Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Netherlands: a totalitarian state?

flower power fractal rose pillow - art by Anne Vis
Last Sunday I briefly turned on the television to see what was happening in a news program. What I saw just got me transfixed on my chair in horror. They had a lifeless woman there of whom I can only say that she was the female version of the "hate imam" who caused so much uproar just a few weeks ago. Naema Tahir claims she is a "recovering muslima", but we can only say she is now confused in the days: muslim prayers are on Friday, not on Sunday ... and she was certainly preaching. Some journalists are in her view "immoral" and need to be removed from journalism.
Interestingly, she targeted Rutger Castricum as her prey. He happens to be one of the best journalists we have in this country. Yes, he can sometimes be a bit too bold, but usually he gets the information he (and the viewer) would like to get, and he does it with a great sense of humor.
Soon enough we could see what is happening behind the scenes here, as (of course) the very next day Rutger Castricum was on her doorstep and asked (very politely I must say) to speak with her. However, hubby was determined to get him at the throat and became very violent.
So much for crossing the fine lines of civilization.
So back to her preaching: she went on to say that nice people like Job Cohen should be revered ... Excuse me? This is the guy that left a mess after he was mayor of Amsterdam and is now sent away by his political party, as he was almost single handedly chasing away the entire following of the party. A very grumpy and incompetent man.
The entire preaching was so out of line with Dutch society. If she likes a totalitarian state she will have to relocate. (don't know why she hasn't thought of that solution yet?)
I have never seen Rutger Castricum physically attack anyone, yet apparently Tahir has no moral problems with her partner attacking a journalist physically.
The partner, Kinneging, seems to be a teacher in law at the university. I suggest this is the end of his career. No wonder society is such a mess if people like that are supposed to "educate" law students.
Interesting detail is that Kinneging said that television should be banned from politics altogether as people get distracted by what they see. He obviously saw a documentary the day before, that I also saw, about how we are visually deceived and how the brain makes an image and fills in the blanks where it cannot know. Some research was mentioned about a debate between two politicians and according to one group of observers, who only saw the debate, politician A won, and the other group (who only heard the debate) said politician B won. Kinneging, who presents himself as a scientist, concluded that the group who just listened and did not see the debate was correct ... Excuse me?
I see it as very dangerous if people like these two get their way. We get a government that decides what journalists are allowed to say and what not ... soon to be followed by ordinary people like you and me ...

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Back again: Euthanasia!

Black and white polka dots photo frame magnet - art by Anne Vis
Did I mention euthanasia back in my previous post, ever since a member of the Dutch royal family got into a coma with little chance of any recovery, the topic is back in the headlines once again (or did it never leave?).
It seems like there is no other country in the world where it is such a big issue than the Netherlands. Ironic for a people that claims to be one of the happiest nations around ... (but maybe that is because of the high number of people on anti-depression medication ... ).
I follow these discussions with interest, as sooner or later we are all faced with situations like these. The other day there was a desperate mother of an eighteen year old who was mentally retarded and had no quality of life whatsoever left ... just laying in bed like a vegetable, unable to do anything for herself. And of course this situation with this prince now gets a lot of attention, but let's face it: the 99% of us know someone in a situation like this or have known and it is sad beyond words.
I think that what people are forgetting is that many of these situations arise because of medical possibilities to treat. Without medical intervention, a lot of the people in situations that now evoke the euthanasia discussion, would have already died. But for the medical personnel this is very difficult (if not impossible) to assess in advance. The prince was reanimated for 50 minutes: if that would not have happened, he would already have passed away. So if you can take the decision to intervene to postpone death, are you also allowed to take the decision to terminate the life if you see there is no "quality" left after your intervention?
It is a very difficult decision to take and then: who is going to take it? Does the medical profession have a responsibility to refuse to continue treatment for "hopeless" cases?
In a time where medical care is becoming a luxury a lot of people cannot afford any more, it seems legitimate to ask these questions.
It is an entire different ball game to be in the position of the person who says, OK, lets pull out the plug now ... And I want to add here that my thoughts go out to everyone facing this and similar situations.
Not everyone has a reaction of sympathy though.
It seems that 20% of the people think that it was his own fault, so nobody should meow about it.
And one "very religious" woman: "He will go straight to hell!"
Personally I thought the very concept of hell was from another era, but apparently not ... so much for compassion.
After all: yes, he may have made a mistake, but isn't that just human ... ?
It is not all as black and white as my illustration today suggests ... (yes, I am still hooked to creating photo frame magnets for your own images, check them out at new products in Sunny Sites online art store!)

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The Art ... of living ...

The Escape - art by Anne Vis
Art is a strange creature.
And today I would like to share some of what is going on (in me?) during and after creating a painting ...
When I am in the process of creation, I am usually in a state of bliss, just focusing on the composition, colors and some details ...
It is not until it is finished, that I look at the piece from the outside (as far as that is possible for any artist regarding their own work) and get some sense of what it actually might be about.
Also the painting you see here ... I was completely mesmerized by the colors ... and it wasn't until later that I saw it is actually quite profound and having associations with life and death and how we live our lives.
The bird is traveling in a glass sphere ... the lightbody ... transparent, yet still some sort of a boundary. How accessible are we for others?
And where is the bird going? A landscape with an ocean ... plenty of fish to eat and new friends already waiting?
Or traveling in the lightbody to the world of the souls?
Lately I have lost quite a few people around me ... one of them committed suicide. It is hard to tell sometimes how people are really going through life, or maybe I should say how life is going through people.
In the Netherlands euthanasia has been a hot topic for a long time. And the discussion has flared up again to include not only people who are terminally ill without any hope of recovery or an end to suffering, but also to include people who are just "tired of life".
With the economic depression, more people want to "get out" and I wonder to what extent I am tuning into a larger societal movement when I am creating my artwork. Where do I get these images from? I guess it is once again clear that nobody is really "separate" and everything is connected ...

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Bandoneón

Music Binder - art by Anne Vis
This week an extraordinary movie was shown in Amsterdam (and will be shown in other locations as well, so keep an eye on it!): El sonido del Bandoneon.
The movie is about the instrument and it's amazing story and features some of the most passionate people working with it. Here is the trailer:

The filming is beautiful and of course: so is the sound! If you get a chance, go see it! :-)
And if you don't, you can always take a look at the most amazing bird gifts I found today, featured on Inspiring Gifts, my other blog! :-)

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Crisis, what crisis?

Sympathy Encouragement Art Card - art by Anne Vis
Everyone is meowing about a crisis in the building and construction industry. This is however in no way reflected in what is happening in Amsterdam. The entire city is one huge building and construction site, coming with all the noise, pollution and what have you.
One of the reasons is that our previous mayor left us with a building industry that is largely in hands of the mafia. Corruption all over, and unfortunately I am sitting in the middle and can see (and hear!) it all from close by. Not to mention all the court cases.
The houses across the street are (were I should say) on the monument list and situated close to the center of Amsterdam. The entire street is old and on the site where several houses are being demolished now, there were previously only old houses.
Left you can see what it looked like a year ago, and on the right what it looks like today:
Everyone in the neighborhood is very upset, because of the damage this does to our city, whereas it would have been very well possible to maintain the facade of the building. Lies, lies and more lies, that's the government.
So, people in Spain: if you are a skilled construction worker, here is the place to be, as we are also tired from the balconies dropping off buildings and other disasters that seem to be happening on a weekly basis ...
Uhm yes, I finally found an appropriate illustration for this post: a sympathy card ... I am getting famous (or infamous, what should I say?) for these ... :-)

Monday, February 6, 2012

Marketing for the starving artist

Toast to Love - art by Anne Vis
If you thought marketing for an artist in the traditional media was hard, think again about digital artists. Not only is the reputation of digital art not that of fine art, but the competition is wild ...
And as many artists do not have a budget for marketing, nor the skills and expertise ... you have all the ingredients for "The Starving Artist" ... (maybe until they die, as after death their artwork seems more attractive?!)
Anyway, I decided I did not want to wait till I die and started some attempts at marketing without a budget. Of course happy enough not to be hindered by any knowledge or skills in the field whatsoever ... :-)
So today I would like to share my experiences so far with free marketing tools.
  • Blogger
    I have been writing a blog for many years, first on Wordpress, but after my site got hacked, I decided to continue on Blogger. As a marketing tool it does not do much for me as far as I can tell. The images cannot be found in Google and apparently my rantings don't seem to entice enough visitors to make it a useful instrument for marketing :-). But then: I may not be using the correct details and I am all over the place when it comes to topics. I have now started a second blog that is only to promote artwork, not only my own, but also from other artists. It has a different format and I see it as a new experiment and will give it some time to see what it does. The main thing is that I just like writing ...
    By the way, my new blog is called
    Inspiring Gifts.
  • Squidoo
    I started years ago with a lens called Inspiring Art, mainly featuring artists that I find inspiring. I usually add one artwork a month and it is now adding up and becoming a genuine source of inspiration, not only for artists, but to get inspired in daily life.
    By now I have added a couple of other lenses (a lens is basically a webpage on some topic). The trouble with lenses is they only work if you get a lot of traffic ... see my point?!
    So this has turned out to be yet another one of my "fun projects" that does not necessarily do much with regards to selling my artwork.
  • Facebook
    I regularly post thumbnails with a link to one of my artworks on Facebook. So far it has not led to any sales as far as I can tell. It is interesting however to notice that although there is usually not much response, when I meet friends in person, they turn out to have seen my work. So maybe more people are familiar with it now than when I would not have posted on Facebook. I also have to add that all the tools mentioned here may work differently for other people. Like on Facebook, I sometimes see art that gets a lot more response. It could also be that my art just does not speak to a large audience, but the tools themselves would work fine ... Who knows?
  • StumbleUpon
    This is not only a real fun tool, but also one that can generate a lot of traffic. People browse through sites that you normally do not find on Google, based on recommendations. So it generates brief visits, but in my experience not the serious buyers generally ... but again: who knows ...?
  • WeHeartIt
    This is a site that allows members to recommend images. I have seen some of the images that I put on Weheartit on Google and as many people search for products or art with Google Images, this is a good thing.
Of course there are more tools, but believe me, if you are using all of the above, it is already a miracle if you still have time to create new art, let alone develop new skills!
The best thing in my experience is that someone who is very good in attracting lots of traffic to their site, loves your art and features it on a regular basis ... once people know the way to your stores and are happy, they will come back!
Good luck!

Friday, February 3, 2012

3D Printing and Healing

Sci-fi Fantasy Surrealistic Wrapped Canvas Print - art by Anne Vis
The new developments in 3D printing are really amazing and the implications may be far-reaching.
I was just looking to see what is available in the Netherlands in this field now and came across this:

Find more architectural applications on 3D printing.nl
All very exciting, but to me the medical applications are the most interesting. What if we can replace all sorts of organs or even an entire face when wounded? In Belgium a group of scientists and medical doctors have succeeded in replacing a lower jaw with a printed jaw (Dutch language link). They used titanium to create this. Titanium is also used for dental implants and is usually well accepted by the body.
More possibilities come up when 3D printing is combined with stem cell research and it becomes possible to actually print cells:

It is just so encouraging to see these new developments!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Celebrating Love

Beach wedding photo binder - art by Anne Vis
I guess I'm an incurable soppy romantic and today I was at it again: I created an entire line of products related to romance, wedding and what you have ... :-)
In order to make art related to a wedding or anniversary, it is necessary to somehow "get in the mood of the event", crawl under it's skin so to speak, and fantasize about what would be nice products that could be interesting and fun to use in such an occasion.
To me that meant fantasy, as nobody that I know is getting married right now, nor are there big celebrations of anniversaries (it's beyond me why you would not want to celebrate such a unique event?!)
Anyway, what do you think of the Thank You card:
Romantic Rose Beach Wedding Thank You Card - art by Anne Vis
I can think of a zillion occasions in which this would be a really nice card to send, but especially to receive ... Like would it not be also a nice card for a woman to thank her for the Valentine's Day gift she gave you? And as you can customize the text: to wish a Happy Valentine's Day? You can also use it as a Mother's Day card ... or to congratulate with an engagement ...
You can tell I am getting carried away!
One more:
Romantic Rose Beach Mug - art by Anne Vis
Sweet, isn't it? :-)
Of course also here: you can customize the text ... what does love mean to you?