I’m afraid Nicholas Sparks was teasing when he said that he grew an idea tree in his garden. Ideas can be painful to conceive yet plentiful if you know where to look. They all start with inspiration. The question is, what inspires you? More to the point, how do you get inspired to start your next project as a writer when your last is sitting in the hands of fate? Yes, nature is inspiring. The sun certainly has a profound affect on me, my energy, my enthusiasm, my drive. Likewise the sea.
But it’s those dreary days of grey on grey as the Scandinavian autumn darkness swells into the landscape that I find inspiration elsewhere – mainly through people. Over the last couple of years, perhaps none has inspired me more than artist, Danielle van Schooneveld. I’ve known Danielle for years but never knew the talent she possessed, the talent she was harnessing quietly in her own way, in her own time. Perhaps I’ve been living in a box until now, not realizing that she’s been painting all along, the way I have been writing all these years, but only recently sharing my work and taking risks.
Danielle has clearly worked hard to achieve the success that is now gracing her life—an art degree, exhibitions and churning out one painting after another. Though I watch this rise in her career from afar (since we are living in different countries), and celebrate her achievement through social media along with all of her friends, I feel directly affected by her work. I have always been partial to paintings of children and have a number of framed Nancy Noel prints from years past.
I am not an art critic. All I can express is how Danielle’s work affects me. Apart from the obvious, her incredible talent, how thoughtful her portraits are, her portrayal of people, there is something calming in her work, something raw. Perhaps it’s her use of colour. Perhaps it’s in knowing the calm, elegant person that Danielle is. What she achieves is not only a breathtaking finished product, but making one see the value of persistence, the importance of honing one’s talents and driving them forward to create a more fulfilling life.
As a writer, I can see a story begin to unravel as I look at her paintings. They cannot help but intrigue me. In the top painting, at least five stories scramble over each other to get my attention. A slew of questions instantly formulates. What is the little girl looking at? Her reflection? A fish? Something glittery caught between two rocks under the surface? How did it get there? What is it? Did she drop it? Was it her mother’s? Where is her mother? Is she still alive? Are the girls sisters? Twins perhaps? The questions and answers can grow dark, mysterious or be the seed to a loving, family saga. What the painting affords a writer is possibility. Regardless of the artist’s intention or what inspired the painting, everyone is likely to see something different. The feelings generated are likely to vary as well. In any case, Danielle’s painting above provides a starting point. It is incredible how quickly a web of ideas grows based on that starting point or seed. For that, I am grateful.
All the pieces seem to be fitting together nicely for Danielle, but while traveling the creative road myself, especially the last couple of years, I am under no disillusionment that it’s been a smooth ride. The painstaking work involved in creating her pieces, accompanied by the skill needed to market oneself in this incredibly competitive world and the uncertainties it bestows, requires agility, thick skin and exceptional talent. Danielle possesses these qualities and is carving out her future one painting at a time. I am excited to see where it heads.
In the meantime, if she doesn’t mind, I will use Danielle as a source of inspiration while delving into my next project. Sometimes all a writer needs is a painting.
Please visit Danielle: