Archive | 2008

Storm at the dump

10 December 2008

Today we had a full loaded truck with trash because of the renovation of our bought neighbour-house. There was a strong wind, so we had covered it with a tarp to prevent it to blow away.

The landfill is located in a valley between lush green hills overlooking the sea. A kind of premium location for millionaires resorts. You must park your car on the edge and throw your waste 10 meters below. There screeching seagulls are flying around and it stinks like hell. On the endless waves of debris a truck perpetually drives around to ‘mash’ the waste. One of those jobs you didn’t realize they exist.
The last hour the wind had picked up to hurricane strength. And of course we had to throw our trash in exactly the direction where the wind came from. Well, I assure you … that’s worse than peeing upwind!
It did not work out. The pieces of wood were heavy enough, but the rest flew back to your face with equal speed. The mattress, glided like a flying carpet above the road where we just came from.
That was not the worst … more heinous were the bloody sanitary towels (of strangers!) which flew around with 80 kilometers per hour. The loaded diapers and plastic bags with slimy rotten eggs were attacking you full in the face. I felt scraps of indefinable waste of other people’s garbage all over and in my clothes. Puke. Ooow, I almost needed to puke!
But we had no opportunity to wait until the wind would slow down, because the truck was of one of the builders and he wanted to go home after we returned, preferable without a truck full of our waste.

I almost wanted to tear off my clothes right on the spot.

I rarely have had a more satisfying shower as tonight.


Gains II

1 December 2008

Language-wise … I don’t know … that’s for another blog. But after 3 years living in New Zealand I certainly noticed that slowly I got used to be here.
To some people such things happens very quickly. They are already accustomed -no matter where they are- right after 1 day. Put them under the Eiffel Tower and 1 week later they are still sitting there; completely furnished and surrounded with countless friends.
To other people it takes centuries to get comfortable in their new lifes. Every morning they wake up frightened screaming: “NO !!! Where am I ?!” Only during dusk you can find them outside their houses, carefully sneaking through the streets, eyes down to the pavement, with timidly bended backs. And as soon as they think doom is impending, they flawlessly can imitate a tree.
Guess who. That ‘s me.

Years ago when we lived in the Netherlands, we guided an American guest through Amsterdam. He was observing us and suddenly he said: “You guys have a ‘certain confidenced walk’, like you own everything here.” Now I think he had a point. There indeed is a difference; If you fast forwarding a video of a tourist, you will see his head turning in all directions. He looks around constantly, slows his pace all the time.
I notice that the last few months I’ve gotten back my ‘normal’ walk. That big sign above my head “SORRY I’M WALKING IN YOUR GARDEN!” is now pretty much faded.
And my car driving is normalized. I’m beginning to know the map. The streets have become mine. Know: After 3 years! In a town of 20.000 people, hahaha.
Okay, the autochthons still grabbing their mouths by everything I do in public, but habituation is something else than integration. If a decent integration ever will happen, I can not promise.

My first time for money

16 October 2008

Around the millennium, I had access to an office in Amsterdam, which I used as an art studio. Near the studio was a bar. I tried to visit the bar as less as possible. About once a week, mostly on Friday when everybody celebrated the start of the weekend. This local bar was run by a couple and their adult son.

One afternoon I went to the son’s apartment. He would give me 250 euro in advance of the job … Because I had designed a mural for him.
Earlier that day I had unrolled my drawing on the counter of the bar to show him my idea. All the customers were watching and meddling in. After a few minutes discussing and approvingly murmeling, the son, the customers and I unitedly toasted on the acquired agreement.

The apartment of the son was a typical men’s house. There were only the much-needed pieces of furniture of the type chrome, glass and leather-look, along with a few wilting houseplants on floor of white high gloss tiles. This kind of cold and unattractive atmosphere apparently was aware by the son too, because the idea was that my mural would change that. If he could have lured a girl into his house in the near future, at least he had to offer a piece of conversation.
My first time for moneyI worked on the mural for 1 week. If he left his appartment in the morning to work in the bar, I came in a little later with his house key and stayed untill the end of the afternoon.
For a first time I was quite satisfied about the result. A true flag on a mud barge (Dutch saying). These days probably would do it in a different style, but hey … it was 16 years ago. And the son was happy.

Soon after this first mural commission, my auntie asked me to create a mural in her kitchen. It was a small one, but it counts as an art-project anyway.

My aunty asked me to create a mural in her kitchen. It was a small one, but it counts as an art-project anyway.

I’m a construction worker

28 September 2008

During spring of 2008 … many of my hours were spent on building a veggie garden. In New Zealand having a patch of edibles is quite common, but in the Netherlands I never have had one single thought about growing more than a pot of Marigolds. The result of the little veggie patch in our rental was overwhelming enough to get me thinking about a ‘serious’ veggie garden in our bought neighbour-house. I did it myself and I’m quite proud on it.

construction worker    Ten weeks later the place was enormously changed. Me and my friend Anna-Courgetta

TooHoT made it to stores worldwide

24 August 2008

The TooHoT is about to hit the shelves!
My award winning entry for the PAL design contest will be appearing in stores around the globe soon. Whoohoo!
Two years ago I won the second price in a contest to design a fun looking case for the PAL radio. Because I found the body of the radio was good looking already, I decided to design a kind of stand only. It became this melted looking bottom and I called it TooHot.
Here you can find the how it’s made (sorry for the Dutch captions).

The organisation was delighted. Recently they ask me permission to reproduce them and today I got the results in 5 colors. Don’t they look awesome? Next year the PAL design contest has a Finnish edition endorsed by their national design organization. They chose MY design as example image. Isn’t that cool? And hot?!

 The Finnish edition  toohot china04 Sounds Cool Looks Hot They've sent me THREE examples!

Plaster art

12 August 2008

1993 Bay of Gokova, Turkey

1993 Bay of Gokova, Turkey

The ‘art related’ stuff in this post is somewhat unusual.
In 1993 I took some lessons to learn to handle a paraglider. Soaring in the flat Netherlands was possible along the dunes, but it was more fun to do it in the higher mountains of La France or Turkey.
After a few years I got an accident (my paragliding Dad bumped on me, while I was watching him on the dunes) and I needed to wear a brace of plaster for 2 months. I wasn’t an artist if I didn’t get it decorated! In the famous Dutch Delft Blue pottery style. Fragile too.

1993 Aspres-sur-Buëch, La France

1993 Aspres-sur-Buëch, La France

After 12 years my sister in law discovered that the brace was still ‘exhibited’ on top of the closet in the plaster room of the hospital!

plaster art 1995 The nurse did his best to keep the brace intact when he was sawing it off (yes, that happened with a tiny saw). The gap was meant for easier breathing and allow some room for the stomach.
1995 The physician did his best to keep the brace intact when he was sawing it off (yes, that happened with quite an ordinary saw). The gap was meant for easier breathing and allow some room for the stomach.

Good customer

30 April 2008

For some reason I prefer my hairdresser (and my gp and my car mechanic) to be older than I am. Someone who is responsible for something as important as my appearance, at least needs to act like every tiny cut is a deeply considered and wise decision. Ideally they should have low, soothing voices like they know what they are doing. Also too many questions at the start of ‘a session’ are by definition unacceptable. Males even have a better chance to make it to my favorite hairdresser (or fav gp and car mech).
Now I am not one who often goes to the hairdresser. This week it was Frank’s turn, who has been hairdresser free for a long time, but he have the same preferences as I do. Of course he has, otherwise we were no couple. Obviously this is one of the first things discussed before you start a relationship, isn’t it?!

“Do you mind if I meddle with your choice of hairdresser the rest of your life?”
“That’s okay. Do I need to dye your outgrowth every 6 weeks the rest of your life? ”
“Yes, you should. And children? ”
“Neu. And you?”
“Neu, no children”.
“Well, then we can work it out, huh?”
“Yes, we are ready then.”
“Shall we begin?”
“Yeah, let’s get started.”

One of the first serious favorite hairdressers I had in my adult life, was an old, small, ugly and skinny fellow, but he had a great ascendancy over his customers. Exactly what I was searching for. He made the impression of being quite convinced of what needed to be done. Consequently I directly think that someone is a professional.
I entered his small salon, where I only saw 1 boy waiting on the bench and another single customer sitting in the dental chair. Yes, a dental chair. I was seated next to the waiting boy. When the hairdresser turned his back to us to continue his work, I saw he was wearing a long, gray and partly red dyed braid of about 1 meter.
When a third boy wanted to enter the shop, the hairdresser didn’t allow him to come inside, before the boy in the chair was ready. The barber shouted that he would not be gaped by three people at once. For safety’s sake, I pointedly looked down to my hands clenched around the handbag on my knees.

After fifteen minutes the rosy-cheeked blonde boy in the chair was ready and he got released with a free orange-colored tin. “Oh great! Free stuff.” I thought. “Maybe I’ll get something too”. The barber beckoned me into the chair, not deigning a glance to the waiting boy beside me -who actually came in before me.
“Because she is new,” said the hairdresser to no one in general.
“Haha,” I said.
“Haha,” said the waiting boy.
“Haha,” said the barber.
“Can I come in now?” asked the boy who was waiting outside.

I made a kind of rueful grimace to the waiting boy and quickly sat down.
The boy who had waited outside was now allowed to come in and got a broom pushed into his hands. He was ordered to clean up the cutted hair of the blond boy. “Then I can work faster!” said the barber. Otherwise you sitting there doing nothing.
By now I realized the customers in this shop were not supposed to have an opinion, so with a waving gesture to the barber I said: “Do whatever you like.” I tried to look as if I was very occupied by my own very important thoughts, and now I also had a good view on that pile of orange tins. Oh, it was African straightening cream. What a matching gift for the rosy-cheeked blonde boy.

An hour later I left the chair with dark purple pointy sideburns. It looked very adventurous and I found it very beautiful. The barber himself was very pleased too and he decided that the rest of that afternoon he only wanted to do dye-jobs. Anybody who wanted something else had to go away.
To my slightly surprise, the still waiting boy and the boy with the broom, didn’t stir a finger. Not annoyed, not anxious, not excited. In a split second I tried -as unobtrusively as possible- to scan the room looking for a candid camera. Was I the one who had put herself into something weird? And was it my fault that these guys probably did not have a proper haircut that day.

good customer

Sound effects

18 April 2008

A month ago, exactly on the day my 2 boxes with paintings from Perth arrived on the New Zealand airport, I received an email from a gallery in Melbourne. They had found my website and were full of praise; “Wonderful, refreshing, interesting! We can, we want, we will, we love, etcetera.” All nice words.
This was badly timed, because on this blog I just had written that I never would exhibit anymore via a gallery. Now I haughtily had to remain to my principles, without throwing in my own windows (Dutch proverb).
I wrote back that I didn’t longer exhibited via galleries, but this didn’t mean they could not sell my work … (building up a constructive silence)
I offered them to buy my paintings for a reduced price. Then it was up to them to sell them for a higher price.
I never expected to hear from them anymore, because 9 out of 10 emails is only bullshit.
And then … (whipping violin sounds) … I received an email that the gallery owner couldn’t find my phone number on my site.


That means I had to cope with my 2 biggest phobia at the same time!!! Phoning AND talking English … (sound of a gun cocking)
What to do? I could start with an uncontrollably and long cry. Or shall I drink half a bottle of wine? Then I’m better in talking. I already had bloodshot eyes, so who minds?

The creepy thing of a phone call is that uncomfortable silences are scaring the hell outta me. My desperate solution then is to fill them with talk asap. Not informative talk, but incoherent ravings. Thereby making unintelligible jokes, which again causes awkward silences.
And it’s not even an insanity or something, because afterwards I can repeat every syllable! Afterwards my own shrill chatter echoes through my head for hours. Awful!

But I had no choice …
So we did a phone call. A small 5 minutes.
And nothing new was discussed. The lady from Melbourne gave it up soon and stayed very polite. Thanked me again for the discount and said that she was still interested. And that we would talk about the rest by email … (sound of a fading horse gallop).

After one week I got an email again. She wanted to buy 2 of my paintings to start with!
Isn’t that great?! (stadium applause)



15 April 2008

One of the best things I recently bought is this new easel. Well…. it’s not really an easel and it’s not new either.
In the last couple of weeks my old easel slowly but surely started falling apart. It’s one of those fancy wooden artists easels but I have never been quite happy with it. While looking for a new one I realized that the commonly sold studio easels don’t really fit my working method. My style of painting requires me to work very close to the canvas and I move my work around a lot. Amazingly traditional easels don’t really allow for that, adjustments are pretty coarse. And even the most expensive models are quite inadequate from an ergonomics perspective.
A second-hand drawing board proved to be the best solution for me. They are cheap because most architects/engineers have switched to computer aided design. And functionality and ergonomics are really much better.

New easel


13 April 2008

It was still dark when we left from home at 4:30 AM. It was an unfair fight against sleep until we were halfway on our trip, to take our coffee break in a kind of truckers canteen. It was the only place open at that time of the day.

At that same moment, somewhere further up in the country, a certain customs officer decided to go to work really early this day, to open those suspicious boxes well before office hours.
Two hours later after we arrived at that same custom’s office at 8:30 AM, I could explode in anger again. Because … WHY did we drive to Auckland then???
But the customs officer was gone fishing (or whatever) and has assigned us with a shy young assistant. Arguing with the wrong person doesn’t make sense, isn’t it?
Instead of inspect in person if the paintings were repacked conscientiously (I was too demotivated to bear more surprises), we tugged the boxes on the roof rack of the car as quickly as possible and left to the centre of Auckland.
We took this chance to visit some showrooms of kitchen and bathrooms. Just before our trip to South-Africa we bought the house of our neighbour and since our return we are renovating that house, while we still living in our rental.

Late at night we were back home. Too tired to get those extremely heavy boxes off of the car roof. We saved that job for the next morning, so we could see the possible misery in the unrelenting sunlight.

Well, only 1 painting was irreparably ruined. What did I expect? Right over the middle of the canvas, where the back slat is running along the canvas, the paint seemed to be chipped off. Like if someone had sat on it.

Really, every day my job is more ‘inspiring’ …

Hier probeer ik op het dak te klimmen, om er daarna af te kunnen springen


10 April 2008

It is 4 weeks later … The boxes with my paintings are ‘in custody’ at the airport in New Zealand for 3 weeks now.
After they had arrived, the New Zealand customs must have thought: “Aha, valuable stuff from Australia! Before we send it through, first we have to get the import tax!”
Did you know you physically can feel despondency?! Then your neck and arms slowly got filled with heavy lead, your voice gets weak and your eyes are stinging. And suddenly you want to sleep. For a long time. For a few years.

I don’t have the documents to prove that the paintings were shipped for an exhibition and that they are returning. When the courier picked up the boxes 6 months ago … he just picked them up. No forms were hand over. The packinglist was stuck on the box. Just like when I shipped my paintings to Hong Kong (what didn’t create any problem at all).
But now I need to show the New Zealand customs documents that are in the hands of Ms. Faithful of gallery O. And she hasn’t been very helpful. Quite the contrary. For example; she still didn’t pay me back the tax of 3.600 Australian dollar.

After a lot of phone calls and pleas to look for the receipt in their administration, the customs discovered that the weight of the boxes on their way up, was different from on their way back!
Oh boy … Now they want to open them. A specially licensed custom guy needs to show up for this job. And yes, that could take up a few days.

Because absolutely everything that could go wrong with this costly project, DID go wrong, this upcoming inspection scares me. The paintings need to be packed in a special way. “If you wish, you may also be present during the inspection of the boxes”, the agent then suggested … “then you can take them right with you if you get the green light.”
I decided to follow this advice, so we will pick up the boxes in person next Friday in Auckland. It’s again a 4 hours drive up and 4 hours back. “No, we can not give you an exact time”, said the agent. “It likely will be in the morning. Our office opens at 8:30 AM.”
So, we need to get up at 4:00 AM then …

Oh, and speaking of despondency; That sheep guy, remember? That hit and run of 1 year ago? He also still has to pay, but doesn’t do it. The bailiff let himself turn away from an identical sheep guy who claimed not to be the sheep guy … The court isn’t allowed to do anything. And the police ‘can not’ do anything.

What about inspiration?

13 March 2008

People often ask me about my inspiration. To be quite honest, the conceptual stage of my art is often more elimination than inspiration. The initial idea usually appears when my mind is sort of idling, like when I’m travelling or taking a shower. Like many of us. From there it’s is primarily a matter of bringing the idea back to the essential. This means I’m usually throwing away 90%.

In general my work is much closer to reality than meets the eye. Most of my ideas come from ordinary things around me; landscapes, seeds, flowers, buildings and I take lots of reference photos. The images below illustrate the relationship between the initial concept and the finished painting. The first image shows a Pinus Radiata plantation close to were I live.

You can see the influences in the paintings ‘Populus Flucta’ and ‘Sequoiadendron Nemus’.


The next image shows some berries of a Flax Lily I found while walking the dog. Most of the fruit fell off when I walked home, but enough was left for a sketchy picture.
The second image illustrates the optical characteristics of solid crystal. And then the 2 paintings that came out of this inspiration.


Money in the wrong place

12 March 2008

Gradually there is occurring some movement in the case ‘gallery O’. Occasionally they replied in 1 single sentence (after having sent my questions at least 2 times). But, the day after tomorrow the 2 boxes finally will be picked up by the courier to get back to New Zealand
I had promised my client the apple painting would be arrived in the Netherlands mid-March, but now that’s impossible. It’s still in one of the boxes.
We had to arrange everything ourselves, which actually is supposed to be a task for the gallery owner. I don’t mean that they have to pay for everything, but they should be in charge to organize the returning and prepare the documents, etc. It’s quite weird that I am the one who’s doing that now.
But if some gallery owners didn’t get enough money out of an exhibition, the artist apparently suddenly transformed into that annoying mosquito I was talking about. When I was a gallery owner myself (Yes, once I was!) I always found it very sad for the artist if I couldn’t sell anything for him. And then I ensured that at least he wouldn’t have anything to complain about the exhibition in every other area.

Another disturbing aspect of this adventure is the tax. When we shipped the paintings to Australia 6 months ago, we got a phone call from the customs. They were only willing to send them through to gallery O, if 3,600 Australian dollars was paid …
If the same paintings would leave Australia after the exhibition, then we could get back the money. Somewhere in the back of my mind I thought this was a job the gallery had to deal with. Like it was correctly done by the Hong Kong gallery …
But there was no time to dwell on it too long, so I paid it right away by credit card.

Today we learned that gallery O had reclaimed that tax! They would pay me later. This makes me very nervous.


8 March 2008

Six months ago with Gallery O in Perth I agreed that my unsold paintings + bronze sculpture would be returned late February. To be extra sure, last month I reminded Ms. Faithful (!) to the fact that I need the apple painting because I sold it to a client in the Netherlands.

Late February I hadn’t heard anything back. But frankly said; I hadn’t – ‘Oh, seasoned as I am’ – expecting something to happen without me again ringing the bell.
So, March 1st I asked by email if everything was ready for shipping back to me. Silence …
On March 4th I asked again. Silence …
On March 5th, I asked again. Silence …
She also didn’t respond to her voice message.

Nice, right? Exhibiting. I love it ranting
Well, I never do it again! This really is the last time.
Last year I got that bullshit with gallery Fisher. And now this.
Why are these things never handled like adults, such as a normal transaction in ordinary business life? Why are artists treated like whining kids. Or like an annoying mosquito? We are talking about $ 42,000 worth of trade. And believe me; I’m a very easy-going, understanding and accommodating person. And yes, I know … that’s exactly the reason why people walk all over me.

Please help me to remember this, as soon as I’m lyrically happy again if a gallery ‘ask me’. I’m done with them. No way I’m exhibiting again via a gallery.

After writing this rant … there was a reply in my inbox. Ms. Faithful wrote: “I have been ill and not at the gallery.”

Now she too ruined my cliffhanger!

Suicide birds

24 February 2008

It is quite impractical that the New Zealanders declared the kiwi bird as their national logo. The best feature of a bird is its capacity to fly, but specifically that fact, is what the kiwi bird is unable to.
He lives at night, so almost nobody has ever seen him in real. In return of this sparse favor, all New Zealanders have to leave their dogs at home if they want to walk in the woods, because imagine … the almost extinct and nearly blind kiwi could be attacked by your dog.
The bird is protected by all joined forces, but it is actually fighting a losing battle.

suicide birdsOnce I have seen one. The kiwi was hatched and raised by a special kiwi caretaker/educator and at that sacred moment it should be released on the nature reserve Whale Island. From close by it is a large chicken with soft salt-and-pepper coloured hair and a small, shy head which he completely held hidden under his own rudimentary useless wing.

Until the 80s all kiwis got a transmitter on their back. After one of them ‘committed suicide’ they stopped with this ridiculous habit. The suicider laid at the bottom of a mountain ridge. Yeah, what do you think?! Back in those days, transmitters had the size of a brick! Imagine that you -as a human- had to carry around the battery of a truck on your back every single day. And you are not able to curling up in a comfortable sleep position, because of that ‘huge thing’ you can’t get rid of. If you bend over to pick up a little insect from the ground, you get a punch in your neck of the shifting battery. Constantly you are stuck in the bushes and slowly you become crazy from the itching of that chafed skin. That’s quite depressing, isn’t it? A solid reason for suicide.

Recently Frank and I visited Whale Island again and we were told the story of the mutton-bird. A bit of the same kind of tragic.
Whale island is a mountain rising from the sea, which is overgrown with low bushes on top. The mutton-birds make their nests in a hole in the ground. A place high on the mountain is their favorite. Nicely in the beautiful filtered light under the low-hanging foliage.
Just like human kids … mutton kids are fussy eaters. So their parents ‘importing’ the special requested baby food from about 500 kilometers away. I don’t understand such indulgent parents, because that is 2 days travelling per serving!
Because of the ceiling of firm foliage hanging above the kindergarten, just upon arrival the parents draw their wings around their bodies and vertically torpedo themselves to the ground. Sometimes that doesn’t turn out right and they get stuck halfway. Even hopelessly stuck. And die in the face of their hungry children. If one of the parent dies, the picky young bird can forget about the rest of his life.

Frank and a few other visitors of Whale island climbed to the top of the mountain and were witnesses of deserted, magical softly green-lit, fairy like areas under the low trees. And indeed … dead birds were entangled in the branches. The nests on the ground were empty. The crying orphan chicks were probably already devoured alive by … rats? Preying owls? Their own brothers and sisters?