De lente brengt hoop in De Kleine Grote Wereld

De lente brengt hoop in De Kleine Grote Wereld

Iets nieuws in deze tijd? Het juiste moment kiezen om mijn De Kleine Grote Wereld project te starten, was niet zo makkelijk. Eerst was er corona met alle onzekerheden die dat met zich meebracht. En nu voltrekt zich plotseling een oorlog in een land waarvan de...

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A week of Hugs

A week of Hugs

A week of Hugs is what I have for you today. Hugs because I mis hugging my friends and family. Hugs because I know you might miss that too. Many people do. So, let’s start by a hug from me to you:

India Ink hug illustration by Mandy van Goeije for a week of hugs
Hugs, India ink on Bristol paper, © Mandy van Goeije, 2020

My week of hugs ended up being in India ink due to Inktober. I was half planning to join, but knowing that I never do a full Inktober challenge I was a bit half-hearted about it. Plus…ink! Yikes! I don’t know if you remember drawing with dip pen and ink in school when you were young? Do you remember the scratching of the metal pen? The tearing of the paper? The blotching? The accidental swipe over wet areas blackening everything? Well, I wasn’t that into ink, to tell you the truth. And yet…

India Ink hug illustration by Mandy van Goeije for a week of hugs
Big Hugs, India Ink on Bristol paper © Mandy van Goeije, 2020

And yet, all my hugs ended up being in India ink. Why? There’s no reason behind it. I just drew the first one, the one at the top of this post, and was startled by how much I liked the graphic feel of it. It made me want more. And also…I had managed an A6 ink drawing without scratching and according goose bumps, smudges and blotches. So I gained some confidence to proceed:

India Ink hug illustration by Mandy van Goeije for a week of hugs
Hugelele, India ink on Bristol paper, © Mandy van Goeije

One hug after another flowed from the tip of my pen…I sent them all to friends. And all these hugs refer to the relationships I have with these friends. It was super fun to be able to do something for my friends to show them my affection, which I now cannot do in a physical hug. This certainly feels like the next best thing. And maybe it’s even better because it lasts. Maybe a week of hugs any shape or form other than actual hugs isn’t so bad after all. If we eventually get to embrace eachother again, that is. Nothing really beats that, does it?

India Ink hug illustration by Mandy van Goeije for a week of hugs
Long time no see Hug, India ink on Bristol paper, © Mandy van Goeije, 2020

Some of my drawings are not based on actual friendships, but on concepts…on ideas that sprang to mind, like the one above in which a man is SO eager to hug this woman that she’s totally overwhelmed by the intensity and enthusiasm of it. I think it’s so cute! And I can imagine this feeling so well after so many months without hugs and embraces…

India Ink hug illustration by Mandy van Goeije for a week of hugs
Hug Turpin, a “Dick Turpin” hug in India ink on Bristol paper, © Mandy van Goeije, 2020

Then one of my peers in an online poetry class wrote a poem about how a covid facemask gives room to fantasies about being a Dick Turpin-like hero behind a facemask and how one could cheekily blow a kiss to the cleaning lady from behind their masks. As my mind works, it immediately envisioned the scene one step further… Glad it’s just my comic-styled imagination or else this Dick Turpin could be in for a slap with the mop. Whoops! 😉

India Ink hug illustration by Mandy van Goeije for a week of hugs
Huggoween, a Halloween Hug in India ink on Bristol paper, © Mandy van Goeije, 2020

And how about this couple? No friends of mine. Although the cat’s a cuty I see almost every day whenI walk the dog. But aren’t they just adorable? I am so proud of this ink drawing. I love its graphic character. It turned out exactly like I wanted. Simple as these drawings may look, they take a long time. More than a work day, sometimes even two full work days. There’s sketching, studies sometimes, practicing, drawing and then the inking, which happens in phases. So it’s just really, really great if they turn out pristine like this one because in the final stages there is so much risk of a little accident and with inks the accidents are rarely happy ones…

India Ink hug illustration by Mandy van Goeije for a week of hugs
Chronicled Hug, India ink on Bristol paper © Mandy van Goeije, 2020

This is another drawing that took a lot of time to get right and make. It’s for a friend I really, REALLY wanted to hug firmly this week and couldn’t, which was especially frustrating. It was so good to be able to turn to my ink jar. It offered consolation again because it allowed me to do the next best thing I COULD do.

You know, making someone feel they are loved, appreciated and missed, even if you see them every day, is so incredibly precious. I don’t think I would have appreciated that for what it’s worth if it weren’t for this pandemic. It’s not just the care or worry I can feel for someone, or the desire to hold them for a while and let them feel my affection. It’s also the sheer energy I feel when drawing these hugs for people. And the best thing of all? My friends feel it too on opening their mail.

Can I Hug you?

If you like this idea of getting or sending out a Hug, I hereby offer to make commissioned Hugs. A Hug for yourself or a Hug for a friend of yours. Custom made A5 size for € 100 plus shipping. E-mail me for possibilities. I take only a couple of commissions per week.

So, covid or not…we can always let people know we care about them. My way of doing so is in ink. How do you do it? And if you don’t do it yet, what would be your way of doing it? Can you think of something? What would your week of hugs look like?

Back to black with Inktober

Back to black with Inktober

Normally I don’t do challenges anymore because I don’t like how they intrude on my own flow, but Inktober is different. Just like writing Tanka I love limiting myself to just one medium. Creative wings are often born within limitations. It happens with writing poetry within the preset structure of the syllables and lines of a Tanka and it happens within the limtations of white paper, black ink and the use of dip pens. I’ve experienced this in ink before, but not as powerfully as I did this year.

Tree felling illustration by Mandy van Goeije
“Tree felling”, Indian ink on Bristol paper

The night before October I took out the collection of dip pens, nibs and Indian inks that I’ve collected over the years. I started inking to compare them but all of a sudden I found myself drawing my daily life and laying down my own illustrative style in ink. And then I was hooked! And I still am! I’m drawing my diary. I’m drawing cards. And I’ve come up with a project, about which I’ll tell you more soon. All in inks. All black and white.

I don’t really ‘do Inktober’. I don’t ink and post daily and I don’t follow the prompts, but my own life and flow instead. And still…it feels fun to know that there are so many people out there in the world who are inking right now. It kind of feels like a community revolving around little jars of black ink. When I sit down behind my drawing table, I can almost hear them scratching and cross-hatching away. I can hear them say “Ouch!” when they accidentally puncture their skin with the sharp nibs. I can see them jump up and dash for a towel to clear up the growing puddle of ink on their desks. I can hear them curse at an indelible mistake. For thirty one days in a year I’m not alone in the experience. And for some reason, I love the idea.

migraine illustration by Mandy van Goeije
“M. Igraine”- Indian ink on Bristol paper

Besides the inspiration I find in the limitation of the medium, I also find that “simple” ink illusrations like these can be quite poetic in a sense. It’s fun to draw something simple and to imply a lot more than what can be seen in the image. I believe it’s a consequence of the limitations within which I work at the moment. And it’s becoming a sport to come up with ways of expressing things I express so differently when working with other media. This is SO black and white, SO clear, such extremes. If you’re looking to express something delicate, it takes a different approach. The medium won’t help you there. Then it’s all about symbolism, about line style, about the distribution of black and white.

If you are intestered in drawing with ink and if you feel like challenging yourself but a daily ink is too much, Inktober came up with Inktober52, which is a weekly challenge. I don’t know if it’s my cup of tea to do prompts anymore at all, but I might just take a look at the weekly prompts when I run out of inspiration. Who knows?!

Maximum extraction in translation

Maximum extraction in translation

As it happened, I was reading Zucked by Roger McNamee when I heard that celebrities were sending a signal to facebook by boycotting it and instagram for a day with the #StopHateforProfit campaign. I immediately remembered this tanka I drew and wrote last year and decided it should be translated into English so that I could share it with the world. The message is very important, you see.

Maximum extraction - illustrated Tanka by Mandy van Goeije

I read quite a bit about surveillance capitalism and “social” media and I watched a lot of documentaries about it. And some time ago, I wrote an article on Medium about my own ordeal in deciding whether or not to stay on facebook. And even though many people think objections to facebook are “just” about data sharing, the reality of what goes on in facebook’s backoffice is way, way more serious.

Earlier this year I experienced just how bad it was myself, during the BLM protests. One of my facebook contacts is a white woman, married to a black man and they have two black kids. At some point during the BLM protests, she wrote a facebook post saying how she felt forced to publish something on the subject when it seemed obvious that she supported the BLM movement, being a wife to a black man and mother of two black kids. She wrote how awful she felt for being pushed by some of her contacts to write about it and expose herself to the hateful noise that was loud on facebook at that time.

What was horrible, was not her post. She wrote eloquently and full of love for her husband and children and she basically asked people not to push her to take a stand when it was obvious how she felt. But the response was everything she seemed afraid for. As I read on, I noticed the post had a truck load of comments, mostly by two women, herself and a few of her friends and it was a very fierce row. The two black ladies who commented most were hateful, disrespectful and incredibly rude and mean and my contact’s response grew more and more defensive as the argument wore on, eventually saying things that – out of context – could seem anti BLM. And since few people read an entire thread and see only the latest remarks, that in itself generated even more hateful comments, driving my contact to tears and frustration.

I wanted to stand up for her. But at the same time something in the back of my mind said: “Stop! Don’t interfere. Think!” So I did. I turned off the computer and sat quietly for a moment, allowing my adrenaline levels to sink and then it suddenly hit me. There was something very odd about the comments the two black attackers made. So I went back online, opened facebook and looked up her post and started reading the comments again. Contentwise the comments were just a repetition of one another, only more rude each time. They didn’t put forth new arguments or examples, they didn’t refer to events in their own lives. And that made me click the profiles of these ladies.

What I found, made my heart bleed. Neither of these two profiles were real. This argument – evolving around REAL lives – had been fired up by trolls, instructed by who knows who, to destabilize people, to destabilize society as it is. It made me sick as I realized in that very moment how fucked up facebook is. I knew that the platform only grew this big by using unethical procedures, using their users as raw materials to suck data from for sales to who cares who. But I had never with my own eyes seen how damaging and disrupting the platform could be by offering a stage for hate spreaders set out to ruin the society we have. I informed my contact about what I’d found, we both reported the profiles as fake and I decided to leave my timeline and look up only those people I really wanted to see from then on. My only active use would be to update my Art page with new work and reply to any comments there and some direct contact with friends.

Facebook isn’t worth my attention. And the thing is…people think it is a side-effect, but it’s not. Facebook algorithms are programmed to piss people off and to scare them to pieces because those negative emotions generate “engagement” – being the time you invest there and the activities that come out of that – each generating new data facebook can sell to third parties for whatever purpose. So everytime you thought you were an emotional wreck because your timeline affects you…no, you aren’t. Facebook is doing that to you. Purposely. Everytime you feel drained after reading your timeline, it’s not you being a mop, it’s facebook doing that to you. Purposely. And all the gruesome things you see and the fake news and the bickering going on, it doesn’t happen accidentally. It is facebook doing that to you. And guess what. If you are a thinker or a sensitive person, facebook will dump more gruesome shit on your timeline because that is what you will be most responsive to. People who are not easily moved by such things get puppies and kittens.

But even beyond our timelines stuff is going on with facebook that makes you sick once you know about it. Sucking and selling our data to whoever pays is not very ethical, but they get away with it by pretending ‘oops’ and loopholes in legislation. Making us addicted to dopamine by dripping notifications is alsno not very ethical. Nor is the spread of fake news and giving foreign governments the chance to meddle with our national elections. Facebook says it’s all a case of “whoops”, we didn’t know, we’ll fix it. Only, they never do. But where it gets really, really, REALLY bad is that facebook costs lives. Literally.

Facebook is all about groups these days, right? Well, guess who look eachother up in groups. Not just pigment-crazy ladies or art journalers. Also hateful people look eachother up. And without society around them to correct them and keep an eye on their behaviour, these people get the chance to encourage their unethical behaviour and thus “social” and “freedom of speech” becomes blatant crime when facebook groups lead to violence and even death. Ethnic cleansing, even. It is an inconvenient truth that people choose to look away from. Maybe you too would rather not see it. But I’m asking you, please, inform yourself. Know it. See it. And ask facebook to change their policies. I know it’s easier not to see things when they are off-putting or confusing, but this is so, SO very important. Facebook plays a huge role in our daily lives today. Not just your timeline, but also in our elections, in the distribution of our news and on our markets…we cannot condone a service that does not do ethics as long as they grow, grow, grow.

Growth for the sake of growth is cancer.
Facebook has become a social cancer.
And it’s up to its users to aks them to stop and become what they ougt to be: a SOCIAL platform.

I highly recommend Zucked as a read on this topic, but there are many more books on facebook and surveillance capitalism. If you want, I can give you tips. Just let me know in the comments below.

Thank you so much for reading my plea. And please, please…be informed.

As an encore, here’s my original, Dutch Tanka:

Maximale extractie - geïllustreerde tanka door Mandy van Goeije
Cobalt Teals compared

Cobalt Teals compared

One of my favorite pigments to work with, was PG50, a bright cobalt teal, or bright turquoise that is very much in fashion in art today. It holds a super vibrant and bright middle between blue and gold, although I prefer those that lean more towards the blue. I say it ‘was’ one of my favorite colors, since Rembrandt has brought forth a contender in their new collection, a turquoise made of the PB28 pigment.

Stroke, an art journal page

Both the PB 28 and the PG50 pigments granulate, which makes them a perfect first layer for texture paintings.

first layers of a journal painting, using cobalt teal as a ground texture layer. See the finished painting at the bottom of this post.

I use this paint in a great many of my paintings, even when the many layers on top no longer show this color. So I was a little apprehensive to see that Talens had added a PB28 turquoise to their collection instead of a PG50 and of course I needed to test and compare these two pigments side by side. So I did a little video testing Rembrandt, Horadam, Qor, Daniel Smith, Sennelier and Kremer.

Do you like to use cobalt teal or turquoise in your work? And which one of the paints I used in my video would you prefer? Below you can see the strips with the swatches.

Strip of the six cobalt teal turquoise watercolor paints
Finished journal page. Cobalt teal almost gone, but it’s there…without it I couldn’t have made this page.

Paints used in this video:

Making Rembrandt watercolor studio paint boxes

Making Rembrandt watercolor studio paint boxes

When I got the almost full new collection of Rembrandt watercolor paints, I wanted to make studio palettes to have the paint ready at hand. This video shows how I made two lovely studio paint boxes:

For a list of supplies, check out the info below the video here.

Rembrandt watercolor studio paint boxes by Mandy van Goeije

Mindless faces

Mindless faces

Mindless faces are faces I draw mindlessly and without a plan. They can be exercises to loosen up the fingers, to just relax and listen to an audiobook or to pour a surplus of emotion or thought into. Often, they come to life in wee, meaningful moments in busy times.

semi-abstract portrait by Mandy van Goeije

In this blogpost I’m presenting a few faces I drew over the last two weeks when the summer busy-ness in the house was too busy to work on a project and these faces just kept pouring out of my journal.

semi-abstract portrait by Mandy van Goeije

Often, I paint only part of these characters…even just part of their faces. The eye fills out the rest.

semi-abstract portrait by Mandy van Goeije

For the next face I used my favorite stump…a black Faber Castell pencil that I can’t say goodbye to, even though I have 20 big ones in my drawer, waiting to get into action. But these tiny ones that have been in my hands for so long…I keep them all, in a jar…and yet…I won’t let go until I can no longer hold them. Literally! And look at those minuscule indentations! They are marks of my sharpener….

semi-abstract portrait by Mandy van Goeije

The drawing above came with a baffling and unintentional side-effect. When I posted it on social media, people thought I’d drawn the American president, which I hadn’t. In this image I think my character looks a lot less like him, but below you’ll find a work-in-progress image I posted earlier that day that I must admit could provoke some recognition… Well, it also provoked anger, for one person blocked me on facebook for being “tired of my politics”. Isn’t it odd how associations in our minds lead to reactions that seem very disproportionate when considering the intention of the initial action? It’s sad, but as a human being we have no control of the perception of the other, so unless we connect and communicate, misunderstandings are unavoidable.

Isn’t it odd how images work? How much we can put into them or read into them? I sure didn’t mean to draw a president in my mindless faces and still people recognized him. Was it MY subconsciousness drawing traits of him or is it the eye of the beholder seeing him? It’s a question without an answer, but a very interesting matter in any case.

semi-abstract portrait by Mandy van Goeije

My daughter read Albert Camus’s The Plague and this week she’s had to wear a mask for the first time. While she was gone, wearing her mask, I drew this. It wasn’t until later that I realized my mind had woven together the information about these facts into the drawing above.

semi-abstract portrait by Mandy van Goeije

Some people call these faces ‘quirky’. For some reason I didn’t feel that word fitted them, so I went looking for synonyms, to see if I could find a word that would fit them better. I felt that ‘quirky’ had this connotation of being funny, something odd that provokes a laugh or a smile. And I think some of these characters are highly serious, some are stern, even. And others might be a little tender. The synonyms I found were ‘odd’, ‘idiosyncratic’, ‘bizarre’, ‘peculiar’, ‘strange’, ‘unusual’ and ‘weird’. None of them sounds right either. ‘Weird’ sounds a little offensive and I can’t remember having heard ‘idiosyncratic’ used to describe a face.

semi-abstract portrait by Mandy van Goeije

So…no, I haven’t found a word that better fits my mindless faces than ‘quirky’. Fortunately Merriam- Webster have a great definition of the word that I like and that makes me feel like the word suits my characters after all. According to them ‘quirky’ means: “unusual in especially an interesting or appealing way”. Now…THAT definition I think my characters would like. Because no matter how odd they may look, all they want, is to reach out and connect.

semi-abstract portrait by Mandy van Goeije

Before I end this post, I want to tell you’ve I’ve renewed the format of my newsletter. I send out 10 things worth sharing weekly. 10 things that have inspired me or play a rol in my process. Although, perhaps this week I won’t make it to 10. It’s a newsletter format like a menu – you can pick from it what you like and leave the rest be. If you are interested, you can sign up here for a weekly 10 that differs in content from my blog!

Rembrandt Watercolor – the Old and the New collection

Rembrandt Watercolor – the Old and the New collection

A big surprise

It felt like Christmas when a huge box full of watercolor paint tubes unexpectedly arrived at my door… Half an hour later a caterpillar of tubes containing lush watercolor paints lay on the dining table in order – screaming to be swatched and painted with.

Speechless after unpacking this gift…

Over a hundred

I bet you can imagine I was over the moon happy and before long my girls came drewling over the 108 tubes of yumminess too, choosing the colors they wanted to try themselves, hoping they could tubenap a few to their rooms for a bit of fun… The full Rembrandt collection is 120 colors, so only twelve were missing. In my old Rembrandt collection ten were missing and I’d been meaning to order those for review purposes anyway, so for this occasion I slaughtered my piggy bank completed the collection for a swatch and review.

The paints arrived quickly and I made a swatching video of it in 4 parts. Below you will find the videos and color charts of the full collection, so this is going to be lush and long post. You might like to get yourself a cuppa of whatever and make yourself comfy for some relaxing and exciting color therapy! This is going to be GOOD!!!

Make way to the oldies

For starters I want to share my old collection with you, because it was already a superb watercolor palette to work with and I think the brand deserves more love than it gets. I’d been meaning to do a full review for years because it’s in the top range right next to Horadam, Sennelier, Daniel Smith and Winsor & Newton Artists’

Old collection

This is the color chart of my “old” collection. The colors that are striked through are no longer available (unless old stock) and those that have an “I” in them, have been improved and are made of the same pigments, but often from a different distributor and now look a bit different.

Color chart Rembrandt Watercolors, old collection by Mandy van Goeije
Color chart Rembrandt Watercolor by Mandy van Goeije – old collection. Click for the larger version

A belated surprise

The Rembrandt watercolor collection was renewed to celebrate the 120th anniversary of the brand a little while ago. This actually happened a little while back, but with me having lived under the pavement for a while and a local art store that probably carries a lot of old stock still, it went by me unnoticed. That is to say, I had noticed new shimmery colors, I had just never realized the entire collection had been renewed.

There’s always cause and effect

Finding out was a Yay! and a Darn! at the same time. Yay! because at first glance the new collection looked like a much improved version of the old one. And Darn! because this meant I wasn’t missing 10, but a whopping 54 colors and I would still not be able to swatch and review the entire Rembrandt collection. Here is a little vlog about that:

I contacted Talens about their new Rembrandt collection and enquired about the changes in their collection. They sent me this lovely brochure that shows the colors of their range and explains the changes in the collection, which came in really handy for me in this swatching and reviewing process. The brochure is available online in various languages if you’re interested.

Apparently, my disappointment didn’t go unnoticed and a few days later I was surprised (by a benefactor who wishes to remain undisclosed) with the delivery of the larger part of the new collection so that I could do the full review anyway. I expressed many thanks and sat down to make a plan. The best thanks is a thorough showing of this range, after all. But 120 colors is A LOT OF work and sure require a plan, all right!

For comparison

I started with a color chart + swatch video of my old collection for comparison. The color chart is at the top of this post and this is the video:


During the recording a delivery guy brought the twelve missing colors of the new collection. So once the color chart of the old collection was ready, I finished the dot cards of the new collection. I decided to chop the video up into four equal parts of 30 colors to keep the videos of a manageable duration. Below you will find the videos and the color charts. If you click on the color charts, it will take you to the larger image files. Do give them a little time loading because they are very large files.

A word on color

A little word of caution: I have done my best to match the colors of the scanned images with the colors as they are in reality. But on their way from my computer to yours, a lot of the digital informationi gets morfed and lost due to settings on each of the technical appliances have. This means the colors will probably be different for you than they are for me. Therefore they are only an indication to help you get an impression of this collection of paints, but can hopefully be helpful in determining which colors you might like. This is also why I record the process of swatching on video – to give you extra information on the colors and the results to help you get an idea of what to expect when you decide to try a color.

Rembrandt watercolor 1 of 4: white, yellow, orange and red

Talens Rembrandt watercolor new collection yellow, orange and red
Talens Rembrandt watercolor new collection 1 of 4, the yellows, oranges and reds. Click for the large version

Rembrandt watercolor 2 of 4: red, pink, purple and blue

Talens Rembrandt watercolor new collection 2 of 4: red, pink, purple and blue by Mandy van Goeije
Talens Rembrandt watercolor new collection 2 of 4: red, pink, purple and blue. Click for larger version

Rembrandt watercolor 3 of 4: blue, green and earth tones

Talens Rembrandt watercolor new collection 3 of 4: blue, green and earth tones by Mandy van Goeije
Talens Rembrandt watercolor new collection 3 of 4: blue, green and earth tones. Click for the large version

Rembrandt watercolor 4 of 4: brown, black and sparkle

Talens Rembrandt watercolor new collection 4 of 4: dark brown, black and metallic by Mandy van Goeije
Talens Rembrandt watercolor new collection 1 of 4: dark brown, black and metallic. Click for the large version

NB: This is not a commercial or affiliate review. My review of the brand is a real and indpendent sharing of my personal experience with this paint. None of the links above generate an income for me.