feather-thoughts

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…

sketchbook project & etsy & aarghh

Boekentoren
No, the blog hasn’t been forgotten or misplaced, but as for a change this year I have been a wee bit busy, going back to college, volunteering at the Sint Lucas library and all. But it’s been great, so far! Lots of work: class, researching in the little specialist libraries all over the Blandijn next to that pretty Boekentoren (right >>). Now the deadlines for papers are coming up, and exams in January it has its share of the stressies, but… ooh it feels good to be back. So long I don’t flunk, of course. Argh! See? Stress.

I will feel better after January’s exams so I know if my study method works. The subjects aren’t too hard, but I fear my brains being rusty. LOL. We’ll see. Wish me luck!

The Sketchbook Project: 2011That means I haven’t been back at the studio, but I’ve done some little things here at home, in Ghent. Like the Sketchbook Project! An initiative by Art house coop in Brooklyn NY. The goal was to fill a moleskine sketchbook, working in a theme you could choose from a list. 
I’m quite self-conscious about my drawing and painting abilities, so I thought it would be good for me to participate and see what happened. Drawing didn’t work out, so I painted. And cut. And then I drilled. And sawed, stamped, painted some more, sewed, and was done with it. I had such a great time! Nothing like drastically altering a once pristine sketchbook.  😉 It has become a little freak… 
My theme was Night time stories and I used a quote by Breton, from his first Surrealist Manifesto, about the poet Saint-Pol-Roux leaving a placard outside his door whenever he went to sleep. The placard said: “the poet works”.

DSC_5134 

DSC_4980

17

torturing the poor thing:
sketchbook project WiP

:::: see the whole project on flickr.

The sketchbook is being sent back to Brooklyn where it will go on a tour in the US!  The neat library system (each sketchbook has a barcode) will keep all artists up to date of how many times their sketchbook has been borrowed.

And in other news, I’m back on Etsy! You can find some of the creations of last summer:

“lunar essence”
lunar essence

“green goddess”
green goddess

“a delicate balance” earrings

a delicate balance

And the website & blog have received their yearly dusting. I even went as far as to add a webpage about me/my creations. It’s not an artist statement really, but it’s a start.

Tweeting & tumbling from the Wiener Werkstätte

Josef Hossfeld for the Wiener Werkstaette

Twitter logo origins revealed! Goes back to 1906! 😀

I visited the Wiener Werkstätte exhibition at the Zilvermuseum in Antwerp this weekend.

It was ok.

Of course seeing works of Josef Hoffmann (and others), the collection of silverware designed for the Stoclet and the Wittgenstein family was fantastic, but I wasn’t too happy about the set-up…

The glare of the spotlights was rather annoying (and nothing says clean and sterile like a spotlight! Why not use natural light?! Especially for Art Nouveau/Jugendstil, which is such an organic style), the display cases were very big and the objects small, so it was almost impossible to get a close look. I love to see how the objects are made, what techniques were used…and with such detailed and small work it’s best to be able to see it from real close by so you almost have to squint! And what really put me off were the fake flowers in the exquisite vases. Come on! That’s ridiculous. I guess they had to bring some color to the sterile and monochrome set-up, but the result was rather funereal.

Anyways. The works themselves were inspiring enough! loved the square mazes, the stylized patterns and the delicate chasing/repoussé (like the little bird) and the set semi-precious stones (mostly lapis, carnelian & malachite).

:::::::::::::::::::

I’ve started tumbling! I’ve been at it since this summer, but wanted to give it a test ride first before I let you know. It’s a blogging service, especially handy to share all sorts of content: quotes, links, pictures, film, audio,… A neat way to share all sorts of little things that I encounter on the web & that inspire me! If you like to follow it you can subscribe, or maybe you do already by following the friendfeed. Or not. 😉

De Napjesdrager: inspired by trees

(also check the work-in-progress @ flickr)


Ingredients for a fused glass panel of a face made of leaves:

++ tree leaves drenched in sunlight

Napjesdragers

Napjesdragers

Napjesdragers

Napjesdragers

++ my mother’s well-used and worn 1960 ed. Geïllustreerde flora van Nederland, an extensive field guide to recognizing plants and trees. Her book has dried leaves and strings as bookmarks and when I was young we used it to press leaves and flowers!

Napjesdrager

DBNL has the 2nd edition of 1909 online! The b/w illustrations are the same of the 19th ed. I love those drawings, although they’re very clear, they’re not technically perfect. It makes me yearn for a time without internets and computers and easy digital photography where everyone had to be able to draw to a certain extent…

This edition speaks of the Cupuliferae, de Napjesdragersfamilie. A tree family that included oaks, beeches, chestnuts, birches, hazels and alders. It’s an obsolete term, nowadays this family is split up in Fagaceae (Beech, oak, chestnut) and the Betulaceae (birch, hazel, alder,…). Napjedragersfamilie is still used to describe the Fagaceae and the cups that hold the seeds of these trees, and I fell in love with the word napje. It’s also rather archaic. I remember it mostly from fairy tales and Breughel paintings and the nursery rhyme of the Bibelebontse Berg, where people (and bears) ate from wooden bowls.

++ Tree lore, green men and Tales of the mythic forest

sint-baafabdij

While this fellow is not exactly a green man, heads covered in foliage can be found on medieval cathedrals and churches, much like this Mr. crankyface in the Sint-Baafsabdij in Gent. They’re said to be remnants of pagan, Celtic lore and are among others connected with tale the Robin Hood.

++ gorgeous transparent & translucent glass colors:

pencil box

I took this picture when I started to prepare this project months ago, in the meantime a couple more colors joined the palette, like Vetrofond Tapenade and Cosmic Storm and some ambers and browns.

red + green

The effetre dark and light grass green (I tend to call them glass green 😉 ) are my favorite colors. Just as plain and simple as they are, they remind me of summer and of the sun shining through trees and that just makes me happy. Years ago a friend gave me a gorgeous Henry Dean vase in this color. I also used it a lot on Nur der Mensch:

Nur der Mensch...

So now you know a little bit more… are you ready to meet the Napjesdrager? 😉

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edit: whoops, typo. There’s a beech on the beach. Silly me!

earth & moon

 
This weekend I finished the moon spirit, a sister to the earthy one I created this summer. I’m pleased with with the way she turned out: a silver halo with starry sprinkles (7 of them, not unlike Rossetti’s Blessed Damozel…hehe). 
 
 

The TalentDevelop newsletter just had a piece on muses and creativity, and referred to a page on the history of daimons, genii and muses which fits right in here, with my little girls! 😉

More on Flickr, also some work in progress photos.

of rings, sketches and a zazzle

I’m getting increasingly busy again with the new semester at library school (and a short but exciting internship at the Sint Lucasbibliotheek in Gent! I’ve already raided the glass section…), and as a result my blog and art projects suffer a bit (thank goodness for little sketchbooks that I can carry around everywhere!).

Last week I participated in the Dag van de Ambachten, like last year at the awesome Glassworks studio, and was so busy melting glass and interacting with artists & visitors that I totally forgot taking pictures!

Luckily I can sneak some studio days this week in which I hope to finish some of my current projects before it’s half a year later again. All jewelry: the purple sister to my earth goddess pendant for my dear friend Vocisconnesse, the coral pendant (or brooch?), murrini ring, drop pendant and more which  I’ve baptised the specimen series (the organic shapes go back to my fascination with nature when I was 11-12 and collected treasures in boxes and filled notebooks with my “scientific” observations…back then I wanted to become a paleonto-bio-geologist and took it very seriously, LOL)

Meanwhile I’m also working on my first project in pâte de verre (wikipedia), although it may take until summer before I can start. Well, until then I can do some sketches and make some preparations… Moldmaking being one of them. Oh dear. In April I’m attending a demo of a bronze casting, hoping to get some insight there…

Oh! I almost forgot: people inquired if I made prints from the glass gardens, the fused squares from Nur der Mensch, the glass/copper panel I made last summer. Well, here you go! I opened a Zazzle store which has just that (and mugs!).

The (blank) posters, note- and postcards sell per 1, but the (also blank) “invitation cards” are per 10. I included them because there you have different sizes and paper options (from recycled to pretty linen textured), and you can customize it all. If you have suggestions for prints or items you’d like to see in the store (the dog T-shirt for sure… :-p ), let me know.

Also, any tips on photographing transparent but textured glass panels?