I’m listening

On a lazy sunday (which seems rare these days) I’ve been painting the walls in the hall. I decided to finish the nearly empty bucket so I wouldn’t be greeted with any more unexpected painting opportunities

So while I was busy I decided to catch up with some of my favourite podcasts. I don’t always have time to listen, but some tasks – like painting the walls, or when I’m knotting or stringing beads – are so inviting to listen to other people tell stories. I kind of miss the days of the radio plays… I remember taping a radio play about Felix Mendelssohn who wrote his first opera as a teenager and my nerdy 14-year old self thought that was so cool…and it prompted me to try some composing as well. I loved discovering composers, artists and other famous dead people and how they were as kids. It was reassuring that they were often just as awkward and weirdly obsessed with music or art or whatever their thing was.

Now I still love to discover how artists live and work or what makes them tick, and if they’re alive and well it’s a big bonus! Hehe. So I listened to The jealous curator, who has a conversation with a different artist each week. I love how relaxed the conversations are although there’s room for the more challenging aspects of creative life (like that pesky inner critic)…but that’s often exactly what appeals to me. The artists are usually new to me, mostly American or Canadian but there are some Belgians on there too (not on podcast though). It’s great to discover new artists!

There are a couple of other blogs that also feature artists: for Dutch speakers there’s the excellent blog of Hilde van Canneyt, Gesprekken met hedendaagse kunstenaars, and I also check Freunde von Freunden. In this international blog a wide range of creative professionals over the world get interviewed and pictures of their home and studio are shown, but I don’t always feel a connection with them. I guess it has to do with the more formal style of the interviews, the focus on success and confidence, and the often incredibly gorgeous interiors. I mean, they are fabulous and to some extent inspiring, but the they don’t always feel lived in.

This was so different in the On your desk photo series on author and artist Terri Windling’s blog, which consisted of just a few personal snapshots of the studio work table or the writing desk of writers and artists who visited her blog, often with glimpses in their book cases or the pinned up inspirations and their feline or canine companions… It felt way more real to me, and intimate. Our (creative) lives aren’t polished, nor should they be…


thesis assistants
On my desk (or rather next to it), a few months ago:
my thesis assistants Assepoes and Isaura
(and Takkie, my trusty USB dog)

gazing through a crystal ball…

gazing through a crystall ball...
Hokusai’s Kōshu Inume-tōge (The Inume pass in the Kai province), subject of my comparative paper of his and Caspar David Friedrich‘s mountain landscapes.

   Since my sixth year I have felt the impulse to represent the form of things; by the age of fifty I had published numberless drawings; but I am displeased with all I have produced before the age of seventy. It is at seventy-three that I have begun to understand the form and the true nature of birds, of fishes, of plants and so forth. Consequently, by the time I get to eighty, I shall have made much progress; at ninety, I shall get to the essence of things; at a hundred, I shall certainly come to a superior, undefinable position; and at the age of a hundred and ten, every point, every line, shall be alive. And I leave it to those who shall live as I have myself, to see if I have not kept my word.

Hokusai wrote this introduction for his 36 views of Mount Fuji (1830) which he published when he was in his seventies. He kept on painting.

This is reassuring… I’ve always felt that developing as an artist, maturing into your own style, takes lots of time and shouldn’t be rushed. I think that’s why I’ve shied away from taking lots of art classes -I have done a few, but just to learn the technical basics (drawing, lampworking, metalsmithing) so I could work on it by myself afterwards. I feel I have still a long way to go, so much to learn, but it doesn ‘t worry me. On the contrary, it gives me a rare sense of serenity. I read this wonderful reminder (and Hokusai’s quote) on Terri Windling’s blogpost Growing into your work.

Journal of Mythic Arts: you will be missed!

Endicott Studio

Have you ever heard of the Endicott Studio?
Maybe not, but perhaps these names sound familiar: puppet artists Brian & Wendy Froud, authors Neil Gaiman, Margaret Atwood, Terri Windling, illustrator Alan Lee. They all contributed to this beautiful and ever fascinating Journal of Mythic Arts issued by the Endicott Studio…of which the last issue has come out just yesterday. It’s online and free to read, watch and be enchanted by it: non-fiction (one’s an article on British forests which I love), short stories, poetry, themes and archetypes in writing, a gallery of all artists who contributed to it…

All on mythology/fairy tales/folk art and contemporary artists/writers/performers! Even though this is the last issue, it’s well worth to explore the rest of the Endicott site, blog and former issues of the Journal.

These kindred spirits have taught and inspired me for years…and you maybe as well?