What is Reality?

Reading an article a student sent me about the fly on Pence’s head during the vice presidents debate, and how flies have been used through the centuries in paintings, made me think about the importance of art. Art makes us reflect on the deeper meaning of things that happen in the world. Flies have long held symbolic meaning in the history of art. In portraits made in Renaissance Europe, the presence of a fly symbolizes the transience of human life. In the great scheme of things, our lives are no longer than that of a fly. 

For me as a painter of ‘trompe l’oeils’, the article was a moment to reflect not only on the history of flies in western painting, but to begin considering how much we like to be deceived.

This deception of reality by painters, the so called ‘trompe l’oeil’, has been a part of my life as a painter. Trompe l’oeil, meaning “fool or deceive the eye,” is a French term for paintings that imitate natural appearances so convincingly that viewers momentarily mistake the object depicted for the real thing. The moment of deception, however, is brief. Uncertainty over what is real and what is illusion is soon replaced by amusement at having been tricked and admiration for the artists’ ingenuity and skill. Both witty and serious, trompe l’oeil is a game artists play with spectators to raise questions about the nature of art and perception.

In all illusionistic paintings, painted objects look like their real counterparts; in trompe l’oeils, the painted object appears to be the thing itself. To achieve this deception, objects are rendered life size, in their natural colors, and in their entirety. Most trompe l’oeils are also meticulously painted with smooth brushwork that conceals any trace of the artist’s presence. Artists increased their chances of deceiving viewers by mimicking what people expected to see. Life-size figures appear to reach out of the picture plane or pull our eye into a spatial realm that seems to lie behind it–contradicting the fact that the picture is a flat, painted surface.

In my classes the first goal for beginners is to translate the three dimensional reality on a two dimensional piece of paper. In later classes we practice the illusion of a third dimension through observing the shadows and light on the object of our choosing. This is all I am teaching. This is the true mastery of learning to draw and it is fascinating to me. Why don’t you try it yourself? It is fun and it transports you temporarily out of the burdens of reality.

The hand touched a flat surface; but the eye, still seduced, saw relief; to the extent that one could have asked a philosopher, which of these two contradictory senses was a liar?

I am available for private on-line classes with zoom meetings.
https://www.jacobinatrump.com/learn-to-draw/

Zen and Drawing

What is Zen?

Zen is the direct experience of what we might call ultimate reality, or the absolute, yet it is not separate from the ordinary, the relative. This direct experience is our birthright. The practice of zen meditation is a way of realizing the non-dualistic, vibrant, subtle, and interconnected nature of all life. I discovered that through using simple tools that hardly cost anything like a pencil or a pen I was able to calm my mind through drawing. Looking for the benefits of drawing I couldn’t find another more compelling reason than the connection to nature and the skill that only humans have, to draw accurately. When you start drawing with a Zen approach the world is going to change.

Everyone wants some peace of mind. In these chaotic times, carving out some Zen for yourself seems not just a luxury, but also a vital necessity. I find meditation hard, but I do not find drawing hard. Yes in the beginning it takes effort but actually if you let go of judging and allow yourself to improve your skills day by day, nothing is hard. It just is. Just by picking up a pencil and start drawing is a great alternative that everyone can do.

Through drawing our environment, we can realize that self and other are One, that the conditioned and unconditioned are simultaneous, that absolute and relative are identical. I would say that the negative space and the object are one and the same in drawing. There is only a fine line that divides the two. Out of this realization flows a natural compassion and wisdom, a peaceful and intuitively appropriate response toward whatever circumstances may arise. Drawing might bring you closer to not just an understanding of yourself, but also an understanding of the power of art. It became my personal religion, my spiritual practice.

So, again, what is Zen? Stop now. Stop trying to get an intellectual lock on something that is vast and boundless, far more than the rational mind can grasp. This vastness is felt by using the right brain capacity. Just breathe in with full awareness and look how the light hits your object. See how it casts a shadow on another object. Watch it slowly move. You can almost hear the flowers open up. Appreciate it fully. Breathe in with gratitude; breathe out with love. Receiving and offering—this is what we are doing each time we inhale and exhale. To do so with conscious awareness, on a regular basis, is the transformative practice we call Zen.

This simple yet profound practice can release us from the shackles of past and future, as well as from the self-imposed and imprisoning barriers we erect around what we consider our separate and unchanging identities. Who do we think we are, anyway? When we really look deeply, it becomes the koan “Who am I?” We find that the conditioned views and compulsive traits we have come to call “self” have no fixed substance. We can, when we learn to weave in an almost daily practice, free ourselves from that judgmental self and discover our true self. This is what it means to use the right brain that is open, confident, and unhindered, flowing with all that exists in this very moment.

Thus quite naturally we care for the environment. Respect for all that grows start here, by connecting deeply to it. And quite naturally we start to live with attention, integrity, and authenticity, it almost happens as a byproduct of drawing. My whole life I have been drawing and painting. I discovered all kinds of materials and finally developed my skills with oil on linen. As my work as an artist became more professional, my oil paintings grew bigger and bigger. This all changed during covid, the loss of my job and the lack of expensive recourses.  

We have nowhere to go, there is nothing to do. Living more inside than ever before I started looking at my own interior at my own sketchbooks from travels and discovered such wealth that I wanted to share this with my students and thought of adding a second course and a third. Drawing as a zen meditation is a technique that not only improves your drawing skills, but it is also a very powerful way to quiet your mind and open your heart. It can therefor also be used as an easy meditation technique. Most of all, Zen drawing makes you more aware of the beauty of the world around you.

So now you are able to create a beautiful world for yourself and with that also for others. Wouldn’t you want that? Drawing is your path to mindfulness.

https://www.jacobinatrump.com/product/drawing-class-level-two/

Feeding and Weeding

Sunset in May

 Nothing magical will be achieved without effort

This morning I woke up with an image of feeding a monster. Once calmed down with a cup of coffee, I contemplated what the dream meant. What does the word feeding mean? … feeding is the act of taking or being given nourishment.

An almost full moon rose in the East the day it was my turn at the Hermitage Artist Retreat to feed the newly arrived artists on the beach. It is a treat and a tradition to organize a friendly welcome to travellers who came from northern States, often having left snow covered streets that morning, at their place of origin.

Serving dinner is a paid job and as soon as it came available to me I grabbed it with both hands. Some people warned me that this was a tough assignment, walking through loose sand with baskets of china and silverware, tables and chairs. Some people said, “Don’t do it, you are crazy!”

Yes, I am.

I am also strong and physically healthy and prepared to walk the extra mile to create magic.Almost every week at the end of the day when winds have picked up and blow warm air from the North Eastern corner of the Gulf of Mexico, I drag folding tables close to the place where the waves curl over grey sand.

The wind makes it tricky to throw the white linens over the tables and keep them put before I can secure them with heavy white plates. Another challenge is to hold the napkins down before they land on the sand by securing them with a knife. If all goes well the rest is set in a matter of minutes and the chairs surrounding the scene can finish the job.

Cooking the meal is not part of the deal. I pick up the food from a local restaurant Lock’n Key and keep it warm in the oven until everybody has enjoyed a glass of wine and a snack. I bring the warm meal to the beach.

I was thinking about my dream in which I was feeding the monster. Nothing in my life is taken lightly or escapes my attention. With curiosity I dissect images, sounds and meetings until it found the right place in my mind and heart. My conclusion was this; Feeding the monster stands for everything I am fearful of. Nourishing this fear will make it grow.

I chose that morning to not feed my fears and weed them out. The image lost power like an inflatable monster loosing air.

When I am feeding the artists I am not only giving them tangible food. It is actually not about the food, nor the wine although both enhance the experience. It is about the energy that was put into the experience of eating food while watching the sun set. It is about the company of accomplished artists who have interesting stories to tell about their work, their life and their expectations. It is about all of our energy and achievements brought together under starry skies, the torches flickering in the dying wind. It is about all that we add in making something extra-ordinary happen in this world, brought together in the couple of hours the meal lasts.

Feeding is nurturing the beauty and the magic while weeding out all negativity, dying from malnourishment. It is a matter of choice.

Galleria Mare is basically closed for the summer, but if you wish to make a purchase, we will open it for you. Just call 786 457 1606. The first planned exhibition is Wednesday September 6, 2017 on which date I hope to show you a series of new paintings, still to be discovered.

You can also go to the website https://www.jacobinatrump.com/shop/, make the purchase and I will deliver it to your home address

The Art of Letting Go of Stuff

Night Watch

A painter makes stuff or is it more?

When you move a lot from one house to another you realize how much stuff you have. Especially a painter who makes even more stuff to hang on walls realizes the accumulation with every move. I developed my own philosophy about gathering stuff. I am a person who loves to buy new things. As I develop my taste for more exclusive items I always seem to find better objects, more beautiful, more shiny or more enriching. The older ones all of a sudden seem dull by comparison and what do you do with the dusty stuff?

How much stuff do we need?

The dilemma seems ludicrous sitting next to my dying father who needs to let go of much more than material things. I found a poem which expresses beautiful the words that encourages to let go but I feel that words are not enough. How does it feel for him standing on the threshold of entering eternity? Of course it is impossible to drag the heavy dressoir of my grandmother to the gates of heaven but even if it would be possible, why would you want to? It is another world entirely.

When you are dead you can take experiences but not the stuff

So if you don’t need all that stuff anyway why buy it? Because we live today in a material world with a dense body. I love to surround myself with stuff. This life on Earth is so dense, with heavy objects like cars and furniture. Especially our clothes in a cold climate where the temperature tomorrow will be twenty degrees requires heavy boots to walk over frozen paths. I cannot help thinking about all this because I want to understand the feeling my father is going through now he cannot speak anymore.

It is the experience that comes back in my paintings

He cannot take his memories with him, all the things he has learned over time, the experiences he has built, nothing goes with him. Is it an art to learn how to die if we all are going to do this only once? Can I learn from him how to do it? What else do you take with you other than your soul, your essence?  When I saw my father last Sunday he could still speak some short sentences. He said, “I don’t think I will live that much longer’ ‘No, I said, I don’t think either, since you have not eaten or drunk anything for a week”. “But, he said, If the weather is beautiful I want to be outside and work. There is still so much I want to do” so, all that, he needs to let go off. He needs to let go of the drive to live.

It is the color of the oils that enrich the world

The way the sunlight hits a leaf or a flower is not material, neither is the fog over the meadows or a kiss in moonlight. My father always made an art of letting plants grow in a way he designed it in his head.  When it grew into a beautiful yard he would sit smack in the middle of it and listen to the birds. As children we thought this was boring, but later I learned to appreciate it. All of this he had to let go off.  A smile of a loved one, a thought of something to build, a plan to travel… it is not only material stuff that he need to let go of.

Sitting next to him writing this while his breathing is heavy. It is art that moves beyond stuff.

Goes

Traveling

“Goes” is a name of a city. In English it means ‘to go’, a verb.  She goes to Goes. Jacobina is leaving Englewood to go to Goes.  It is pronounced as Goose but the G is guttural, a sound not used in the English language. I would not be surprised if the name has something to do with geese but I haven’t googled it and now I don’t have time to do that so I leave that up to you to check.

(My sister-in-law has just looked this up for me and apparently it derives its name from being founded by the banks of a creek called the Short Gos (Korte Gos)).

Holland

I am busy getting ready for my trip to the Netherlands. It shouldn’t be a big deal. I need to just pack a suitcase and drive to the airport but while I’m grabbing all my stuff together I see that my American passport has expired. From that moment on it is just one thing after another that needs to be fixed, updated or rediscovered. Dust has been gathering on my traveling life and the excitement grows as more and more things are becoming rediscovered. Black sweater? I haven’t worn that for two years!! Shoes? I never wear shoes.

A couple of weeks ago I had already taken steps to renew my American passport.

Dutch passport

I still have my Dutch passport, which also needs to be renewed, but that can wait until November. I felt a sense of urgency as I ran to Walgreens drugstore to get my passport photo taken. I don’t want to be picky on quality but the photo that was taken was absolutely terrible. I received two but I knew immediately that the Dutch authorities would not accept them. Anyway, as I was in a hurry I sent the blurred image to the US Department of State together with a cheque for $110 and the forms I had filled in.

A couple of weeks later a beautiful sealed document came in the mail, navy blue with gold lettering and filled with colored pages of the statue of liberty, an eagle and all sorts of symbols that this great country has. I am extremely proud of this document with its awful passport photo. It is a document I will cherish. It was earned at great personal cost. What makes me feel so good about this country? I experience a sense of greatness when I drive my car over the highways in Miami between the skyscrapers like a smooth rollercoaster ride, high up in the sky. Humans have been able to do extra-ordinary things by digging deep into their inner resources and creating their dreams.

I feel that a part of this society is resonating within me.

In many ways however I will always be Dutch in my everyday life. Since I have had a roommate, it has become clear to me that there is a difference between American and Dutch people. The trashcan is three times fuller than usual, the clothes dryer runs more often instead of the sun drying the laundry on the washing line. When I opened the fridge one night a huge bottle of Cherry Coke fell on the floor. Lying awake at night I can hear some television station talking nonsense and I think; this is American culture and I am never going to adapt to it.

I will not forsake the country where I was born, the tiny country of the Netherlands. I love it too dearly. I have chosen to embrace the best of both worlds and I am well aware of the differences.

PS. Heidemarie Burke made an unbelievably beautiful passport photo for me for my Dutch passport.

https://vimeo.com/186082606

How Does a Cow Catch a Hare ?

It looks messy
I am an organized person but when I am painting everything gets messy

This question has been keeping me up late at night. I wake up thinking about it and now I am determined to find the answer, because simply; I don’t know. But it is literally my job to find out. As an artist I need to find creative ways to capitalize on my talents. I always thought it would be easy once you learn to excel at the skill of painting. It is a no brainer, right? You work every day, you go out in the world and you meet people who want to buy your art. Nope.

How to sell your art

There are many courses these days that promise to teach you how to be a professional painter and make money, or at least how to grab the attention of the art scene, the potential buyers or colleagues. With the precision of a rocket scientist and the enthusiasm of the most cheerful person you might know, I have been following every step available to me. First I went from gallery to gallery in the heart of Sarasota, in the heart of Miami, in Wynwood, everywhere I thought I would have a chance to hang my work on the walls. 

What makes you happy?

After my self confidence took a beating, I thought; “Whatever they are saying, this is not making me very happy.” I self-published many books, wrote blogs, stories about my paintings and sent them to magazines and art shows but nobody seemed to care. I organized exhibitions, went to art fairs, dragged my work to empty walls wherever I could find them. Some people think success is a matter of traveling the same path year after year until you finally meet the person who cares. I don’t believe this. If I keep this going for another year, there will be nothing left of my original uplifted energy. There has to be another way. It is not enough to follow the business models of others. That won’t work for me.

The Law of Attraction at work

Somebody told me that the “Law of Attraction” works for everybody. So I have been sitting in meditation for weeks now envisioning my ideal contact who is going to help me get a showing for the 300 paintings rolled up under my bed. I don’t think I’m coming up with an answer. I made a list of all options I could think of and I worked diligently at the list until I felt I was completely at the end of all the possibilities. I was literally running out of fuel.

My own easel

I woke up one morning and decided I would sell an easel. I have many, so I wouldn’t miss one.  I photographed it and put it on Craig’s list for $30. A couple of weeks later I got a phone call from a woman who wanted to buy it. She walked into my life like a fresh breath of air. She was retired but still energetic, wanted to learn to paint, but above all, she had a gallery and was crazy about my work. We talked like old friends and she opened a whole new door for me.

The impossible became possible

Later in the day I thought about this Dutch expression, “How Does a Cow Catch a Hare?” which means “You never know how the almost impossible is going to happen. You never know your luck” The expression in English is something like; “A blind man may sometimes hit the crow”, which is not as funny as the picture of a cow running through a meadow after a hare. The most important part of the story is that an artist, all artists, needs to find their own unique way of finding the people they want to meet. There is absolutely no business model, nobody who can tell them how to succeed, other than learning to follow their inner voice.

Sometimes that inner voice tells you the weirdest things you can imagine. That is how the most unusual situations have happened and took care of the biggest growth. We humans know consciously so little but our subconscious mind knows exactly how to get somewhere fast. This is why it can be very liberating to give it all up and say, “I don’t know, anymore.”  I don’t know how a cow catches a hare. All I know it that magic does happen.

The Art of Living

It is never to late to find your destination and go after it.
36″ x 48″- 91 x 122 cm, oil paint on linen.It is never to late to find your destination and go after it.

I started my life in a small village in the South of the Netherlands surrounded by water. Sailing was what alleviated the difficulties of hay fever. While moving ever further on to the sea, I became excited about the feeling of limitlessness I saw, being on a vast body of water. The sense of freedom appealed to me and made me happy. I hoped to make a living at sea but as a woman with poor eyesight, the odds were against me.

Moving through life

I decided to try and earn a living as graphic designer and then buy a boat. Working at big companies as an art director was not as satisfying as I thought it would be. The weekends were spent racing across the English channel as crew on various sailboats. Sometimes I went further away and one day in 1985 I saw the most beautiful boat I had ever seen. A sophisticated, elegant, beautiful vessel called Velsheda was participating in a race off the coast of St Malo. My dream was to sail a boat like that but it seemed impossible. This was only for very rich people.

The dream

I promised myself to work harder, to make a career and hopefully to get lucky one day, but the dream vanished behind the desk of the office where I had buried myself in work, not realizing I was bored to tears, in the “exciting” world of advertising. When the opportunity came to sail on a windjammer from London to Amsterdam in the Tall ships race, I boarded the Belem. This event provoked in me a deep desire for freedom and adventure. I quit my job and moved to the Caribbean. I couldn’t imagine spending my days in the grayness of an unsatisfactory life. It became a long journey into the unknown.

 

Paradise

To survive in a strange environment I started decorative painting for people and from there I was asked to paint murals. This led to painting canvasses. I don’t think I ever called myself an artist, nor was there a conscious decision to do so. After some painful events in my life, I used the reflection of the images I painted as a way of healing myself and thus the world. It was cathartic and good.

 

Home again

One day, after I painted a large abstract painting inspired by a white Bird of Paradise, I saw the image of the Velsheda again, that day in St Malo. A voice asked me, “What do you really want to paint?” I knew the answer; sailing boats, and especially the J-class.  By now the dream of ever being part of sailing the so-called “Greyhounds of the Sea” seemed beyond reach. Painting however was part of my daily life and it allowed me to draw the sailing world into mine. The imagination is a powerful tool.  It lifted me up from an undesirable reality to a new world of limitless possibilities. I painted my dream.

I knew I had created the world I live in today and I am taking full responsibility for it. By doing that, I know that I am in control of the rest of my life and I can create anything I want, just like I do as an artist. I can bring every image alive on the canvas, in my imagination and thus in my reality. The picture here shows a person at the helm  of a beautiful boat, fully in control of his destiny. The fact that the sun is setting at the end of a long day does not bother him. It is the powerful feeling of moving toward the ever-expanding horizon. It is a happy feeling of moving towards infinite possibilities.

Trump is Inspiring

 I am an artist not a mogul

Why is he such an inspiring figure to me? We have nothing in common but our name. My name is Jacobina Trump. This never was a problem in the past, but lately as you can imagine, the reactions of people to my last name have changed. Ten years ago, when I was still married, I used to answer the question “Any kin?” with, “Oh no, I married the right one.” Alas, those days are gone. I thought about changing my name, but my original family name has a difficult pronunciation in America and I had already established a website for my art.

My last name is powerful. Not too long ago when the access to a private island was temporary closed due to construction, the guard said to me, “If your name was Trump I would let you through.” I laughed and said, ”Let me show you my driver’s license.” These days when almost everybody has something to say about Trump I hear many jokes and comments about my last name.

According to Wikipedia, a trump card is …

a playing card which is elevated above its normal rank in trick-taking games. Typically an entire suit is nominated as a trump suit – these cards then outrank all cards of plain (non-trump) suits. In other contexts, the term trump card can refer to any sort of action, authority, or policy which automatically prevails over all others.

….It automatically prevails over others. The name is powerful, no question about it. There is something else that inspires me because I am the polar opposite of Donald. I am a dreamer, a struggling,  immigrant female artist who reports every dollar I earn to the IRS and dreams about a world where there is no poverty, sickness or war. Lately I’ve been thinking “If he has generated this much power, so can I. Isn’t that the promise of the USA? ‘Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness?’”

I am an American citizen and I am determined to build a fulfilled life in freedom with a bank account that, one day, might trump Trump’s. Donald Trump has no more rights than I have except that he was born here and can become a president. That is something I do not aspire to.

Again wikipedia;

The word “trump” derives from “trionfi” or “triumph”.

The tarot deck contains a fifth suit, known in gaming as the a-touts or honors and in occult circles as the Major Arcana, which serves as a permanent trump suit in games played with the tarot deck. The suit consists of 22 cards, including a Fool which serves as a highest trump (in Central Europe) or excuses the players from following suit elsewhere.

The Fool is the highest Trump? …now that is interesting news.