December Rush

December Rush always starts halfway November for us; approximately the same time that “Saint Nicolas sets foot in Holland”. It is the time that work related deadlines are pushed up in the priority list, to be finished before the Christmas holidays. It is the time when a lot of things/projects have to be finished as if there is no life after Christmas… It is a time of rushing to buy presents; not only for one occasion -Christmas- but also for several dates starting with the arrival of St. Nicolas (the weekly ‘shoe-gifts’) and escalating with ‘pakjesavond’ (=gifts-evening), when St. Nicolas-evening is celebrated. The fact that there are no holiday days before or after St. Nicolas-evening makes things rather stressful and tiring. To add up to all this hype, in our (extended) family, we also have four name-days and three birthdays…

When I started this weblog, I did so with the intention to write about my work: it was supposed to be something like a logbook to keep track of my working process and -hopefully- get some feedback from other people. I realize now that lately I write more about other things, so you have every right to question the intention or purpose of my blog. I have been questioning it myself too for the last few weeks. Thinking about it, I came to a number of conclusions; here’s a list of some of them – as you know, I love lists 🙂

  • In my kind of work, I was wrong in trying to separate work-life from personal-life: I am one person and it is this unity that keeps me sane whenever the creative flow is so intense that it becomes more than I can handle.
  • I have often thought that painting is like breathing; at least, it is like this for me: I ‘inhale’ the world around me and I ‘exhale’ with paint on canvas… Which means that my working process is divided in ‘taking in’, receiving inspiration without simultaneously making the actual physical painting, and then ‘letting out’, transforming the idea in matter – paint on canvas or pencil/ink on paper. The length of time needed each time for this ‘taking in’ or ‘letting out’ can vary between a split second to several weeks or months.
  • I am a painter. In Greek, the word for ‘painter’ is ‘zografos’. It comes from ‘zo’ which is the first person form of the verb ‘zein’ = to live, coming from ‘zoë’ = life, and from ‘grafos’ from the verb ‘grafo’ = to write. So a painter is someone who ‘writes life’…
  • Priorities in life are in a constant change: one period work wins, the other period family life wins, especially around holiday times.
  • And last but not least: a very personal matter, a personal choice: ambition.  Yeah, for sure I have the ambition to, once, maybe, paint a masterpiece… But I have an even bigger ambition: to raise my daughter to become a happy and balanced person; to provide the immaterial things that I missed in my childhood, and -lately- to support and help her through the difficult times she’s having being bullied at school. Facing this last problem and all the consequences it might have for my daughter’s future, all the work-related issues I set for myself seem to be trivial; it is a matter of setting priorities…

Making this list somehow freed me. What I experience in my everyday life has a direct – or indirect – influence on my painting. Sometimes it takes years to realize this; other times the experience itself is the theme or subject of a painting. Inspiration works in mysterious ways… But what do you do when Inspiration guides you to totally different ‘places’, different styles, and different disciplines? I’ve been inspired lately and started several new hobbies. A couple of them have now become more a passion -obsession- than just a hobby… Participating in PiBoIdMo (Picture Book Idea Month) awakened my desire to make picture books. I have always wanted to make illustrations for stories and texts/poems. Today is the last day of PiBoIdMo and I am very happy to say that I made it! I have 30 ideas for 30 picture books! I am sure they are not all worthwhile to pursue, but still, I’m glad I took this challenge. It really gets inspiration flowing unlimited… By participating in this wonderful initiative, I got inspired to not only make picture books, but also to write stories, different stories for young and old… So now, during the most hectic period of the year, I find myself juggling with even more activities, hobbies and obsessions…

Until next time!

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