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.
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.
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.
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.