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



  1. Marike, you are very talented. I know what you mean. I have a degree in Visual Arts ( I focus mainly on photography) and most of my friends are in finance / banking or law. Then there is the fact that I model to earn a living and I am trying to do the same with my blog bit by bit. I often questioned why I didn't major in Art History instead. I did my bit at Sotheby's Auction House here in London but realised that I did not want to look up archives of paintings and catalogue them for the rest of my life. I often fall into comparing myself with my friends who have finished uni and have a comfy starting salary at X bank or law firm and here I am doing a multitude of work to get a fraction of what they earn. But my mom taught me that we all have our own path. The grass is not always greener on the other side. If we spend too much time looking at someone else's lawn, we neglect our own. Your work is beautiful and you WILL be a success in whatever you set out to do. Forget the rules of society that tell us that at 18, 24, 30, 40 etc we should do x, y z. Life is too short to follow some manual ;)

  2. Hi Natasha, thanks so much for taking the time to comment!
    I used to nag my husband about how my friends don't seem to take my 'job' seriously, they always joke about how lucky I am to sit around all day at home, to be able to sleep late, and watch movies all day, and I would work myself up trying to prove to everyone how many hours I put in, and how hard I worked at this, until my husband actually challenged me on it one day, and I realised that the problem was me. I kept trying to prove myself to them, and to my parents, and actually to myself, I was the person who had to own it, and just relax in the knowledge that this is what I do, and it's ok, my friends' jokes were just lighthearted, they didn't mean anything, I took it personally because I was so afraid that I was actually wasting time when I should at a boring desk job.. When you do something you enjoy so much there's a strange element of guilt, and not getting a regular paycheck just adds to that guilt I guess.
    I agree with you completely, life is about living, if we spend so much time dwelling on money, or the world's perception of success, we won't enjoy the art anyway!
    Thanks for the complements, and for leaving me my very first comment, and keep doing what you do, hard work will pay off!

  3. When I graduated from college with a BFA, I got a job working commercially. I did my own work and showed it on the week-ends at art fairs. I started concentrating more on the bread and butter (commercial) work, and quit painting for myself. After about 20 years I had the opportunity to return to my own work and have not stopped since, even though I don't make the money I did as a commercial artist.

    The point I want to make is, I often wonder how much further along I would be, artistically, if I hadn't interrupted my career in fine art. Artistic maturity only comes with time spent creating the art, and that really does mean years. Hang in there! An artist may go through periods away from creating, but the pull to make art is always there. Good luck to both of you!

  4. It's great to hear you say that, Cathy, I've been thinking the same thing.
    As full time artist you have not only time to create 'sellable' work, but also time to experiment and fail, AND time to practice and hone your skills. I keep telling this to friends who suggest I get a part time job. It would be great to be able to depend on a salary, but I could just as well give up on art then, because I can see the quality of my work go down when I'm under pressure for time or money. You only push the boundaries when you can afford to. Also the more you work at it, the better you get, if I had a part time job I would not only produce desperate art, but also I wouldn't really get better, and as I'm a slow worker, I would hardly finish enough works to keep the gallery happy!
    Thanks for the positive feedback!

  5. You have a unique voice with your work. Your approach to what you paint is very singular and original in composition. You are on your way......