Art, // February 8, 2015
Marit Barentsen – ARTIST
Interview with artist Marit Barentsen —
1. Who are you and what do you do?
I am Marit, a passionate art journaler, mixed media artist, art instructor and creative text writer from the Netherlands. After living in a different part of the country for thirty years, my beloved and I moved back last year to live near the sea in the province I was born and raised: Zeeland.
2. Why art?
From my mom, who is a poet and a writer, I inherited a passion for words. I combine my poetic nature with the analytic and visual side that I inherited from my dad. The combination of the two almost automatically lead me to study arts (“arts and crafts teacher.”) After art school, I went on studying on a more theoretical level and the arts got pushed to the sideline. Years later, when I worked as a creative digital designer, I picked up working with ‘the real stuff’ again.
It was, however, not until I discovered ‘art journaling’ that my art took a big flight. In art journaling, I re-discovered the combination of words and images in a way that truly combines all my different sides. I bind my own art journal books, teach workshops in art journaling and create full time.
3. What is your earliest memory of wanting to be an artist?
Art is like breathing… I could not live without being creative in some form. My earliest memory of wanting to be an artist is the moment I could hold a pencil. I started drawing and I remember that, although I had not learned to read or write yet, I was fascinated by letters and words. My mum must have gotten tired from me asking ‘what does this say’ and ‘can you show me how to write this-or-that.’ Then I copied the words and combined it with drawings. I was in fact an art journaler before I could read… hell, before the word even existed! I’ve always loved special paper too (fibre paper, handmade paper). I made small books or boxes from all kinds of paper and filled it with poems, drawings and collage. I cannot remember when I wanted to be an artist, I think I was born one.
4. What are your favorite subject(s) and media(s)?
My favorite subject has always been ME; my art starts with my emotions, my view, my words. I go from there to find fitting images to illustrate the emotion I want to visualize. In 2010, instead of keeping a diary I started with an art journal series called “The Chronicles of Marit.” In the ‘Chronicles’ books I create a weekly, diary-like art journal spread. I just bound my sixth Chronicles book to work in this year. Besides that, I have several journals going on in which I create. Some have themes, some don’t. I use all kinds of stuff on the pages (cut out images from magazines, drawings, stamps, photos.) Yes, I work on paper mostly. I do try creating a canvas every now and then, but it never seems to end up to my satisfaction… I guess I just love paper too much. Handmade paper, fibre paper, old wall paper, book pages, plain white paper.. if it’s paper, I love it! And pens. I love pens, pencils, markers… anything that writes! My work almost always has words in it. I can’t do without the writing part! I’m also fund of ‘found poetry’ and play with it quite a lot too. (“Found poetry is a type of poetry created by taking words, phrases, and sometimes whole passages from other sources and re-framing them as poetry by making changes in spacing and lines, or by adding or deleting text, thus imparting new meaning.” – Wikipedia)
5. How do you work and approach your subject?
I work best in solitude (my atelier) and in a clean space. Everything needs to be in its right place to clear my head. Especially with writing texts I need concentration, and to concentrate I need my environment to be silent, peaceful and clean. I always clean up and put everything in place before I start to work. I use different techniques, explore different materials and change the size of the paper I work on depending on the emotion or story I want to visualize. I like to vary. Exploring different techniques also helps me grow as an artist. In 2012, for instance, I learned how to make ‘gelatin monoprints‘ and I use it a lot in my art since then.
Going to museums and viewing other artist’s work also is inspiring, some art blows me away and makes me feel humble (but fortunately not to a point that I stop creating myself…)
6. What are your favorite art work(s), artist(s)?
Some of my favourite artists are Giorgio Morandi (Especially his still lifes.)
Francis Bacon (His art is often beautiful and horrific at the same time, his portraits scratch and grind your perception and are thought-provoking), Johnny Beerens (This Dutch artist makes his own paper and works on larger then life paintings/mixed media art. He pictures landscapes of my region (seaside, dunes, polders/reclaimed land.)
7. What are the best responses you have had to your work?
What is art anyway? In my opinion, the purpose of art is the arousal of emotions – be it my own or the viewers. I glowed when I became aware of the fact that my work was evoking those emotions (by comments viewers left on my blog.) I always called myself a ‘crafter’ but from that moment on, sometime in 2009, I dared to name myself an artist. I graduated from art school in the eighties as a teacher in arts and crafts, but had never called myself an artist before. I was an insecure girl back then. I never forget what a teacher in art school, almost 30 years ago, had said to me. It was during paint classes that he gave this reaction to my art work: “the only thing that is good about it are the bowls you mix your paint in.” Ouch. No wonder I did not dare to call myself ‘artist’ after such a comment. It cost me years to get over it, to be confident enough to even feel a brush in my hand without fear of failure.
8. What do you like about your work?
I like now, that my work is mine and comes from within me. I seem to have a certain style and although I can’t describe it exactly, it ís recognizable as ‘mine’ and I dare to call it art!
9. What advice would you give to other artists?
So, to all the people out there calling themselves artists, crafters or whatever… don’t let anyone tell you what is wrong or right about your art. Learn from your teachers, learn from their comments and critizism if they make sense to you but when it comes to misguiding and vile comments, don’t listen! Don’t let it get to you like it got to me, because in the end you have to listen to your core. Listen to your guts. Don’t try to please other people. Create on your own terms.You do not need permission from anyone.