We continue our chat with Dutch painter (and Hallmark partner) Marjolein Bastin about her life as an artist, how she works, and the way it makes her feel. (Our previous conversation is here.) We hope you’re as inspired by her as we are.
Well, I started diaries as a child, of course. I remember primary school—they were telling us about making an herbarium—is that an English word?—where you dry your plants in a little book. The teacher told us how to do it, so whoo, there I went. And I picked everything: flowers and little branches and tree leaves. I loved the book and when I was ready it stood like this (she gestures to show a book so thick it won’t close) because it was so full. I was the only one that I remember in my class who overdid it.
I never stopped with it. I still do it, and it’s of the highest value for me. It’s the most me, my diary—without thinking about what to make from it or to do with it. It’s my love, my memories, my treasures.
Sometimes I paint in my diary, and I think, “I can’t do better, this is just as it should be.”
Sometimes there’s a moment that you think, “Wow! That’s beautiful!” But it’s just one second—it’s the light or movement or the type of animal that you’re excited about. It’s not something that you can paint in a page of a diary—and you just have to make immediately a painting of it.
So the source of a painting can be anything. The only thing that is always the same is the source is love and excitement.
And then there is wanting to share it, because it’s too much for me by myself. Wouldn’t it be a pity if I left everything under my table and nobody would see? It’s so wonderful to share your enthusiasm and make people take a better look at things outside, and in a different way look at an ant or a bumblebee or a kind of flower that they never had seen before.
COMMUNITY AND ALONE TIME
I think it’s energizing when you have a community.
Creative Community is about sharing, talking about what you do, what you want to achieve…listening to other people with thoughts that may enrich you and make you see a different point of view. It gives me so much inspiration and I don’t know why, exactly. Being together excites me so much that I want to do more, create more.
On the other hand, I have to say that I never could work with other people around me. I want to be alone because that’s where my power comes from. As soon as there are other people around me, I want to share my power, and then my own power is less.
The same thing happens to me with nature walks. When I have somebody with me on my nature walk, I don’t see anything anymore. I just want to be sure that he or she is happy, that I’m not walking too quick or too slow, and I think, “Why is there not something exciting happening? Oh, nothing today. I feel ashamed.”
When I am in nature, I just can sit still and I am part of it. When you sit a long time and you don’t say anything, nature doesn’t look at you anymore. You can see so many wonders when you are by yourself.
I think creating is a lonely process—but then you should share. You should say why you are doing it, that you love what somebody else is doing, that you agree in the power of what we can do with our art. And it’s good to talk about that and be inspired by each other.
LOVING YOUR WORK
I never have to do anything—I just want it for myself.
The only thing I had to get used to…at first, I was not used to having deadlines. I was working for a Dutch magazine. For more than 38 years, every week—never missed one week—I’ve had a page, and I fill it with nature and I write with it. In the beginning, I was stressed. “Oooh! Next week, it should be ready. Oh, it’s not quick enough.”
I don’t do that anymore. I just work and work and work. I don’t think about deadlines—I just do what I want to do. I paint until I can’t anymore, then I have to go out and just have new energy outside, and then I go on again. For me, 10 hours painting a day, seven days a week, isn’t a problem at all.
I feel nearly guilty, but after so many years, perhaps that’s a gift—I do what I want to do, and still every week there is a painting in my magazine with my text.
Creating is a huge urge—a wonderful necessity. When we have two days of business, sometimes, I miss it bodily. I miss having something I can create on paper. To have my brush in hand. To have my ideas on paper…it’s me.
My work is me. I hope I can do that till I’m not here anymore because it’s me. I wouldn’t be me without it.
SMALL BUT MIGHTY
My favorite is the little wren. Isn’t it beautiful? I really love it, and I think [if I were] a bird—my whole life, I think—I would be a little brown wren. Just hiding all the time, in a heap of wood. Somewhere nobody can see me. Nobody knows that I’m there.
But, boy, when I’m singing, Whew! I have a voice.
And therefore, I feel very related to this tiny, little, hidden-away bird with a big, big voice.
FIND MORE OF OUR WHY I CREATE SERIES HERE. WE WANT TO KNOW WHY YOU CREATE, TOO. MAKE A VIDEO. WRITE IT DOWN. EXPRESS IT IN A PAINTING. SHARE IT ON FACEBOOK OR @THINK.MAKE.SHARE ON INSTAGRAM AND USE #WHYICREATE.
And check out Nature’s Sketchbook, Marjolein Bastin’s collaboration with Hallmark.