September 2nd, 2014

Okay, I haven’t been doing things like I promised or set out to do. For one I haven’t
written in 2,5 months and I planned to write at least once a week! What upsets me most is that
I wasn’t able to continue writing when things (artwise) sort of fell apart.

I meant to share these things on my blog but when things got rough I couldn’t. The last few
months I had some really important insights but alas, they didn’t come with a handy how to-
guide. Two words that had great impact were ‘process’ and ‘ego’.

My process is, or hopefully was, almost non-existing, probably the reason why I lose interest
and fun in a subject so quickly. It’s been a rough period and I hope that’s finished now.
Upcoming weeks I will let you know more about my findings from the past months and my start
of a new chapter in art.

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June 16th, 2014

A few weeks ago Lemniscaat pronounced the winners of the illustration contest and I wasn’t
among them. I anticipated this so no worries. I’m happy I found out so much about myself
during the (creative) process.

The whole experience left me with one more very practical surprise. Even after working such
long hours at the time I was still able to draw. My hand did not hurt like it would have in the past!
In 2008 I injured my hand (mostly my thumb) after a rush job and I neglected to give my hand
a good rest. For about a year I couldn’t do anything. Writing, drawing, even holding a book
during reading was a challenge.

Over time things got better but I still couldn’t work long hours, I had to stop all printing
activities and I switched from pencil and pastels to drawing inks. While I was working on
the illustrations my hand would hurt after a long day in the studio but then I would give my hand
a rest for a day and it was fine again!

So now new ideas are bubbling up in my head, I will be able to mix inks with pastels, pick up my
pencils again! Yay! I worked with this mix before but at the time it was too soon and sure I
have to be careful not to overdo it again but this prospect makes me very happy.

Last week I went to Van Beek, my local art supply shop and I found a pencil extender by Derwent.
I’m not going to use it to extend my pencils but to broaden my pencils. A broad grip lessens the
chance of injury because it is more relaxed to hold. Thursday is studio-day, I can’t wait!

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May 20th, 2014

After my previous blog I got two questions about some of the content.

First was, what those hurdles were that I was talking about. Next people wondered whether I
truly meant it when I wrote: ‘Winning or losing, I’m very happy I participated!’ Wasn’t this just
a way to hide the fear/ chance of upcoming disappointment?

I’ll start with the hurdles, I think explaining those will also answer the second question.
Like I mentioned before, as a child I dreamed of illustrating books but I never made any serious
attempts to pursue this dream. Now I was finally doing it! Exiting but scary.

Instead of illustrating I went to the Academy of Fine Art in Education. Still I can hear the
teacher’s voices echoing in my head: my taste in art was poor, not to mention cliché and so
was my artwork. Even now tiny parts of my brain objected to me illustrating: ‘this wasn’t art
with a capital A!!’
I decided not to care, I was enjoying myself and that’s what matters, right?!

Working on my art I got stuck often. I got scared to continue, scared to ruin things,
scared of expectations. This made me re-think everything. Illustrating for the contest there was
no time for such nonsense. All 3 illustrations needed to be finished well before the 1st of May.
So I had to just ‘do’.

I rediscovered how much I like storytelling, my way. Now when I draw I just ‘do’ and don’t get
stuck that easily. I got closer to what I like doing without being embarrassed about it.
I found new solutions, new materials, new combinations.

During the 20 days of working on my illustrations I had a week of vacation and I caught myself thinking:
‘Oh, I hope I won’t spend my whole vacation drawing!’ And then I thought, wait a minute, I
remember a time when I couldn’t wait for the (school-) vacation to start so I could draw all
week! The moment I realized that, something changed, I couldn’t wait to get to my studio and start drawing.

Doing these 3 illustrations has brought me so much. So when I say that even when I'm losing
I'm winning, I truly mean it.

Below an unfinished detail of the 2nd illustration I did for the Lemniscaat contest.

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May 12th, 2014

Again I’ve been too quiet for my own (blogging-) good. Last month I was totally occupied by
the Lemniscaat illustration contest. Literally every moment I could spend drawing, I did.
As a child I always dreamed of illustrating children’s- and mostly fairytale books but I
never actually made any attempts to do so.

Illustrators were asked by publisher Lemniscaat to send in three illustrations that go with a
story of their own choice. It was clear to me it had to be a fairytale but which one? I chose a
story from ‘Persian Fairytales’ by Arthur Christensen (original title: Persische Märchen).
My dad used to read from them when I was little and after all the stories by Grimm and
ndersen they were amazingly refreshing. These stories had all this different creatures and
different magic and lots of blood and gore! My choice fell upon ‘Mohammed the shepherd and
the three Peri princesses’.

From beginning to end it took me almost 20 days to finish all three illustrations and I was
just in time for the (Dutch) closing date on May 1st! It took me this long because I had to take
some really hard hurdles that housed in my brain. Now that I have returned to my ‘regular’
drawings I can feel a difference in the way I work. I just DO because when working on the
illustrations there was no time to ponder every brushstroke, they had to be finished and soon!
So I’m very happy with this change and much happier to go to my studio.

Sure I would like to win the contest, sure I would like to be among the 10 best and attend a
master class by an internationally recognized illustrator. I would like having my work
promoted during the Bologna Children’s Book Fair. Have my work exhibited in library ‘The
Hive’, in Worcester, England, in the Shanghai Library, China and also in the Centrale
Bibliotheek Rotterdam, The Netherlands.

I would like all these things very much but taking these personal hurdles was very important to me.
Winning or losing I’m very happy I participated!

Below details from the three illustrations I did for the Lemniscaat contest.

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April 1st, 2014

In my blog from a week ago I spoke about making a print in a new material: SoftCut.
Making a print, doesn’t matter if it’s an etching, drypoint or linocut, is always a difficult
thing for me because I hurt my hand in 2008. Things got overworked, inflamed, my thumb
hurt like crazy and for about a year I couldn’t do anything. Writing, drawing, even holding a book
during reading was a challenge.
Over time things got better but my hand is still not the way it used to be. I can’t work long
hours, I had to stop all printing activities and I switched from pencil and pastels to drawing inks.
Progress is still made, the amount of time I can work increases. Recently I started a drawing in
pencil, something I couldn’t do for a long time. Still I have to be very careful not to overdo it.
So making a linocut was a big challenge.

This is why I set out to look for a material that would give the impression of a linocut but
would be more easy to cut. I made some stamps out of big erasers but with erasers size
is limited.
At Hoopman Artsuplies I found SoftCut.

It has pros but also quite a few cons, especially when you are used to linoleum. SoftCut is a
flexible sheet of rubber. It has one smooth and one less smooth side. The smooth side is the
side to cut. It doesn’t have a woven structure like linoleum, it’s just rubber.
SoftCut is available in different sizes varying from 75x75 mm to 200x300 mm.

Pros:
- For me and my problematic hand SoftCut was great. My tools would just cut through the
surface (almost) like butter.
- If you want to cut a round shape you don’t have to stop or be extra careful not to mess up
your work. You can easily take the corner by twisting your hand/ tool or by twisting SoftCut
into the right direction.
- It doesn’t break like linoleum does so it’s very suitable for detailed work.
- Flexibility makes it possible to make prints on curved surfaces.

Cons:
- The biggest size SoftCut available is 200x300 mm. Much smaller than linoleum. The print
Jantine and I did was actually made by printing 2 sheets of SoftCut next to each other so the
size would be 200x600 mm. This was because of SoftCuts flexibility not an easy task.
- When you cut linoleum the last bit of the snippet kinda breaks off, you don’t have to
finish the cut. SoftCut doesn’t do that, you have to remove the snippets by pulling them off
which takes time.
- To trace our design on the SoftCut Jantine and I first tried to use carbonpaper but that would
not take! Pencil did take and ballpoint did too but both would easily smudge or disappear
altogether.
- Flexibility was also a con because during the whole printing process the shape of the SoftCut
sheet would not remain the same. We had to take off all pressure of the press so it would not
smudge, or compromise SoftCuts shape. So better to use a baren instead of a press.

For me SoftCut is a great new material which allows me to finally continue my printing career
but I think most artists who don’t have similar problems like mine will stick with linoleum.

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