Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Painting "Highland Coos"

A bit later than planned due to other artistic activities last month, I started my painting for Jaap's birthday. It was my first commission so it was a good experience to create something based on someone else's brief and personal taste. Yesterday I officially presented it and he likes it luckily! It's now hanging above our bed, so we are now being guarded by two Highlanders.

The canvas size is 80 x 54 cm and I've used acrylics thickly to create textures. Note cards of this painting are available in my shop.

Friday, 17 December 2010

Photo assignment at Mackie's of Scotland

Last week I received a call from Mackie's of Scotland asking me whether I was able to supply them with some wintry photos of their yummy ice cream, farm and how business was being continued during this cold weather. Spending a full day in a stunning environment and having fun in the snow with my camera was an offer not to resist, so off I went in full gear to keep me warm at -14 Celsius.

Here are some of the photos:

Mackie's ice cream is manufactured with renewable energy

Snowplough working its way through the bulk of snow

"Monster" likes his owner's ice cream too!

Managing director under one of the three windmills at the farm

The next day the following ad was created and published in one of the national newspapers:

They are absolutely right about that! Once you have had the opportunity to taste it, you don't want to have anything else anymore so dear blog readers, be warned...

In March 2011, Mackie's were announced to be the winners of the Beautiful Farm Awards with the help of one of my photos! Here are some press releases which were published in the regional newspapers:

Press Release 1

Press Release 2

Friday, 10 December 2010

Merry Christmas and a delightful 2011

I wish all my friends and family merry Christmas and a delightful new year! I look forward keeping you up-to-date with new artwork, outdoor adventures and other interesting stories in 2011.
Click the link to view the beautiful e-card!

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Finally a proper winter!

The continuous snowfall is the main news here in the North East of Scotland (and now also in the rest of the UK) since last week. And why do we get so excited about snow? Read this BBC article!

Satellite image of UK covered in snow

People haven't experienced this in our village since 30 years, so I thought I would capture the scenes with some snapshots as reference for the coming years, but also as evidence for my family and friends in The Netherlands who may have never experienced this in their lives (yet).
When I spoke with the skier in one of the photos, I decided to invest in equipment for ski mountaineering so I can do Scolty Hill too!

Monday, 29 November 2010

Highland holiday

After weeks of discussing where to go for our end-of-year holiday, considering Oman, South Africa and The Caribbean, we finally decided to spend some time in the magificent Scottish Highlands. The weather forecast was looking very promising for some nice paddle trips, so our kayaks went along with us. The first two days we stayed in the inn along Loch Torridon, where we spotted many otters along the banks and in the water eating the fish they had just caught.

Then our journey continued to Isle of Skye where we had booked an amazing place for our week's accomodation; The Old Chapel of Ease. The views over the sea loch were stunning (to see a golden eagle flying in front of your window without binoculars was the icing on the cake) and the modern interior of the chapel met all our needs. We just loved the sauna and jaccuzzi, especially after a walking or kayaking trip! We've explored various coastlines and some nice mountains like the Old Man of Storr. Everyday we saw the geologically stunning Black and Red Cuillins, the tops covered with snow. While paddling (Jaap in his new kayak) we saw a few more otters and even three sea eagles! The weather was surprisingly good without any wind and/or rain until Wednesday the 24th of November when the wind direction changed from the East to the North and brought us heavy snow showers and icy conditions on the roads. We had planned to go to the world famous restaurant The Three Chimneys but when our car (with kayaks on top) slided a bit down the little slope of the driveway due to black ice, we decided to stay put. As our muscles and blistered skin needed a well-earned break of all the hard work over the last few days anyway, we spent our time mainly indoors instead until we had to go back home again. Finally we had time again for visiting the Talisker Distillery around the corner, reading, painting, listening to music and just relaxing (especially after a second sauna bath!).

Initially we had planned to go to Peanmeanach Bothy near Fort William to spend time with our kayak friends for one night, but as the weather conditions were so bad in the North East of Scotland according to the news, we decided to start our journey back home. We didn't know how bad it would be so we took into account that we could arrive even on the next day. In the end, the normally 4 hour journey took us about 8 hours, mainly because the roads were completely piled up with snow and underlying ice sheets. Luckily our car with winter tyres (and maybe my great drining skills) had done a great job to bring us home safely again. The perfect holiday in stunning landscape; We wouldn't have wished anything else. We'll be back again!

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Note Cards

Below are my first Fenfolio handmade note cards. I've selected two designs of my original artwork and scanned it. It's then manually printed on Aquarelle Rag photo paper to give the note card a unique look. These are small art pieces in their own right and can't be distinguished from the real ones!  The C6 watercolour blank note card cost £2.00, comes with envelope and will only be available here or directly via myself.  Over the coming weeks I will add some more designs and some mounted prints too.

Winter Landscape

Pink flower

You can now find these and other designs under Cards & Prints.

Thursday, 4 November 2010

Pen drawing

Inspired by Claudia Nice's artwork, I made a pen drawing of this eagle. Although I have been doing many exercises with pen during art class, it's the first time I tried to draw wildlife....and I thoroughly enjoyed it!! The technique has given me inspiration to make some cards and prints I want to offer for sale.

Eagle ©Fenfolio 2010

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Preparations for my first exhibition

The last few weeks I have been very busy preparing a portfolio of work to submit for the Deeside Art Exhibition in the Milton Art Gallery which will take place from 29 October until 14 November. It will be the first where my paintings (instead of photos) will be displayed so I'm quite curious how it will be received by the public.

Before I started, I first experimented a lot to get the right concept. It included playing with the airbrush which I got for my birthday recently. I have always been inspired by digital artwork and I used vector designs as sketch. Then acrylic ink was applied on yupo paper (synthetic). With air from the airbrush extra shapes were created on top of the basic design. All four prints have been mounted (16" x 12").

Swirly Plant 1

Swirly Abstract 1

Swirly Flowers 1

Forest Abstract

Thursday, 16 September 2010

Lyndhurst on paper

This is my first attempt in drawing our house and garden with watercoloured pens (Stabilo). I used one of my photos as reference. It took me a while before I could get the angles and perspective of the house in the right proportion. The house is located on a hill so you're looking up from than the garden.
The size of the drawing is A4.

Monday, 6 September 2010

Reflection trio

Today I submitted a painting the My Favorite Tale contest on the artists social network. It's created in acrylics on canvas, including gold, silver and copper and pearlescent medium.
The concept is inspired by one of my photos of a building reflected in water.

My favorite tale is how I started my picture library PictureNature from a passion for photography. In three years time the collection grew enormously and I was working with 60 photographers before the collection was sold to another library. It was a hard decision to step back from something I created from scratch. Looking back, I now realise it has ignited my passion to be creative again. Photography is now a medium to help me develop designs for my paintings. This piece of art symbolizes the way I reflect on the last three years with so many emotional ups and downs. Water is a symbol for emotional wellbeing and also source of life. It acts as a mirror as well, but then showing you things in a different way that might inspire you with new ideas and opportunities. Life is sometimes tough, but if you handle it well and listen to your inner self, you grow stronger and you will be a step closer to your purpose. If I hadn't had to make this tough business decision, I would have never created this work!

Size of each individual piece: 15 x 15 cm.

Sunday, 5 September 2010

Tutorial brick texture in watercolour

A few months ago I joined deviantArt; the largest online social network for artists. Giving and receiving feedback about artwork from fellow (amateur) artists really inspires me to create more artwork, learn more about drawing and painting techniques and to share any skills I have just developed. The brick texture technique is my first tutorial I submitted and the feedback was great, so I thought I'd post it here too. Perhaps more tutorials like this will be added in the future, so if you like to see anything in particular, drop me an email! My deviantArt page can be found at http://fenfolio.deviantart.com/

How to create a brick texture:

What you need

* Watercolor paper
* Watercolor paint in pans in box, the more the better
* small paint roller, about 2" wide
* masking fluid

Creative process

1. Make sketch of wall and bricks.
2. Mask area between bricks with masking fluid (preferrably blue-colored to see difference with white paper).
3. Make paint roller wet and squeeze excess water out with fingers so that roller is just damp enough to hold paint.
4. Place roller on your watercolour box on one side and roll it in a continuous movement to the other side. Don't worry about getting your pallete dirty!!
5. Once masking fluid is dry, roll paint over the bricks in a smooth way.
6. You can follow the steps 3 to 5 again if you're not satisfied with the texture. Experiment with the dampness of the roller. The best result is to have a mixture of completely dry spots with areas of paint (small and larger).
7. Once dry, rub off the masking fluid and fill in the background and add shadows of the bricks.

Have fun!

Sunday, 29 August 2010

More paintings & drawings

Here are a few paintings and drawings I created over the last few months but hadn't uploaded yet.

Pansy flowers  
(watercolour pencils)

Winter landscape 1 
(non-permanent lumo black pen & water)

Winter landscape 1 
(watercolour pencils)

Butterfly on flower 

(watercolour and black pen)

Thursday, 5 August 2010

Artwork inspired by Shetland

While beachcombing on the Sands of Breckon on the the island of Yell in Shetland, I was fascinated about the geology of the landscape. It inspired me to create a painting with items like dried seaweed, shells, rocks (serpentine, schist) and sand, minerals (mica) and drift wood. So boxes were filled and the concept started to develop...

For this piece I used acrylic paint. Modelling paste was added first to create extra texture for the mountainous landscape on the bottom right. Then I glued the found items in a way that land and sea would be in balance like Ying Yang. Some artificial lichen was added because this is an important part of the landscape. The canvas size is 50 x 50 x 1.5 cm.

Monday, 2 August 2010

HD video Shetland

My first attempt in editing and uploading an HD video. It's a compilation of various footage from sea kayaking and underwater scenes like jellyfish, sea urchins, deadman's fingers and coral. It took me a few days to figure out how to get it just right (and three software packages for editing), but it's all worth it I think!
Have a look yourself and get inspired by Shetland's fascinating landscape.....

Tuesday, 27 July 2010


Our summer holiday started on the 1st of July when we took the ferry from Aberdeen to Lerwick in Shetland, Northern island group of Britain, about 210 miles (340 km) from Aberdeen. The 12-hour crossing was relatively gentle and after a good night sleep in our berth, we drove to the island West Burra, Bridge-End Outdoor Centre, where Shetland Canoe Club had organised a sea kayak symposium. From Friday until Monday we were spoiled with what was on offer; half-and full day trips, training sessions run by highly qualified coaches, presentations about exciting expeditions to Greenland, Tasmania and Northern Canada and every evening a delicious meal, all in good company of fellow sea kayakers from all over the UK! While I was mainly doing the trips, Jaap has been participating in many training sessions, which eventually got him his BCU 3*. Well done!

From Tuesday until Thursday we hooked up with a few folk we met at the symposium for a kayak trip at Ronas Voe and stayed a couple of nights in a böd; a hostel style of accomodation in a traditional building. A great experience! Then we got the ferry to Yell, stayed there in another böd and contuued our journey to Unst the next day, where Shetland Canoe Club had organised a paddle weekend.We had amazing weather on Saturday when we explored the caves at Burrafirth and another group went up to Muckle Flugga, a rocky island with a lighthouse and the northernmost point of the British Isles. On Sunday however, the weather turned nasty, with storm at night so we had to use our feet again and went to nature reserves Keen of Hamar (where very rare plant species can be found). Nicky, who we met at the symposium is a plant expert, pointed us to the right places (they are really tiny and hard to find in thick mist and pouring rain!). Many thanks!

The next day, after we said goodbye to everyone, we decided to go to nature reserve Hermaness and this time it was beautiful weather again. The swell was still quite big because of the storm so we went for a walk instead. What an amazing views and sooooo many lovely birds!
On Tuesday 13 July Jaap and I explored Muckle Roe and its many caves and tunnels. It was our best kayak experience ever! We completely lost track of time because we were just so involved in playing around, so our first break was after 6 hours. In the end we had been on the water for 8 hours. Tired? Yes, but soooo happy...

Unfortunately the end of our holiday was a bit ruined because of the horrific crossing back home. I was sea sick for 12 hours, non-stop!
Windforce 7/8 coming from the south + huge swell + berth in front of boat = TORTURE
Anyway, the photos and videos (following here soon) remind me of the wonderful time we had. We'll be back again...

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Acrylic artwork

Recently I started to experiment with acrylics and I love it! It's so much fun to work not only with the paint and mediums, but also household tools like kitchen towel. I'm now working on a canvas which I'm going to submit for an art exhibition, together with Hotspot (see below), which will take place at the Geology faculty in Aberdeen from 3 until17 September. These two pieces have been created during my weekly art class.

13.8" x 18.1" (35 x 46 cm)

The beginning
12.2" x 16.1" (31 x 41 cm)

Friday, 14 May 2010

Tidal paddle weekend Oban

Last weekend we went to Oban for our first trip with NESKY, the North East Sea Kayak club we just joined. After we pitched our tent, we went to the pub to meet fellow members and chat about what was ahead of us.
Jaap and I hardly slept because it was freezing cold (-2 C). The grass was all white! Even with my new 4-season sleeping bag and thermals I wasn't cosy. But it was soon forgotten when we started our day at 6.30 am and saw the beautiful weather. On our first day we had an introduction into how to paddle in and out of tidal streams and use ferrygliding to cross a stretch. We started at Arduaine and went to Cuan point via Torsa. We were really lucky with the weather because there was hardly any wind, no swell and sunshine!

Tidal paddle weekend Oban

The second day we started at Cuan Point and visited the small islets along the coast of Luing (like Belnahua with its famous slate quarry). Our guide/trip organiser had planned the crossing at almost the highest point of the tide, so we had to put our skills we learned yesterday into good use! We've seen huge dolphins (completely different than the ones we normally see along the North East coast) jumping out of the water and having fun in the tidal streams. Hopefully I can capture these special moments next time!

It was a great weekend, like a mini holiday and even while driving back home for about 4 hours we were still buzzing. Can't wait for our next trip!

Sunday, 2 May 2010

Fractal art

Today I learned a new mathematical software programme to create Fractal Art. Don't ask me about the details (lots of very difficult formulas!), I just loved to experiment with it. This is my first piece of art called "Fertilization".

Thursday, 29 April 2010

Exploring digital art

New inspiration followed as soon as I had sold the stock library. My attention was drawn to a magazine about digital art created in Illustrator, Photoshop and other software programmes. Amazing things you can make on the computer and instantly I thought: "I want to do that too!" Over the last three years I have learnt so much about the digital world, pictures and painting and I realise that I can combine all of that.

Even before the transfer of the library, I got really inspired by a personal project involving my mum which I initiated. I thoroughly enjoyed the creative process and I'm now eagerly waiting for the result. Soon I will be able to show it here...

The moment I had finished this project, I started experimenting with exercises from the magazine.
This is my first attempt and I'm sure more will follow because I love it!

The start of a new beginning...

Since I posted my last article here, many positive things happened and I now have found the time to share it with you!

As soon as I had decided to stop with the stock library I received an offer from one of the biggest independent libraries in the image industry, Photoshot. They wanted to continue what I had created so PictureNature didn't have to stop after all! I felt quite proud that our collection was chosen to be among the other strong brands they had purchased in the past. After a few visits to London, some negotiation and a visit to my solicitor, it was all formalised end of March. At the moment all of our 13,000 images are being transferred.
Read this press release for more background info.

From now on I will be one of the contributors and can focus my time on the creative process again. Letting go of something I had visualised but not able to realise, has created a new oppportunity which I couldn't have imagined beforehand! It really opened my eyes. The whole process has given me more insight in how to deal with hurdles in life.

Tuesday, 16 February 2010


The current theme at art class is pointillism. Here are two examples I've just created. The Highland cow has been inspired by one of my own photos. The waterfall drawing from a watercolour painting in a book.

Sunday, 14 February 2010

Excitement on the Dee

We had a very relaxing trip on the Dee today. We saw many birds like eider ducks, grebes, dippers, red kite, buzzard, heron and salmon. But the best of all was the wee otter Jaap spotted swimming along the river bank. And I miracously managed to capture it at the right time!

(This image has been cropped so the quality is not the best)

A difficult decision

It has been a tough but inspiring week for me. First I received an invoice again for PictureNature's library website. Over the last few months, everytime I received one my stomach turned around. How can I afford this when there is not enough sales? How long can I sustain this situation?
Then I had a one-on-one workshop about intellectual assets and how to exploit these. After a full day of being confronted with new ideas my head was buzzing; " I could this and then that", "I haven't tried that yet so maybe that could make a difference and turn my situation" etc. Luckily, I had a good chat with my mum (as always) and she advised me to first think about it all before I go ahead with full speed as I'm used to. The next morning I got an eye-opening insight and symbolic comparison with my current situation by viewing a news item on television. It was about a building site in one of the English cities , that couldn't continue because of lack of funds. Many cities are currently coping with same due to the recession. The site was complete bare, hardly any work had been started yet. Inhabitants of the city were unhappy with the sight of it. A big wall separated them from this place. They thought something useful could be done with it, maybe planting some trees and plants. One of the cities had found a way; allotments. People loved it! Gardening on a small scale, back to nature and simplicity. Don't ask me how, but I got quite emotional at this point. later I realised that it a sign to make my final decision; ceasing the library. And so I did on Thursday the 12th of February.

The next day was physically very difficult. I had a splitting headache, probably the stress coming out. In the meantime, I had informed the contributors and received wonderful replies. That felt really good!
It's unsure yet what will happen with the collaboration with the Spanish agency. Hopefully it will be possible to keep the 12,000 images there so that we have some chance to sell our photos.

Whatever is going to happen, I will continue to work with Clifton who is running the photography workshops for PictureNature. Now I will have much more spare time and I'm sure something else will come my way. I've learned so much over the last years, so it hasn't been for nothing. I'm already thinking of combining my love for photography with my new hobby watercolours. I'm already looking forward to having more time to experiment with that and create more paintings!

Sunday, 24 January 2010

Kayak trip Gardenstown- Pennan

A high pressure area above Scotland on Saturday gave us the impulse to head North and explore the Moray Coast by kayak. We started from Gardenstown, a beautiful pittoresque village, and paddled to Troup Head which is the largest breeding site for gannets in the UK.

After observing the colonies of gannets, guillemots, razor bills and fulmars breeding on the steep cliffs, we headed to the village Pennan and explored some caves. While I was experimenting with the new waterproof camera (stills and video), Jaap couldn't resist to practice his eskimo roll again. Some of the pics are not the best quality, but that might have to do with the extreme digital zoom I had to use in some cases and being on the water at the same time. I guess it will come with practice!

What I really enjoyed doing was making short videos, especially underwater. This is my first attempt in compiling several short videos into one short movie. I hope you like it!

Sunday, 17 January 2010

Watercolour painting

The storm and rain yesterday gave me the opportunity to practice a bit more with watercolours. This time I used my newly bought practice book and chose one of the examples to follow step-by-step. It took me much more time than expected and although there are few mistakes in the painting, I'm quite pleased with the result. Most of all, I really enjoyed doing it. Next week my art class will start again so I will hear what my teacher thinks. Then I'm also able to further practice my technical skills so that I can hopefully make progress!

Saturday, 9 January 2010

Skiing in Glenshee

And the snow fun continues with skiing at Glenshee with Lucy and Dave last Thursday. I had finished a lot of work the previous days so I thought I deserved a day off! Unfortunately Jaap had meetings so he couldn't come with us. The conditions were excellent; no wind, blue sky, nice snow (apart from a few thin/rocky spots). We had a great day out as you can see on these photos.

Lucy and I also took some video shots, some of them while skiing at the same time. That was a real challenge, but great to do. Be warned though; you might get dizzy watching it!

Sunday, 3 January 2010

Big kids having fun in the snow

I'm still having fun in the snow, but this time with our neighbours. First we discovered a cosy iglo with posh seats on Banchory golf course:

Then we sledged down from the biggest hill there. We have experimented with all sorts of sledges and the plastic garden bag filled up with snow is definitely the winner. The orange bivvy bag with sleeping bag inside for sitting comfort was also a good one, especially because it could take three people! View a compilation of video shots here (Facebook readers should click the link "view original post" below):

Saturday, 2 January 2010

Experimenting with watercolours

With snow blizzards outside and not in the mood for skiing among the crowd or getting soaking wet on a hill or river, I stayed inside and experimented with watercolours instead. This is the result.

Hogmanay in Stonehaven

Happy New Year! I wish all my dear friends and family a very happy, healthy and prosperous 2010. We spent Hogmanay (Scottish for New Year's eve and day) in fishing village Stonehaven, half an hour drive away from our home, watching the famous Fireballs Ceremony (click here for more background information about this yearly event). Dressed up with multiple layers, we got ourselves a good spot well before the mass of people arrived. It only meant waiting in sub-zero temperatures for nearly two hours. Despite the frozen toes it was definitely worth it! View a short video I took here:

A much better overview is given in this video created by the organisation itself.