Sunrise at Sea – Light Challenge

Light and shadows are always a challenge in a painting. Located in just the right spot, light either makes the painting realistic or, if placed in the wrong spot, ruins it. Light puts life into the canvas, and tricks the eye into seeing an unrealistic image, in a very realistic way.

Considering this, when you also add the sea into the equation, it can only get more complicated, because of the dynamic nature of water. Water is a mirror for the sky, a very complex one, especially when it’s on the move.

After months of practicing I am very happy to see the results I was hoping for! The right reflection, the right amount of light and even more very well places shadows, in a combination which projects an amazing sunrise at sea!

The voice of the sea speaks to the soul, in colorful shades of warmth

sea sunrise


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Workshops, Colors and Brushes

painting workshopAs a self thought artist, I’ve never received any guidance regarding the way in which I paint, my techniques or my choices when it comes to sending a message out there, through my work.

I believe that in order to evolve and further improve, we need to interact with others with the same passions as ours, exchange ideas and receive advice from those who have much more experience than we do. In the end, we only learn by being motivated to become better, and there’s no better motivation than seeing that you can do much better.

For the first time ever, I’ve decided to attend a workshop, and meet other talented artists from my area. What I was mostly interested in, was to see how others paint and find out more about what inspires them. Also, receiving a few tips and tricks was more than welcomed.

For a challenge, at my first workshop I picked as a theme water reflection, only to play with light, distance and reflection. As water is always a challenge for me, it was a very good opportunity to get better at it, in a very motivating, creative and inspiring environment.

I must say, I learned so much about the message I send through a simple shade of blue, that I couldn’t be happier. Amazing how such a small difference in paint shade, brush and painting technique, can place an object far far away or very close to you.

Here’s the final result:

mountain lake reflection

Even if not perfect, progress is being made. Challenging ourselves is the best thing we can do. The results might not always be the ones we want and envision, but they always put us one step forward in our journey to becoming who we want to be.

Even if, while creating art, we reach a point when we’re asking ourselves if what we’re doing is ever going to make us better, that’s the moment when we have to keep moving forward and practice until we get the desired results. For a person who a year ago couldn’t paint water at all, I think that stubborn attitude got me pretty far 🙂

If you are not willing to learn, no one can help you.

If you are determined to learn, no one can stop you

 


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Happy Tulip Day on Nationale Tulpendag 2016!

As one of my Dutch friends says, the most important Dutch word is: ‘Gratis‘ which means ‘Free‘. I know everyone loves free stuff, but for Dutch people gratis holds an extra special spot in their hearts. This is why, when you also add to the equation the most famous Dutch flower, the tulip, you start an amazingly colorful event, loved by everyone.

Nationale Tulpendag is a celebration taking place every year, on the third Saturday of January, dedicated to tulips and color, when everyone is invited to pick their own tulips, from Amsterdam’s Dam Square.

National Tulip Day Jan 16 2016 - Dam Square Amsterdam

Dam Square is turned into a temporary garden, for one day, filled with over 200,000 tulips, waiting to find a good home. Even if still winter, this event marks the opening of the tulip season.

More than 10,000 people, in only 4 hours, go pick their favorite flower, every year, and obviously this year it was no different. And the best part is that it’s free!

In case you want to join the event, remember that the even if the opening hour is 1 o’clock, is better to arrive there one hour early, because you’ll have to wait in line to get in. Later in the day, the waiting becomes only longer, as more and more people want to enter the temporary garden.

As tulips are my favorite flowers, I just had to go pick a few. What can be better than spending some time between so many gorgeous tulips, in the middle of winter? Even better, coming home with the bike’s basket full of colorful flowers is a perfect way to brighten your day! If that doesn’t make you feel fabulous, I don’t know what does 🙂

National Tulip Day Jan 16 2016 Picking flowers and Bike basket

Even if there’s a long way to go until spring arrives, I’m extremely happy to be in garden full of flowers, even if only for a short while. Tulips definitely bring their own sunshine, and put a smile on everyone’s face.

Happy Tulip Day everyone!

National Tulip Day Jan 16 2016 Tulips

 


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The Power Games

Love is the most beautiful feeling a person is able to experience. It takes us on the highest metaphorical mountain and makes us feel like we can take over the world. It puts a smile on our face, and it makes us happy for no reason at all. Love makes us feel complete, and like we finally belong somewhere and next to someone.

Not that long ago I wrote an article about the right type of love, and how’s it’s supposed to feel when the person you love is the right one for you. (Read the full post here) However, the more people I meet and the more couples I observe, the more I realize that in life is good to also know how is NOT supposed to feel, and when the right person, just isn’t that right for you.

Relationships are hard. I’d like to say I’ve found that secret recipe for choosing the right one or making it work perfectly, so I can share it with you, but the truth is that there is not such a thing. Every individual is different, and  every one of us interacts totally different with others. What works for one, might not work for the other. We all have to just try and see what works for ourselves. However, the signs which you tell us something is terribly wrong, are pretty much the same ones, regardless of the type of person you are or are dating.

What I’m talking about are what I call: the power games, in which one person decides to control every aspect of their partner’s life. Controlling life partners are never easy to deal with, but it can start with making you believe that’s the dream person for you, while in time, everything changes, and the perfect person turns into the perfect nightmare. I’ve seen relationships start like this and end terrible, and I just feel sorry to know anyone goes through such a thing. When things change, is good to step back, look at the facts, and reconsider if that person is the one to spend the rest of your life with.

The signs – evolution of a relationship with a controlling person

Controlling partners can give you a very a good feeling at start and make you believe they can be that someone who loves you, more than anyone before them ever did. It sounds like a dream, but most dreams which sound too good to be true, are most of the times, too good to be true.

It starts with instant jealousy and possessiveness. They are afraid if you keep in touch with your previous partners, you might decide to leave them or cheat on them, so they will get into your previous private life, and look for any reasons to amplify the jealousy. As the past can’t be deleted, you might be ask to delete any remainder of it from the present. Usually, this is the first step into pulling you away from your friends and family, as the possessiveness won’t stop at previous dates. Soon enough, seeing or chatting with your friends or family, will also become a problem, and you will be convinced slowly into giving up on that lifestyle, only to spend more time together, so you make your partner happy.

As soon as your loved ones are out of the way, you will feel the need to have someone to talk to, to be interested in your life, your dreams and aspirations, but soon enough you’ll find out that your partner isn’t that person. Controlling people want you to take interest in everything related to them, and in return, they will just not be there for you, as their lifestyle keeps them too busy. They will become angry when asked to do something for you, or get annoyed with every question you might ask. Asking questions or asking for help is just not an option with a controlling person, however, they will always expect to be helped, nurtured and cared for, even if their behavior might make you want to do the opposite.

In a relationship, is impossible to not come across moments in which you fight, or disagree on things, things break or don’t work as plan, or simply don’t work at all. In this case, your partner will decide that the one to blame is always you. No matter how obvious it is that you are not the one to break stuff or start a fight, you can’t just get a simple: ‘You are right’. And even more, after such a terrible argument, don’t expect an apology, because well … it will simply not come. You have to learn how to forgive without ever being asked for forgiveness, and because you value your relationship more than your ego, you will most of the time, do it.

I never knew how strong I was until I had to forgive someone who wasn’t sorry and accept the apology I never received

Next on the list is taking the information you give, and bring you down. You will be made to believe that you are not good enough to fulfill your dreams, to get where you want in life, or even to have a job, for various reasons. All because your partner ‘cares’ so much about you, and is ‘concerned’ about you, he/she will want the best for you, which won’t always be the path that you would choose for yourself in life. And that’s how you end up on a road you never wanted, but which seems like the only option for you, even if that option soon becomes being without a job.

For a controlling person, such a financial twist is the best way to keep you close by, as you’ll become fully dependent, and there’s no way in which you can run away anymore, not even if you want to. As soon as you realize in what a situation you are, you might want to run away, but as all your friends and family were pushed away long ago, you might realize you are all alone, and have no one to turn to. And so you end up staying in your ‘safe’ heaven, reliving every mistake from your past, everyday, affecting indirectly your health and emotional state.

The rules of the game become the following: there’s a set of rules, things that your partner doesn’t want you to do or say. And these things are very important for the peace level and comfort of your home. And you agree to them, even if this means changing your behavior, only to have peace. However, soon is easy to see that even the anger or bad temper that is directed towards you, is not allowed to come from you. The rules apply only to you, and you get boxed in, with walls of emotions and soon fear, for both your safety and inner calm.

Only to make it even worse, soon the rules turn into doing everything as and when your partner says so. You are never right about things, and you never do anything right as it is, so following the guidance is the only way in which you can make the significant other happy. And as soon as you do some things their way, they’re even more unhappy with other things… and is still not good, and you still have to do more. No meeting you halfway. If you wait halfway, nobody will be there to greet you…

The absolute worse part of such a relationship is physical abuse, which most of the time, doesn’t delay showing up, turning your best dream into a living nightmare.

Solutions

If you made it this far, you probably really love or used to love that person very much. It all started with pleasing the life partner who loves you so much, and ended up with you wondering if this is actually love or not.

As soon as you start wondering, consider a few things.

  • Have you eve had to apologize for the person you love, in front of others? Or maybe make excuses for their behavior?

Most of the time, a controlling person won’t enjoy the company of your friends or family, and their behavior will make you feel embarrassed and upset, and you’ll try to hide all the problems in any possible way. Being tired, sick, upset with work, worried with our finances, might be only a few of the excuses you used through the time, keeping a brave face on, hoping no one will figure out the real root of the problem.

  • Did your friends ever pointed out things you don’t want to see?

At first, we might suffer from self inflicted blindness. We simply don’t want to see or believe certain things. We are still afraid to open our eyes and see the reality. We make excuses for our partner, and we want to believe in those excuses. We’re afraid to lose our perfect relationship, when actually, there’s nothing perfect to save.

Friends and family can provide very good feedback, when it comes to seeing things from the outside. If they are afraid that you might not be as happy as you claim you are, maybe you should wonder how happy are you?

  • Are you still on the right path in life for yourself?

How many things did you gave up on for the person you love? How many people got cut off? How many friends did you lose and how many family members still talk to you?

Are you still following your dreams and aspirations? Do you still have that career you love, or working to obtain that dream job?

Most of the times, controlling partners will crush your dreams, in an effort to make you stay with them. They will also push away every person you used to love, and cut all your connections with the real world.

In case you are in such a situation, ask yourself what is it that you really want now? If the answer is not the life you currently have, then is time for some changes.

  • Have you ever felt trapped?

Believe it or not, there are cases in which partners are asked to give up their career for love’s sake. Also, there are people who do it, with the feeling that’s the best option for everyone. Spending more time with your life partner and maybe kids sounds like the dream, but is it always that way?

If you are financially dependent, maybe even if you considered leaving the situation you are currently in, you might find it impossible. If you don’t have the financial power or health state to visit your friends, family, you might get the feeling like you’re trapped in a place you don’t want to be in first place. If this happens, is good to think about what brought you there in first place, and figure out what are your options. Never be afraid to ask for help!

  • Is the relationship bringing out the best in you?

Even if at first it did, now is just not the same anymore, and you feel like you’re turning into a monster, every now and then, without ever wanting to be that person, in first place.

When frustration takes over, you have to ask yourself if being under someone’s domination is what’s best for you. Even those who want someone to be in charge of things for them, need those moments in which they can take attitude and decide for themselves. If you need this, but you don’t have the chance to do it, maybe reconsidering the relationship is a good idea.

Control, manipulation, emotional abuse are never good assets to have in a relationship. Actually, they shouldn’t be there at all. The love between two people shouldn’t make one of the partners feel suffocated, unhappy or mistreated. If that’s the case, then what you have is not called love, but possession.

Love is not about holding on to someone with your teeth, but about setting them free and watch them come back to you over and over again. The right person will never want to change you, or keep you isolated from the persons which mean so much to you. Your happiness will always be their happiness.

Love is not about having it your way, but is about finding the middle ground, a solution which works for both partners, equally the same. Having things your way, proves you don’t value your partner enough, to put the time into finding that happy medium.

Love is kind and love brings out the best in us, not the worse. If our partner doesn’t bring out the best in us, then we are in the wrong type of relationship.

Even from the start, we should always follow our instincts and pay attention to the subtle signs which tell us something wrong is going on. You have to always keep in mind that your happiness, sanity and health are more important than anything else in this world. A stressful life will only end up destroying your health, passions, dreams and your true self.

Even if you think that your partner is a good person, if you are not 100% happy, consider that he might be a good person, but not the right person for you.

Always stay on your path in life, and follow your dreams. Don’t ever let anyone crush the vision you have of your future. The right person is waiting for you somewhere down that road, and a life full of mistreatment and misery, will never get you there. Holding on to the wrong person, will never give you the chance to meet the right one. So, as hard as it might be, pick yourself up, and do what’s right for you! Breath in, turn the page and start a new beautiful chapter!


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Volunteering Diary – Dogs of Winter and Love at First Sight

Not very long ago I became a volunteer for the local animal shelter, to walk the dogs. Going there when the time allows, is not a full time job, but is a full time commitment in my heart and mind.

Even if the nature of the job is pretty simple, it can get complicated quite rapidly. You take a dog from the shelter for a walk, you have that special connection, and then you have to take him back there, and say ‘see you later’. That’s very hard for me, and saying goodbye is almost impossible and very heartbreaking, even if you know the dogs are well taken care of, by their caregivers. You just can’t help but wonder how they’re doing and if they’re happy.

Snowy

A Beautiful Walk With Precious Snowy

My second dog, after the first contact with Sharky, was Snowy, a precious 11 year old American Bulldog, deaf but amazingly sweet. Going for a very slow and relaxed walk, we had a nice time in the wild landscape. A long walk and a few cookies are good even for an older pup, and her mood improved quite a lot before going back to the shelter.

I always said you don’t adopt a dog. You have the feeling that you do, when in fact you get adopted by the dog. The dog chooses you, but he will let you think you did all the work 🙂

Taking a dog back to the shelter becomes extra hard when you get adopted by that one special pup.

Sam

Walking My Favorite Pup, Sam

Sam, an amazing 2 year old Rottweiler adopted me from the first moment we met. Having a weakness for the breed, when I realized I have to walk a Rottweiler called Sam, I couldn’t help it but have a huge grin on my face for the rest of the day 😀

Me and Sam created a deep connection and friendship. I guess I’ve finally learned the meaning of love at first sight! When we met again, his face and reaction said it all. Also, saying goodbye wasn’t easy, as he just wouldn’t want to leave my sight and go back in the kennel.

Sam left paw prints all over my heart and is very hard to know he doesn’t have the loving family he deserves and needs. Even if adoption is not an option for me right now, I went back a few more times to spend some time with him. I hope he’ll soon be surrounded by a loving family, like he deserves it.

Donnie

Having fun with precious Donnie

Next on my list of favorites is Donnie, an amazing border collie, full of life and very well behaved. Always paying attention to the human, and eager to please, a walk with such an amazing dog, can’t get any better. I’m always amazed to see dogs so well trained, in the shelters. Most of the dogs shouldn’t be there in first place!

noordjes

A very nice walk, with sweet Noordjes

Just like Donnie’s, is also Noordjes case, a surprise Cocker Spaniel and Labrador mix, as I was pretty sure she’s only a puppy, when in fact she’s around 4 years old. Very lovable, well trained, and also full of life, the little fur ball really made my day, with a very energetic and lovely walk, in the dunes.

Such a pity people buy adorable puppies, without thinking of the adult dog, and they end up throwing them in a shelter, when they realize the adult dog is now what they were looking for… I wish more people would think much longer about the commitment, before deciding to buy a puppy. No dog should end up in shelters, because people don’t know what they’re getting themselves into! It’s a situation which can be so easily avoided, by doing some research prior to the adoption…

Before my first walk with a shelter dog, I was 100% sure this experience is all about giving, but I couldn’t be more wrong. Sometimes, giving gives back more than you would ever think is possible. The love of a dog definitely makes us hole! And if during walking dogs we also end up with new friends, life just can’t get any better!

To never know the love of a dog is to miss the best thing life has to give

friends

Nothing better than a day spent with good friends and silly Doefes


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Winter Hikes and Painting in Nature

One thing the Netherlands teaches you is to make your own weather. Considering that over here it rains almost every day, if you wait for the perfect weather, you’ll spend the rest of your life indoors.

Knowing that summer lasts for only one day, and is usually in July (last year it was on a Thursday 🙂 ), if you’re passionate about nature, you have to learn how to fight natural elements and go after what makes you happy, regardless of the high number of clouds present on the sky. It definitely toughens you up, which is not a bad thing at all!

With that being said, why not hiking during winter? Nature is beautiful all year around, so if you really want, you can find a lot of unique places to visit and breathtaking landscapes.

Equipped with hiking boots and curiosity, I went on a few 15 km long hikes, in the very green Dutch landscape. I must say, the mix of sand, earth, trees and water always leave me breathless. It makes you feel like it’s almost not possible to have them all in one spot, and still, it works just fine! What can be nicer than seeing the dunes, the sea and the beach, even on such a cold winter day?

netherlands hiking 1netherlands hiking 2

Hiking is wonderful but something I always wanted to do, is paint in nature, and I think there’s no better way to start the year, than with some fresh air, and a bit of creativity.

One thing is for sure about painting outside during winter, on a foggy day: if you don’t lose any fingers on the making, you have to hurry and finish the painting, as the fog eats one tree at a time, removing it from your landscape. Even so, I never had more fun doing it 🙂

painting in nature

Time flies by when you’re having fun, so I was sent home earlier than planned, because of the ‘unexpected’ sunset. The panting is still work in progress, but the amazing landscape is still very much alive, deep inside my memory.


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