Wednesday, December 12, 2012


I'm not throwing you a bone - I would never throw you a bone... If you're here and you're reading this - I appreciate you way more than you'll ever know! This is a bone for me... To remind myself that this is a place I like to hang out. To show some movement, even if it's corner-of-the-eye stuff. Because I want to be here more than I am, and I promised myself to keep a candle burning. Seeing that I'm still unable - but trying! - to make it a blazing home fire... ;)

After all that hard stuff, I'm not home quite yet - never mind the blazing fire! I'm not everywhere I want to be. I'm still figuring stuff out. Finding out about what's important to me, and how to make it all fit into my life is hard, hard work. And it takes a strong stomach. I feel queasy, some days, but I'm working on it ;)

And I've been busy. That, too. I've been designing Christmas cards to sell - printed them, dropped them off, to see a few actually sell! - and I drew and painted the above, sort of commissioned! I came up with an idea, showed the initial sketch to my lovely neighbours - who wanted to buy some of my Christmas cards to send to their business clients! - and they paid me to finish it :D

I've got so much to say about - making art to sell. Much of it is philosophical, some of it is about the hard work involved, and most of it is - about me, I guess. Whether I'm ready, to go there and put myself into it and behind it all. Whether it's worth the effort. Whether I actually love it enough. If I'll ever be able to really feel proud - from my toes. But that's another blog post. If I ever find the time ;)

It's interesting to find myself here - with these questions - after promising myself my art is for exploration and for soulwork. For finding the me inside this life. Until it's for something else. I had no idea something else was around the corner when I promised myself to be mindful about it all. But then again - these Christmas cards, this commissioned piece - maybe that's it, maybe that's all. & maybe - perfectly maybe - it's all okay, whatever is next. But I need to get my head to rest around that. And that's the hard part, right now.

So here, in this moment, this is it. Corner-of-the-eye movement, like I promised myself. Just to prove I'm still around. I was here, this morning. Not for long, admittedly, but I did show up!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012


This New Year? 
Not to constantly feel the tugs - big and small - that I SHOULD be things I'm not, but to finally be who I AM.
Yes. Warts & all.
Basically? I want to YAY my warts this year :D

P.S. this is a cut-out from a collage I did back in January. Note to self - and to YOU! - cutting and pasting random words from magazines, composing wisdom by accident, is a great way to cut loose from the crap in your brain ;)

Monday, November 12, 2012


First day of the first week of Isaak's School Kid Carreer. Courageous kid. He feels it, too, of course. This really is momentous for both of us...

So I came home to an empty house and time. I'd promised myself I'd fill it with something. Something meaningful - as far as I know what that is, right now. Move past the guilt that claiming this time as mine and pristine brings up. Trying not to waver in my resolution to make this time count - for something decidedly not chores of any kind. Nor entertaining distractions, no matter how they whisper that they're easy and instant and will cure all that ails while I let them. I need to start as I plan to go on.

Here's what came up;

autumn comes & shines with an in-your-face beauty that silently SINGS

I'm smiling reluctantly & in spite of myself
letting my bones warm
guilt isn't made to hang on to
especially not the kind we pour over ourselves
masked grief needs colour
healing does start here and now...

In the end, it all starts with permission. Giving yourself permission to smile, to enjoy, to embrace, to really see what we're given to play with. And to play then. Especially when that's the hardest thing to do. Sometimes the only way to take a first, scared, clueless, hesitant step onto the daunting road ahead is to allow yourself to play with what's here, now. So that's what I did.

healing continues, here and now.

Will you give yourself permission to play today? Do something, anything - just because you know deep down that it's good for you! Chocolates - to help swallow the guilt - are on me today :)

Saturday, November 10, 2012


Hard to get started on this one. Because I want to capture months in a single blog post. For myself as much or more than for the sake of explaining. I think it's time I wrap up the whole mess and tie it with a bow. Not because it's all done and dusted, or because it's chiseled in stone - but because where I've come from, where I'm at, now, is a new beginning of sorts. Not completely fresh, not entirely clean, but a starting point for the rest of it, at least.

This past year has been all about - figuring out where I want to go. At least, that's what I thought. That's what my internal ad agency wanted me to buy into, and I did, with a vengeance. I thought I was ready, for the next stage, but I was clueless about where to start. There is a whole world behind that, filled with never learned to dream Big about my life, but let's just say that by the time Summer came round, I was - disappointed & stressed out. In a way, I'm embarrassed to admit that I was stressed out by something so... selfish and quite vague to boot, but there you go - I was wrapped up in chaotic attempts at capturing the Meaning of My Life, getting angry at myself for not being able to just do it. 

So I went to Africa. My inlaws live there, it was an extended family visit, not a dramatic journey to find my roots in the soil where life began - although at that stage, I would have paid a price for a meaningful retreat with a local Sangoma who'd figure it all out for me ;) 

But the holidays were amazing, all on their own. Because I knew I wasn't going to find my Illuminated Path out there, anyway, I relaxed and let everything come the way it would. And it was beautiful! I saw that the world kept turning without me trying to spin it! I know it might sound dramatic, but I really felt I was accepted and loved - and I wasn't actually doing anything to deserve it! I'm sure that's been true throughout my life - as it is for all of us - but this was the first time I actually saw it, and took it in... And it led to all kinds of  - insights about life, about me, about feeling instead of trying to control!

So we got home, eventually, and I was all eager and ready to start sorting my new from my old perspectives, and run with it from there, but then I got sick. Nothing all that serious, but annoying enough not to be able to get on with things and be all new! And sick turned into another kind of sick, which turned into another kind of not-quite-right, and when I finally found my feet again - after antibiotics, a root canal and two months' worth of taking-it-easy - chaos had put on a fresh set of clothes and was solidly back. I woke up from being sick after taking a long and winding detour - trying to find out where I want to go was a lot like trying to run before figuring out the bones of walking - to find my awesome three-year-old about to turn four... 

I'd been denying and avoiding that can of worms, ostrich-style. Because I wasn't ready to face it. And I still sort of against the odds hoped that the Universe would hold off. Hindsight, my detour might have been a run for a shortcut. To be ready. To be ready-er. To be Me with a Certain Life; a dream, a meaningful goal, an end to work towards. A life that would immediately see good use for all that extra time - because FOUR (in the Netherlands) isn't just a birthday - it's a coming of age. For children and their mothers... Four is - pretty much - the day my child goes off to school...

Last Tuesday, my baby turned four. Beautifully, magnificently - wise, gorgeous, amazing & awesome - four. & there is hard ahead, in that. In letting go; sending him - reluctantly, completely! - off into a world of his own where he'll weave his own magic fabric & face his own fears and triumphs. Where I take another, bigger, step back - always there to catch, kiss & make better, but forced into the sidelines a little more. Less able to 'look inside his head', less able to know what's going on, less able to fix what isn't smooth...

I know it goes with the territory of - raising a human being. Because that's what we do, us mothers, in the end. Having a baby isn't about a baby, although it feels that way for the longest time. It's about teaching another human being to be ready for the world. & the better we do that, the more stepping back we need to do. There is beauty in that, of course, but it's terrifying beauty when you're in the middle of it! Knowing that  he's happily running away from you because you made him feel safe and confident enough to do so doesn't console when you're looking at his cute tiny backside & all you can see, all that drowns you, is the fact that he's off. Skipping, no less!

He comes back of course, with stories of his own to tell. And you're still a mamma, his mamma! & you hope - more than actual knowing - it will get easier with time. Because all your friends and people who care tell you it will. And you believe them because you want to, and the tiny - hindsight! - steps before got easier as well. But for now, for right now, the hole in your heart is so big, a world could pass through without touching the edges...

All of this wraps itself around me, of course. Because my baby is ready for this step. And on the outside, I'm cheering him on! Of course I am! I remember from being a kid myself - new things are scary, but exciting, and growing bigger is all you want to do!

But I'm left with a hole to fill. And along the way, since coming back from Africa, I've realised that - this year isn't about finding out where I want to go with my life - it's about finding out who I am. Who I've become. It's about seeing all that I've shedded and all that I've taken on - in bigger and wee little steps - to become the fallible but actually okay human being I am. It's about defining myself, starting with where I am, instead of where I was.

Because I came into being a mamma with a whole lot of bagage. I came from mud. I came from - never enough, and never going to be anything but a failure - all that, drowned in Chardonnay. And I grew, with my kid. I am a world away from where I was before. As a mamma. Here I am, on this threshold that looks like a mountain, feeling like I'm nothing but a mamma. Like there isn't enough of me to fill all that kid-in-school space with things that matter. It's exactly why I started this year thinking it was all about finding direction, when it's really, in the mud of things, about finding me. I've been hiding inside the mamma. Right now, I feel like I only matter in light of being a mamma. Because before I became a mother, I was nothing. Nothing of much consequence, anyway.

& in the middle of all that thinking, feeling and crying - so who am I, with this hole in my heart? - I found myself pregnant.

We've been trying for a second child for about 2,5 years now, swinging between failing to conceive and miscarrying (before you ask: we haven't seen a doctor about it yet. No. Because I used to believe in natural, and in accidents, and in belief, and trust, and hope, and in it will happen if it's meant to be. I'm losing balance on that perch, but that's another story). Another can of worms when it comes to my identity as mother - because it's hard not to think 'if I'm so good at being a mamma, why can't I be a mamma twice?' followed by the crushing thought that - I might be a mamma before and beyond everything else, but that doesn't necessarily mean I'm great at it! - eventhough I know, of course, that it doesn't work like that and it means nothing as much as it means everything.

My miscarriage started on Sunday, the day of Isaak's birthday party. And I kept it together, sort of, not yet ready to let go. On Tuesday, his actual birthday, there was no point denying it anymore. There wasn't going to be a baby. Not this baby, anyway. At 6 weeks, 1 day, I lost another dream. But I kept it together again, as much as I could. Because it was my amazing kid's birthday! Because Isaak turning 4, going to school, that was meant to be my emotional sinkhole!

And it was, and it is, of course. My emotional sinkhole is - being a mamma. Not being a mamma. How much of a mamma I am, how I measure up. How far does my mamma-ness stretch, and where am I, beyond that. Stretching myself around that pregnancy - gingerly - thinking that I wouldn't need to find myself beyond being a mamma quite yet, and the relief in that, too.

Life is as much about saying goodbye as it is about saying hello. I realise that. Life doesn't like holes, and as long as you don't go sit down in one, occupy it like you own it, it will fill itself with something else. Something meaningful, too - if you take care, are willing to see it for what it is. So yes, I'm open. I'm an open wound, but open, nonetheless. The gaping moment after goodbye is terrifying - when you let go of something - especially when it's something you don't really want to end; something you don't want to lose; someone you don't want to see leave - and you're not quite sure, never less sure of what it is you'll be saying hello to.

All I know right now, is that I'm saying goodbye to the baby I nurtured to be ready for school, not knowing who we'll grow up to be, either of us, but open to it, with heaps of love, knowing this 'in-between' will pass (and come again in various shapes and forms). And I'm saying goodbye to the baby I didn't get to hold. I'm saying goodbye to the me who thinks she's nothing but a mamma, and hope to discover who she is when that second skin comes off. And I'm holding this space - no matter how tiny it feels to be right now.

It's been cathartic, to write my story down. I'm weaving fabric here. The fabric of my human life. There is no point in construction - part of me wants to tie the loose ends and force the pattern to repeat - force the colours to match - but there is no such thing. Trying only keeps me spinning my wheels in sadness. I want there to be space! Space to see the sights, space to find roads and detours. Breathing space. Space to find the wisdom in hindsight - not that which masks as wisdom, ahead of its time and place. Been there, done that, and it's never yet led me to where I truly live.

It would be too easy - no matter how it beckons - to tie loose ends to make space. Because right now, I don't see much space ahead. But it doesn't work. You can't outrun goodbyes forever - say hello to whatever looks promising, no matter what - just to embrace something. There comes a point where you have to sit down and take your time with it.

It feels like I've been trying to outrun this while paradoxically sitting down with it at the same time - for months. In the shortcut I tried to take, in the months of inflamations, and in the too-real things that happened over the past weeks. Like I've been holding my breath for a whole year by now, only to find that it didn't help, and I'm not ready, and I don't know when I'll get up again. But I will. I'm already in the process of getting up, although not quite ready to move on.

I think I'm ready to take on all that time ahead - the hours when Isaak is in school - and fill it with not knowing. And to be okay with not knowing for a while. I mean really okay. An open sort of okay. Not limited by frustration or a need to know. I think, basically, I need to see who I am for who I am, and see what happens next. And draw some of it!

I hope you made it all the way to the end of this post, but if you didn't, that's okay. What matters to me, quite selfishly, is that I did. I'm here. I made it through to the end of it, and the end is merely a new beginning. If I let it be that. And I will. I'm willing and able and courageous enough.

I love this quote:
"When one door of happiness closes, another opens; but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one that has been opened to us." - Helen Keller
& it tells me exactly where to be right now. 

Thursday, November 8, 2012


Summer is well and truly over. It has been for a long time. But I haven't been able to find my way back here - until now. Too much has happened - especially in my head - and it all falls into the category Big Stuff. And it's been building in chaos for so long, that I just wasn't able to capture it in words. Or art with a real heart. It wasn't a lack of bravery - I truly believe I'm growing braver and more courageous by the day - but a lack of words. Of not being able to string it all together in a way that makes sense. To you, or me.

Not being entirely clear on what my blog is meant to be all about doesn't help to find my way back. It's about what I make, my art work, my colour struggles; but in the end - as I'm finding in the doing - my art is about meaning. About scratching an itch, about getting stuff out of my head and onto a page, about making some sort of sense of what's going on in my life - in lives in general, of what makes us tick and what weaves the fabric of human life. About what helps when things aren't smooth - like coffee, chocolate and cakes - and about what I look at when I can't see the bigger picture - like flowers, lots of flowers and plants growing roots. That is what ends up on my page, anyway, when things are flowing.

I'm in the middle of finding out - of trying to find out - of finding the courage to try and find out what my illustrations are about. Where my art fits into my life and what I want it to mean, and to whom. In the midst of re-invention, pretty much. I'll get back to that, but that's what makes it hard to confidently, loosely share what comes out of my pen & paint box. In these days of chaos, it's crazy hard to get to my dining room table 'studio'; to start something and to finish it. Nothing I create comes close to what I want to convey, and I feel lost. My muse doesn't dig chaos. She signs off, without leaving a note, to come back when I know what I'm doing. And she wears a fake innocent smile, like she had no idea I needed her. I'm finding out, among other things, that I need to know what's going on to be able to put it into images. And that isn't an excuse - although I've mistaken it for procrastination on numerous occasions. It's simply what is. My illustrations are about me, about where I find myself & what finds me. And when my GPS is off, like it has been for months now, I'm having a really hard time painting myself to be...

And this isn't even the beginning of what I came here to put out into the world, but I'm out of time, and I suppose it's as good a re-start as any ;) I want to be back here, and I will be. Hold a space for me if you can!

Monday, July 16, 2012


Slak is the Dutch word for snail. Where spelling mishaps turn lethal ;)

It's what I've been doing already, really, cutting myself some slack, but I'm making it official: I'm taking a blog break for the Summer. I could make it huge and tearful, but the truth is - while there have been things I wanted to blog about pretty much daily, I just haven't been able to make it happen. Time... It's all about the constraints of time and everything I want to do. And where those two clash, that's where my blog has been. 

I've been feeling guilty about it - of course - and I'm not promising things will be better soon, necessarily, but I mean for things to be better soon. I mean to find a way to make it all work. In fact, I bought a book called Making It All Work, it's written by David Allen, and I intend to read it. In pockets of time ;) Because it's a recurring theme in my life, really - the fact that not all really works... 

I will be back, because I love sharing my stuff here, and I really love that you guys are out there - reading and telling me what you think. I'm missing it. But I can't keep asking for your attention when I've got nothing to say - there's too much of that going around in the world anyway. So I will be in touch when I've got things - a little more - under control... I'd love to see you then!!

Meanwhile, have a great Summer! Rain, shine or heat waves, I hope you find a way to enjoy what this season brings! Thanks so much for being here & out there!

Thursday, June 21, 2012


I'm going to share myself as a chair.
I knew you didn't see that one coming :D
Pikaland Make Your Mark assignment # 5, finished about a month ago.
Draw the chair you think you are, artistically. I think I made it more about me in general, but that's okay. I'm okay with that. It's fascinating either way, and I was surprised at what came up & out! 

Me as a chair: black & white as instructed for part one - brutal honesty as a personal touch.
Part 2: chair, coloured. Yes. It's quite possible you recognise this chair. Three drawings in one week, people, it was hard work! So I cut a corner. But only a little one. And one that's quite fitting, when you think of it ;)
And finally, my chair against a background without white. I love this one. It involved watercolour, photoshop, micron pen drawing, more watercolour, some gouache and coloured pencils, more photoshop, actual printing, cutting and pasting (the cushion), lettering and scanning! It was an exercise in getting out of my comfortzone, while still ending up with an illustration that's me - both in style and punchline :) 

On a different note, my wrist is still not back to what it should be. I know what's wrong with it - stress, from my head into my shoulder muscles, down into my wrist to settle there. I've had it before, but never this long or quite this severe, and it's been getting me down and optimistic, pessimistic and back up again. I've discovered that I need my wrist for pretty much everything I love to do, as well as for everything I sort of have to do, like cleaning and chopping veggies. While it really is no hardship not to be able to cook healthy family meals or chase dust bunnies for a while - it is a b**ch not to be able to fill all that lovely downtime with all the things I complain I never have time to do more of... Ouch.

I am when I write, when I draw and paint, and when I blog, read blogs + comment and spend time on Facebook being amazed, amused and touched. I am not so much when I can't. It's a lesson. A big, overwhelming one. One that leaves me kicking and screaming until I tell myself it will pass when I stop fighting it. Do I believe that, to the core? I do. I have to. Because this is what I reinvented myself to be when I started cleaning out my closets back in 2010. And I really don't think I've got the stomach to go back in! Sorry for the dramatics. Just thought I'd let you know where I am these days. While I'm there. I have absolutely no intention to stay here, much longer!

Anything you're ready to kick to the curb?! I'd love the perspective right now!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012


Yes, a semblance of something moving here ;) I haven't been here, but I feel like I've been pretty much everywhere else, lately - in my flesh and bones life. And then I sort of crashed, which was inevitable. Or that's how it felt, anyway. But it was good, in a self-help-book sort of way - it was needed. Another reassessment of things and stuff and priorities.

That's all I have to say about it, for now. It isn't much, but at least it's a semblance of something happening ;) As is this drawing! My first in over a week. The stress bit my wrist and my wrist sulked. Is still sulking really. Drawing hurts. But I was sick of it! So there! And, so, ouch...

this is for sure the worst post I wrote in a long time! then again, this is the first post I wrote in a long time. I'm forgiving myself for it. my self-help books say I can ;)

Saturday, May 26, 2012


Of course I've been drawing outside again :D Although not as much as I would have liked to - but there you go. Such is life, such is my life in many aspects at the moment. Still trying to find balance, still sucking at it ;) A work in progress...

But stuff is happening, though! Inspired by this book, a tip from Jodi on her very inspiring blog, I sort of came to a conclusion about my style. My outside style. What I know and love - pen and watercolours - will work beyond these walls, too. Why not?! I can work on being faster, I can work on being a little less into detail, but I don't need to reinvent myself! Hindsight, I really don't get why I made such a big ado about it all - I guess it was nerves about taking the show on the road in the first place ;) Sometimes, apparently, it takes a lot of hard thinking & going round in circles to find you were alright & okay to start with. Hmm! I send myself on wild goose chases! No wonder I can't seem to find balance :D

Here's what I drew on Mother's Day after deciding to stick to what I know:

A little work-in-progress :) Fun to see myself working when I didn't even notice the pictures being taken :) I've found out I'm not as sensitive to my surroundings (specifically: people!) when drawing outside as I thought I'd be - which is another good thing to know! It makes it much easier to plonk myself down somewhere, regardless, and draw!

And here's the final image, some details - involving a bit of creative license - drawn from a bench in the sun, while Amsterdam was busy all around me:

And, last Saturday, I had an art date with Koosje, who actually got me thinking about taking my art outside in the first place :D We met online through Stephanie Levy's Creative Courage e-course and this was the second time we saw each other in real life - while she is already awesome on the 'net, she's even more fun in person :D We spent a really cool afternoon chatting, drawing & painting outside in Amsterdam, which will definitely be repeated! Here's (part of) the loot:

This may sound cheesy, but to heck with it: YAY - from my toes! - to new friends with creative habits!! We should all examine what we loved most when we were kids and find people who'll take it beyond kindergarten with us!! That really is awesome & I'm so grateful :D

Here's to old and new friends who've been out drawing with me - to many more chat & draw dates to come :D This really is a style of getting together and hanging out that I could get used to :D

Wednesday, May 16, 2012


It's been almost two weeks since this blog has seen any action from me... Lots of comments though, thank you so much :D

I've been a little - okay, a lot! - busy with Pikaland's Making Your Mark e-course. It's a course that promises to help you find or investigate your personal style in various ways, and so far that's true. There is a new assignment every week, and there is plenty of room to stretch yourself, if you choose to. It's interesting! Last week I had to create an image from a combination of one item on a list of things I KNOW and one item off a list of things I LOVE, and then recreate that image in both pen & ink and collage! It was a total challenge, especially to get it all finished within a week ;) But I did, and I love the way it coaxed me out of my comfort zone - especially the black and white image that was supposed to include tones and values. Man, tones and values are hard! I knew that, I've only just begun trying to add more light and shadows to my watercolour pieces, but then to decide whether red is lighter than blue, and how to represent that in ink lines? Hard!

Here is what I did in my 'medium of choice'. My 'items' were "I LOVE going outside with my kid on his balance bike - he's given me new eyes and a new lease on wonder", and "I KNOW my kid is half South-African". The elephant was annoying - I miscoloured it, then re-coloured it, which didn't work as well as I'd hoped, and then I tried to rescue the whole blessed overworked thing with coloured pencils. Let's just say he's got a skin condition and be done with it ;) And let's say I'm able to draw an elephant that looks like an elephant, because in the end, that impressed me most :D As well as how I drew my kid :D Sure, there is something not quite right with his hairline, but hey - we all need areas of practise, right?! ;)

This week's assignment will be fun too, I think and hope! We were meant to go to a museum or art gallery, and revisit an existing work of art. And while that sounds like fun (can't remember the last time I went to a museum - shame on me!), I don't really see when I could be doing that and finish some art work before Monday. And then I remembered (funny how these things work, really!) that there is a whole ado around here about a couple of months that Claude Monet spent in Zaandam back in 1871! I investigated and found out there is a little book about it, so I went out and got that - and there are quite a couple of surprises there :D But I won't spoil the fun just yet - I'll post about that when I'm able to illustrate my findings ;)

Yes, I'm enjoying MYM, for sure! I love a good challenge! I am a little disappointed in the lacking sense of community there though. After both assignments, I've been going out of my way to find something constructive to say about each and every piece of art work posted - because I feel that's part of the deal, and because I enjoy seeing what others come up with, for inspiration and at times awe, but hardly anyone bothers to come back and do the same. Apart from KoosjeJodi - much appreciated :) Of course that is what it is, but in the end, I feel I've paid a lot of money for just a challenge and some feedback from the course's creators - who don't come back for a bit of dialogue either. But it is what it is. All that said and paid for, I will enjoy the challenge, and see what I can get out of Monet in Zaandam. Because honestly? I probably never would have investigated what the ado was about if it wasn't for MYM :)

Are you straying outside your comfort zone in any way? I'd love to hear and see!!

Thursday, May 3, 2012


These are the drawings I came home with after working outside - or at least in public ;) - last week :D

This was lunch on the 26th, on an art date with a friend :) We did lots of walking and talking, and we even managed to draw some :) Lovely day!!

Another art date on Saturday, with a friend in Gouda, to make up for the missed Sketchcrawl the week before :) We sat on a park bench in the garden of a museum, surrounded by beautiful old buildings - but I ended up challenging myself with angles again. I figure the only way to get better is to keep trying ;)

On the way back from Gouda, we ended up in a traffic jam because of road works. And I decided to take out my sketchbook :D I'm really starting to dig the idea of bringing it everywhere :D

And here's my lovely boy. His back, anyway ;) I am having such a hard time with realistic faces... I maimed him in the drawing I did before (which I tore out of my sketchbook, totally going against principles. It really was that bad!). But then I was struck with the brilliant idea that I could focus on his cute little backside ;) The pockets on this pair of jeans are stitched low - just so you know - that wasn't me missing the truth again ;)

That last drawing, on Queen's Day (celebrating the Dutch Queen's BD, fleamarkets everywhere and people wearing lots of orange)? I did it in the park, on the playground, sat on a bench, surrounded by throngs of people! I'm definitely getting braver, and I'm really starting to love just going with the flow! Sure, I hesitated, but I did it, anyway :D

When last did you do something anyway? I'd love to hear :)

Monday, April 30, 2012


Here's number 5* in Red Parka Diaries' drawing challenge: draw a picture inspired by your favourite song (or just pick a line from a song).

I picked a line from Mumford & Sons' Thistle & Weeds. I'm currently loving their Sigh No More album (thanks, S!). It's a great backdrop to movement get-doing! It isn't necessarily a happy place, but there is energy! I love the folk-style music in combination with the angsty lyrics, and depending on my mood, I listen to either or both ;)

Yup. Cartooney moi - burlap-covered for decency; not in thistle & weeds, as instructed - is looking way too happy for this song - but not for this cut-out! I'm planting quality Hope Seed here, people! You need to smile along with that. It's in the manual. It helps the seeds grow roots as well as wings! I could use a bit of both - who doesn't??

So here's to healthy Hope Plants for all of us! May they bring the magic and the happy :) Would love to know where you could use some, if you're willing to share!

* links to this challenge's number 9, number 2, number 1number 10

Thursday, April 26, 2012


Here's number 10* in Red Parka Diaries' drawing challengedraw your favourite drawing tools and pay homage to them. Because let’s face, they are awesome and we’d be lost without them.

From right to left - because I can ;) - my Japanese brush pen, through JetPens, along with carbon ink cartridges that are permanent and waterproof (I used it to draw the bike in Amsterdam)! I love that pen! Especially because it's cherry red and because it takes courage to put it to the page, so it keeps me on my toes :) Next to it, one of my Big Girl brushes, and one of my Koi waterbrushes (that I - let's be honest here - use a lot more often than my Big Girl brushes these days...). Dr. Ph. Martin's India Ink - I use black the most, but I have a gorgeous colour wheel of them and they are all waterproof! My go-to dip pen with sketch nib. And of course, my watercolour set - a Van Gogh box filled with Winsor & Newton. Mostly artist grade, but there is some cotman left - I'm slowly replacing empty pans :)

At the bottom of the page, my less adventurous but definitely trusty tools. The ones I grab most often really. The tools that take the least amount of courage to pick up - and let's face it, not every day is a day of Great Courage or experimentation. There's my orange mechanical pencil, filled with B leds, my eraser (or what's left of it), and one of my Sakura Pigma Micron fineliners :)

I suppose this is what my drawing could have looked like if I'd kept it simple. Because these are the tools I use most often, and without these, I'd be lost. But I love all the stuff I use. And most of all, I love that it's there to use! That I can grab whatever my mood guides me to and draw! That all of these things are always out on the dining room table - my dudio - making me happy and excited even when I'm not drawing, but merely walking past, or dusting around them! 

I loved drawing my art supplies :) I love looking at art supplies! But of course, most of all, it's about using my art supplies. That's the best homage you can pay them! But it was fun putting them in the spotlight like this, and I think they appreciate it too.

In case you're wondering, I'm still working on my morning coffee. In the first version, I misspelled twice, and in the second version I used colours that are - not quite it, to be very mild & gentle ;) Version three is in the works. It might be up next. But you never know what happens when these tools and my mind start on a trip all their own ;)

* you can have a look at this challenge's number 2, number 9number 1 if you want :)

Tuesday, April 24, 2012


This morning, I finished number 1 in Red Parka Diaries' drawing challenge: draw what's on the desk in front of you. I suppose I could have drawn what was in front of me before I actively put something there that I wanted to draw, but since I made this challenge about drawing, whatever the excuse, I'm okay with bending the rules. I drew, didn't I? ;)

Here's what I did for number 2 and number 9, and I'm working on number 7, my morning coffee - almost as we speak :)

What are you up to? Any challenges?

Wednesday, April 18, 2012


Here's number 2 in Red Parka Diaries' drawing challenge. I drew my pet :D

Okay. I'm stretching it here. This is Shrek's cousin Chilz. He stopped by to pose with some freshly picked dandelions from our backyard (incidentally the only flower blooming there at the moment...), because I wanted to draw him for a birthday card for the neighbour across the street. I wanted Shrek, of course, but he couldn't make it on such short notice. Besides, his fees are ridiculous! And I say, an Ogre is an Ogre, really. When it comes down to it. Not that the neighbour is an Ogre of course. He just likes Shrek. And Chilz, I hope ;)*

Of course, I'm not keeping an Ogre for a pet. I don't think you're actually allowed. Not that rules are always stopping people, but I draw the line at Ogres. For myself, anyway.

Truth is, we don't have a pet. Just a kid. And he's at least as cute and entertaining! I know I could have drawn someone else's pet, but everyone else has a cat. And at the risk of offending - I hate cats. I don't want to stare one in the eye long enough to draw it. They creep me out... So I'm submitting Chilz. As a pet. He said I could ;)

Here's what I did for number 9. And I'm working on number 1 today :)

* I am utterly AMAZED at people (like Koosje!) who are able to draw a character and stick with it, reproducing it in many different poses and surroundings. I can't do it! I can only draw what I see, and if Chilz is evidence, not even that entirely true to the examples in front of me! Obviously, this was meant to be Shrek. But I just couldn't get it right! Don't get me wrong, I'm happy with Chilz, but it just isn't Shrek... Chilz says - nor does he want to be, thanks very much! Shrek is way too busy Being Famous, if you know what I mean. But that's besides the point ;)

Tuesday, April 17, 2012


Yup. Been at it again! Yesterday morning, I spent an hour at the end of the street, sketching this:

They were working on the road, so there was sand. Squirt entertained himself and didn't ask once if we could go home! I've got an awesome kid, you know?! :)

It's hard to shut up my inner critic when it comes to loving what I come home with when drawing outside (I love the clouds, though!). For now. I have discovered that my usual style of drawing needs a table and a chair. And a lot of time for detail. It's good to know these things. It means I need to work on a new style, more suited for quicker sketches in uncomfortable positions. Which means I need to practice and do this as often as I can. I should, and I will :) All I'm asking for is slightly warmer temps... But to be on the safe side, I bought all three of us (very cheap & flammable) blankets to keep us warm on outings until Spring really comes to play. See, I'm totally taking this seriously :)

Jodi (of Art by Wiley, a lovely daily blog you should really check out!) mentioned this drawing challenge the other day.  Here's Jen's list:

1. Draw what’s on your desk in front of you.
2. Draw your pet (or someone else’s if you don’t have one).
3. Draw the contents of your refrigerator.
4. Draw the dream you had last night (or the last one you can remember).
5. Draw a picture inspired by your favourite song (or just pick a line from a song).
6. Draw your letterbox (if you’re letterbox is particularly uninteresting, or if you don’t have one, look here for inspiration).
7. Draw your morning cup of coffee.
8. Draw your favourite outfit (get some inspiration here)
9. Draw an iconic building in the town where you live (or the town where you were born, perhaps?).
10. Draw your favourite drawing tools and pay homage them. Because let’s face, they are awesome and we’d be lost without them.

And wouldn't you know, the building above - thought maybe not exactly iconic - fits the list! It's number 9, because I've decided it is ;) That means I'm in, I think :) Seeing that I've spent more time online than with my sketchbook lately, I figure I could do with a bit of a challenge. Get me off the couch! I won't be doing all of these outside. That's another challenge. And I'm on that - as you can see! But anything that helps me put the pigments to the page is good for me right now! I'm not sure I'll finish these in a week, like Jen suggests, or even that I get to all of them. But that's okay with me. Like I said - anything that helps... helps, you know? :)

Want to join, too? Or are you facing another challenge right now? I'd love to hear what you're up to!

Sunday, April 15, 2012


Master piece? Yes, I think so :) 
Because I got away with drawing this quite inconspicuously, but... this is a busy corner in Amsterdam, and I got my sketchbook and paint out anyway :D

P.S. Yup. I just noticed... I predated this drawing ;)

Thursday, April 12, 2012


I'm It!
I've been tagged!

The first tag came from the lovely Helen, who makes gorgeous ceramics (in her new & very own kiln these days!), among other beautiful things.

This ceramic pendant is her work. It's almost as lovely as she is. She sent this to me, just like that - because she felt I could do with a little sunshine... Be sure to visit her Etsy shop and buy yourself (or a loved one) a present - you're worth her amazing work :)

The second tag came from Fran, whose blog I stumbled upon sort of accidentally one day :) I love her drawing/painting/lettering style! Her shop holds some lovely watercolour & lettered work. She inspires me, and I should visit more. (I should visit more. Yup. In general. I'm a little lost these days. And I need to find me some balance. But that's a different blog post and I might write it some day, if I ever get to it!)

These are The Rules of this game of tag:
... you must post the rules
... answer 11 questions the tagger posted for you
... create 11 questions to ask the people you tag
... tag 11 people
... let them know you've tagged them.

Helen, here are the answers to your questions:

1. If there were Super Heroes like Super Man, what would be your name and what would be your slogan?
I'd be Pencil Girl. I'd love to be able to help out with a quick drawing that would turn usable with a snap of the fingers :) Of course I'd need to learn to snap my fingers, but that's the next step! My slogan? Uhm... "If you're in a tight spot, I'll draw you a door!" :)

2. As a Super Hero, how would you save the world, make it a better place?
That's a stretch for Pencil Girl. She's more of the quick fixes. But I think that - if things run more smoothly, there is not so much need for grumpiness. And less grumpiness makes for happier people. And happier people are more inclined to spread The Happy. Which would help the world. I believe that. Maybe my slogan should be "Spreading The Happy, a drawing at the time!"

3. If you were an art supply what would you be based on your personality?
A ZIG Art and Graphic Twin Tip Marker. In orange. There are days I feel like spreading it on the page with a brush pen, to hell with the consequences of lefthandedness! And then there are days that I'm rather more understated and an unwavering, thiner line is more my thing - less risky, safer, less fun. But still orange. Because orange might just be what I need to cheer me up - even on a bad day :)

4. If you could swop bodies with any-one for a day, who would it be?
Honestly? I really, really don't know! There are quite a few people whom I'd like to understand better - why they do what they do and where they're coming from. So I suppose I'd like to take working holidays in the heads of people I know. Does that count? :)

5. Has a book or film ever moved you, what was it and why?
A lot like I answered above. I am moved by people's realities and what they try to move beyond their circumstances. There are many books like that - a couple off the top of my head, "Breathing Space", by Marita van der Vyver, "Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close", by Jonathan Safran Foer, and "The Quiet Violence of Dreams" by K. Sello Duiker.

6. What is your favorite song of all time?
Oh my gosh, that's hard! There are SO many great songs... And I've tried, but I honestly can't come up with an all-time favourite... At the moment, I'm loving Tori Amos' Night of Hunters, Saybia in general, and Mumford & Sons' first and only album so far :)

7. Is anyone in you family arty?
We've discovered only last year that my dad has a real talent for painting! He only started taking  a class after his retirement, but he's AMAZING!!

8. Other than being an artist, what is your hidden talent?
My right thumb is double-jointed... :)

9. How would you like to give to the community you live in if you were able to?
I know that there are a lot of lonely, isolated people out there... I would love to be able to visit them all weekly. Just for a chat and a cup of tea. Nothing complicated. Listen. Be there. I met a lovely Moroccan lady through a program for that purpose, and we've become friends over the past - gosh, almost 5 years! When I have more time, when Squirt's in school, I'm going to see what programs are out there, locally (we've moved, since)!

10. What do you want from tomorrow?
Oh, time for some art! I haven't brought out my supplies since my public adventure over the weekend! Shame on me!

11. What do you want from your friends?
That I can be myself. That they feel they can be themselves. That they listen, and feel they're heard.

& Fran, here are yours:

1. Did you have a favorite book as a child? What was it?
I read all of the Famous Five books by Enid Blyton. Devoured them, really.  And used to hope I would stumble on Amazing Adventures some day, too :) 

2. What is your favorite meal?
I love food, and it's hard to name a favourite... Some days I NEED to order pizza. With pepperoni. And jalapenos. And pineapple. My go-to quick dinner recipe these days is a spinach pie with whatever special cheese is left over from the weekend, along with olives and chopped cherry tomatoes. And tonight we'll have pork tenderloin with lemon, a tomato & black olive salad with lots of tzatziki. All yummy... :) 
And I LOVE cheese. Any kind. Haven't met a cheese I didn't like yet. I have regular cheese nights with my friend across the street. Great talks and awesome cheese - heavenly combo :)

3. What is one thing that motivates you to create?
Learning to become better at capturing things... I can be moved by a colour, a shape, a concept that I want to give a visual 'voice', but in the end, it's still about getting better. & a deep felt need to draw :)

4. What is your favorite art/craft/supply store?
It's tiny, and it's about 600 feet from my home... Which isn't good. Ow yes, it's BAD :D

5. What is your favorite season?
Autumn - I LOVE the colours! Although I love Spring too. All that fragile sap green - gorgeous!

6. As a child, what did you want to be when you grow up?
Many, many things :) But I think I held on to the idea of doctor the longest. Up until I found out that I had absolutely no aptitude for science... :)

7. Where are you situated in your family? Oldest/youngest/middle/only child?
Oldest. I have a sister who's 3 years younger.

8. Who is/are your favorite artist[s]?
I don't know anything about contemporary famous artists... I feel that as a lack, but don't have the time to add it to my list of 'shoulds'... There are so many amazing artists online - like you, and I'm not just saying that! I'm always SO inspired when I visit my favourite blogs!

9. If you could pick one piece of artwork in your home who's would it be?
Again, I love the stuff that's being created by blogging artists with Etsy shops :) I've done a few art swaps as well (money is a factor of course...), and I love having (watercolour) art from other creatives around when I sit down to draw and paint myself!

10. If you could give your younger self one piece of advise, what would you say?
Don't believe everything your mother tells you. Don't take it all to heart. Listen to those around you who are better able to express themselves positively. Look at yourself positively. You don't have to 'become' anything - you're precious and special already! (Save yourself many years of trying to unearth hidden treasures, that way...)

11.What is your favorite flower/plant?
I love herbs! Basil, thyme, oregano... They are so beautifully green, smell pretty and they taste good :)

Here are the 11 people I'm tagging:

And here are my 11 questions:

1. What’s your favourite breakfast?
2. What’s your favourite country or city, and why?
3. What is the last fear you faced?
4. What do you do to unwind?
5. What’s an art form or medium you’ve never tried but would love to give a go?
6. What’s your intention with what you do with your heart (art, cooking, caring, anything), other than the fact that you can’t NOT do it?
7. What’s your favourite colour at the moment?
8. If there is one thing you could change about your life, anything!, what would it be, and why?
9. What do you do to help yourself through an artistic block (if you ever have them!)?
10. What is the best thing someone could surprise you with, right now?
11. I would love it if you could post a self-portrait – any part of you that you love!

I would love it if you play :)

Sunday, April 8, 2012


It's been about 5 months since I did this and promised myself I'd do more of it... And it's not like I hadn't been thinking about it. But drawing & painting outside is one of the contradictions in my life. As in - I want to, I really do! The abundance of inspiration! The practise! The freedom, too!

& then there is the Fear. The Fear of Doing It. I want to say, I really don't know what it is!, because I could comfortably hide behind that ;) But I do know. It's the idea of looking stupid. The fear of people coming over to see what I'm doing, and them walking away thinking - oh my gosh, she thinks she can draw?!

But the want and the need won, this weekend :) I bought an outdoor watercolour box out of my first earnings (YAY!!), and sat down to sketch and paint on a freezing beach and in the freezing woods on Friday! Hardly anyone there, so it was a great place to start ;)

And since it was so cool - I mean, it really felt great, not to have to wait to break out the paints till we got home - I plucked up the courage to take my stuff to Artis Zoo again yesterday, and do some more public displays of creativity there :)

Of course I'm not completely comfortable with the whole thing quite yet, nor completely happy with what came out of it - but I did it, and that's what matters :) Practise. I need practise. And who knows? I might actually get some ;) Today we're  off and out again, and my paints will travel along. To bring the stuff is always the first step, courage will & does follow, slowly but for sure :)

What's your fear? What are you facing up to? I'd love to hear!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Thursday, March 29, 2012


Perhaps the best way not to engage in conversation with those voices? Drawing with my new bamboo pen and ink! And mess with masking fluid and watercolours!
I'm not fooling myself, they'll be back - but this afternoon I went with fun ;)

Tuesday, March 20, 2012


I got commissioned by my lovely & amazing acupuncturist (if you're local and tempted, contact me for her phone number :D) to design a card she could send as a birthday card to everyone on her client list this year! She left me - beyond - free, all she could give me to go with is 'yin yang' and her favourite colours, black and white :) 

This is the design she chose, and it was incidentally the one that came most from my heart. Tulips are her favourite flowers, and I didn't actually know that :) Payment? The rest of the year treatment for free!! That's a lot of money, but it feels like much more than that - the flow of energy in giving what you love to do in exchange for what you love to get :) An amazing experience!!

Friday, February 24, 2012


My mailbox held an awesome surprise, yesterday afternoon :D 

I received this beautiful collaged mail art card! From someone I didn't know! I love a good mystery almost as much as unexpected artsy mail :)

Of course I had to go look at Jo's blog immediately - she makes the most amazing mixed-media collages, I'll definitely be back :) - to see if I could figure out how she got to me & my address! Hah, and there it was! A conspicuous avatar in the 'Followers' gadget! Mystery solved :) Thank you, Robin, for being liberal with my postal address ;) I love it :)

& thank you Jo, SO much!! Comments on my blogposts are awesome, but this? This is so much more! A blog comment that I can touch and frame! My mailbox was happy, but me? I'm over the moon :D xx

Thursday, February 16, 2012


Playing, this morning :) Honestly, I was just playing! My pepper & salt shakers on top of an empty tub of body cream, because it was there, as a still life 'scene' :)

Now that it's finished, I see my current recurring 'concept' in it, again. About friendships, expectations, listening and being heard, pedestals and crap. Yup, even when I'm letting go, my conceptual brain subconsciously kicks in. It's a curse, LOL :)

I'm trying to learn to play more - let go. Not because it's infinitely important to play, or to let go, when it comes to what I make. But when I don't - when I hang on to my apparent need to draw and illustrate concepts - more often than not, I don't draw at all. Because I can't find the words for the concept, or I can't decide on the illustration to go along with it. Or because I start and my inner critic gets floor space before he should. That happens less and less, but it still does, occasionally. Especially when I'm digging deep, trying to excavate soul - like when I'm doing a course ;)

But if you didn't know all that, you'd just see salt & pepper shakers on top of an empty tub of body cream. Right?! ;)

Thursday, February 9, 2012


Yes to space to be yourself. Yes!
And what is weird and alien, really? At the bottom of things? Where it matters, I mean?
I think it's all about - how much space you let yourself take up. I know I could take up more space. Should, even, in some situations. Stand up. Be counted.

How about you? Are you filling all the space you really need, to be you?

Saturday, January 28, 2012


I have joined beautiful Shannon to retake her amazing e-course Inside Out. I know that's a Big Word, but it's the truth. This course changed my life in 2010.

I wasn't really anywhere, back then. I always knew I 'liked to draw', but I never did. Because I was up to my neck in muck, crap and other self-imposed restricions keeping me from living - as opposed to existing. Really. I know it sounds dramatic, but it's true. Taking this course opened me up. It was a starting point for everything I've become and accomplished since then. Which is a lot. Still sounding dramatic, I'm well aware. But it's still true.

We've just finished the first week, and I'm... speechless! I always said I wanted to take this course again, and the fact that I'm doing it, now, is synchronicity. I have three words for 2012, and the most important one is FEEL. I want to feel what I do, and what I don't. Where I'm beautiful, and where I'm really not, so much. It's a challenge. I have never really felt my way through anything. I've tried and come close, but it's alien to me, still. This is all - hard to word, and probably worth a blog post all its own if I ever get to it ;) But what's important, what I'm trying to say is...

I thought I was going to do this course to see where I'm going. To find goals, something to dream about, and then make plans. All noble causes in themselves, and who knows, I might even get to that ;) But why I'm really here, now, is to FEEL! I have kept my Art Journal from back then, of course. And I can re-read and re-visit everything I struggled with then. Where I was, what I feared, what I thought my accomplishments and strengths were - and there weren't a lot. It's heartbreaking to read! I feel the desperation that was in almost everything I wrote, apart from being a mamma, pretty much.

And what I'm left with, here and now, is gratitude. Deeply felt. Into my toes and back up again. I have done all that! I'm feeling it! Really deeply realising that - I did all that, I came all this way to be here, where I am. Realising that this is a beautiful place, no matter what's itching at any given time.

Life of course didn't necessarily get easier, but I did. I know, these days, that I'm stronger than I think. That I can find courage to take things on, even when they're scary as hell. And that's a beautiful thing to know. It's a beautiful thing to reconnect with. And an amazing thing to feel!

I can't wait to see what else surfaces. And what I'll draw about it ;) There is always that, since 2010, too ;)

Monday, January 23, 2012

Saturday, January 21, 2012


I love advertiser mythology ;)
Of course, since this tea is in my cupboard, I've bought it; hook, line & sinker...
It's lovely tea, honestly. But I can multitask. I can throw a hissy fit while sipping!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012


This is my Tree of Life. This is where my passions live! I have passions! I have known and lived what makes me happy off and on over the past two years, but only too recently found out that they make me, pretty much!

Create in the broadest sense of the word - creating a life, as creatively as possible ;) But of course even more as in, literally pouring myself onto paper - drawing life, illustrating my moodswings. Finding humour & a smile in the nitty-gritty. It sucks me right out of my stress, my fears and my anxieties! It might not last beyond the time I spend with my paper and paints, but there, in that moment, it feels manageable. That's an awesome start, I think!

And excavate - getting closer to my truths. Peeling away layers of obstacle and blah and all that stuff I've told myself about myself for way too long... Becoming Me. The Me my Inner Toddler wanted to grow up to be. Authentic, if you like the Big Words... And then - needless to add perhaps - find a drawing in it all :) These two go hand in hand! And it's a neverending story, of course. Which is a very lucky thing, because I love that tree. It's where my passions live!

But when all is said and done? Even though I know where my happy lives? This...

... is where I spend a ridiculous amount of time. Procrastination is a straight-backed chair in a cold, bare room. When you think about it. When you really get into the concept. It never makes you feel better, or rested, or happy with yourself.

So, why?! That's what I'm trying to figure out. Knowing all that I know about me, my Tree and my passions, why do I end up sitting on that uncomfortable chair a whole lot more than I can... explain?!

What makes you procrastinate? Do you know? I'd love to hear your insights! :)