I have always liked to work with pastels. I discovered this material in my one and only year in Waldorf school when I was about 16 years. I remember copying The Girl with the Pearl Earring by Vermeer, and being amazed at the result, especially the brightness of the colors.
Since painting classes at Rietveld were not such a success (understatement) I thought to give pastel a try. Hooray! I am actually quite pleased with my accomplishment. I am concentrated and in control, while at the same time letting it happen on the paper. I feel euphoric. Very nice.
I also copy a photo of Ila by Harper, while Ila's friend Sheila is over for a play date. But she doesn't play, she stands behind me and marvels at the colors that blend into the picture of her friend. Very cute.
Finally we get to work with clay! The assignment is to contract two words and make a new word, but I get excited by the word 'koffiekop' which means coffee cup or coffee head. There is my excuse to make a clay face. Here at the Academy they say to make the assignment your own, don't need to follow it to the letter, so here I go, just using the assignment as a starting point...
Part two of the assignment is to translate this object 4 times bigger with a non-mouldable material.
But I am lazy. I don't know where to start and there are too many other things keeping me away from my art work (like Sinterklaas, birthdays and other festivities - it's December after all!). But in class, I realize I do have an idea that I would have liked to work on. A while ago I saw someone on the street with a bouquet of flowers that was wrapped in a very fancy way. The paper around the flowers was fortified with wires on the inside, that made it stand out wide like half a globe. That gave me the idea to make it rest on someone's shoulders, like a reversed head scarf, or with an ear attached , like a coffee cup. I am sure I will use this idea sometime...
The theme is: city, metropolis, repetition in the city, repetition in nature, and we work with mixed techniques.
We prepare the paper with gesso (light blue in my case). I found an intriguing picture in The International Herald Tribune; European-style houses in China that I want to recreate using stencils.
I like this technique. It allows me to work fast, mix colors easily. I use one stencil to make three different houses, so the perspective is not realistic, but I like the effect. I have noticed that working fast and carelessly improves my work. However towards the end of the evening I tend to overwork the paint again. It's so hard to stop. I can feel the work is not finished, but am not sure what it needs. There's a fear to leave it the way it is, because when will I have time to work on it again? I should allow myself more time. To make more versions of it, to try out different things. I have to learn how to fail, how to kill my darlings, how to move on without regret... Ah, life!
Extra assignment: Go to the open days of the Rijksacademie and choose two works of art: one that appeals to you and one that does not. Explain.
I enjoy taking my 9 year old daughter along. She notices things I (and other adults) do not. It helps me appreciate what I see better than if I would have walked here by myself. Most of the art is so hideous I don't even want to stand still to examine why I am so repulsed by it. Is it because I think I could do better? Or because I just don't understand. It fatigues me to try to figure out and understand what the artist is trying to express. Most of the time I don't want to bother. Is this what I would want to do myself?
The best work I see today, is because of my daughter. We enter a small room with a window where you can sit down and watch another room full of dead leaves. There's a radio that produces noise, just noise. I am about to walk out when my daughter says, 'o look, it moves.' And then I see... It's very subtle, like breathing. The dead leaves are not dead, they breathe, they're alive. The whole floor moves up and down. Breathtaking!