Back to Jugendstil

Floating away into the wonderful world of Jugenstil and Art deco. That is another way to go back in time. I love this period of more than a century ago, when books were written with words that had a life of their own and paintings offered a dreamy world where miracles were just about to happen. This portrait was taken almost two years ago, and needed the time to grow into this aquarel style

Last month´s sketches

Something completely different. Bread. The very first I ever baked, and it means so much to me! You have no idea. I took a huge risk given the visitor I expected. Simple recipe: whole grain flour, yeast, water and the simplest oven you can imagine. And it worked! It’s like magic.

Lovely to see the first ones of the year. In the backyard here in Hollandsche Rading, the winter jasmine is abundantly flowering.

Seeing this I realised I desperately need more yellow and summer colours. So this one is of a summer that feels so long ago.

Last one is of a visit to the Museum Voorlinden in Wassenaar. There are a few items on permanent display that bring out the inner child in everyone – at least, they definitely did in me. Like Leandro Erlich’s swimming pool, Ron Mueck’s Couple under an Umbrella, the Open Ended maze of Richard Serra and the tiny elevators of Maurizio Cattelan. 

At the moment there is an exhibition of the Italian artist Guiseppe Penone, who works with natural materials like trees and marble and leather, using the objects as a kind of memory or footprint of what has been. If you allow your mind to wander in his world, thoughts of interconnectedness of all visible and physical objects come up, of memories in the physical world and how we give meaning to what we experience with our senses. 

This picture below is of Tiger, tiger, tiger; the hidden tigers at the bottom of porcelain of the Ming Dynasty of Ai Weiwei.

To the Moon

Peter Westenbrink from Utrecht is an extraordinary artist. Right now his art is flying in orbit around the globe in the International Space Station, where a box contains numerous small pieces of art, made by artists like Peter.

He asked me to make a poster of him and his art. The concept he created himself, in the style of his other works (take a look at his website www.boutkunst.nl). I merely did the handwork: the photography and the editing in Photoshop.

The objects are a reference to the first word he learned to read at school. The teacher had these wooden tablets with images and a word, like the one on the picture (which in reality is approximately 50 cm in length), and the first one was: Moon! He transformed that idea in a piece of art the size of 1 cubic centimetre, the maximum size. All art in the space station will return to earth later this year, and after that another mission awaits. The aim is to go to the very moon itself, to create the first art exhibition on the moon. Lots of arrangements still have to be made with NASA and all, but the goal is clear. You can see it hanging in the sky every day.

Addendum
Just got a message from Peter:
“Coincidentally, the work of art (along with 63 more) returned to Earth today (January 11). At 11:19 a.m. our time, the space capsule splashed into the Gulf of Mexico, off the coast of Florida. The attached photo was taken at the landing site, shortly before landing on 4 parachutes. You see the spacecraft falling from the sky like a fireball (heat is released due to the friction with air particles in the atmosphere).”

Magical mushroom shedding spores by night

I saw a group of fly agarics, very nice for a beautiful night portrait. But when I arrived at the site in the dark, they had disappeared, broken down. Maybe run over by dogs, maybe taken by passers-by, but gone.

Fortunately the flashlight showed a few nice specimens in a meadow along the path. I knelt in the grass, put the flashlight on the camera bag and started to set up my gear: small tripod under the camera, setting ISO / shutter speed / aperture, focus… and then I heard something buzzing and rustling in front of me.

“Must be a beetle!” I thought hopefully. It sounded like a big one. Also nice for a night photo!

The insect jumped to the light, and tried to sort of crawl into the flashlight.

Not a beetle, but a European hornet. Our largest native wasp, even larger than the so-called terror wasp, the Asian hornet. One of those whoppers that you can hear flying by like a helicopter. Immediately afterwards, a second one landed in the illuminated grass. That one also seemed very interested in the light.

European hornets are quite large in their own right, but I did not know that they grew even three times as large in the dark. And that each hornet split into several individuals during the night. That is to say, these two insects sounded like there were five or ten of them.

The first one became bored with the flashlight, and began to inspect my camera. The second one flew first to the light, then to my camera bag. I wondered how I could lie down and operate my gear without running the risk of accidentally grabbing an insect. And I wondered if these two would be the only ones. A memory came to mind: that time when I accidentally sat on the edge of a lake on top of a wasp’s nest in the ground, and after being stung twice in my leg had to run to avoid worse. And I remembered the articles I’d collected about dogs, hikers, and cyclists accidentally getting too close to a ground nest of European hornets and being attacked by an angry swarm. Then the first hornet decided to inspect me.

I turned off the light and took a little distance. And after a minute or so, when all movement and noise subsided, I carefully walked back to get my stuff and go home. No night photo of the fly agarics today.

I didn’t go back until two days later. And what I hoped for, succeeded this time: catching the spores being spread by the fly agaric. There is a lot of Photoshop in this photo, but the spores are really real! Wonderful to experience the magic of the forest this way.

I learned a few things. The fly agarics are always redder on the other side of the path. European hornets are three times larger at night than during the day, and split into several individuals at night. And for forest photography you sometimes need a little patience

Portret met bloemen

Af en toe komt iemand met een leuke vraag.
“Ik wil graag  zo’n portret met bloemen op mijn hoofd. Maar dan wel met mijn eigen gezicht, want ik wil geen vreemde in mijn huis.”

Et voilá. Een portret in de stijl van de oude meesters.

Ik ben benieuwd: Hoe zou jij jezelf terug willen zien?