Archives for the month of: September, 2015


Empathy is compassion and understanding of human nature. It enables you to respond genuinely to others’ concerns. Empathy doesn’t mean you take on other people’s fights, rather you support them to find their own way. Think about why you are fighting for something: is it because someone else wants you to, or it will benefit you or benefit the wider society (this come back to self-awareness and motiviation).

Playing with puppets is a wonderful tool to understand where others are coming from. But understanding is not everything, sometimes it simply makes you sick when you clearly see injustice, but can’t do anything about it. The heart bleeds, when you have to watch helplessly how some people in a powerless postition are walked over by people with self-serving motivation. I have been in this situation for the last 15 month. I tried what I could, but finally had to walk away. The bully was simply stronger (they usually are).  At least I know that the people I supported will remember me for the rest of their lives even though I couldn’t help in the end. As life is closely entwined with my art, I have decided that my next book will be an Emotional Intelligence workbook by the Dedes. But first I have to find my creativity and my humour again :)

5 pillars-2

Motivation is the second pillar of emotional intelligence, in particular where your motivation stems from. For emotional intelligent people the motivation comes from within. External motivators such as money, titles or status symbols  are less important, as is the approval from friends and teachers or other people you would like to impress.

In my opinion – and you can argue with me here – your true motivations for your actions (the ones only you will know) will indicate whether you are self-aware or self-centred. If you are motivated by your true and honest beliefs, you are aware. When you need approval from the outside you are self-centred.

5 pillars

After my late-breaking news yesterday, I am back with my Pecha Kucha presentation about “Why I play with puppets”. Okay, here is the first pillar of Emotional Intelligence: Self-awareness.

This is an understanding of who you are and taking responsibility for your actions. Knowing your own strengths and weaknesses and how your actions affect others. It is not the same as being self-centred. Self-centred people believe the world ows them. Sorry guys, it doesn’t. But don’t worry, when you are in you late teens or early twenties, you are allowed to be a little self-centred as you have to find out who you really are, not who your parents and peers and teachers try to tell you you are. By the end of your tweens the self-centredness should have morphed into self-awareness. If not – it’s time to get worried!

thank you_ copy

I am getting very close now making my famous Artist’s Survival Cookbook available on CreateSpace. After puppeteer-friend Tony had a good read and made correction, the lovely Heather went over the whole thing again with a fine comb. I have entered the latest changes and uploaded the complete file again. That is it now! In the meantime I have created a preview on CreateSpace. Everyone can look at and review the book here:

There is an independend book festival on first weekend in October. My garden guru friend Dee has organised a stall and offered to share it with me.  I also have seen the first proof copies from CreateSpace and I am happy with the print result. You guys can not believe how excited I am right now!




devil feet

So what does Emotional Intelligence mean? To say it in the words of a layperson: it is the ability to put yourself in someone else’s shoes without being walked over.

And this is where the puppets have been invaluable for me. Here Devil takes measure of my feet to see if the shoe fits. To come up with all the puppet stories, one has to be an excellent observer and understand human interaction.

Before I go on I will quickly run through the 5 pillars of Emotional Intelligence. These are the traits employers are looking for:

  • Self-awareness
  • Motivation
  • Empathy
  • People skills
  • Self-regulation

I will explain those in the next slides.


This is an image from a series of six. In 2013 I put together unlikely couples for an exhibition. Back then I believed you can get on with whoever, simply by making enough of an effort. Yes, that was back then. In the meantime I have learned a hard lesson, and this is how I came across the term Emotional Intelligence (EI). It is one of those things some people possess without actually knowing, others don’t. But obviously one can work on it. I hear it becomes more and more sought after in the corporate world, particularly in leaders.


The other day I did a presentation about my work. It was basically a Pecha Kucha presentation, although we couldn’t call it that, as the term is trademarked. In case you don’t know how this type of presentation works, it consists of 20 slides and the presenter has exactly 20 seconds to speak to each slide. That is a bit of a challenge. 20 seconds is not very long. Anyway, it was a good exercise to revisit what I do with my Dedes and I will put up the presentation over the next month. The format is pretty much the format of my blog anyway. However, I might add more text than 20 seconds worth.

The title of the presentation was: Why I play with puppets.

I arrived at puppetry from the visual arts angle, not performance, and I immediately appreciated the use of my Dedes for self-exploration. For me, they are magical problem-solvers and I often call them my “voodoo dolls gone mellow.” Since Devil started his new job in an environment with a bullying culture, I have also became aware that these puppets are brilliant for developing emotional intelligence. This is a term I only discovered recently, but all of a sudden everything makes perfect sense.

devil whisper

I have finally uploaded the Artist’s survival cookbook to CreateSpace and ordered two copies. It is not available for purchase yet. The next step is to proof the quality of the images. I have printed two copies here on two different digital printers and both came out a bit too dark, with the blacks clogging up. Knowing how tempramental printers can be (as many small digital printers are not regularly calibrated) I have to get a print from the machine the book will be printed on. Then I’ll have to make a call on whether I need to work on the images to improve the result.

In the meantime, good old Mouse is still on Devil’s case. No matter what Devil says, Mouse is deeply concerned that he is not coping well at the moment. After enough pestering, he finally he told her what he is currently working on, just to shut her up. But she is not allowed to tell anyone else. Now this is a real test of will power for Mouse, as she is such a big gossip. Surprisingly, she has managed to keep the secret so far, though she let slip that all will be revealed by next weekend.