My painting in a museum


Sounds cool, right? My painting in a museum. It’s something a lot of artists will be very excited about, but in my case it’s not such a big deal.
Here’s how: I work at the Westfries museum in Hoorn, the Netherlands, as an educator. So I’m the museum’s host when schools visit and I design the holiday’s programs for children.
For this summer holiday I chose “color” as a theme for all of the activities in the museum. And in one of the museum’s rooms we got a lot of Delfts blauw, or Delfts blue art, so I wanted to design an activity on different shades of blue.
And it came out to become very simple: we are going to display a painting, created in different shades of blue, placed on a magnetic board, with magnets in different shades of blue, provided next to it. The blue magnets are to be placed (nu the kids) somewhere in the painting on the same shade of blue.
Only: where to get such a painting? Well,.. I can create it myself, of course! Within a few hours I painted Hoorn’s most famous ship in blue, while I usually prefer to spend months on one painting.


The result is for educational purposes only, there need’nt to be anything aesthetic about it, so I guess I can say I mainly fulfilled my job as educator, while the artist in me had some fun too! And:.. it’ll be my first painting in a museum! Funny, right?



Wall art


I promised myself to get more creative and try new art techniques, and I hope I slightly got to this, when I created wall art this weekend.
I usually paint with oil paint, but for a wall painting this would be inconvenient: it is too expensive and dries too slow. So I bought the most cheap-ass acrylic paint I could find along with the most inexpensive plastic brushes, and gave it a try. Turned out that the paint wasn’t that bad and the brushes actually were quite good (for the Dutch readers: I got the brushes at the Hema and the paint at the action). It was just very strange to use a paint wich is quick-drying, I had to get used to that. I also am not used to trying to finish a big painting in one day, so I didn’t succeed in that, but a few hours work the other day made me do the job. Here are some pictures! 





Do you like it? 😁

Tenerife Espacio de las Artes


On holiday with my 13 year old son I had little hope I could see a museum and enjoy. I still remember going to the Louvre when he was 8, and barely saw the Mona Lisa, for he was in a hurry to get out of the boring building. Today I found out we simply had to go to a museum on contemporary art and ask the question: “what do you see?” Turned out, this question even made me enjoy more too, for he has such an incredible imagination! We enjoyed the whole museum, but in particular the exposition of Juan Carlos Batista. He makes surrealist sculptures, or; ‘surrealist textual strategies, with their abundance of amalgams and metamorphoses of already-given objects or images‘, like the brochure says. As you can see for yourself:




Next are some more pictures from works of art we found intriguing. And I won’t say what we saw, you can decide yourself! ūüėČ





Escher as mentor


Escher is famous for his impossible constructions and transformation prints. Most people know his ‘tower of Babel’, ‘Belvedere’, ‘day and night’, ‘drawing hands’, ‘relativity’ and many, many more. All of them are to be admired in the former palace of the Dutch queen Emma in the center of the Hague. And that’s where I went one¬†weekend in 2014.

It not only was delightful to watch those drawings, litho’s and woodcuts, it also was educational. Escher not only is a master of surreal images, he also displays a very excellent study of perspective and symmetry. His works are really geometrically fabulous.

Remembering some difficult angles for¬†drawing, I especially was interested in Escher’s top down perspective.

rome tekeningIn Rome I once made a drawing, sitting in castel st. Angelo, looking down on the st. Peter’s basilica of the Vatican. I planned to draw all the roofs, with the basilica in the middle. But I got lost due to the huge amount of roofs.Esscher 01

Escher had dealt with this problem. His woodcut ‘roofs’ is a very good example of how I would have drawn my view from castel st. Angelo. How did he do that?

His drawing ‘Atrani’ (in the left circle below) shows us how. He had drawn lines on the sketch, to make sure everything had the right proportion. His litho ‘Castrovalva’ also reveils a trick (in the right circle below). This trick actually can only be noticed when you place the litho next to a photograph of the original view. You will note that Escher left out some of the houses. I bet the¬† houses were indistinguishable due to their quantity, so drawing veraciously would not make such a beautiful litho.

I’m planning to apply these lessons from Escher one day. I really would want to go back to Rome to redo the drawing. I hope that day will come before I grow too old to hold a pencil. ūüėĬ†Esscher 07

456 things to draw


“Do you feel like drawing, painting, use chalk, do a sculpture in clay, cut and paste, but you don’t have any inspiration? Don’t fear: 456 things to draw¬†will give you many ideas. Draw something you would never think of drawing. This book will pull you out of your comfort zone. In it¬†you will find space to do 456 crazy drawing exercises on extra thick paper. The paper is suitable for all kinds of techniques. From croquettes to fruit liqueurs, from a runny nose to a root canal, from a wining child to colorful make-up techniques. These 456 new and unusual instructions will surely entertain you.”

I got this book from my mom. She saw it in the bookstore and immediately thought I should have it. And although I am very happy with it, I can’t help wondering one thing: why didn’t I think of this? The book is awesome: I certainly draw stuff I never thought of drawing, but why didn’t I think of drawing the stuff they suggest in the book? Is the book meant for becoming more creative, or is it meant for people who lack creativity?

I sure hope the book will help me become more creative. I usually just need one little idea to come up with bigger, different ideas. I think that’s what the book is supposed to do; help you think out of the box. Because that’s all you need to do to get creative: stop thinking in the way you always thought. Outside the box is where you will find new ideas. And if you go outside the box more often; new and crazy ideas will come up more easy.

But does it work? I only did two drawings in the book. (I just got it.) One of the instructions was: the day after tomorrow. Two days after I did the drawing;¬†I had to give my students an exam, so I drew students taking an exam (so much for thinking out of the box and getting more creative,.. sigh,..). For the other drawing I was told to draw ‘speculations’. How does anyone draw speculations? The word has two meanings, so I chose the most easy meaning: “activity in which someone buys and sells things (such as stocks or pieces of property) in the hope of making a large profit but with the risk of a large loss”. And I drew the mission house in our city. This mission house is subject to speculations, and therefore abandoned and becoming a ruin more and more each day. Such a sin!

So; did I get more creative by doing these two drawings? Is the book proof I lack creativity? No, it isn’t proof I lack creativity, but I guess I still need more exciting exercises if I want to practice in becoming more creative. The book is still fun though. Thank you mom!


What to do about failure anxiety?


kunst20falen20arjan20damMy second last post was a review on a book about failure. While reading the book I found out that I am performance goal oriented concerning painting. The book told me that being performance goal oriented people perform less, so I concluded I need to be more learning-goal oriented.

To become more learning-goal oriented, the book suggested 4 steps to follow towards less failure and higher production:

  1. name the obstacles

I want to do it right in one try. I don’t trust my creativity because I don’t want to fail. Most of the time I think I can paint because I am talented. Being convinced of my talent, I don’t believe in the grow-theory, which says I am not born this way, but I need to practice, try, fail and try again in order to grow.¬†Due to this, I get frustrated when I don’t get it right, and I quit. And after quitting I have a hard time believing I can do it right the next time I try to finish the job.

2. how can you overcome these obstacles?

Don’t quit. Don’t try to get it right in one try. Do exercises in becoming¬†more creative. Start believing in the grow-theory and practice, try, fail and try again in order to grow. Start believing I can do better. Take the time. Don’t set performance-goals. Schedule study-time.

3. set goals to overcome the obstacles

Paint, at least for 4 hours per week. (I unfortunately also have a job and a household to run,..) Don’t quit when it doesn’t work. Continue after failure. Try new techniques.

4.monitor progress

How do I monitor progress? I, for example, can promise to write a blog post about trying new techniques, every other month. How about that?

5. give yourself rewards for achieving goals

My reward? Isn’t getting better the best reward? Otherwise; chocolate,.. chocolate will be my reward. I like that idea,.. Yeah, let’s get started!

art at a children’s birthday party


My son will have his 13th birthday¬†this Thursday. Even though he’s a big boy now, he still wanted¬†a real children’s birthday party,.. a Star wars birthday party¬†of course. But, how to throw a Star wars birthday party? The internet is full of tips and tricks; from a Star wars BINGO to a Star wars galaxy Obleek, (don’t ask me,..) and from a death star pi√Īata to edible TIE-fighters.

(if you’re interested in any of these ideas: here are the links: BINGO, Obleek, Pi√Īata and TIE-fighters)

But, since my son’s autistic, and all of his friends are too,… the pi√Īata had to be crossed off the list,.. the TIE-fighters were a good idea, but there’s no way you are able to buy hexagon-shaped cookies in the Netherlands, I didn’t know what to do with the obleek, and for bingo I needed a bunch of presents, wherefore¬†I did not have enough money nor ideas.

So, it was time to throw in some art! I decided to let them paint T-shirts. With star wars templates of course. Both the templates and the paint were homemade. Because: do you know where to buy Star wars templates? And textile paint is waaaaaay to expensive to buy. Googling on the internet I found out that you can turn gouache into textile paint (you can also use acrylic paint), all you have to do is buy a bottle of textile medium! Textile medium isn’t very expensive, and neither is gouache; so you’ll have plenty of textile paint for a minimum amount of money! I used Creall tex mix; but the T-shirts haven’t been Curtis verjaardag 03washed yet, so I can’t assure you it works,… yet,..

The templates were made from pizza boxes. I spend a whole evening drawing them and cutting them out of the cardboard. I used a small scissor and a sharp knife. I was afraid the cardboard would be too weak to be used by children. Especially since some of the templates had very small strips, which were easy to break, but luckily the kids were very cautious, and there were enough adults to assist them during painting. The results were amazing!Curtis verjaardag 04

If you’re planning to do this, make sure you have enough time to cut out the templates and,.. (something that totally slipped my mind) make sure to give the kids aprons! The textile paint is meant to stay on textile,.. so it surely can ruin the shirt they’re wearing!

Being creative on a party is great, but it wouldn’t be a party without snacks and presents. So I designed¬†a game for this. It was a ‘board-game’ covering two kitchen table tops. +/- 50 colored paper sheets, laid down in a circle, represented about 50 different tiles. 20 of the tiles offered a snack for the visiting player. 2 of the tiles asked the player to sing a birthday song, 2 tiles made them skip turns, and 4 tiles bid the player to throw the dice a second time.¬†Currtis verjaardag 01

All of the kids had presents for my son. Instead of just giving him the presents, they had to hide them. The hiding was part of this board game. During the game they could visit a tile that said them to hide their present. My son had to leave the room for a moment, and after the present was hid, he was to search for it. I also bought¬†little presents for my son’s friends. These presents also were hid and found during the game.

If you like to use this game for your party, this is the ‘board-game’s plan:

birthday game

Some instructions:

  • if the birthday boy visits the tile ‘hide your present’, he can choose who’s present he wants to search
  • if the birthday boy visits the tile ‘search your present’, there’s no action, since the little presents aren’t for him
  • if a child visits a tile ‘search your present’ or ‘hide your present’ while he already found or hid his present, there’s no action
  • the game’s finished when all of the presents are found
  • if you want to speed up the game; leave out the ‘skip turn’ tiles and write down ‘hide or search your present’ on the blank tiles
  • give them small snacks: 3 slices of potato chips, a small¬†cookie, miniature donuts, miniature hot dogs or miniature marshmallows will do just fine

The art-part of the game were the pawns. To stick to the theme, all of the kids had a Star wars pawn. I had cut six pieces of wood, primed them with GESSO, and painted 6 different Star wars figures on them. My son also had collected 6 plastic Star wars cups, so the cups matched the pawns, which I thought was quite nice.

I did not have time to paint the pawns with oil-paint. I don’t have acrylic paint, so I used marker pens. The funny thing is; when you’re drawing with marker pens¬†on a primed object, the ink dries slower, so you can mix and blend the ink while drawing. The result is much like a painting. I was surprised! It was hard to recreate the images in the short amount of time I had (I started painting 2 hours before the party,…. ai,…) But I’m happy with the results nevertheless.Curtis verjaardag 02