Road Trip

I am not sure what is so funny about waking up at five in the morning to start a road trip to Indiana, but a few people wanted to hear about my trip so here it goes.  We are talking about a 16-hour solo drive through the Smoky Mountains with a KIA loaded with 122 paintings. Some are stretched. Some are even framed. But most of them are rolled up. That is what you can do with linen and cotton fabric.  I love the flexibility.

As soon as I wake up I start  thinking about the hotel I plan to stay at tonight. I never make reservations because I don’t know how far I am going to get. As you know, traffic and weather are unpredictable forces. I decide to aim for a hotel in Bowling Green, in Kentucky, a four-hour drive from Indianapolis.

I have been driving this road now for almost twenty years. I take I 75 North to Atlanta where I go west on I24 to Chattanooga and drive through the mountains, a highlight in summer and winter alike. The road curls around majestic mountains and eye-catching scenery frames both sides of almost empty stretches of asphalt. The mountains stretch all the way from Canada along the East Coast  into Tennessee. They are called Smoky Mountains because when you look at them you see fog that looks like plumes of smoke.

The first big city after the Smoky Mountains is Nashville, with Louisville, KY, next. Then you keep heading  north until you see the Chase Tower in downtown Indianapolis. The land is flat and you can see cornfields reaching the horizon, their brown dried-up leaves cracking in the wind. It’s hard to believe that just two hours further North and you are in Chicago.

Why do I already think about bed before the trip starts? Maybe, because I want to sleep just a little longer; maybe it is because when I visualize the end of the day, I feel that nothing bad will happen to me on the road. Either way, the thought of pristine white cotton towels, a bathtub, crispy white feather down comforters and absolute quiet fills me with uplifting thoughts. It bridges the boredom of miles and miles of roads, flanked by hundreds of billboards.

With my goal in mind I head to the ATM first, because somebody needs to pay for the hotel and the gas. It’s not easy finding a bank on the road, and I know my way in Englewood. Happily, a client from Holland purchased a painting and on the morning of my departure allowing me to withdraw money from an ATM using my Dutch credit card. This money, a maximum of $500 per day, is paying for the trip. I found my way around how banks like to do business, thus avoiding the three-day wait for international transactions and at least $45 in fees. 

I deposited the $500 in a bank in Georgia, coincidentally located next to a gas station, and transferred it to my American Express Card. This way I can pay my hotel bill the next morning. Credit cards are the way to go in America, because it is proof of payment and American Express will dispute fees if I have a problem or unacceptable service.

Gas was only $1.92 per gallon. Just for my Dutch readers, this compares to 50 dollarcents per liter, which equals 40 euro cents. I think people in Holland pay close to $8 for a liter of fuel today. Think about the difference. The whole 16- hour drive to Indiana will cost me about $65 or 50 euros. More about that drive next time.

Home Again

20x24 inches, 50x60cm, oil on linen
20×24 inches, 50x60cm, oil on linen

The artists’s way

This is the life of an artist. You work for a show. You make sure that the paintings have a similar theme. You sell a couple of pieces during the show and when it’s over, you take it all home again. I haven’t known many artists who sold everything in a show.

What that means is we are left with a variety of artwork that doesn’t go together. Picasso changed styles and I am inclined to do the same, simply because I don’t want to get bored with my own work. Sometimes I change the technique but not the subject. Sometimes I change the subject. I do whatever I want. That is not a good marketing strategy, it is not a strategy at all, it is just fun.

Five years later

After five years of prolific painting, it came to me that I had enough work for an auction. So I thought, “Why not have the auction in Indianapolis where a lot of the works were painted.” My friends Chris Blice and Jon Edwards offered to lend me their studio, which looked like a little warehouse and sent out invitations to their clients. The idea was when there were enough people we would try to get them to bid as they would in an auction. Unfortunately, there were never enough people at once, but  sales went on continuously.

12x16 inches, 30x40 cm, oil on canvas.
12×16 inches, 30×40 cm, oil on canvas.

Get out of the comfort zone

I was excited about the trip. I always enjoy leaving my own boring routine to see what others are doing, or what I might be able to do under different circumstances. Just getting a glance of different worlds, different possibilities, is enough to get me moving to a different groove. Stretching myself, my horizons and my habits and checking boundaries is always refreshing and inspiring.

Once the exhibition was over and paintings were sold, the unknown had become known and I was done. A strange feeling that I was back walking an old familiar path made me uncomfortable. I suddenly wanted to go home, and every hour that desire became bigger and bigger. I did not want to pick up more business or resume old friendships again. The whole reason I left Indianapolis in the first place, was to build a new life, not to keep coming back and trying old ways of thinking that would not work for me.

Indianapolis is a beautiful city with old colonial buildings, majestic lawns and wide porches. Having lived close to Meridian Hills was great. The tall Maple trees were still green although you could see a bit of yellow starting to peak through in places. After a short rain the earth smelled like autumn. The White River was still there, patiently following its course through Broadripple, as my friend I walked along the Monon and did some fun girly things. There were many things to love about a life in the Midwest, but I was more excited when I got an invitation to give a presentation in Miami.

Still in my pajamas, I drove home as if the devil was trying to catch up with me. Rain splashed the windows clean, storms everywhere caused trouble and I was caught in more than one traffic jam caused by an overthrown tractor-trailer. The Smokey Mountains were “smoking” and there was thick fog. The leaving was not as easy as the going had been. The weather finally cleared up at the border of Georgia and Florida.

12x16 inches, 30x40 cm, oil on canvas.
12×16 inches, 30×40 cm, oil on canvas.

Writing about a trip

What was I thinking? Should I write about the trip? There are no quaint little villages, bakeries or other landmarks worth noting. There are the billboards that advertise everything from fireworks, whiskeys,  carpets, and strip clubs to the finger-pointing Jesus saying that abortion is a sin. Then all you see are big signs with happy grey-haired couples on the golf course. I think that says it all. I am home.

Blank Canvas.

When it comes to your life, goals and dreams, you are the artist and this is your masterpiece.

You see, we all have the divine privilege of being able to start with a blank canvas at any given moment. We ALWAYS have all the resources and opportunities we need right at our fingertips.

Great words don’t you think?  My coach Bob Proctor tells me it is easy to wipe your life clean and start out fresh. It does not get any easier than this right? Just let your imagination flow wherever it wants to and voila, there is your hidden dream, right there on the canvas. I can tell you from experience that there is nothing more frightening than a blank canvas.

My mother used to say, “Child, just follow your heart and it will all be ok.” She meant well and I desperately wanted to follow my heart, even as a child. As soon as I listened to my intuition and expressed this honestly, I received a mental spanking. So where does this leave me? Today I am getting my intuition back, but blank canvasses scare me more than anything.

Before I left Holland to travel to the Caribbean, I knew I wanted to be an artist and I bought the linen and paint. But then, the blank canvas stared at me for months. A blank canvas tells me I can make mistakes and there is no promise of Happy Ever After. What am I going to do when I don’t like what I see? That is why it has to be embraced as a process.

When I started painting seriously, I wanted to discover what in life I liked. I was curious how I would express this. I painted sailboats, dark sailboats and light sailboats. My boats got lighter and more luxurious every time. My stories were told through the sea and sailboats. I don’t think there were many people understanding what I was doing. So I was about to starve, but I was strongly visualizing my dream. The boat I wanted to own was staring me in the face, day in day out. There is symbolism in the sailor’s world. I saw the meaning of every little thing.

A blank canvas still scares me, sometimes so much that I paint the first strokes blindfolded. This is like catharsis. When I watch my students sit in front of a blank canvas staring in complete anxiety, I tell them to draw circles, scratches, squares… anything until the barrier goes away.

Julia Cameron wrote a book about how to start being an artist. “The Artist’s Way” tells you to write three pages about anything you want. You do this every day until you realize that you can write your dreams down just as easy. After writing about bad hairdos, nasty brothers and the weather, there is room to write about a house with a waterfall in the yard. Nobody is judging or laughing, because nobody reads your journal.  Now you can start imagining that there are no limitations and if you are taking action, one step at a time, you can make this dream a reality, just because you wrote it down. Think about this. It’s very powerful and it will bring somewhere you have never been before. Start with reading and click here to purchase “The Artist’s Way”

What we believe.

We become what we believe. One telephone call in the afternoon connected me to a new student. She was eager to meet me because if there was one thing she really always enjoyed was drawing. I asked her, “So, why did you stop?” Her mother stressed that it was not an occupation to make any money and if she wanted to be independent she should choose something else. “Don’t ever get in your head that you could be good at anything like this”

That was the end of a dream.

It takes courage to start something like drawing later in life but I can assure you it is never too late. In fact, one of my students who had excellent skills before her stroke, came to me with the question to please help her start again. Drawing does not take much physical effort and it is good for the coordination of the brain with the hand.

I want to say two things about parents who discourage wanna be artists. “Inspire drawing skills as much as you can because it stimulates the right side of the brain and that is where the creativity houses”. Without creativity we’ll have no creative solutions for our problems, without activating the other side of the brain we are out of balance.

This belief that a pencil and paper cannot bring you fame and fortune is so deep imbedded in our belief system that any thought resonating with the word artist brings an immediate wave of thoughts about poverty, hardship, pain and depression. Recently I met a young artist who has proven that with only a pencil and a piece of paper he made a fortune. He is raving about it and is willing to teach you how. His name is Owen Garrat, you can google him. Think about other artists who started with just a pencil. Walt Disney perhaps? He did not have a computer.

I understand that to grow into something extra-ordinary you need to believe that growth is happening without seeing the evidence. This is the true meaning of potential. When you put a seed in the ground, nothing will happen for a long time, but the soil, water and sun are doing the job they are supposed to do. You have to work at it, nurture and care for it.  At the same same time, you have to know that if you put a marble in the ground, nothing ever will happen. It is made of different material. That is why you have to know your potential. Talent does not mean that much without the other components, but potential is within you and different for all of us. You either have the DNA of an oak or grass, the seed might even look the same, you only see the difference this when you allow growth to happen.

I am looking forward to my new student because it is fascinating to see my students grow from nothing to something special in the garden of life. I pretend it is my own garden and I nurture the students and their potential. I see who could become an Oak and I see who will blossom as a Hydrangea. It is up to me to give each one the right spot, feeding off of each other and not fighting for the light. I feel it my responsibility.

The Wedding

I have been developing a style that I call “the blueprints”. Blueprints are amazing things. A blueprint of a building is  just lines on a piece of paper but the architect who drew them can give them to a contractor who will translate these lines and build a brick and mortar statue of dense vibration.

This piece of paper needs to be interpreted by someone who can visualize the outcome of the lines. The architect and contractor as well as the laborer all need to work at 100% of their capacity to make a stunning building, a building to be remembered.

The soul also has a blueprint. It is designed by the Great Creator and it is ours from birth through all the lives we are living. If you imagine that at birth we become the contractor of our own life with the density of a brick and mortar reality, then you also can imagine what our life is going to look like. Most of us cannot “read” the blueprint at birth. I did not. I only read mine a year or so ago. In my mind I was building a tiny little house, like the one my parents used to live in. That was comfortable. In my mind I wanted to make it fit. I knew I was in trouble because what I thought I should build and the drawing of the blueprint were so far off that I started to ask others how to solve this problem. This is called personal development. I call it Restlessness.

I had the blue print of a castle, with minarets and various ballrooms. No wonder it would not fit on the small piece of property I just “bought.” No wonder that I could not make it fit.

I look at all of this like it is a wedding.  I believe that no matter what the outcome, a wedding is one of the truly memorable events of our lives. The wedding is about your own true love, the one that belongs to you, no matter where you find it. Love is a force of nature. It comes as a hurricane and totally immerses you. No single common sense applies anymore to what you are doing. Everything; time, money, places to be move through your hands like there is no end to it. There is no end to love. No limitations. It moves faster than you can think.

In the painting you can see the movement clearly, but you can also see the stability of the brick and mortar in the background. It is by coincidence that the tower represents the City Hall of Veere, the building I was married in, a long time ago. I couldn’t find another picture that was well designed and old as this one. Now I am looking for original blueprints.  If you have any, please let me know so I can continue with my theme and develop an amazing series of paIMG_6873_300dpiintings.