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The Artist's Canvas


Johanna Pieterman





TWPT: Tell us a little about Johanna Pieterman.

JP: First of all a big thank you to Serge and Boudica, for their support and kindness.... and then on to the first question :-) Who is Johanna Pieterman? Born in the Netherlands on April 22, 1966, as the oldest child of nomadic parents who own a cargo ship in which they tour northern Europe. I have often thought that the exposure to a changing scenery every day as a small child added to my imagination and ability to adjust. Also, my love of the country and water is esp. important to me. Although I now live in the city of Antwerp, Belgium, both myself and my husband want to move to the country and live in nature to once again experience the changing seasons and grow our own food.

As it stands we have to make do with living in a city. We share the house with our 2 cats whom we adore. I have my studio at home, so my work and our domestic life blends into one. I studied graphic design and apart from creating my mystical art, teaching art workshops and classes, I am very busy creating portraits for all kinds of customers from all over the world, which I greatly enjoy. To create someone's portrait is always a challenge, and to capture a person's essence is incredible. Especially if I can portray a person in their inner sanctum, and visualize their symbols for them. For instance, in the form of their totem animals. I recently completed a commission portrait of Marcella, whom I portrayed together with her totem animals, and I regard my ability to create this for someone as a real blessing!

TWPT: Our readers see alot of art that is computer generated. It is wonderful when we find an artist who uses some of the "old fashioned" mediums. You work with colored pencils. Could you tell us why you prefer that medium? Have you ever tried working with computers to generate your art? Has your art transferred over to computer and Internet format as well as you like?

JP: I love computer generated art, but have never tried my hand at it myself, mainly due to a lack of time as well as seeing the computer more as a supplement to traditional techniques. I create photo composites on a small scale to use on my website, and I have also started to get into designing and maintaining websites in response to several requests from friends and business associates.

I love the commercial possibilities of the web, and embrace the opportunities it has given me as an artist. To be able to present my work to a worldwide audience and attract customers from all over is a wonderful thing. It may sound materialistic but with commercial art galleries struggling to attract customers the web is a real life saver for artists!

To create my art I prefer the traditional tools. Having worked with all kinds of media, like acrylics, watercolours, oils, pastels, and so on, I found colour pencils! That was a revelation to me, because of their flexibility and subtlety. I love the control it gives me, and the effect it generates. Even though I have been working with them for about 15 years I find out new things about colour pencils every day. I love how colour pencils are taken more seriously as a medium in the USA with talented people like Bet Borgeson and Ann Kullberg. Bravo for that, and I hope I can work more on promoting the medium here in Europe through my workshops.

TWPT: You have shown at alot of galleries in the Netherlands, which has given you alot of exposure. Do you find you get the same amount/kind of exposure on the web?

JP: The exposure I have gained through my site on the web is vastly greater than I could every have in an "ordinary" gallery! You have to remember that most people still have "threshold fear" when it comes to entering an art gallery. Somehow art is regarded as something that rich people buy, at least here in Europe, and people who just want to look at art are stopped by the fear of feeling out of place in a gallery and that is especially the case when a gallery proprietor stands behind you to try and sell you something :-)

The Internet is something that gives you the opportunity to view the art that you enjoy in your own time and home, without feeling crowded by people who expect a sale, which is much more relaxed and of course means that many more people see the art, which is a good thing. I started out exhibiting in many art galleries every year, but since my site has taken off on the Internet I have all but given up on the normal gallery exhibitions. Best of all, not having travel costs, extortionate exhibition fees and commissions of up to 70% to pay the gallery means that I can make my work affordable. Art should be for everyone - not just an elite few!

TWPT: I notice some of your art has been used commercially. Would you tell us a bit about where your art has been featured?

JP: I have designed the cover art for a CD called "Shadow of the Moon" by Blackmore's Night, a new band project by Ritchie Blackmore who played in Deep Purple for many years. No doubt you are all familiar with songs like "Smoke on the Water" and "Child in Time". The wonderful guitar riffs are all Ritchie's! He is a very talented guitarist and a special friend.... I have also created illustrations for books about Stevie Nicks, and have been asked by publishers to illustrate several books, but due to lack of time have had to decline these opportunities.

TWPT: Your work shows may influences. Where do you draw your main inspirations from?

JP: I have always seen the many influences in my art as a whole, as something that still boils down to the same universal feelings that everyone has inside... Perhaps the best way to explain this is to point to Jung's theories of collective consciousness, and the archetypes. We have a collective memory, if you like. How myths have originated, and how those same myths return in another version in different corners of the world. I derive much inspiration from "The White Goddess" by Robert Graves and see how all things connect in his wonderful search for the origin of poetry. We are all connected, and all our spiritual experiences are, and all our gods and goddesses are. So in my art I connect people to animals, the Celts to Egypt and so on...... I am a composer, I take sounds and put them into one symphony....and my main inspiration comes from that is where all wonder and beauty is stored.

TWPT: Do you have any pet projects, or gallery showings, or new events coming up that you would like to tell us about?

 JP: My work is an ongoing project really, but I concentrate on portraiture in many forms, sometimes a bit more commercial than other times, but always in my own style and with my own inspiration. So that is where I would like to continue, creating portraits of people for people and give them something more, a pair of hands to create their fantasy, their dream or vision.....

TWPT:   Thank you Ms. Pieterman!