eigen kweek / tulips from the garden

With so many Dutch beauties blooming away, showing a field of pinks, purples and reds, I couldn’t keep from cutting some for a bouquet… I have to tell you, the garden has me in its grasp! It makes me do things I haven’t really done in years, since I was a kid, like picking flowers and the cheer joy it brings… And like back then, this bouquet I gave to my mother.

The more delicate tulips like the white/pink ones with the frizzed edges (tulipa Huis ten Bosch) or the red parrot tulip on the right (with the curly petals) seemed a little lost amidst the rest, so I thought it would be nice to admire them up close in a vase. Yes, it’s that latticino vase from the March calendar! There are still plenty in the front garden though, charming neighbours and passers-by and it almost seems they are somewhat complementary to the rampant dandelions on the driveway, lol (I still have to deal with those). Can’t wait to fill up the rest of the front garden at the end of the summer (so far it’s been “tulip’d” about halfway)…

Tulipa Huis ten Bosch, Purple and Candy Prince
Tulipa Huis ten Bosch, Purple and Candy Prince, and muscari and forget-me-nots in the back
lily of the valley
Lily of the Valley getting ready for May

Tulipomania or Tulip mania was a short period in the 17th Century in the Netherlands during which tulips became immensely wanted; prices rocketed and then plummeted again. Combined with the popularity of the Vanitas theme, this also led to many wonderful still lives of flower bouquets and botanical paintings…



A lovely walk in the woods, on a sunday afternoon in April, with the wild hyacinths and anemones blooming…




Weathered tree stumps become a host for new life.



This is on one of the hills surrounding Ronse, with some great views.


The red brick chapel is one of the places where the Fiertel procession passes, and many pilgrims throughout the years have carved their name in the brick walls…




I haven’t talked about this walking trail yet but I’ve been walking there for years… mostly because it’s so easy (it starts at the end of the road where my mother’s house is), you can do it without hiking gear (as I usually get muddy and only then realise I’m wearing my pretty shoes…) and it has a lot of variety.

There are views over the fields and surrounding hills, there are forested areas…and since it used to be a railroad that has been asphalted, it is even. It’s great on foot, accessible by wheelchair and a lot of fun by bike! It’s my favourite.



It was one of the first real spring days…sunny and blossomy!



trees in the wind
a little bit of film during a previous walk: just the trees and the wind

The big discovery of this “expedition” was this curious growth near a tree, a parasitic plant called Lathraea clandestina (schubwortel in Dutch) that feeds off tree roots and blooms in early spring. It is a rare plant in Belgium. Supposedly imported from South Europe and not very wide spread in the Low Countries.



I discovered the biggest patch which poked through the leaves, and then began to remove more leaves, revealing more and more patches, so it seems this beech is quite “infected” with it. But apparently the trees don’t suffer so much from these otherworldly looking parasites.

Lathraea clandestina (Schubwortel)

By the way, the English name of this plant is toothwort, because the white stubby leaves (the plant doesn’t have any chlorophyl) look like teeth… imagine them nibbling on your toes when you’re walking past! Hehe. Beware of the woods in Ronse!


Remember that tub full of tulip bulbs in October? After a whole winter underground, they’ve been popping up and one by one they’re starting to bloom… Different types of tulips means they all have their own internal clock, some have started blooming early and some are still waking up… It’s fun to discover who’s up next!

1  It started with snow drops, crocuses, intensely fragrant hyacinths and then the narcissus…

bulbs! blooming and everything!

The front garden is by far not finished yet, but is already looking a lot more cheerful than a  year ago. About half of the surface is now covered in tulips and muscari! Shades of blue, pink, salmon and purple (and dark red which I thought would be black!).

bulbs! blooming and everything!

  • The white ones at the front with purple streaks are Tulipa Flaming Flag,
  • the dark red ones are Tulipa Ronaldo -both are blooming in their second year
  • the glorious & tall salmon pink ones are Tulipa Van Eijk
  • the pale pink ones are Candy Prince and their purple counterpart Purple Prince
  • for some reason there was a row of stray yellow-red tulips that bloomed first, making a mess of my color scheme! LOL

bulbs! blooming and everything!

bulbs! blooming and everything!I’m not sure what these red ones are either, but the pure white tulips scattered here and there are Tulipa Purissima and Candy Prince are the pink ones…

More photos at flickr and you can follow my tulipo- and other gardenmania on Pinterest!

bulbs! Tulipa "Van Eijk"
Big and gorgeous Van Eijk Tulip

desktop calendar for April

Desktop calendar for April – click image to download

Well, maybe I should call this a calendar for mid-April! I’m late (again…) because I’ve spent every free moment I had outside… Ever since I moved to Ronse I find myself drawn to the landscape, the flowing fields and the woods on the hills! I have a few posts ready about my explorations so you can discover this landscape with me.

For the calendar of April I wanted to show you a little work-in-process image of my fur/landscape project. I’ve been searching for a way that worked in translating that soft feeling of fur, a sense of movement as with grass in a field, while still indicating something glasslike and fragile. I’ve come a long way with it, as you can see in the posts from a few months back (november and december). I explain how I came to it in one of upcoming posts; for now, enjoy your calendar!

desktop calendar for March


(click image to download)

Oh dear, I’m a little late! Sorry about that. School(s) and a new job have taken over my life again. But here is March, all festive and topsy-turvy!

This fun small blown glass vase was made in the traditional Venetian latticino technique, and for some reason got dumped with a bunch of wine and beer bottles on the streets in Ghent! Crazy. So I rescued it, and now it’s here…

I love how the lines in the back get distorted by the ever so slight relief of the lines on the surface on front.

Maybe the striped pattern was too old-fashioned, too busy. I can understand, Venetian styles are so very kitschy! But at the same time this vase represents a glass blowing technique that requires so much practise and dexterity. This isn’t just a stripy vase to be tucked at the back of the cupboard, or in the attic, but it represents someones dedication to a craft, and shows the tradition it comes from. Even the colours aren’t random but connect to the tradition.

To give you an idea of how this vase was made, here’s a video made in the hotshop of the Corning Museum of Glass of a technique that’s even more virtuoso; it consists of a double row of lines, to mimic lace and is called reticello:


p.s. I want that glass cane guillotine! Hehe.


These worries weighed on me for years, until finally, keeping a journal helped me resolve some of these questions. Drawings are “feather-thoughts”—ideas that I catch in the air and commit to paper. All of my thoughts are visual, but often, the subjects of my drawings aren’t translated into sculpture until years later. So a lot of what appears in my drawings is never explored. Abstract drawings come from a deep need for calm, rest, and sleep, and they spring up directly from the subconscious. Realistic drawings are the surpassing of a negative memory, the need to erase it, to eliminate it.

Louise Bourgeois on her sketchbooks

What would I be without my notebooks? I’ve kept a variety of diaries, sketchbooks and “research” notes since I was a kid. At first I collected all sorts of cool facts on the natural world around me, as well as stones and fossils (and dinosaurs!) and mixed that with my own experiences and discoveries. My “nature books” had a bit of everything: dried flowers, written observations, lots of collage and some sketches. I even started a separate one on dinosaurs alone, because I was a little obsessed at the time and dinosaurs are fantastic.

Later on, during a difficult period in secondary school (I was bullied), I read Anne Frank’s diary and I started my own. I even adapted her letter-writing diary style for a few years. I’m happy that I developed this habit of writing about my inner life at the age of 13 and have maintained this ever since. It’s been a life-saver. Even when you can’t talk to anyone, you don’t have to keep it all in and paper is always forgiving… And then you go back to what you’ve written before, and it starts making sense; you become your own counselor.

sketches and scribbles 2014-2015
sketches and scribbles from 2014-2015

Only much later in my twenties, around 2006-2007 I began to collect my visual ideas in dedicated notebooks. I should show you the development of the notebooks some time, when the daylight is better than on this dark February day… The curious thing is that these notebooks are a lot like the earliest ones, the nature books. I’d even say that they pick up where the nature books ended!

They’re filled with research, quotes, sketches and technical processes, … mostly focused on my own artistic process and who (or what) inspires me. And at the same time, they have the same aura of privacy that my diaries have. It’s not that they contain anything secret but to me they are certainly private to an extend. What’s going on in there isn’t ready yet, it’s all squishy and not articulate. It’s still happening, not quite done yet. I don’t want to share that with whomever, although I don’t mind sharing parts of it (which more or less end up as blog posts anyway).

Interestingly, a few months ago Anne-Marie Van Sprang taught a great workshop in Sint Lucas on the most gorgeous white porcelain, and she mentioned the importance of jotting down your thoughts as part of documenting the process, while you’re working, so you can revisit them when you reconstruct your working process afterwards. Making sketches was important as well, but she emphasised the combination of the visual and the written.

As I am writing this, it makes perfect sense but when I heard her say it at the time it was a revelation. The permission to be private, and allowing yourself to open up in a place of safety (even if that place is just a notebook), that’s a big thing. At least for me, but surely I’m not alone in this sentiment!

In my own work I know that I tend to keep to the safe side of abstract, organic, geometric design which can be interpreted in various ways and doesn’t directly link to my personal experience. It could be, for me, but it wouldn’t be directly revealed by the form. It works rather through concepts than personal history. I love how Louise Bourgeois herself makes the distinction between her abstract, perhaps meditative sketches and her raw figurative ones that link right back to memories and things she had to work through. I actually try my best not to give myself away, fearing to reveal too much, but I’m learning to trust the process and by writing as well as drawing work towards more connected and personal work.

To be continued…