyard, with three dry docks that are still in use. It is also part of the Royal National City Park, which is kind of an odd combination.


You never get the feeling of heavy industry here, even though quite a few ships dock here for maintenance. The buildings are old, some from the 17th century, and you reach the islet via a narrow wooden bridge. The bridge alone is enough to make me happy – no traffic jams here, the island is too small and the bridge too fragile for that.

Unfortunately for our drawing session, a large part of Beckholmen is fenced in right now. The city is clearing out toxins in the soil. I guess a few hundred years of pitch, tar and naval industry didn´t pass without leaving marks…

Top drawing: 17 x 17,5 cm, bottom drawing: 21 x 17,5 cm. Both: Namiki-Falcon with Platinum Carbon ink and watercolours on Arches Satinée 300 g watercolour paper.

13 Responses to “Beckholmen”

  1. Rob Weaver says:

    Lovely stuff, as usual, Nina. I’ve been to Sweden several times but you keep surprising me!

    I’ve just taken up line and wash and would be interested to know if you do a pencil draft first or just dive straight in with the pen?

    • Hi Rob, thanks a lot! And nice to hear that you´ve been here!
      I almost never make pencil drafts first when I´m out sketching on location, I find it takes too much time, and I get too fuzzy about getting things right. These drawings are pure pen love. : )

  2. These are yummy, Nina! LOVE…

  3. Michael says:

    Nice to see you back posting. For such a prolific sketcher as you, I was wondering whether something nasty happened.

    Both compositions are lovely. The shadowing in the top one is very effective. In the bottom one, it seems that you’ve accomplished a lot with relatively few lines or objects. I’m also impressed by your penmanship … or penwomanship! I suspect that you must have done the lettering back at home and not en pleine air.

    I’m looking forward to the rest of your sketches since late September!

    • Thanks, Michael! No worries, nothing bad happened. A few weeks of more work and social life than usual is all it takes for me to fall behind on scanning and posting. : )
      I did the lettering on the bottom drawing at home, when I had found the facts! I didn´t know about the pitch boiling part of Beckholmen´s history (although it´s in the name of the place), and thought it was interesting enough to write down. The two pages are on the same spread, so from the beginning I thought I´d just do the title on the top drawing for the whole spread.

  4. Timaree says:

    Lovely drawings. I enjoyed the historic tale about the area also.

  5. Maryo says:

    Crisp and colorful! I’m never disappointed when I visit your blog!

  6. lyn says:

    Nice work! Always love a peek at your part of the world!

  7. Zoe says:

    A wonderful, colourful spread that made me smile. Thanks, Nina.

  8. Rob Weaver says:

    Thanks, Nina – I will take my courage in both hands (well, a pen in one) and go for it.

  9. Steve Kobb says:

    Nina — I’m curious…

    When you are laying out a new drawing, do you first decide what the top and bottom of the picture will be? And, by the same token, what the left and right edges will be?

    Or, alternatively, do you just start in one corner and keep drawing until you run out of paper?

    In any event, I want to thank you for posting your beautiful work. You are an inspiration.

    Steve Kobb
    Houston, Texas

    • Thanks a lot, Steve! I am sorry I didn´t answer this sooner, I have been super busy doing something that I will soon post about, so haven´t been keeping the usual eye on my blog comments…
      To answer your question – I´m more the type who starts in one corner and just goes on until the paper runs out. And then I discover I should have started somewhere else, or drawn the main subject a little smaller, or planned the page a little differently… But it´s so fun to just dive in! :)

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