Tag Archive | ponderings

The simmering pot

10 July 2015

Does a special word exist  for the fact that sometimes, on different places in the world the same ideas pop up, at the same time?

A few days ago I saw a picture on Facebook of a building made out of living trees. The branches were led and trimmed into the shape of a life-sized church. The structure was complete open and the inside of the building was usable as a sheltered area.
Barry Cox, the owner of this project grew it in only 4 years! So, that must have been in 2011. He plans to use his green church for weddings and I find it a great idea!
Then I discovered the guy lives in New Zealand! Just like me. I will definitely visit his garden when it opens in spring.

I couldn’t help to see a kind of similarity with my painting ‘The same one’. I painted it 2 years ago and who is willing to believe me it was in my sketchbook for years?
It doesn’t matter, because I love the imagination of an enormous simmering pot of inspiration, somewhere in the world. And when our globe is spinning and turning around, some splashes fling down on different people. Different people like an architect, an artist, an arborist or an entrepeneur who starting to play with them.
Maybe our ideas came from the same source. Or are made out of the same ingredients.


Reflections on Elephant Mountain

12 May 2015

Artworks that have conquered a place in the front of the market, usually are created by artists who are unmistakable distinguished persons. These artists don’t necessarily have to be extrovert characters, but in some way they are clearly presented in society. They catch the eye by their behavior, their appearance, their statements or their secondary activities.
For example, at the art fair there was an artist who was dressed like a kind of Lolita doll. That helps. The initiator of the art fair, who is an artist himself, has his own temple and a whole bunch of worshipers. That helps. There are artists who have a strong opinion. Sometimes stated through their art, but just as often simply as being an opinionated person.
I slowly got the idea that when an artist is liked as a person, people actually want to buy ‘a piece of the artist’. That makes sense if sometimes you can’t understand why specific art sells anyway. Than people don’t buy art, but buy a piece of the creator.
What I do understand (and what I always knew, but just wasn’t willing to accept) is that the artist is part of his art.

In my early painting days I didn’t want to write an explanation about my works. I was convinced that a good artwork could speak for itself. Even if the work had absolutely nothing to say. And let’s be honest; while I was younger there was less to tell. Or better said, the ‘colours’ were less varied (and I don’t mean that literally). Being aware of that fact I found my art was more decoration than a meaningful piece. And personally; pure realistic landscapes for example, are still troublesome for me in that way. What is the message?

Reflections on Elephant MountainWhile working on my last series, I spent a serious amount of time to the interpretation of my works … which was -to my surprise- much more valued by the viewers than I ever had imagined.
With adding these written meanings to my paintings I have pushed myself a step forward. It worked so well that it made me think of other aspects of my presentation. How to offer my audience an insight into who I am, without forcing myself into situations I’m not good in? Like mingling in public. Socially I never have been a ringleader. I can learn, but it never will going smooth. So I have to find another form for those who are interested in me as a person.

Maybe my vlogs could be used as a contemporary way to give something of myself?

What is the meaning?

20 July 2013

Like a lot of painters I have a slight aversion to the question: “What is the meaning of this painting? What do you want to tell us with this work?”
Actually, it is the same question when asking a writer: “What does your story look like? Show us a sketch”.
I can understand that an abstract painting needs some explanation, but the more realistic subjects should have to be clear of intention.

In comparison with a book, the stories of paintings are small. They are the frozen scenes of an anecdote, a fantasy, sometimes an opinion or a memory in the broadest sense (a widely known history or a dream only seen by the artist). Ok, there are millions of paintings aimed to be nothing more than decoration. Like plain realistic landscapes, that only intent to say: “I’m beautiful”. That’s the other end of the spectrum. But most paintings do tell a story as compact as a motto … and loading them with words will ruin the perception for the individual viewer.
I will explain that last sentence.

In the blog What is art I concluded that art should touch emotions. Not necessary the big ones that make you cry, but a tiny spark of inspiration is enough. That spark is different for every single person. Compare it with Cupids arrow. Didn’t you wonder why your friend had fallen for that jerk? Well, the arrow is totally personal. The link between an artwork and someone who’s touched by that artwork is totally personal too.
if I should explain my paintings, then I find I’m unbalancing the course of the arrow. My words would distract the viewer to compose his own meaning. I won’t say my words are ‘leading’, but they can be directing. And that’s not what I want.
My motive to create a certain painting is not more important than the meaning that somebody else finds in it.
What is the meaning?One example; For one person the lonely single tree in front of a crowd reminds him of his beloved mother who always was the misunderstood one in the family – but for someone else the single tree maybe means the encouragement to finally follow that person’s own path.

What is art?

15 June 2013

Once in a while an artist bumps on the same old question; What is art?
During the years I’ve embraced different definitions about the concept of art. Not seldom nasty ones, like; art is just decoration, art is someone else’s therapeutic crap, art is overrated moneymaking, etcetera. My opinions were a bit depending on the artist or my own mood. Probably not very different than the opinions of non-artists.
None of these definitions was lasting and I still don’t have the exact answer. But the last years -those of more nuanced thinking, hehe- the definitions that reconciled the best to me are;

  1. Art should touch your emotions. Troubling or stirring is ok too, but personally I’m after the positive emotions.
  2. Art should raise questions.

Both quite oldies, so apparently I couldn’t get away from re-inventing the wheel too.

Patricia Van Lubeck, what is artToday someone asked me why I put that small gap in Populus Flucta.
I couldn’t reply directly, because I had to think about it. In fact it was a good question. The longer I thought about it, the more extensive my answer became. And that’s where this blog started.

Now I can conclude that both definitions are suitable. The intended emotion I was after is ‘the desire to walk to the peep hole’.
And the raised question is: “What is around the corner in the peep hole?

But this last question may be an emotion too: curiosity.
So maybe I can narrow my definition of art again.

A visit to the Netherlands

4 August 2011 (the Netherlands)

We were in the Netherlands for a month to visit our family. I was asked if I have seen changes compared with 6 years ago.
Most of all there were some differences that we had forgotten. For example, as soon as we left the airport, I immediately saw the Dutch are much slimmer. And the children on their little supersonic bicycles were all fully decorated with the latest gadgets and they were fashionably dressed like miniature-adults (and matching attitude 😉 )

Recently I read in one of the Dutch magazines (I still read them) that in the Netherlands ‘the prosperity is gushing out of the dormer windows’. In real … that is true. And it’s notable. I saw an interview on tv about Dutch families who supposedly are in financial trouble. In the background I saw beautiful living rooms, top class furniture, wooden floors, modern decorations. Everything of good quality and looking in mint condition. I can’t take that serious. That is really a difference with here.
Yes, for a few days I was jealous of all that wealth and the unlimited choice. Not to say New Zealand is a poor country. I know it’s not Ethiopia. And we ourselves aren’t poor too. But the image around us though, is certainly looking a bit … eh … well … let’s not equivocate; a bit shabby.
However, after a few days I knew it again. Because don’t forget … if you always have to live in such a nasty climate, locked inside your house, probably you desperately need some extra fun/luxury in return.
I prefered the good weather.

Another thing I liked of being back was; Dutchies hardly do courtesy talks. In daily life and in business they can be bluntly honest to each other without affecting their relationship. They are going right to the point. For foreigners they may sound rude, but Dutchies skipping the courtesy talks feels like saving time for both.

A sound that struck me was the cooing of doves. Awww, I missed that. And the far sounds of church bells a couple of times a day. I totally had tuned that out when I lived in the Netherlands, but now I realised I hadn’t heard them for years!
But the finest sound actually, was a certain lack of sound … that eternal voice in the shops, “Can I help you?”
For me it was so liberating that in every Dutch shop (no matter how posh) you can walk in without the shop assistants jump right on your neck.
Beside in the Netherlands there is so much beauty for sale, the disinterest of the staff (or so you want; the skipping of the courtesy) made shopping a great pleasure. When I’m thinking about entering a shop in New Zealand, quite often the saleswoman already greedy tries to make eye-contact, while I am still outside! I can’t handle that and won’t come in then. I hate it and I feel forced. If I need help I know where she is. Everybody knows.
Although I like that New Zealanders always greeting each other on the street (Dutchies ignore strangers), that shop-thing must ne a Dutch habit I can’t get rid of. For Dutch people maybe shops are more a kind of ‘public area’. And for New Zealand people a shop is owned by someone who takes care for the visitors. Does that make sense?

The owner in the background is completely ignoring me and is reading his paper. Thumbs up.


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.

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


16 April 2007

The Hong Kong gallery couple cancelled the meeting after arriving at the New Zealand airport. They could not fit me into their schedule. I assume that when they are back in Hong Kong, they will email me again to inform me about the next steps.
Before knowing this I had tried to make the house guest-proof. A big spring-cleaning including hand washing a curtain.
The smell of the detergent brought me all the way back to the first weeks in New Zealand when our washing machine was still in the sea container. Those days I had to wash everything by hand and apparently I was pretty happy with that, because the smell memory of today brought me in a kind of serene mood.


For the same reason I love the smell of the repellent spray against sand flies, because it reminds me of working in the vegetable garden for the first time in my life. The discovering I was able to produce my own veggies had made me happy.
Also the song of the tui (a New Zealand bird that can create the fascinating sound similar to the metal cymbals of a drum set). The first summer he continuously had ‘drummed’ in our garden, but this summer I had rarely heard him. The few times I did hear him, I popped right back to the happy first weeks.
Now I’m wondering … could a person only be happy with retroactive effect? Is it because happiness is made of the same elusive stuff as smells and sounds? I thought in those early NZ days I was not happier than I am at this moment, but maybe I should have to conclude: How happy I am now … I only can smell next year.

The big cleaning was not for nothing, because later that week a family member from the Netherlands came to visit us. It was the son of my grandmother’s sister. We have met 34 years ago.

I’m not sure, but when we shook hands and I automatically turned my face to do the ‘European 3-kiss’ I noticed my uncle shrank for a moment. That’s fair of course. Let’s be honest; the European 3-kiss is quite a stupid habit if you are hardly familiar with the person. I just hope it’s not something worse than my 1 clove of garlic a day 🙂

Half an hour later I wiped a few spikes of hair out of my eyes and suddenly I had a white substance on my hand … Oh fucque! Just before uncle’s arrival I had forgotten to spread out the sunscreen on my skin. I only had squeezed out two round white dabs on my forehead and then hastily picked up the phone to give my uncle directions to find our house.
During that hand shake he must have thought that I had a brutal form of forehead acne. Or I was married twice to an Indian guy, or so.

My relationship with a painting

29 December 2006

When painting the ice landscape a friend asked me why I was more enthusiastic in making one painting than the other. In other words; why one painting comes to me easier than some other one?
Some painters theatrically cry out that their paintings are their children and it’s a burden to sell them. For me, after a certain point, my paintings needs to produce dough. That sounds more calculating than it is, but let me explain the relationship between me and my paintings.

It’s not to say I do not love my own creations. Oh, no … just like a mother saying about her children; my creations are the best in the world! Parts we are not completely satisfied with, we cover with the cloak of charity, right?
But my paintings are no kids that I can not release. When they are finished, they have to spread their wings. Buzz off and earn money for mama. Goodbye, I have your picture on my night stand.

My relationship with a painting

Let’s talk about ‘Cyphomandra Vitra’.
From the very beginning our love was grand and compelling. Everything we did together went well and we were great together. At least, from my perspective I thought she was great and I couldn’t stop talking about her. Look at her; Such a rugged and uncomplicated background, coupled with the clear & frank countenance. Her strange deformities (reflections and refractions) were her original view on the world and that purple glass was almost better than rose-colored glasses! And seen from her view; Well … it was not without my creative urge she was on earth anyway.

But after a stormy affair we easily went our separate ways.
The good memories and the pictures are enough. And a new love is waiting. As well as for her as for me.

My relationship with a painting

Taxus glacialis (that cold icy landscape) however, became a long and difficult relationship. Is it because some friends are too much like yourself? Because their character is too transparent to you? And you know their tricks too well?
Yes, yes and yes … But that is also the reason you can’t criticize them. The difficult relation is because they don’t surprise you. They are you.
If this kind of painting is appeared on my easel I notice I try to postpone the confrontation. My inspiration to paint is fading. If the conversation finally is happening, mostly it turned out not too bad, but … as soon as the end of the agreement is in view, I already waiting at the door with my coat on. Sorry, session time is over!
The strange thing is that such a kind of ‘marriage of convenience’ however, doesn’t predicts anything about his success if the painting is launched in the public world.

My relation with a painting

One of my first serious paintings was a big struggle too. I even want to call it a fight. But in the end, it became one of my most populair ones in that series.
Once the size of ‘The trash bin’ was rectangular. During painting those endless little bricks I got so sick of them that I decided to go in denial. There was still a long way of bricks to go on the left part of the painting, but I took the saw and cut it of to a square format. Those days I painted on wood. After that brute force the painting had to sit facewards against the wall for years, before I finished it.

I still make repetitive patterns. But nowadays I don’t ‘deny’ them anymore. I cope with them. Yes, getting older means getting milder, isn’t it? Also in relations.

Snitchers 2

25 June 2006

In the newspapers of New Zealand is printed a lists of names and last known addresses of people who didn’t pay their fines. Not intended to show you what kind of bad guys they are, but more as a request for help; If you happen to know how to get in touch with one of these lawbreakers, your advice will be highly appreciated.
New Zealand also considers its citizens mature enough to join in investigations of more important cases. Contrary to the Netherlands suspects appears in the papers with name and mug shot, what of course makes searching a lot easier. The fact that many criminals are found more quickly by this publicity, invalidate the fact that some individuals temporarily got suspected by mistake. Well, you cannot make an omelette without breaking eggs.

So, you understand I don’t mind that list of fines in the newspaper over here, while the Dutch hotline always leaves me a bad taste. Not because now everything in New Zealander is better than what’s happening in the Netherlands … no, it’s just that the hotline has something sly and dirty, coupled with the fact that (a crucial detail!) the Dutch citizens never were allowed to know what was discussed behind the judicial doors. And certainly not allowed to hear names. Also te length of someone’s record ‘doesn’t matter’. Duh, imagine that <cynism>an ordinary dumb citizen could make some crazy conclusions</cynism>.


Sharpening knives

By hearing the word hotline I think of anonymously betraying your neighbour, while sending him your sweetest greet every morning.

Toilet secrets

25 March 2006

Waiting at the restrooms of the airport I was thinking: “Which door do people choose when they have to go to a public toilet?”
Do you too make a greased lightning calculation of which of the 2, 3 or 4 available toilets statistically would be the cleanest? Do ‘the Other People’ always choose the middle door? Or just the fist possibility most near by the entrance? So in that last case the most near by toilet, would be the dirtiest.
Or do all Other People think that way and then all flock to the farthest door, so that all farthest toilets are the most used ones?
Tell me. Or do you prefer to keep your strategy secret?

The times that I’m not paralyzed by the quick calculation, is when I see a toilet for the disabled. Than my choice is made. Because I suspect that most people are afraid to use it. Out of courtesy, out of duty or because of their cleaner morals.
Or because of consideration of using a toilet for the disabled is processed in the same brain-box as using a parking lot for the disabled. We were brought up that you will be fined if improperly using that parking, so automatically the whole territory of the disabled became trespassing for the non-disabled.

Sometimes ‘the big progress’ looks like carried too far to me. At the airport in New Zealand you need to close the toilet door electronically.
There was a queue for the 2 available toilets. The mixed gents and ladies peeked into a dark hallway, where a red and green light completely random went on & off, on the gender-free doors. Every few seconds an electronic voice shouted out the same stinging message: “Through closed uf … kgggg, tsk … Button!”

toilet secretsOnce inside the spacious toilet room I stared to the smooth sliding door without the possibility to lock it … Ah, at the doorpost I could press a button. No, two buttons!
Hmmm, first I needed to translate and understand the manual. But in the meantime I pulled down my pants, because with the long queue in mind I wanted to do my business asap. But now I was too far away to press the buttons, so I rely on my wits and quickly pressed the red button. Red hardly could be any different than CLOSED, isn’t it? Red is forbidden access. Red means STOP or danger.
Sitting on the loo, or rather hanging above -because sitting is dirty- I saw a flashing green light above my door. Oh no … so my door is open???
Well, the entire amount of people has seen me entering this door, so I trusted on nobody would going to sit beside me. Apparently I had to turn OFF the green light by pressing the green button …
A wonderful outgrowth of technological advances. What the hell is running in the minds of the creators of this? Was he trying to achieve saving time in such a hectic environment like an airport? For a moment the memory of the old-fashioned slide-lock just makes me melancholic.
At least I stopped trying to understand the instructions yet. That was the best time-saver.

Are we happy?

21 December 2005

Although a lot of things here are exactly the same and almost everything is available (except those pillowcases in European sizes and Dutch wash cloths) of course there are still some things differently. Something I had never seen before is the electric pan. In the newspapers and on TV is strikingly advertised expensive jewelry and old-fashioned porridge. And the checkout-bargain of the week is crème for cracked heels. An everywhere found ailment, maybe because of all those barefoot walkers. I have seen cracked heels in real; A waitress had a layer of calluses like a horseshoe, burst into the meat. It was disgusting. I could not take my eyes off it.

are we happyOne of you mailed me, slightly concerned, asked me if we were happy over here.

  • Well … uh … the New Zealanders don’t understand my English attempts.
  • Their Santa is a joke.
  • They act hard and unwillingly to get our cars through inspection.
  • The gallery owner treats me wrong.
  • The landlord and us don’t have warm feelings for each other.

are we happyNevertheless, we are very happy. I have a very cozy little studio where I am almost all day. Which overlooks the garden where I am thrilled every morning about what is happened that night in the veggie patch. Daily we are walking to the beach or village or forest while we sing to the tourists “we-don’t-have-to-go-back-hooome” (bis). The temperature is always perfect. The door to the deck is open for a month already.
Maybe that all sounds rather ordinary, but working on an even bigger ‘grand and compelling’ future life is always on our list.