dinsdag 27 oktober 2015

The Blame Game & Taking the Guilt Trip: new series ''Blame'' depicts all that and more...


The concept of 'blame' plays an important role in my work. Guilt and blame, to be precise. Partially because of reasons far too personal to talk or write about here, partially because of the more psychological aspects of the phenonemon.

It is, as far as I'm concerned, a re-occurring theme in Witty Art, sometimes clearly visible and tangible, most of times more like a some form of abstract presence, lingering and even lurking in the background. Well, that's how someone once described it to me - and I can definitely relate to that.

It's present in, for instance, my series "H.U.R.T." and ''Unforgiven'', the latter specifically triggered by a quote from Fyodor Dostoyevsky's classic novel ''Crime and Punishment'': 

''To go wrong in one's own way is better then to go right in someone else's.'' 

Now, there is another series in the making which deals with the same topic, albeit in a different way, taking a different approach. Whereas, to me, both "H.U.R.T.'' and ''Unforgiven'' are much harsher, violent even on an deeply emotional level, ''Blame'' depicts the feeling of being blamed, aside from whether you are guilty or not. It's about the someone playing the blamegame on you and you taking the guilt trip.

''Blame'' was also partially inspired by the song with the same name of one of my all time favourite bands, The Afghan Whigs: ''Blame, Etc''. As with all of their songs, the raw energy of both their music and lyrics speaks to me on many, many levels.

I took the liberty of embedding a YouTube link to this song, so you can play and listen for yourself. As I said, to me it's not just the pulsating rhythm, haunting guitars and frontman Greg Dulli's grinding voice, but it's the combination with the lyrics that makes their music so powerful to me. 

''Blame, deny, betray, divide
A lie, the truth
Which one shall I use?
Whatcha gonna do?
I know
Whatcha gonna do?
I know, I know, I know"

Words & Music: Greg Dulli 

For those who'd like to read the whole lyrics, please click here

All I can say, that The Whigs' music has been with me for many years now and it has helped inspire the creation of much Witty Art Work - and I can absolutely state with 100% certainty it will continue to do so for the rest of my life.

Greg Dulli and The Afghan Whigs still perform and tour regularly. 

"Hello, It's Us'': Witty Art about the art of dealing with ''Frenemies''

About time I started posting some of the Witty Art Work created earlier this year. As you followers of this blog and my art might know by now, this hasn't been the easiest year for me. A long period of financial insecurity led to the inevitable: the foreclosre of the mortgage on my house by the bank. 

It has been a long fight, and perhaps I fought that battle for far too long - one I was never to win anyway. But, done is done. My life has altered significantly, and I am slowly but surely coming to terms with it, seeing that the direction it was heading into, was not meant to be mine anyway.

One of the ways to deal with this all, is by the creative proces of making my Witty Art Book 'My Life In Limbo', which I have been sharing quite frequently on this blog, too.
Anyway, the thing is, it has been a pretty turbulent year. And however painful the process of losing my house may have been, it also turned out to be a highly creative one. One, during which I realised yet once again how crucial it is for me to keep on making my art: Witty Art.
For instance, it was the first time ever I've been able to visualise my long-term suffering from Insomnia as I did with series like ''Sleep No More'' and ''My (C)Losing Time''. And how liberating it felt to admit to it openly, for the first time, to which extend sleeplessness has been part of my life. 

And much more Witty Art saw the light during that period, and it has been a constant craze of GottaDraw ever since.
One of the other series was ''Hello It's Us!'', a series of five drawings so far, this time not named Part 1, 2, 3, and so on, but each with their own individual subtitle.

The series, at least to me, playfully refers to that type of people we all know exist and, at times, are impossible to escape: that type of friendly strangers or worse, good friends, who seem to think they know you better than anyone else, including yourself.
And whether they know you well or not at all, is irrelevant. The point is, they know all they need to know about you - it's enough for them to weigh you, to disect you and to judge you. They will painstakingly measure whether you fit in or not, if you are, according to a thoroughly set scale of social standards you might not even be aware of. You might not even know it existed in the first place. 

But that's all irrelevant to them. As long as they know. And all they need to know is: will you fit in? In other words: are you one of them, or not?


So, my point is: even if you wouldn't know yourself all too well, you'd still know one thing: to stay away from this particular breed  of intrusive, judgemental people as far as you can, as best as you can.

After all, as the saying goes: with friends like these, who needs enemies...?

maandag 26 oktober 2015

''Stagefright'' shines a light on being in the spotlights

''Stagefright'' is a series of, for now, four drawings, I made during one rainy afternoon. One of those afternoons that nothing seems to work and all that should go right goes horridly wrong. So, drawing and creating Witty Art is always the better option.

That rainy night, ''Stagefright'' emerged from my mind and onto paper. I don't remember what made these images come out, I only know that once my pen touched the paper, I had to draw something in black and white, without the use of any colours.

What lies beneath the actual image, or what triggered it: I don't even know myself, except it has something to do with both loving and hating being in the spotlights. And sometimes, just sometimes, there is no way to avoid it. When taking to the stage, you gotta face the fear. Or something like that.

Well, the audience at least.

zondag 25 oktober 2015

Bravely battling the corporate rat race: UnBunny appearing in ''Innovation In Carnation''

Quite a while back, I wrote a blogpost about one of the most beloved Witty Art Characters, a little fellow named UnBunny. The first time he appeared in my work, he immediately got his own series and it proved to be one of my best selling ones: ''Innovation In Carnation'', which I started in 2011 and is pretty much still going on, having reached up to over 30 drawings by now. It features UnBunny battling an increasingly technological world, a battle he is bound to loose ofourse... or is he?

Anyway, UnBunny turned out to be such a well-loved character, he appeared in a spin-off series called ''Innovation In Corporation''. This time, he bravely takes on the corporate rat race and epically fails at it, fighting office appliances and equipment. And worse, getting lost in processes and procedures. Much worse, being grinded somewhere between management and cost accounting.

I started this series back in 2012, but somehow never got the chance of the opportunity to showcase the finished drawings on this blog. So far, I finished eight of these in total, of which four were displayed during several exhibitions and art events.

During which I witnessed a great number of people smile at what our long-suffering (anti)hero has to endure. Many of them confessing to me that UnBunny's corporate ''antics and adventures'' were all but too familiar for them. And that's something I can definitely relate to. 

I too, like UnBunny, ran the corporate rat race once. But unlike him, I succeeded. More or less. I mostly succeeded in fooling myself though. That environment and that role were simply not me. But more about that, another time, another place.

vrijdag 23 oktober 2015

"The Greatest Show On Earth'' will leave you in awful awe...

My teenage years were predominantly the early 80's. That notorious era of post-punk, new wave and new romantics; of mass unemployment and mass strikes; and when Cold War reached a feverishly frozen all time low in an Europe, divided by an Iron Curtain and a Wall. The years of Reaganomics, Thatcherism and whoever was in charge in The Kremlin. 

Years of mass demonstrations against the presence of cruise missiles stationed in Europe. Of a growing fear of nuclear war between the USA and the USSR - with Europe being the battle ground. 

I remember reading everything I could about the destructive power of nuclear weapons. Every book, every article, every film, every documentary I could get my hands on. I had to know everything. Everything I could find about the history of the first atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the nuclear testing in the fifties and sixties, the whole nuclear arms race during the Cold War - way up to the mid eighties. 

I remember reading of what nuclear disaster can do. To people, to animals, to the environment. To the earth. It stuck in my teenage mind and it left an imprint never to be erased, only to be enlarged by the '86 Chernobyl disaster

But it isn't the only thing I remember.

Yes, what I read and saw was awful. I thought and knew it was aweful. Yet I was struck with awe. By the sheer beauty of the nuclear explosion. The scaringly majestic and awful beauty of the mushroom cloud. Its perfect shape, the utter silence in which it takes place. A mircale of nature and the triumph of science in one. And the potential doom of humankind. 

That mix of awful and awe became the inspiration for my series ''The Greatest Show On Earth''', depicted here. I guess the images kinda speak for themselves. And if not, please bear in mind that one of the descriptions of Witty Art is: ''The Rock courting The Roll while dancing on a seemlingly dead volcano''.... 

Yes, you might get front row seats for this grand spectacle.

But are you prepared to pay the price?

When even barbwire offers no protection for a broken heart: ''HeartWired''


Another one of my older series that deserves some much overdue attention, is 'HeartWired'. Quite a series of personal heartbreak, I suppose, a feeling familiar to anyone who has loved and fought to keep it, to hold on to it and failed miserably. And who found out the 'heart way' that not even all the barb wire in the world can prevent your heart from being broken.

Then again, as the familiar saying goes: ''It's better to have loved and lost in love, than to have never loved at all.'' And I stand firmly by that - and so does my (he)art.

Could that mean that Miss Witty perhaps is a romantic at heart...?

A Wonderful & Wandering Dream: ''Into The Wanderland''

Finally, I found or rather made some time to perform some much needed updates to this blog, starting with the page Witty Art Series 2011-2014. I've added some new (or older) images, some of them not even shown before. Some of these images are proper (low res) scans or photos from my art work, others are made with iPhone or iPad. The latter I do not find to be the most ideal e.g. professional looking, but in my current living and working situation, stuck with no home and no studio, let alone suffice equipment at hand (for that, please read blogs posted here) I have to make do with it. 

And guess what? I actually am pretty content with it for now! 

Anyway, a couple of stuff has been long overdue posting, like ''Into The Wanderland''', which I consider to be one of my more poetic, surrealistic series. Perhaps even dreamlike.

You see, I dream a lot. I know most (highly) creative minds dream a lot and a lot has been written about the relation between sleep, dreams and creativity. The thing with me is, whereas most people remember their dreams to some agree, I seldom remember mine, except when they are extremely vivid and almost physical. But, normally I do not remember them.

Yet I cannot help but thinking that, in a way, I do, as sometimes I do look at my work and wonder where some of the images appearing on paper come from. Surely, they must come from somewhere, either from the subconscious, which, I suppose, is the domain of sweet dreams and (un)pleasant nightmares. As well as vivid imagination and translucent visions.

With Witty Art, I know where the inspiration for some works comes from and I can recall that very directly and also talk about it. Where it was born from, which grounds it is rooted in. With others, I can absolutely not. They just occur. They just are. And sometimes are just as elusive are to me as they are to others. 

So, what can I tell you about ''Into The Wanderland'', then? Well, that it's not about ''The Wonderland'' that a certain Alice gets lost in, nor that it's about some magic fairytale kingdom from my or your childhood. Not the stuff that dreams are made off, I'm afraid, even though mythical creatures like unicorns do seem to appear. This Wanderland is the domain of nightmares rather than dreams, a place in which you are lured into to wander but are strictly forbidden to do so. Well, it seems to be a somewhat inhospitable place to me, at least, but, you, the viewer, are kindly invited to think, to feel and to experience otherwise.

Such is the case with ''Into The Wanderland''. I can only conclude it must have been one Wonderful and Wandering Dream - so I hope to dream it more often.

donderdag 22 oktober 2015

Witty Art is appreciated even by the most feline of creatures!

My Witty Art Book ''My Life In Limbo'' attracts quite a divers but genuinely interested following. It has even achieved its own fandom in the animal world.

Here's one of the most advert fans and followers of Witty Art:: my dear furry feline friend Lord Westenwind. Regal, if not royal and refined, this artistoc(r)at is a great connaisseur of the arts and even owns a few pieces of Witty Art himself.

If you are interested (and especially if you are a lover of cats, black cats in particular) you might want to follow the Lord's daily grooming and other exciting routines on Instagram

maandag 19 oktober 2015

On rebuilding my Life In Limbo on Rock Bottom and what J.K. Rowling's got to do with it

So, here are more sketches and drawings I made for my Witty Art Book ''My Life In Limbo'', my very own personal reflection of my journey through life since I effectively became homeless. Since losing the house that once had been a trusted home to me, I have been living the life of a 21s century city nomad, or, as I somewhat jokingly call it, the life of a Displaced Diva.

Originally started as a way of being able to keep on drawing and making little sketches and notes for later artwork, as losing my house also meant losing my workplace, this artbook has indeed become a way of sharing my story with the world, in particular with the friends and followers of Witty Art. Or rather: sharing the emotions behind the story, as my work, unavoidably and irreversibly, has been greatly impacted by the fact that my life had been thrown upside down.

As I've written in previous blogposts, the book became some kind of mirror, in which I saw my relationship with my art, with my own creations, reflected and that way I saw my life, my past and present relationships with the people in my life reflected; and the way I dealt with life's challenges - or the way I didn't or didn't dare to. I saw the characters from my artwork drop by, one by one, all those Perfectly Imperfect MisFits that inhabit the World of Witty Art. And each and every single of one of them telling me something about myself I didn't know - or I already knew but didn't want to know. Some loved, some feared, I hold all of them dear, as without them, my world would be empty and my artwork non-existent.

So, writing and drawing this artbook offered me a great deal of insight, not only in how my work will develop further, but also in the relationship between me and my artwork, and, equally important, the relationship between me and the world around me, the people in it - in my life. It helps me to come to terms with things that happened in the past; and to face up to the challenges now - and those yet to come.

For yes, I might be homeless at this very moment, I might be displaced, without a place of myself, I am still not living on the streets, as so many people unfortunately have to. I still have people who look after me, who support and love me. And I might have lost a lot, I feel like I have gained even more as my life has been enriched by the kindness, generosity and care from old and new friends, some which had been complete strangers before.

And, one thing I now know for sure, as corny as it may sound: whatever is taken away from me or will be taken away, I will always have my creativity. My ability to create art. To create my very own World of Witty, and that way, rebuild my life again. 

And when someone very special recently told me: ''You will rebuild your Witty Art Empire on rock bottom'', I had to think of what author J.K. Rowling (of Harry Potter fame, for those of you that have been sleeping under a rock for the last decade or so ;-)) had to say about the ''benefits of failure'', when she addressed the Harvard Alumni Association back in 2008: 

 'So why do I talk about the benefits of failure? Simply because failure meant a stripping away of the inessential. I stopped pretending to myself that I was anything other than what I was, and began to direct all my energy into finishing the only work that mattered to me. Had I really succeeded at anything else, I might never have found the determination to succeed in the one arena I believed I truly belonged. I was set free, because my greatest fear had been realised, and I was still alive, and I still had a daughter whom I adored, and I had an old typewriter and a big idea. And so rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.'

So, why should I not be able and capable to rebuild my life on my very own rock bottom, while creating my very own Witty Art Book? 

You can read and view J.K. Rowling's full Commencement Address, “The Fringe Benefits of Failure, and the Importance of Imagination,” at the Annual Meeting of the Harvard Alumni Association here. A truly inspirational read for anyone who currently finds him or herself on that place called Rock Bottom. 

I was. I am. So, on and forward I go. 

donderdag 15 oktober 2015

'Have You Ever Had It Blue?' A Witty Art tribute to The Blues

'Did You Ever Have It Blue?' was created, rather unintentionally, as a tribute to that feeling of feeling down and out, a feeling more commonly known as 'The Blues'. And I can fairly say that when I created this particular series of drawings, I experienced a MAJOR case of having the blues. 

So, what does Miss Witty do when she's feeling blue? She literally brings on the blues and starts listening to those blue notes that might bring you down a bit more, but definitely will lift your spirits back up again. Even if you have to serve some kind of other spirit to help you through it!

The music of great blues legends like B.B. King, Howlin' Wolf, Bobby Womack and more. And ofcourse, Mr. Bobby 'Blue' Bland, whose epic 'Ain't No Love (In The Heart Of The City)' helped me through a couple of very dark and dreary days.

The series' title was inspired by the song with the same name, performed and recorded by 80's band The Style Council, who were heavily influenced by old fifties and sixties jazz/rhythym & blues (and even some bossa nova swing) and are still among my all time favourites today, too.