As a child I loved to scribble on the walls in our home and on the official documents of my father. My parents realized I had an obvious creative gift, so they soon gave me entire rolls of wallpaper, to express my imaginations. I was always drawing, and when I learned about a so called ‘drawing school’, I didn’t stop begging until I was allowed to attend this ‘heaven on earth’ as I perceived it in my imagination. A school where I could draw as much as I wanted… Awesome! This is one of my recent comic drawings, that shows how I felt 😉
My hopes of spending the rest of my life having fun, drawing cartoon figures and funny stuff, soon crashed head to head with reality. The way my teacher thought kids should learn how to draw, was quite different from my perspective. She made us sit down for two hours, trying to draw a plastic bag or a brick stone. How boring! So instead of focussing on drawing square stones or trash bags, I preferred to draw crazy comics.
But my love for form and design only grew and a few years later I went to full time Art Academy, where one teacher praised me as one of his best students in the past ten years. He greatly inspired me to develop a fine eye for visual beauty. He often said: ‘There’s a difference between looking and seeing.’ I learned to see so much more than what appears at first sight. Here you see one of my drawings from this Art Academy…
Besides scribbling cartoon figures, I had another great love, as a child: the beauty nature. I wanted to become a biologist or vet when I grew up. Or a missionary. One of these three. I spent hours staring at the pictures of nature encyclopedia and when we went to the zoo, I almost went in a trance. My favorite time of year were the summers, when I could visit my uncle and auntie who owned a farm, with lots of animals. On one hand I was terrified from the huge cows and screaming goose, but on the other hand I felt so happy being surrounded with beautiful living beings.
When I was old enough to work during summers, I spent all my money on something incredible: a real professional DSLR camera! It was a huge and heavy piece of equipment at the time, and I was proud as a peacock. I spend whole days and nights in parks and cities, trying to capture the fascinating things all around me. I never forget the first time I looked through a macro lens.
During my four years at the Art University, where I obtained the degree of Master in the Arts, I had learned to appreciate all kinds of art, but what I saw in nature always thrilled me more than anything I had seen created by humans.
While I went on my little adventures, I discovered that birds can be amazingly beautiful. I photographed all kinds of waterfowl, and enjoyed it tremendously. But one day I saw something that seemed out of this world. In the middle of the lake where I often went, I noticed a creature displaying such incredible visual design, I first couldn’t believe my eyes. I tried to photograph it, but it was too distant. Since that day, I always dreamed to be able to take a really good photograph of this stunning duck, called the Mandarine Duck.
At Art University I learned how we must combine lines, colors and forms to create something that is considered ‘universally beautiful’, as the famous artist Piet Mondrian put it. When something is ‘universally beautiful’, this means that everyone in the world thinks it’s beautiful, regardless of their culture and personal taste. As art students we realized it wasn’t as easy as it seems, to create art that is considered truly magnificent, by everyone. Yet, when I looked at this Mandarine duck, I was stunned to see how perfectly it has been created.
But still I had never had the chance to take a really great photo of this wonderful piece of living art. After a few years I had given up hope, because Mandarine Ducks only passed through my country once in a while and were gone as fast as they came. One day however, my kids came running into the house, screaming: ‘Daddy, daddy! Come! There’s a very nice bird in the pond!’
Unfortunately the light was horrible and I knew it would be a waste of time to try and get good shot of it. The next day however the ducks were still there and the sunlight was perfect! At last my dream of photographing this incredible bird was fulfilled, and you can see the result on this page.
I hope it impresses you just as much as it does me. Because I had over seven years of education in visual arts, I know very well how hard it is to create objects that look as visually stunning as this duck. So my feelings of respect for this living artwork may be even deeper. Yet I believe every one of us will stand in awe, at such display of universal beauty.