Stories and more...

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Blackbird singing on my balcony...

Blackbird waiting for me on my balcony.

Here he was, my clever little blackbird. Where are my raisins?! I have been waiting for ages!
I felt guilty if I didn't immediately respond to his presence. In fact, I felt honoured that he trusted me. A trust that was built up over two years. The first year he was still shy, quickly flying away after I left a few raisins for him on the balcony of my studio. He observed me though and responded when I called him but never came near. Late autumn he left his territory.
The second year, early spring he was back. I recognised his distinctive song and he recognised my calling. After all, it meant there would be some comfort food for him to be had. This time he was more courageous and started to approach me by himself. Sitting near, observing me, communicating through his posture, song and movements.
I noticed that after a while he stopped eating the raisins himself but carried them away. He had offspring to feed and now his visits became more frantic.
I talked to him in my most musical voice hoping he could recognise something in my tones.
I told him once that he should feed his children more than only the raisins and berries I gave him. I couldn't believe my eyes when soon after, he showed up with a bunch of caterpillars and insects, still wiggling in his beak.
One day, he walked inside, all the way to the front of my studio. There he was looking at me and looking around. He had dared to enter my territory. I very carefully ushered him out, afraid that he might hurt himself trying to fly away. He walked out the way he came in.
He might have been desperate. It was a dry early summer and he had mouths to feed, but I felt honoured by this special visit.
He entered my studio once more and our relationship went on until late autumn that year.
In the years after, I tried to lure other blackbirds, spreading raisins, calling out softly but none of them showed any interest.

There is a decline in bird population in the gardens of our cities. Gardens get tiled up and trees get felled by people unconcerned or possibly unaware of their importance, not only to themselves but also to other more fragile inhabitants.

 

The joy of Breakdance

In 1982 I met a group of travelling Breakdancers in the neighbourhood where I had my studio. They were so talented and were expressing so much joy and liveliness that I was inspired immediately. The dancers, the admiring public, everybody was elated.
I took out my brushes and paper, followed them for a week of great fun and gave them some of my sketches. They gave me a tape with their dance music. I was sorry to see them go.
Later in my studio, I was dancing about on the music of their tape while working on my sketches, keeping brushstrokes fast and direct. While some brush drawings conveyed the concentration on their acrobatic dance movements, this brush drawing expresses the joy they had and were spreading around them.

Break dancers having fun.

 

The perfect painter's model

My cat Max was my companion for 18 years. In 1984 he just followed me all the way home after I had softly stroked his large broadly smiling head on his tiny emaciated body. He was clearly a stray kitten in the stage of being abandoned by his mother. I did leave him in the garden in front of the building where I had my studio but not after giving him some milk and placing a small plastic basket under some bushes, for him to shelter. I thought he would soon be gone but the next day, there he was, leaping from his little basket to meet me. I took him in and that is how our intensive relationship began.
Like many stray cats, he was only close to one person. Besides sometimes frightened he was mostly jealous of male company, trying to always steal the show, which he many times did.
His high-legged elongated body was followed by his long tail that ended in a pointy tip. He sucked his tail, like a child his thumb. He had the naughtiest face a cat can have, with the biggest cat smile I ever saw and he was my perfect painters model. I still miss him very much.

Potrait of my cat Max.

 

A sunny day in the Vondelpark, Amsterdam

There she was, sitting surrounded by people sprawling in the grass, still tensed. My mother found it hard to relax.
I was so struck by this situation that I made a small watercolour sketch on the spot. It turned out really well.
I decided to make a large oil painting of this scene. She patiently sat for the portrait in her natural tensed way. Doing nothing was not her thing. The small watercolour sketch got lost while moving from studio to studio. But here is the oil painting.
The overall warm undertone of the painting is achieved by an "imprimatura". The technique of underlaying a painting with a transparent overall colour developed during the Renaissance in Italy. I use this technique a lot. The tone of an imprimatura has to be carefully chosen because it highly influences the overall atmosphere of a painting.

My mother in the Vondelpark, Amsterdam

 

Things of beauty, curiosity, interest and concern

The things that touch, inspire, and trigger my curiosity. The list would be endless but here I share a few of them. Enjoy!

  • Subtle and haunting
    The opening scene of Coraline, one of the fantastic stop-motion animation films made by the amazing team of Laika studio. You can find more about their work on the Laika Aniversary video
  • Skillfulness, creativity, and perseverance
    The traits of the Bowerbird, but some of them are more talented than others. The Vogelkop Bowerbird: Nature's Great Seducer - BBC One
  • The Seadragon
    One of the many lovely creatures in the ocean and like many, threatened by us. Weedy seadragons dance into the night - BBC One
  • The song for Rain
    A little gem by animator Yawen Zheng! The animation tells the story about a little boy who meets a fox on a rainy day. The Song for Rain on Vimeo
  • Being a pebble
    This fantastic animation shows what can be done with seemingly simple lines and colours. And very good acting indeed. A feast of creativity and food for thought. JackalWorld: PEBBLES
  • Science and technology according to the Shadoks
    This animation is one of a very famous series created in a pre-digital age by French cartoonist Jacques Rouxel and his team. The series appeared on French television from 1968 to 1974. Shadoks (English Version) The sound of this English spoken version is very soft so crank it up to the maximum.
  • Brilliant physicist Richard Feynman
    Get elated by his joy in investigating: "The inconceivable nature of nature!" Feynman: Seeing Things Part 8 from the series "Fun To Imagine".
  • But what if you can't see nor hear?
    A homeless teen, trying hard not to reveal his lack of a home, meets a deaf-blind man... Feeling Through a touching Oscar nominated short drama.

 

Tutorials on Vimeo

In May 2019, during a Verge3D Conference in the Netherlands, I gave a presentation on porting 2D vector-based content to Verge3D. I received many requests to make tutorials on this topic and Verge3D in general.
I am mostly an intuitive creator and linear thinking is not one of my greatest strengths so I never considered making tutorials. But I gave it a try and decided to post it on Vimeo. I'm working on more video content, that will be published in autumn 2021.