Friday, 9 October 2015

We are never broken

Well, I finally finished my painting! It has been a long and laborious project, and there were times I had no idea how to proceed.

When I was looking back through my in-progress pictures I was surprised to see how many different layers this painting has. Sometimes I wasn't even sure it was the same painting ...

And even though I'm not even sharing all the steps I made, I'll have to warn you: this is a very picture-rich post, so if you want to skip all the in-between shots go straight to the end of this post and there you can see the completed painting :-)

 This is how it all started: back in Australia, when I was packing up all my art-stuff and decided to use up some nearly-finished paints on a blank canvas.

After spending a couple of months in the container crossing the oceans, I welcomed my canvas in Belgium and continued by adding more layers and a bit of collage

 always my favorite part: the dripping :-)

adding some contrast colours

and marks and drawings...

some more drips because, be honest, a painting needs drips, right?

adding some black lines

getting carried away with the reds and the turquoise ...

trying to break through all the red and blue, making lines and marks, still failing to see any images ....

And then all of a sudden I see her :-)

Starting to bring out her body

At this point I already know what she symbolizes for me. Now I "only" need to work it out ....

I see men everywhere in the bottom half of the canvas, and birds in the top half

At this point I want to leave the faces of the men in the background colours, and paint dark blue around them

or maybe white might be a better choice ... with some flowers and leaves .....

or red ...?? 

nah, don't like any of it, so I start painting a lighter blue

I kinda like the calming effect the blue has, so I go for more blue

But something is bothering me about this, and that has to do with what she symbolizes for me. I want to make the men less visible somehow

So I drip darker blue all over them ....

No, not good, too dark .... I decide to lighten it up with some white dots

Nooo, blah, don't like it. Too dark, too I don't know, it's just not what I want ....

Desperate times ask for desperate measures, so I take this picture and open it in Photoshop and try out some things. Because, believe me, there must be at least 20 layers on there already, and enough is enough .... I need to find out which direction to go, before I waste any more paint ...

I decide on lightening up the blue, get rid of all the white dots, and make the men more grey-ish in colour

And ta-daa: all of a sudden it's finished!

"We are never broken" - acrylics on canvas - 76 x 61cm - 29,9 x 24 inches

And now for the story behind this painting, or, at least, what it symbolizes for me. At the time I finally found her on the canvas, in between all the lines and marks, I was listening to Jewel singing "hands", don't know if you know the song but the refrain goes like "my hands are small I know, but they are not yours, they are my own and I'm never broken, we are never broken". And I had to think of all those women being victims of radical beliefs, and how systematic rape has become a "natural" element of war. I have been reading a lot about the lives of women in certain countries and I'm appalled by the lack of respect they get, it makes me sick how unspeakable acts are condoned in the name of religion. I am a fierce advocate of women's rights, and these things just make me so angry and frustrated. But I don't want to dwell on these negative feelings, I want to stay positive and believe in the power of women to stand up for themselves. I saw her as a strong woman, scarred by all she had to endure, but still rising up above it all, lightening up the world and leaving her past behind. Colourful and bright, while the men she's leaving behind are cowering in the dark and fading away in the distance, and hopefully, finally realizing that they did her wrong. Because that symbol was so strong for me it took me ages to get it right on the canvas. I don't know whether I succeeded, but for me it's finished. Phew ...!

And now I'm working on something new. A local gallery has asked me to make some very big paintings exclusively for them. So I ordered some canvases, and started on the first one:

It's BIG! I never painted a big canvas like this before, and it takes some getting used to. Not so easy to handle, and I'm always turning my paintings around to work from all sides. It measures 1 meter by 1 meter (39,4 x 39,4 inches).

Okay, very long post, so I guess I better finish here. I'm linking this to Paint Party Friday and to Show Your Face. I have been thinking about doing some drawings for Inktober too, but alas, no time. I started working on my new 2016 calendar though! Might be able to show some pics next week :-)

Before I forget: here's my funny for this week:

omg .... is this real !!?? :-D

Thanks so much for your visit, and I wish you a beautiful day and lots of warmth and love in the weekend! See you next week ♥ ♥ ♥


  1. Well I don't know how you do it. Your eye for color is amazing and even the ones you didn't like I thought were incredible. Have a nice night

  2. Very interesting seeing the evolution of your painting. Thanks for sharing. The finished painting is stunning! ♥♥♥ (Congrats and good luck with the commissions for the gallery!)

  3. Fantastic painting, you have patience! Congrats on getting a commission to paint, happy PPF, Hugs, Valerie

  4. Love the way your painting developed, fab! Happy PPF and what can I say but LOL to the fun Friday photo!

  5. I absolutely loved seeing your thought process in pictures. Its fascinating watching each layer add to the overall effect. It certainly was worth it as the finished effect is beautiful. I love her strong presence.

  6. Fabulous seeing your work in progress and then the wonderful results. Another stunning piece.

  7. Skip right through to the end? Are you kidding me? Seeing all the stages your amazing art goes through is my favourite part of visiting your blog! I love your process (and it's reassuring to know I'm not the only one who goes through so much paint before hitting on something I'm happy with!) This is absolutely amazing and even more so when you explained the meaning of the painting and what it represents - truly outstanding! And congratulations on being asked to paint large paintings exclusively for a local gallery - that's a huge deal!!

  8. Firt I thought, because my English is not perfect, wether can read so long text. But it was so interesting you wrote, that I red every word... Amasing project‼ And I really adore your art. There is the touching story of women.
    Happy PPF ♥

  9. I love that you showed all the stages because sometimes it is great to see that it isn't all smooth and seamless and that you go through a lot of stages. Hugest congrats on the gallery deal and I am sure you will be a huge success there... and the women's rights thing is tough isnt it... I hate seeing the lack of respect in undeveloped countries, but even worse is in developed countries too... that makes me so exasperated at times...

  10. I so needed this post today! Amazing work, powerful with a great message! You have represented this issue well! Truly a fascinating post watching your process... I have done several layers on two journal pages and it's so frustrating..I see I am not alone! Enjoy those big canvases...I have done big ones for my house...never for anyone else! Congratulations on the much deserved gallery assignment!! So thrilled for you! Love that your art is so expressive and your heart is so compassionate! A wonderful combination! Thank you for being you! LOVED the whole process!!

    Hugs Giggles

  11. I am late for work because i needed to read every step. i love the whole piece, in all it's stages and meaning!

  12. Powerful! The post and the painting. I am only lurking today but had to comment on this stunning piece. Thanks for sharing the process.

  13. I LOVE your use of warm and cool colors. These paintings draw my eye--and fill my eyes. Which is the greatest compliment I can give.

  14. A very powerful painting Denise! and amazing! Absolutely amazing! the steps you shared to get to the just the right place! I am in awe! The story and feelings behind this painting are just so heart-full, that after I read your words, I had to go back and fell for this woman, This strong powerful woman who decided to make the rights choices for herself and has overcome her oppressors~ and yes, you did succeed! So well done!
    and Denise!! Congratulations on the commissions!! I am so happy for you! Fabulous!! Is this far from your new place or in it?Again- well done and well deserved!
    hugs,Jackie xx

    ps- OMG!! Those skinny jeans have to be banned!! LOL

  15. Your "not broken" painting is indeed powerful and motivating. Thank you for sharing all the steps your took. It helps to see how painstakingly you did the whole thing to the end. Very beautiful.

  16. Wow! I loved seeing your creative process on that amazing painting. Blessings!

  17. It is always a treat to watch your people evolve out of your paintings! I'm always so pleasantly amazed by it all. We will keep fighting for women's rights until everyone is free!

  18. Not Broken is so full of meaning. Love the way it turned out.

  19. Schitterend! Zo mooi ook om te zien hoe het tot stand is gekomen, op een gegeven moment dacht ik nee dit kan niet mooier en dan was er toch weer wat aan verandert, heel erg mooi!
    Groetjes Karin

  20. Oh Denise I am completely mesmerized by all those stages and layers of colors, and then how you always "see" the story and imagery in the end.You are SOOO connected to your art and I love it!

  21. Absolutely love your painting, and the story behind it! And I love you started it on a different continent so far away, and finished it on another. And yes, you can never have enough dripping. That's my favourite technique too. How fantastic about the gallery commission!

  22. Wonderful painting. And lovely to see all the stages in its progression too!

  23. This was totally fascinating, I loved each step. And how suddenly the woman appeared.
    Thanks so much for showing so many photos - the good ones and the ones you altered.
    Yes, sometimes putting a painting into Photoshop, or even just photographing it shows us what to do next.
    Your final painting is so complex and really stunning.

  24. you have such a caring heart! nice that it is in your paintings.
    it is interesting to see the steps you take. that is something i love about some paints, you can layer until you are happy with the results.

    Wishing you a grand time on the large pieces. I bet they will take more paint and maybe larger brushes.

  25. Mooi in stappen met je mee te gaan Denise,prachtig om te zien ,,,,groot is je kunst.!!!!
    kijk uit naar je kunst opdracht.
    Veel succes..............
    groetjes Christiene.

  26. Fascinating --- I love to see the progress!

  27. Oh wow, super stunning. Thanks for sharing your stages too, I love watching how your art grows out of your canvas. Just lovely. Thank you for linking up to Show Your Face and for the shout out too. Kx

  28. Stunning! Both the paintings with the strong lady standing up and the story behind!

  29. Denise, these progress shots are AMAZING. Your work is such a wonderful example of intuitive painting. The final results are out of this world. I love it. And your words in the end, explaining what this woman represented for you, are so meaningful. I too, feel the same way. It's heart wrenching to know that so many women in the world don't have the same freedoms I do. Your painting is very powerful. i LOVE your work (and your funnies always crack me up too!) :) Hugs to you. xx

  30. Denise this piece is truly amazing from beginning to end. Each phase was beautiful along it's journey and I could feel it's power developing along the way. I love your explanation of it's meaning to you and I could feel it in the painting. It's beautiful and powerful! Congrats on the commission and I can't wait to see how it develops ♥


Thanks for taking the time to comment! I love hearing your thoughts about my work. Because I'm getting too many spammer comments nowadays, l have banned anonymous users from commenting. Hope this isn't a problem for you !