Tuesday, 26 March 2013

"Better to have a little bit of something precious, 
than to have a lot of mediocrity."

I just wrote a fairly long essay, and then deleted it. Enough monologues. Its just self-indulgent ranting.
But I will say this:
Few things scare me as much as people who don't have a passion. And it seems to me that people who work towards their (sometimes impossible) goals, tend to be harder workers. 
I've recently been forced to work with that kind of person, and I don't know how to approach them at all.. you aren't allowed to challenge the way they work, as they are insecure and therefore terribly touchy, but if you sympathise they go into self-pity and they moan about the things they'll never own and never see. I don't know why people are like that, if it's a personality thing, or of they were raised that way, but either way it does them no good.

I cling to art, not only because it is my talent, and one of my first loves, it is my job and my hobby, but it is also the thing that keeps me moving forward. I have so many things left to learn, so much to achieve, my short term goals can fill a notebook, and the long term goals, well who knows if I'll ever even get there. Does it even matter? I want to be able to look back and be proud of how far I came, and be proud of how hard I worked at it. Without blaming the economy, my background, education, nationality or race. And the rest becomes part of that goal, the role my husband plays, my support system, everything else inevitably becomes part of the plot.
The reason why I say it doesn't matter whether I reach the long term goals, is because the journey is the destination - enjoying the ups, laughing after the downs, and in the end, after a terrible day sitting down in front of the easel, and feeling that serenity wash over you.

Selfportrait with Marbles SOLD
Acrylic on Canvas
50 x 90 cm
I completed this painting October '12. It was an exercise in reflection and colour, I ended up painting 53 marbles - reflections of marbles in marbles included - and 7 reflections of myself. I worked hard at it, and loved the end result enough that I hoped it wouldn't sell, as it looked great on my own wall!

It's nice to be able to be righteously proud of how far you've come. 
I have a little bit of something precious, and I am thankful.

Saturday, 16 March 2013

All's fair in love and war
On the importance of having a good support system, and confidence in your abilities and beliefs. 

Serious Sweets 
Acrylic on Canvas
100 x 76 cm

 I am not known for my self-confidence. Through the years I have often stumbled, and I've stopped time and again to question my decision to be an artist. Art was never a well thought out plan to success, if anything it was a blind run with crossed fingers when I started out. 
Mostly the reason for my re-assessment, was friends or family members 'advising' me that it was time now for a 'real' job, my paintings were nice and all, but maybe it was time to be realistic now..
I would often fall into serious self-doubt. My friends were moving up in the world, people my age were dressed like grown-ups, buying new cars, starting families, and here was I, painting in my bedroom at my parents' at 25.

I don't often publicly bring my faith into my art, I've never liked pushing my beliefs down others' throats. But one of the greatest things about being a Christian is being able to ask God a question, and actually getting a reply. Now I don't mean asking for a sign, or once every 7 years opening the Bible on a random page and reading the 21st line from the top and applying it literally to your situation! I mean meditating on God's word, really searching yourself, being honest and patient in seeking the truth, whether you like the answer or not. 
I stopped being stubborn and selfish and just openly and honestly asked God whether I was chasing a hopeless dream, or working at my purpose. As embarrassing as it would be to find out I was wrong, I'd rather face that than figuring out I'd made a mistake 30 yrs down the line. And it probably was one of my more ballsy moments, I really didn't want to hear I'd been wrong, but at that moment I was  so tired of fighting for what I hoped was the right thing, that I needed to know from the only authority, the only one I'd take 'no' from. I received a couple of answering verses, but the one that touched me most was this:

"That you aspire to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business, and to work with your hands, as we commanded you, that you may walk properly towards those who are outside, and that you may lack nothing." 1 Thess 4:11,12

I'm not going to go into different interpretations, or try to justify anything, or even explain myself really, if you don't believe, you don't. What you should understand is that this is what I believe, this is where I'm coming from. And my perspective is that if the Creator of the universe tells you something, you believe it.
I still have moments of self doubt, months that I don't sell, or negative feedback that gets to me, but never to that extreme. I might make wrong decisions on my path, but the path is the right one. 

What is important now is my support group. My husband is my biggest fan, he was the first person to see my very first painting, and loved it. He helped me find and organise the venue  for my solo exhibition in '08, and he was the person who showed up with a bottle of champagne when I heard the gallery had approved my work for the exhibition - and all that was before we had started dating. He bought me paints when I was broke, and he wanted to marry me even when I was (financially anyway!) a very poor choice, and has been supporting me all the way ever since, sometimes with pep talks, sometimes just with a hug, and sometimes by helping me strategize about marketing. Without him, things would have been much harder (and much less fun). 

My family wasn't as quick to support, they were afraid for me, but a couple of years in I have so much love and support, that I am overwhelmed. Between them and my friends I really can't ask for more. One of the most touching things to me is the friends who have purchased paintings from me, who for the most part aren't in a place to afford fine art, but have just fallen in love with certain works, and had to have them. I don't expect sales from friends, but it really means so much to me when a friend is willing to pay it off over a couple of months, just so they can own it, and it pushes me to work harder and be better in return for the faith they have in my work.

Many of them probably don't realise just how much their support (emotional and financial) has meant to me, and has inspired me, this monologue is my ode to you guys! You rock my socks off!
There's so much more I want to say on this subject, but I'll leave it for another day, for now thanks to everyone who has been there for me, told a friend about me, shared a facebook page or 'liked' a painting, your support keeps the paints flowing.

 These are some of my works that adorn my friends' walls: 

Vanitas with Meerkat Skull

Green Sparkles


Ek en Helene, Vida and Rouan en Anton


Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Have I mentioned my love affair with cherries?

Dramatic shadows (SOLD)
23 x 30.5 cm
Acrylic on Canvas

There are certain objects we associate with certain artists, sometimes specific models, sometimes a specific palette. I never realised that cherries were like that for me. I always come back to them, there's a rather large jar of glazed cherries in the fridge just in case! 

I only realised that it was my thing (well one of my things) when I was working on a dark range of Vanitas paintings, and one of the paintings featured a tiny little brass bowl with two cherries inside next to the skull - partly to indicate scale, and partly because the cherry is so vibrant and sweet and juicy and it really clashed nicely with the pale skull. And a friend was specifically interested in the painting that included the cherries, because she wanted a 'trademark Marike Kleynscheldt' piece. And my brain started clicking with realisation.

I think it's important to include nuggets like those for the 'die-hard' fans, (of which I probably have about 5, but who knows what the future will bring? ;) ) It's like that for me with a bunch of different kinds of sweets, particulary Sparkles and Jelly beans, Marbles and other sentimental toys, Pomegranates, and hopefully in the near future more skulls (I've done 6, but they were all part of the same group) 
And I do believe that in years to come, when I have a bit of a more established name in the right circles, these occasional 'nuggets' will be significant among collectors.

Teeny Tiny Cherries (SOLD)
Acrylic on Canvas
15 x 15 cm ea
Teeny Tiny Detail

Floating Cherries Detail

Floating Cherries
Acrylic on Canvas
50 x 90 cm


We are in the process of moving. So I spent the whole day yesterday cleaning house and neatening the garden in anticipation of the Agent (the keeper of the deposit)'s arrival today and then an open house tomorrow,  which means I had to neatly stack away the canvasses and easel, and I can't paint today or tomorrow! 
But the house we're moving to will have a larger and lighter 2nd bedroom, so I am on my way to having my very own studio - I've been working in the lounge, which is super convenient as its 2 steps away from coffee and easy access to the pc and entertainment, but it tended to get a little cluttered and crazy. My poor husband has stepped in paint numerous times, the cat leaves paint paw prints all the way from my palette (super glazed ceramic plate) to his food bowl, and we've all knocked wet canvasses off the easel, or stepped on paint tubes! The change will be good.

So a lot of excitement, and anticipation and intense fear combined is me, today.

Perfect time for some blogging! But right now I'm just tired, so have some Cutlery :)

Casablancas (SOLD) 2012
Acrylic on Canvas
500 x 700 cm
Floral Spoons 2012
Acrylic on Canvas
500 x 600 cm

Monday, 11 March 2013

Hopes, and Fears

Hopes, and Fears
Acrylic on wood
20 x 20 cm

 It can be terribly hard to decide what to paint next. Especially if you're trapped in-between worlds like I usually am, I need to paint something I'm passionate about, and I desperately need to sell it.

Being told what to do often helps. 
These paintings were done for a Group Exhibition in 2010, themed 'BALJAAR'.' Baljaar' can't be translated to english, but loosely means a frivolous, childlike play, playing with abandon, and the theme was chosen for a Afrikaans festival because it is such a unique afrikaans word. We had to work on 20 x 20 cm wood circles, and do something inspired by the theme, but those were the only parameters.
 I found this wonderfully hard, because I had to out-think and outshine all the other exhibitors, without having a clue what their ideas would be or how good their work was, but convinced that they would be better than mine. And the pressure I put on myself got me to possibly one of my best concepts to date. In each painting I would combine adult 'baljaar' with kiddie 'baljaar', and inevitably bad vs. good. 

I drew on my own experience, things that affected me when I was a child, or things that I did as a young adult that would affect the child Marike. This is the only range I ever did that focused more on concept than execution. And one of the most successful. (which might lead you to think that I should do that more often, but one does not simply think up great concepts every other day!)
 I 'accidentally' sold a bunch of the paintings at the exhibition (I was the only person who did) and was told that I quickly had to do a bunch more, as the work was being exhibited again, and I had to have the same amount of paintings as the rest of the artists. Which was a great complement! The works that weren't bought by acquaintances after the exhibitions, were bought as a group by a local curator. So all in all, a pretty good run. 

My work always has a underlying theme, it really helps me to stay focused, even when I do simple still lifes, I keep my theme in mind, to me its always personal. But except for the occasional commission, I don't get told what to do, and its a bit of a pity. A little restriction can really get you thinking outside the box, and produce work that you yourself never expected.

My en Panna se piekniek
Oupa Pieter
Pa Kleintyd
Durbanville '98

20 Feb 2010
Ek en Helene, Vida
Eerstejaars party
Ma kleintyd
Rouan en Anton
Die vliegtuigparkie

Saturday, 9 March 2013

Comfort zones

The last commission of 2011
Acrylic on Canvas
100 x 120 cm

This is one of the best paintings I've made to date. My sister-in-law commissioned it for a transition wall between her kitchen and dining room. If it had not been a commission it would not have looked like this. At the stage I painted it, I was still very much into open negative space - probably the lone remnant of my 2 years studying graphic design - and my backgrounds were light gray. Still are, for the most part. I would never zoom in like this, with so many types of fruit in one work. But the vibrance and colour of this composition really captures my sis-in-law's personality, she is a tiny bombshell of energy, and I had to capture some of that in the painting.

Also, and this will sound silly, but oranges, yellows and greens are not my favourite colours to paint with. Mainly because they are harder to shade.To create interesting tones you don't just want to darken everything with brown or black, it's too dull, you use reds and blues. For instance in the case of the green peach and the apple in the painting, blues would look out of place, so you need to find a strange in-between balance between greens and browns, blues and blacks. Similarly, everything orange cant simply turn maroon or purple when they darken, and yellows shouldn't turn brown - especially when most of my brown paints have blue undertones, which just turns everything a swampy green.
So one of the reasons this painting turned out so well, is that I really had to go back to basics, and I had to re-learn many of my ideas about colour. Painting is about looking, the better you learn to see, the better you can paint, the more detail and shades of colour you see, the more you can add, and the better your paintings can ultimately be. I had to stop and step out of my stylistic comfort zone, and figure out ways to make it work.

The bottom line is this: know when to step out of your comfort zone, and use it to grow as an artist, if you fail, you fail, but even through that failure you will probably have learned a lot about yourself and your skills. Chances are you won't fail though, and in that lies the magic.

Friday, 8 March 2013

 Empty Sentiment.

 Composition with Buttons I and II
Acrylic on Canvas, approx 30 x 40 cm each
As a mostly broke artist, one has to get inventive with subject-matter. While I believe in art for the sake of art, I do appreciate a bit of a concept (as long as the resulting artwork isn't three bricks stacked on each other with a paragraph long title that sounds very intelligent, but really isn't) I can't simply pick up a nice looking twig and make an artwork.

These paintings were done just before my wedding, we were super broke, but I needed to paint to keep my hands occupied. For as long as I can remember my mom has had this box full of odd buttons, and as a child I used to love going through it and discovering the one-off weird looking buttons, or trying to sort them according to colour or shape. And for some strange reason I delved back in there. What I found was this treasure trove of buttons I remembered from outfits my mom had made for me, and had left-over buttons, combined with rather too many beautiful brass buttons - which upon closer inspection I found out had come from my dads old Navy uniforms.
I enjoyed the thought that this jumble of random items could really mean a lot to me, and mean so little to others, and yet in making them into a good-looking composition, it turned into something beautiful. You can find your own sentimental ties in there, or just like it because its interesting to figure out why specific buttons made the cut, or even just like it because its a pretty composition.

Composition with Carnation, 40 x 60 cm
 and Composition with Bottelbrush, 60 x 85cm
Acrylic on Canvas

The next two 'composition' paintings were made shortly after we got married, and I had moved in with my husband. The idea of the found objects is exactly the same, but this time there's the carnation from my husbands lapel, the little strawberry flowers and ribbons had been part of the table decor, and the bottlebrush, dried leaves and sticks had been found in my own new garden. The brass buttons and shells had inevitably moved along with me from my parents house, and await future paintings.

I've never been able to bull-shit. I cant make up meaning if there is none. Which is why I think I'd make a terrible marketer. Which I am supposed to be.
 But to put little parts of yourself into a work is so very important. It shows a little glimpse of yourself, and people tend to be a little voyeuristic so they love seeing your personal things, but also it gives the opportunity to have a shared moment with a customer, while we might have different reasons to find it sentimental, it does create a bond.

Thursday, 7 March 2013

A picture speaks a thousand words. 

Or that's what I had always hoped. I'm an artist, and I would prefer that my art spoke for me. But it seems that the time for change has come. Even so, I start this blog with these thousand-and-something words, and promise you insight, sentiment and possibly an anecdote or two in the future! 
Composition with Marbles
Acrylic on Canvas 
70 x 100 cm