Saturday, November 7, 2015

Heading towards Centraal Station on Warmoestraat brings you to Niewebrugsteeg. Coffeeshop Funny People could be found down this small alley. I say could, because it has moved. It had been functioning as a smoker friendly café for a while. A new Facebook page alerted me to its rise from the ashes. It is functioning again but in a different location in Amsterdam Noord.  If you want to catch them at their new location look them up on Facebook.

This watercolor scene was created using Japanese brushes with a faster technique. The low yet powerful Dutch sunlight creeping around corners of Amsterdam creates a unique effect. The result is simultaneous value conditions of rich colors and bleached out highlights. This special lighting has made its presence known in Dutch art for centuries.

In the background you can see a sign for the Hotel International and another for the eatery "Kam Yin" both on Warmoestraat. During long sketching sessions in Amsterdam, Kam Yin was the place to step in and have your hunger dealt with. They offer a quick hot meal with no fuss. During times of discouraging rain or just as a rest stop, the bar at the Hotel International became a comfortable place to grab some pints and a laugh or two!

Watercolor  (30cm x 40cm)

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Through heavy pulls on a large hookah, one reclining customer has found out that a relaxing day in Amsterdam may have your mind drifting to the Far East. It may be surprising to find out that our friend is actually not in a coffeeshop!

Although the Lost in Amsterdam Lounge is not a coffeeshop, customers are allowed to smoke there. It is referred to as a "smoking bar". These places became prominent after a July 2007 law in the Netherlands which separated alcohol sales from soft drugs sales in a given location. Many times the smoking bar arose from a coffeeshop which served alcohol and decided to retain its alcohol license and give up its ability to sell soft drugs - as with the case with the Café Nes. On the other hand, Café Wildstyle chose to do the opposite and has since turned into Rick's Coffeeshop, while Rick's café next door retained only its liquor license.

If there is any doubt in your mind as to whether or not it is permissible to smoke a joint in a given location, there are usually helpful signs: language such as "smokers welcome" on a sign out front, or a graphic of a mascot smoking a spliff while holding a martini make for understandable tip offs.

Depending on your interest it may be enjoyable to have a drink with your smoke, and as always, Amsterdam aims to please!

Watercolor  (26 x 32 cm)

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Many thanks to the artist who created this African inspired wall frieze in the Rokerij coffeeshop! It became the perfect backdrop for a group of friends taking a break in Amsterdam. This scene unfolded at the Rokerij coffeeshop nearest Amsterdam's Centraal Station. Captured first in ink, this watercolor attempts to capture the colorful, casual nature of friends meeting and preparing to smoke together.

Seated on coiled bales of rope, the group is engaged in the process of preparing a joint. For Europeans this means breaking up the marijuana or hashish, rolling a filter tip and breaking open a cigarette.

The introduction of tobacco in the joint allows for a proper burn, and is a method for regulating the strength of the joint. When increasing the ratio of tobacco to hash in a joint, for example, the joint becomes less strong. By contrast the American method is usually to roll a "pure"joint consisting of marijuana alone. This is all academic to man's best friend laying in the foreground. Having trotted through Amsterdam he is more than happy to take a well deserved nap!

Watercolor ( 30cm x 40cm )

Monday, January 5, 2015

Here are a couple of views of the main room in the Rusland coffeeshop located just outside the "Old Center" in Amsterdam. The Rusland coffeeshop has been operating for forty years now - an amazing achievement. 

Reading an entry in the 1980 edition of the Mellow Pages, an early smoker's guide, the Rusland's menu showed a healthy choice of hash and grass for sale. Half of their options were still imported strains like Thai, African, and Indonesian-showing that the Dutch domestic hybrids had not yet taken over the market.The Dutch grown strains offered on their menu during this time reflected Holland's nascent indoor growing scene: Skunk, Orange bud, Big bud, Viking and Haze. These early strains became responsible for the reputation Amsterdam would enjoy as THE place to head for exotic high potency marijuana hybrids and helped put Holland on the map as a smoker's paradise.

Located just outside the Old City Center which houses Amsterdam's famous Red Light District the Rusland coffeeshop makes a nice break from the busy streets nearby. For many smokers in Amsterdam the Rusland was their first exposure to a marijuana and hashish selling establishment. Even Kip, the author of the Mellow pages can't resist hinting at the early origins of this coffeeshop- "I still maintain that the Rusland is one of, if not the first hash coffeesop in town".

Their signature has always been a large assortment of hot teas and of course a fine selection of smoke on both sides of the menu! The Rusland coffeeshop's slogan is "Invade Russia for a change" and where better to do that than in Amsterdam!

( Watercolor 30cm x 45cm )

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Many years before Wifi and smart phones made internet access commonplace, De Mazzelaar coffeeshop in Den Haag, made it easy to have a smoke and go online. 

Large windows and a creative mosaic interior help keep a good atmosphere in De Mazzelaar even when it is dreary and rainy outside. Many thousands of ceramic shards surround you and frame the spiritual murals and Buddhist sculptures peppered throughout the space.There are added highlights on this creative décor when there is sunlight outside. 

While sketching here one afternoon, the continuous ebb and flow of local customers kept up a pleasant measure of activity. Some settled in for a toke and a cup of coffee while others browsed online or read the paper. 

Like many local places, the emphasis on the menu is to carry a consistent offering of weed and hash and in this regard De Mazzelaar performs well. There are usually a couple of types of Moroccan hashish and a few high powered weed selections available. In addition there is usually a special weed deal being advertised. 

Resident customers will note that this is a vintage view of De Mazzelaar, before a renovation which re-positioned the front entrance and added a separate smoking area.

Google translates De Mazzelaar as "the lucky guy", and if you are fortunate enough to have a smoke at this coffeeshop you can consider yourself a "lucky guy". However another translation site suggests "lucky bastard" and in this case that sounds just about right! 

(Watercolor 75 cm x 100 cm)

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Welcome to Cremers! A Coffeeshop and Grand Café in Den Haag.

This painting depicts Cremers during the years just after the turn of the millenium. The woody interior is stuffed with familiar faces and of course its stoic cigar store indian.

The large table hosts a group of friends engaged in a role playing effort enjoying drinks and smoke. Several regulars are bellied up to the bar while a Cremers' cutie takes a long pull from a well rolled spliff in the foreground.

Cremers is a long lived institution in Den Haag for those who love a good smoke while having a drink. Its large comfortable interior routinely hosts specialty events including their themed movie nights and a popular (legendary) happy hour on Fridays.

When trying to capture a scene like this any artist must accept falling short, yet after all,  I feel there is enough here to trigger a smile.

(Watercolor 50cm x 65cm) 

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Has this couple found their Octopus's garden? The green glazed walls and unique lighting have come into full effect during the late afternoon at the Greenhouse coffeeshop in Amsterdam. It gives the impression that one might be in Ringo's hide away beneath the waves. 

Located in the heart of Amsterdam's center the Greenhouse has upheld its reputation as one of the most famous and well stocked coffeeshops in the city. Although busy at times, customers routinely offer praise for the smoke and seeds available at their locations.

While this couple has their own discussion taking place, I have saved a seat for you in the picture. Would you ask your friends, if they'd like to see, an octopus's garden –with me.

(oil on canvas 25cm x 35cm)

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Amsterdam isn't the only city in the Netherlands with coffeeshops. This painting represents the Midnight Express coffeeshop, when it occupied a sun lit corner in the Dutch city of Den Haag (the Hague). Even during its operation it had a nostalgic look. The weathered exterior and faded coloration made suitable companions for the already old, red colored "Heineken bier" sign above the entrance.

 The name "Midnight Express" is burned into the consciousness of anyone who remembers the eponymous 1978 movie. The film essentially highlighted the perils of hashish smuggling. The notoriety achieved by this movie did more to prevent thoughts of drug smuggling than any government campaign could ever hope to. Still, if there was any question about the activities within this coffeeshop, the owner's choice of the name "Midnight Express" seemed to be saying "leave the smuggling to us!".  Inside the establishment the hash menu was typical of many local coffeeshops – limited but consistent.

In a scene from its heyday, a bicycle leans on a pole waiting for its owner, presumably inside, while near horizontal sunlight creates late afternoon shadows across the blanched pavement. A lone figure walks past the coffeeshop momentarily glancing at the colorful shop window. And just as the the yellow train logo implies – the Midnight Express stops here to board passengers, but that was a long time ago.

(oil on canvas 40cm x 80cm)

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

R.I.P....the Rokerij Coffeeshops

The four locations of the Rokerij coffeeshops in Amsterdam known for their exotic décor and trippy music are closed.

 For many cannabis tourists a trip to Amsterdam became synonymous with a smoking session at the main Rokerij location off the Leidseplein. Review sites and discussion forums are still alive with comments on the exotic experience of smoking there.

During its operation, the main Rokerij was a place to have a beer and a smoke, and to relax in a unique environment. Customers would smoke in an incense thick atmosphere as the trippy music floated around the room. Large painted wall reliefs and ornate Far Eastern sculptures became food for the eye as the joints took their effect. The large candle lit room with its slow moving fans became the perfect place to drink, smoke and melt into the vibe.

Leaving a legacy of having some of the most exotic interior designs, and offering the experience of toking in another world, the Rokerij coffeeshops became for many the definition of an Amsterdam are already missed!

(oil on canvas 25cm x 35 cm)

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Coffeeshop GOA, alongside the canal on Kloveniersburgwal in the heart of Amsterdam. Customers may choose a marijuana or hashish selection from the menu, sit, relax, roll-up and smoke.

In Amsterdam, coffeeshops play the role of retailing marijuana and hashish (soft drugs) to the public, in addition to serving coffee, tea, and light snacks. An Amsterdam coffeeshop can be a lounge, a multi-story billiard parlor, a chic salon, or an unassuming store front. Some have fantastic interior schemes based on Asian, African or Middle Eastern motifs. It is both the variety of style coupled with their common function which creates their mystique.

During sketch sessions in the coffeeshops a compelling artistic endeavor presented itself to me: to create an enthusiastic rendering of Amsterdam's coffeeshops, whose fame as purveyors of hashish and marijuana are the stuff of contemporary legend.

(pastel with underpainting  35 x 25 cm)


Thursday, August 25, 2011

Here at the end of Zeedijk is the Jolly Joker coffeeshop. The playful name reminds me of a fictitious pub named "the Inebriated Gremlin" from an episode of the Avengers, in both cases the names may reflect what is to become of their customers.

The Jolly Joker has maintained a good reputation as a cozy place with a modest assortment of hashish and weed for sale at reasonable prices. They have a good location overlooking the Nieuwe markt (a large market area) and the 15th century Waag: a castle-like building which functioned as a gate house and weigh station through past centuries.

Around the immediate area you will find China town, Nieuwe markt and the famous Red Light District. There has been a recent make over in much of this area as it heads toward Centraal Station. The streets along the canals are in good shape, with a lot more pedestrian traffic heading to the bars and shops along Zeedijk. The new feel makes the whole area worth poking around.

Large windows all around the Jolly Joker capture the daylight, and on days where the hanging moisture is struck by sunlight the Jolly Joker glows.

(oil on canvas 25cm x 35 cm)

Thursday, May 26, 2011

The Wild Style Café in Amsterdam as it once was before the ruling in 2007 which forced Café/Coffeeshops to choose either sales of soft drugs ( marijuana and hashish) or alcohol. Notice our pictured partyers smoking, rolling and drinking beer. It's not that this practice has gone away in Amsterdam, it's the way it takes place that has changed. The Wild Style Café is now Rick's Coffeeshop, adopting the role of coffeeshop only while partnering with Rick's Café next door which functions as a full bar.

The day started at the Tig Barra for breakfast and a Guinness. Roaming around town it became obvious that there were changes taking place at some of the coffeeshops. The deadline of being a bar or a coffeeshop had arrived. In the case of Rick's Café and the Wild Style Café, I sat and watched a workman as he finished hanging a sign which read 'Rick's Coffeeshop'. While ordering some "Moroccan cream" from the budtender, we had a brief conversation about the new protocol of smoking and drinking at the two places. I found out it is alright to smoke a joint at Rick's with a beer including their terrace along the canal but alcohol was off limits at the coffeeshop and its terrace. The trade off didn't seem so bad after all. "The 'Moroccan Cream' is just crumbles, how about 'Super Polm'? asked the guy after inspecting the small tupperware boxes of hash. "Sure" I replied. -AW Journal Entry 2007

This painting is based on an earlier posted sketch of the same subject. The changing nature of coffeeshops in the face of new rules and restrictions will continue to bring new scenes forward and make those with seemingly subtle differences appear nostalgic.

(oil on canvas 25cm x 35 cm)

Monday, February 7, 2011

Another aspect to the party scene in Amsterdam which does not require smoking or drinking is eating! The site of the former Chocolata coffeeshop is now an Abraxas location. To those frequenting Amsterdam before the change, Chocolata was renowned for its cannabis edibles: chocolate bon-bons, cakes and muffins.

Thankfully the Abraxas coffeeshop has continued the tradition. In addition to a make-over in its inimitable Abraxas style, "space" cakes and other edibles have stayed a tradition with the location. Just in case you need reminding about the potency of the cakes, or are unaware that "space" preceding anything in Amsterdam means you are going to get high, edible hash and weed products from Abraxas have a warning label:


Always start with a small piece!
Wait for the effect (45 -90 min) So you don’t take too much

Commence par predre un petit morceau!
Attend pour l’effet (45-90 min) Avant prendre trop

Cominiciare un pezzo piccolo
Aspetta di effeto (45-90) prima mangiare troppo

We opted for a brownie and a blueberry muffin. The staff informed us that the brownie was made with a half gram of hash, the muffin contained a half gram of weed . It turns out the place was still under a bit of construction and the old “Chocolata” sign was tucked away in a corner. I was tempted to make the staff an offer for the old sign, out of nostalgia. Perhaps I will run into it in the Hash and Marijuana Museum, for my sake it belongs there as a tribute. We split the cakes, each taking a half, and saving the remaining halves for later, it took real effort not to quickly eat the delicious snacks all at once. (one more aspect to be careful with when judging the dose of space cakes and brownies)    -Andy Journal entry

(oil on canvas 25cm x 35cm)

Monday, April 12, 2010

Three friends enjoy a relaxing afternoon inside while the city outside is buzzing on such a beautiful day. They sit in the famous GreenHouse coffeeshop known for it's exotic interior and award winning strains of marijuana. These three have found their spot and their smoke, a study of their body language lets you know they are in no rush to change their situation. Amsterdam has its own way of keeping you on the go, so it is especially nice to settle into a well needed break. After any vacation there will be special moments to consider, for this trio it may well be "that afternoon at the GreenHouse".

(oil on canvas 25cm x 35cm)

Monday, February 8, 2010

Part of the Amsterdam experience is wandering around the neighborhoods and seeing what will be around the next corner. Coffeeshops here are as varied as the neighborhoods and the people which they serve. Many times it is a great surprise to find that a small neighborhood shop is just the ticket to a well spent afternoon of taking it easy. A customer chose to park his bike on this particularly bright hazy day and spend some time in his local coffeeshop, aptly named "Relax".

(oil on canvas 18 x 24 cm)

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Get off the street - out of the rain - out of the night. The coloration of this painting is a warm invitation to come inside. The weather can get pretty dreary here in the Netherlands. Gray rainy days come in long stretches, it's nice to find an inviting interior, to enter and relax. Inside a customer will experience the vibes of the visitors and staff, the music and decor, and the effects of their chosen smoke. This particular Rokerij coffeeshop is located in the "Jordaan" area of Amsterdam.

(oil on canvas 18 x 24 cm)

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Young couples set against a colorful wall mural smoke their joints and watch all types of people pass by. Here is the world famous Bulldog coffeeshop, now an institution in Amsterdam. Say what you will about large commercial coffeeshop enterprises, but keep in mind their notoriety has not been achieved easily. Efforts by early marijuana pioneers including those of the Bulldog paved the way for the coffeeshop scene as it exists today. This particular Bulldog coffeeshop is located in the heart of the "Red Light District" along a scenic canal, which affords its customers a view not only of the activities along the street but on the water as well.

Nothing is better than going out to have a great time in Amsterdam and where it happens after all may surprise you. -aw

(pastel with under painting 50 x 65 cm)

Thursday, September 25, 2008

The sun lights up and casts into shadow the elements of this Amsterdam street scene. A lone customer sits smoking outside of the small walk down entrance of Coffeeshop Little. The visual predicament of the shop is a metaphor for the real changes affecting the soft drug scene in Amsterdam. Will there continue to be room for the social institutions called  "Coffeeshops" in Amsterdam's future?  

(pastel with under painting 50 x 65 cm)

Thursday, September 18, 2008

An afternoon at the Hill St. Blues coffeeshop. A young group of friends begin to plan their day in the lounge area overlooking a canal. Sunlight and reflected sunlight hit the floor and the ceiling giving the smoky room a soft glow. An impression of the place continues through a journal entry.

...I just finished a long sketch at the Hill St. Blues, the place was big with a large downstairs room, couches casually strewn around , the walls painted black with graffiti and stickers, very CBGB looking. I spoke with a couple of French guys and an older Moroccan man who was talking with a friend. The old timer was on his way out when he dropped his hash on the floor "Meneer" I called after him and handed him the stiff little bag with the dark chunk in it. A smile as he said "Thank you".
Amongst the steady stream of folks a woman in a wheelchair caught my eye. I have seen quite a few disabled people on my recent jaunts to the shops, more than I think I have seen the past few years, also Medi-wiet is on more

(pastel with under painting  50 x 65 cm)

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Here is a pastel of two young travelers enjoying the lounge atmosphere and hookah at the "Lost in Amsterdam" lounge cafe. This is a 'smoking bar' meaning an establishment which has a full bar and also allows cannabis smokers to light up. This has become a popular formula since the introduction of regulations which resulted in the separation of alcohol sales and softdrug sales within the same premises.

(pastel with underpainting 15 x 20 cm)