Archives for posts with tag: background


This is more stuff I made over the weekend. I came across an interesting tutorial on the internet about burning glue to create a textured surface. In the video the result looked amazing, so I had to have a go. I used some air dry clay I found in my art cupboard as the foundation to apply the glue to. I wasn’t too sure about burning PVA glue but it didn’t smell bad. Actually, it didn’t smell at all though this doesn’t mean it isn’t toxic. (Okay, I found a site on the internet that said it wasn’t). While I like the look of the beads, I don’t like touching them. It irritates me that they feel warm, not cold like stone. It’s a fail in my book :) It made me realise, I don’t think much about the temperature of objects, but I certainly have a subconscious expectation.



This is a sneak preview of the base plate for my reflections on Europe (the photo was taken with a macro lens to show the detail).  Once again, it is acrylic on MDF board. But this time the texture is not entirely built up by paint. I tried an alternative technique using a modelling compound from the art shop. I guess it is some sort of polymer. To achieve the right texture I added wood shavings to the paste. Once it dried I painted layers of colour. Surprisingly, this time it didn’t take too long before I was satisfied with the result. The red in the valleys and the virgin white on the mountains are perfect. The rest of the plate is a blueish black. At this stage the work will have to sit for a while because I haven’t decided which way is up. I am also worried I will stuff it up when I hammer in the nails. This can absolutely ruin it. Therefore it will have to rest until I feel confident enough to continue. In the meantime, I will coat it with a clear gloss coat, so that Europe becomes nice and shiny!


My interest is in the process of painting, rather than the end result. Therefore I am by no means a fast painter. I am not a prolific painter either, partly because I have no idea what to do with all the finished canvasses. They collect dust under the bed. Every so often I create an image I am very happy with and this might get hung on the wall. Others may be overpainted at a later stage. I scratch and scrape away paint as much as I add it and with time the canvas gets covered with a thick layer of acrylic paint. A unique texture evolves. For the viewer it might look as if the paint is just slapped on but I think about each step. I am also led by the emerging features .

Today’s image is from 2010 when I explored the meaning of x. X is a very ambigious symbol. In English, signing a letter with two or three x’s means kisses. X also means the ‘unknown’ as in Mr X or ‘forbidden’ (don’t go there). Ambiguity is my other big subject. If you follow the Dedes you might have realised nothing is what it seems to be. One puppet says one thing and the other says the opposite. We all have our own realities. Once again, our own brain fills in the gaps and often tricks us into believing things that are non-existent. But I am digressing.

I can’t remember how long it took me to finish this very simple painting and a photograph certainly doesn’t do it justice. This one does hang on the wall and even after six years I still enjoy looking at the paint that is breaking open like a wound and the fraying edges of the x. So this painting is definitely safe from being worked on again.

x detail


Modern Man

Tony, who is not only a puppet maker but also an x-ray artist (visit his blog: xraygraphics), commented on my post yesterday that the artwork I put up is very tactile. He put his finger right on the core of my art. To explain where it comes from I have to dive down into my personal history. In a nutshell: back in the day I took to Photoshop like a duck to water and have been teaching digital imaging for 20 years. In the beginning I really enjoyed working with blend modes and masks to create amazing textures. But along the way, I realised how much our brain tricks us into perceiving surface properties. When you touch a print it is always flat. The appearance of texture is created by our brain interpreting what we expect to be there. So we see texture that really isn’t there.  Over the years my yearning for honest textures grew stronger and stronger.

I created the picture I’ve put up today in 2007. This is one of my favourites from my Photoshop era. In this triptych I used 4 different background photographs (a wooden door with flaky paint, a stone wall with a window, an iron watch tower in a forest, and a 200-year-old lace curtain) and combined them in different ways to bring different properties to the fore. My work is generally about relationships. This one describes that in a good relationship you should be allowed to be strong or weak at times.



Last night I got a comment from Jürgen Küster, the artist who originally sparked the Dede’s dharna incident. When I recently re-read the Dede storys from that time, I realised they have changed a lot over the years. In my opinion not always postively. Jürgen is not only an accomplished artist himself, but also offers tremendeous support to other creatives and the Dedes are fortunate that he has kept an eye on them from the very early days. He was surprised to hear I had a negative perception of the puppets and has asked three questions (in German, translated below):

1 What did you get from the Dedes?

2 What is their impact on you?

3 Why can’t you let them go?

First of all I have to apologise before the Dedes decide to have another dharna. I didn’t mean they have a negative impact on me. It is just that they have become increasingly cynical over the years. They have lost the lightness of being they had in the early days. I recently revamped the Super Dede Competition as an ebook (available soon). In my own humble opinion they were at the top of their game when they did that competition. It is truly an insightful story.

But, and this is now a question for our readers, there is of course the possibility that only I know how cynical they have become, because I know how close they are to my personal life. I am really interested to find out, how do you perceive the Dedes?

But to answer Jürgen’s questions:

  1. I can’t measure how much the Dedes have given me. Since I was a little child I had this mephistopheles kind of personality. Mephisto is a devil in Goethe’s Faust (arguably the most important book in German literature). He describes himself as being part of that force that forever wants the evil, but always creates the good. I of course intended the opposite. I wanted the good, but somehow always managed to create the evil, at least in the eyes of those around me. Even my teachers said I only did things to rile them, when I rather would have liked to have gone unnoticed and blend into the background.
  2. As a result, I am obsessed with the impact of miscommuncation. And there is a lot of miscommunication out there. Everyone lives in their own little bubble of reality, each of us adament our own reality is the one and only true one. The Dedes are an amzing tool to view other people’s perception or interpretation of situations. If I don’t understand a person’s behaviour, I simply make another Dede or invent a new story and by the time I am done I have a better understanding. This doesn’t mean I understand everything. No way, but I can make an educated decision to walk away when communication is too lopsided.
  3. It is not that I can’t let them go. I don’t want to let them go. These little critters are the ones that keep me sane.

Now, back to the Dede story that is going on on Instagram at the moment. Snippedy the clown found fairy godmother’s magic wand in the attic, but no handbook on how to use it. Esta Blished the fairy godmother got angry because it was hers and he just took it. When Snippedy ask her to do a bit of magic and find Rob a job, she started to cry and reluctantly admitted she had forgotten how to do it. It could be the onset of alzheimers.



Rob D Light is looking for a job and has been for quite some time. Though he has heaps of skills, he has mainly been working for himself so he doesn’t have a long CV. His first approach was to simply be nice to people and volunteer his help, like offering to carry the shopping to the kitchen. For some reason people are reluctant to accept his help and hold on tight to their bags. Then yesterday, Rob drew up a sign to show on Instagram. No one came forward to offer him a position. It seems the viewers don’t take him seriously, or they get the wrong impression. It doesn’t help that he has a serious health issue. He can’t work on building sites because he has a severe dust allergy (that’s why he always wears his handkerchief).

When he crawled under his blanket of newspaper last night without getting a single offer he was quite depressed. He was so worried he couldn’t close his eyes at all.

Does anyone have any ideas?

no chance


This week is Ask Us Anything (AUA) week.

Jessie Martinovic asked what the strangest request was so far for the Dedes. I didn’t have to think hard, but I have to go back a long way. It was definitely when Arindam asked the Dedes to do a dharna, indian style. So what happened then?

I had discovered the blog of German artist Jürgen Küster who writes together with his alter ego art figure Buchalov. Unlike the Dedes, Buchalov is very supportive of his artist and acts like a mentor. The two have deep and meaningful conversations. I aired the wish I would love to have similar conversations with the Dedes, but they are not intellectual at all. Of course this blog post offended the Dedes big time. (There are four consecutive posts to the story). Bad Conscience got involved and it got a bit messy.

The next day, our reader Arindam said I should apologise to the Dedes and if not, they should do a Dharna. Neither I nor the Dedes knew then what this was, but the Dedes looked it up on the internet and figured out a Dharna is a way to show the world that somebody had treated them in an unjust way. It involved sitting on the offender’s doorsteps until they get justice or die.

Thankfully, it didn’t come to the latter. Witch and I negotiated the end of the dharna, as it started to drizzle (The Dedes can’t stand rain). I certainly didn’t want my behaviour to cause the demise of the Dedes.

Thanks Jessie for your question. It was fun reading the story again :)


selfie with cow

Hurray, throughout January we have managed to put up a post a day. We want to celebrate this with a special event. For the next week we’ll  run an AUA (ask us anything). But before you wonder what our secret could be, we’ll tell you our best kept one. Remember when the puppets were looking for their doppelgänger earlier in the month? It took Cash Cow a little longer than the others to find her one, but she finally spotted her. You have to look at the eyes :0.

So if you want to know anything about the puppets, post your question in a comment and we will answer as truthfully as possible.

Carly_Photography (114 of 134)

Remember the beautiful pictures my friend Carly took at the launch of the Artist’s Survival Cookbook? I promised then I would write a special post about her as I truly admire her work and her as a person. Today is the day when I finally honour that promise. It has taken this long as Carly was working on her new website Fossick and Forage, which she finally launched last night. I’m sure you’ll agree with me that she is an excellent photographer and food stylist. She is also an amazing person, full of life and craving for new experience. I was impressed with how she magically transformed a run-down old church hall into a warm and welcoming place for my launch. And I was even more excited when I saw that the first  Story on her webpage is dedicated to the launch of my book. Comparing the photographs each of us has chosen for our sites illustrates brilliantly how you can tell a story simply by selecting the imagery. While I was looking for the people shots that conveyed the vibe of the day, Carly focused on the mood of the bygone era. (And no, I am not the lady she has selected as her poster girl for the story :). It’s also interesting to find out what others say about you. Thank you so much, Carly!


box voll

Today was a holiday for the Dedes, they stayed in their suitcase in the art cupboard. Not their favourite place, but I like to keep them in the dark. I am worried they will fade too quickly when they are exposed to light all the time. At the moment I am revising old material and I am planning a few ebooks with Dede stories. The first one up will be the “Super Dede Competion.” This was definitely one of our highlights on the blog. Does anyone remember it?