Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Picture Perfect

Finishing a painting or drawing is one of the more pleasurable moments in the creative process -as you probably can imagine. The job is done plus I get to make a trip to the framer. A double bonus, because I also enjoy doing the latter.
I see framing as a part of my work. It is the epilogue of my painted story and it has to compliment the picture without taking its place in the spotlight. I feel my work benefits from Baroque styled, gold-coloured frames or dark-coloured Spanish profiles. Black or dark brown's emphasize the mystery, gold gives it an exclusive touch. Curls, leaves, or decorated with a subtle pattern, a characterful frame continues the story beyond the painted edges of my artwork.

I found a book with some inspirational examples; 'In Perfect Harmony', on paintings and their remarkable (and/or original) framing. It features frames from the period 1850 to 1920, that were customized to fit a certain piece or created by the artists themselves. The book takes a closer look at pictures and framing from the Victorian High Renaissance era but also the works of Klimt, Degas, Seurat and many others. It mentions for example that Vincent van Gogh only considered a painting finished when it was framed; without it was still 'in the raw'. He and many of his contemporaries looked at a picture and frame as a whole and choose their own framing or had it custom made. Some examples;

First photo; Franz von Stuck, 'Salome' c.1906. 'The gilded frame is divided into four equally wide rectangular fields, each one bordered by a wave moulding. The panels, joined at right angles, were decorated by Stuck with a pediment, columns, and a base'...

Dante Gabriel Rossetti, 'Fair Rosamund', 1861. 'The low-relief decoration overlaps the frame's edges in an S-shape, thereby creating half-circle indentations. Ford Maddox Brown referred to these as Rossetti's 'thumb mark pattern'... This painting is not one of my favorites but I do like the plane, gold, inside part of the frame, which functions like a matting.

Gustav Klimt, 'Judith and Holofernes', 1901. 'Gustav Klimt sketched this painting a number of times with a frame (...). It is thus clear that from the very beginning picture and frame were conceived as a unit. The frame was probably carried out by Klimt's brother Georg, a metal sculptor. It is partially clothed in sheet copper; the title occupies the broad upper horizontal moulding. (...) The title, low-reliefs ornaments, spirals and waves are embossed'.

Fernand Khnopff, 'Avec Verhaeren, Un Ange', 1889. 'According to 'Les Artistes de la pensée et du sentiment', published in Brussels in 1911, this painting represents 'the struggle of Idealism against Materialism'. The 'angel' an imposing figure wearing a suit of armour, symbolizes Idealism, while Materialism is embodied in the sphinx. Both are raised on a socle within the painting; its strict subdivision into vertical and horizontal elements is repeated on the frame. (...) Acanthus leaves have been applied to the relief ornament at regular intervals. The colour of the frame -here silver- is, as in other works by Khnopff, related to the delicate tones found in the painting'.

Jan Toorop, 'Song of the Times' 1893. (...) The drawing (...) depicts Cain (on the far left) and Abel (on the far right); next to each are figural symbols of Good and Evil, while the central position is occupied by an androgynous person, pressing a sphinx-like creature to the ground. The lines which surround these figures are continued without interruption on the frame, a broad flat type that slopes toward the canvas. To the left, lines head to the lower part of the frame, 'into the earth' and Death; these same lines rise up on the right into the starry sky'.

Photo's & quotes; In Perfect Harmony, Picture & Frame 1850-1920, by Eva Mendgen. ISBN 90-400-9729-1

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Tuesday, November 30, 2010


Although this may look like a thrown away, trampled piece of gum photographed from up close in the shrubs, it is in fact an insect. A member of the family Membracidae (or Treehoppers or Thorn bugs), to be more precise. Their surreal looks have a camouflage purpose and their remarkable outgrowths discourages predators to eat them. There are 3200 known species in over 600 genera -all over the globe except for Antarctica- and these creatures are the Lady Gaga('s) of the animal kingdom;
Sources and photo's: Wikipedia, Why Evolution is True, and this wonderful PDF with many more photo's. First photo; Cladonata Benitezi (Male).

Ceresa Taurina

Heteronotus Maculatus

Umbelligerus Peruviensis

Heteronotus Delineatus

Enchophyllum cruentatum

Bocydium Globulare

And this moustachioed cutie is a larvae of Anchistrotus.

Below some drawings of Membracidae, found on the Italian Wiki page;

Friday, November 26, 2010

Curious Photographs Of People I Don't Know

Ah, old photographs... Part of me thinks it's kind of sad, those abandoned old snapshots of people and places that once were important to somebody but the other, say 99 percent of me, feels sheer joy when I find a pile of old pictures for sale! Boring landscapes, awkward family moments, unwilling pets and/or/with little kids; it's all gold to me. They just breathe stories. Some examples;
First photo, above; Man on the porch of the Wichita Fertilizer Inc. warehouse -or at least, so sez the sign- posing with two black cats. Lucky shot or two very chilled out cats, by the El Noodles standard. (Or... fertilizer fumes=mellow cats?).

A girls choir reunion? The annual hydrangea breeders meeting? The real Pink Ladies?

Those pale birches and black pine trees in the background, the bold looking car and the fence/bridge railing makes my cinematic heart beat faster; is this an innocent photo of a couple on a day trip or is it the last photo before something tragic happens? Those trees whisper the latter, I think.

Composition and subject wise I find this photo very intriguing. The contrast is wonderful and balanced and I love the (unintentional?) movement-blur and the aware/unawareness of the (costumed) people being portrayed.
'Sauda, Norway, May 17th, 1957' reads the back of the photo. More precisely; on the 'Syttende Mai', Norway celebrates Constitution Day and people wear a traditional costume called the 'Bunad', on the photo worn by the two ladies in the middle/right.

'Tom took a walk...-unreadable text-, Dec. 65'. To me it feels like everything is cut out of cardboard on this photo.

This one will be high on my Most Curious Photographs list. It is the mix of awkwardness that makes this photo stand out; the blond youngster with the Bieber haircut and the 'like I care'-attitude, the older guy on the stairs and the childish way he sits, the camera viewing point that makes the stairs guy look like a midget or garden gnome at first glance and the orderly categorized plants in the garden.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

The Bone Shaped Bone, The Final Chapter

Seattle. City of The Needle, good food, nice people and crowded and exhilarating (and sold out) exhibition opening nights! Thanks to all the visitors who came by Friday 12th to see the new works of the 'The Bone Shaped Bone' show at Roq la Rue Gallery -I enjoyed the evening immensely. Thanks to all my colleagues -great to talk to you in person. And a special thanks to Kirsten, owner of the Roq la Rue gallery, who made it all work once again. Hooray and thrice hooray!

BTW, I was busy as a bee Friday night the 12th and I did not make one photo of the opening night. If you have a nice one to share, let me know!

Above and below, some snapshots of my visit.
First photo; skyline of the Seattle harbour. (Click photo to enlarge).

Roq's fine vintage neighbour; Damaged Goods! For all your old school vinyl, clothing, posters and other bric-à-brac's.

Photo right; Photo doors at the hotel. Wished my room was the pineapple room...

The diva shot. (L to R; me, Kirsten, Jane). With three different hair colours we look like a shampoo ad. (Photo by Jane).

L to R; Jane (who came over from Reno to see the show!), myself, Ryan Heshka and Kirsten of Roq la Rue. We went for a nice pancake breakfast at Cyclops. (Photo by Jane).

The art place to be; Roq la Rue. (Click photo to enlarge).

(Photo by Jane).

A detail of 'The Quiet Battle' and on the right; 'The Sea Queen', by fellow Roq artist Ryan Heshka.

Fremont= cool market, cute shops and lot's of vintage sweetness. And Lenin. Of course.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Roq Show Sneak Peek, #4

Amsterdam, November 2010; my garden blanketed in moist yellow leaves, my floor spotted with muddy cat paw prints, those tacky blue Christmas ornaments adorn the shop fronts in the neighbourhood again, Noodles delivered me a red-eyed white mouse as a beautiful yet questionable gift, I'm sneezing my head off but luckily my flu has passed, slowly restoring the balance of my house from a 100% work shed to the live-work space it originally was and I'm getting more and more ready for my visit to Seattle's finest next week.

This will be my last post for now, people. Above the last sneak-peek-in-progress-detail you're going to get out of my pencil smudged fingers; it's a drawing entitled 'Footpad Felids'.
All you non-Seattleites can view the works online just before the show starts. But when you're in Belltown this Friday it's much nicer to see the works in person at the opening night. ...Drop by! It'll be worth the trip!

'The Bone Shaped Bone' new work by Femke Hiemstra & 'Super Things' new work by Ryan Heshka, at Roq la Rue Gallery, Seattle, WA, USA. Opening night: November 12, 6-9 pm. The show runs to December 4, 2010.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Roq Show Sneak Peek, #3

In less than three weeks I'll be in Seattle to celebrate the opening of my next show. Man, I can hardly wait! Here's another sneak peek; 'Le Carrefour', a black and white piece on panel.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Roq Show Sneak Peek, #2

Another sneak peek of one of the works that will be in my next show 'The Bone Shaped Bone', at Roq la Rue Gallery, Seattle.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Postcard Galore 2#2

The second part of some of the postcards from my postcard collection; (See first post here).

Photographer unknown, France, 1907
Two girls in beautiful embellished outfits. They are too old to play a peek-a-boo game (although it's a common scene on photo cards from this period). I find this pose more cheeky/sexy than innocent. I love this postcard for that.

© C.T. Art Colortone & Co, Artist/year unknown, USA

Design: Kazumasa Nagai, Japan, ©1989

Toon Roest (1942-1996) 'Kleine Verhuizing' ('Small Move'), ©1996 Erven Toon Roest
Before I called Amsterdam my hometown I lived in Zaandam, a commuter town 1o miles from the Dutch capital. When I went to the city centre of Zaandam I would often see a man walking with his Citta moped, that had an old Zaanstreek-styled wooden house on the backseat, home to his little lapdog. I imagine the man took great pride in his handmade doghouse. Funny to see he made it to a postcard. (Note the little birdy on the roof!)

Frans Mettes 'Heineken', 1953, 109,5 x 160 cm, © Heineken
Strange yet humouristic, this old Heineken poster from the 1950's. The mini 'pupils' and the dark shadows in the face is what makes this gentleman a bit sinister to me.

'Sirin & Alkonost, birds of sadness and Joy', 1896, Victor Vasnetsov (1848-1926), © Tretjakov Museum, Moskou
I saw the original painting of Victor Vasnetsov at an exhibition on Russian folktales and legends at the Groninger Museum, two years ago. This painting of two half-woman half-bird creatures was both impressive in technique and expression as well as size. The combination of frame and painting was so heavy it rested on a podium. I also remember the frame as being too much of the good thing, even though I'm a fan of frames with a character.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

New Fine Art Giclée Print

This is 'The Serious Gardener', my new fine art giclée print. This piece was part of a serie inspired by the music and atmosphere of Tom Waits’s 2002 album ‘Alice’. The print is available on my website right now. Order one as a (holiday) gift for yourself or others!

*The first 20 orders receive the free mini print 'Tally-ho';