Stepping into the Twenties

When I say ‘the Twenties’ I’m reminded of “The House of Elliott”, the Charleston, Art Deco, sleek and ornate knee-high party dresses and half short hairdos that were flat over the head and then curled back up from the neck to the ears. The decade is often referred to as ‘The Roaring Twenties’. Political and international relations were complicated after World War I and economic highs and lows followed eachother up with stroboscopic velocity. And in the mean time women burnt their corsets. began to wear their skirts above the knee and many refused to spend their lives serving their household any longer and began to look for a more fulfilling existence.

We human beings have a tendency to think that the time we live in is the most dangerous time ever or that we are more advanced now than ever before. But when we look through history, we can see that events actually come and go in waves and things happen over and over again. Thus far I think we’re just lucky to live in this century in this part of the world. Yes, the media bring us heartbreaking news from all over the world 24/7 and when you spend a lot of time on social media, you can drink heartbreak on micro level 24/7 as well. We see more, we hear more, we know more, we share more. And news comes at the speed of light. If you’re not careful, you can see world news happening live.

watercolor, ©Mandy van Goeije, 2019

At the same time one century ago newspapers were fighting for more independence. Good journalism was independent journalism which did thorough research and which heard both parties in dispute. That quality of press we are losing. It’s overpowered by the shouting of social media, it’s disabled by fake news and even more by the uprise of deep fake news and political developments all over the world are sawing the feet from under the reliability of the press if it helps their selfish cause. Never before has humanity received such a huge bulk of information on a daily basis and never before have individuals had such responsibility in estimating which news is true and relevant to them. So, even though history repeats itself, some things change and new players join the game.

How will these Twenties turn out for us? What will the history books say about our new decade in a hundred years or so? Who knows. Roaring I have a feeling it will be. But I am starting with a HUGE step in making things more simple. Calmer. And yet, roaring in another way.

watercolor, ©Mandy van Goeije, 2019

I wish you a roaring decade too, a decade in which you can free yourself from your metaphorical ‘corsets’ and wear your skirt just as high or as low and you like. And that just like the women in the Twenties of a century ago, you may find fulfillment in your life the way you like it.

Here is how I am starting my Twenties:

The How

If you’ve read my last blog post, you know that due to a human mistake in hospital I got super bad news and walked around afraid and frozen for a month last November. In the end it turned out it was a mistake and that actually, I was more than fine. But a confrontation with the fragility of one’s existence changes something inside forgood. It brings a clarity about life that no thinking can do. Wubbo Ockels, a Duch astronaut, once said the same about having cancer and knowing he was going to die. He said that life became better, clearer. There was an immediate clarity about what really mattered. And the rest…dust in the wind. It’s true. I’ve dropped a lot of “excess baggage” during that month.

The What

Work-related “excess baggage” that I’ve dropped is online teaching. I don’t mean to make it sound disrespectful or worthless, for I have loved doing it and building up relations with people from all over the world, on the foundations of a shared passion for artistic expression. But after years of pinballing about the course of my life, I realised it just isn’t what I want to do anymore. The online climate has changed to 100% commercial and as a result offers less and less space for real outsiders. So outsiders go elsewhere. I’m going elsewhere. But even more importantly, deep down inside I want to progress in my own art and write my book(s). I’ve gone back and forth between the decision a lot in the past years (as you know…), but this time it’s for real. I’m no longer teaching online and I’m taking down my online courses.

What does it mean for you as a student?

So, if you’re a student of mine, this will have consequences for you. If you’ve purchased one of my online courses, you will find them gone in the second week of April this year. If you want to keep the course materials, please make sure you download the videos and pdf’s before then. You can also download the course page as an HTML file to have an itenerary for the course.

The “Art for Life” course will remain accessible online, albeit on a hidden page that students must have the link to. I will migrate my Art for Life videos to a new location soon, so I’m apologizing up front that in reconnecting the videolinks, there may be a few hickups on the course page for a few days, while it’s being reconstructed somewhere this month or in February.

david bowie Tanka style
In loving memory of David Bowie – Watercolor and ink, ©Mandy van Goeije, 2019

So, to the work table it is! For a new project!!!

Besides taking my own art further and finishing my book I’m working on another big project. A graphic novel!!! I know! VERY scary! I’d never thought I would do that, but maybe you remember I was working on another book as well? Well, in the end it felt like that book didn’t want to happen in words. Then this summer I took an online comics writing course. Just to have a passtime during the heat. But the course hit me straight in the heart and woke up a super strong flow of energy and a whole new form of my story popped up. So this fall I’ve quietly been working on some test pages and at the moment I have three pages ready. I’m aiming at about 240 pages, so I have a long way to go. But I like it. I love putting my teeth into it. And I love the community I’ve found and that is very supportive in the process. I’ve always read comics, but it never came to mind that perhaps I could make one myself one day. So I had no idea how to go about it professionally. Because it actually really is a profession, writing comics. And there’s a huge amount of things you have to keep in mind while doing it. But I love everything about it. I’m juggling a bit to find the right rhythm of working on three projects at the same time. I tried assigning different days to different projects, but that didn’t work. So now I’m assigning parts of the day to each project and so far it seems to work! So, secretly I’m very happy that the holidays are over and now I can hit the throttle and get on full speed!

Will I share?

Of course I will share my art. And actually, I have to start selling it, because I’ve come to the deplorable point where my drawers cannot contain any more new art, so a little pile is now beginning to form on my printer. In the light of ‘excess baggage’ I’ve promised myself I’m going to build a webpage to sell my art and try to be more disciplined with sharing art that is for sale. And I’m looking for a few art shows to take part in this year.

Catle in the clouds in gouache
gouache exercise, inspired by @pattern_creator (Insta)

Change nouns to verbs

So, all in all there is a lot of work to do and I’m finally feeling the full throttle to get it done. The thing is…in making plans or writing down the things you want, it’s a wise idea to think in VERBS, not in NOUNS. You see, I wanted to be a writer, but I had trouble writing. I wanted to be an artist, but I had trouble making art. I never wanted to be an online teacher, but with great collaboration propositions coming by, I taught online. But if I want to get my nouns on the book shelves in libraries, book stores and living rooms, and on people’s walls, I need to get my verbs straight first! And that is exactly what I’m going to do. No, correct: That is exactly what I am already doing!

Illustrate Your Life

Oh, and before I forget…I haven’t been active in it lately, but I did set up a Mighty Network this fall, to see if I liked the platform for community building (I really dislike the lack of privacy on fb). It’s called Illustrate Your Life and it’s a place for autobiographic art, so art about your life. So it’s really a place for visual and wordy stories. You’re welcome to join. You can do so by clicking this link:

If you’ve read my newsletter till the end…thank you and I hope you’ve enjoyed it. I’ve included some images of recent personal work that I did the past weeks. I couldn’t let Bowie’s birthday go by unnoticed, of course. And those watercolor faces…sigh…they are just such great fun to do. That castle in the clouds? I was trying out new gouache that I didn’t like (Caran d’ache) and then I just HAD to go back to my designer’s gouaches because they look so beautifully velvetty. But I didn’t know what to paint, so I went on Instagram and let myself be inspired by the first flat-colored castle illustration in gouache that I saw. I love little exercises like these in my sketchbook. Even though they are not “my art”, they do give me a lot of satisfaction at the end of the day…

I hope you find a lot of satisfaction in your days too….

Love, Mandy