We recently surveyed Marjolein’s fans about what they would like to ask Marjolein Bastin. Here is the first answer in our 3-part Q&A series. Written by Marjolein Bastin. Enjoy!


  1. Can you tell us a little bit about the process you go through when creating your art? Do you do several pencil sketches first or jump right into what will end up being the final piece?

Most paintings are born when I experience a spark, an unexpected moment in nature that somehow captivates me immediately. I see something beautiful, something that touches me, and my first reaction is WOW!!!  It can be something beautiful, something sweet or otherwise remarkable… I immediately know I want to hold on to that moment forever and share it with you.  The moment doesn’t have to be rare or exceptional to be special, on the contrary, sometimes the most common scenes in nature inspire me the most.  Perhaps they are most often overlooked and so I want to give you the opportunity to see them for yourself.  Oftentimes these are things you can find in your own backyard, or while you’re on a nature walk.

The next step for me is to make a tiny little sketch, really tiny, usually no bigger than a postage stamp. Just a way to remind myself later what I observed.  My diaries are filled with these little sketches and frequently I’ll write down where and when I saw it and why it moved me so much.

Sometime later I make the actual plan, still quite small and in pencil, to see how the elements of the painting will fit together.  This composition sketch is an important ingredient of the eventual painting, it guides the direction I want to go in.  It shows how I want to compose different elements of the painting so I can accentuate certain things, create tension and balance on that large sheet of blank paper.  The process feels like performing a ballet on a big stage, it moves, it all plays together.  Well… I can only imagine what a dancer would feel on a big stage!

When it is finally time to lay that sheet of very white and very empty paper on my desk I feel nervous and excited.  I blend a few colors samples that I know I will need later and keep them right next to my painting on a few strips of paper.  And then we’re off!  I start by outlining, in very thin pencil, the composition I made earlier.  Sometimes I add a background color wash (I only use watercolors) for the sky or distant fields.  The recreation of something that caught my eye has started.  From that moment on it’s simply hard work, for days, hoping to catch all the details I thought were so beautiful.

And inevitably somewhere along the way I get discouraged.  I can’t seem to capture the spark in my painting this time, it just doesn’t work.  The struggle puts me in a terrible mood, I feel bad for my husband on those days.  It feels like chasing something you know you’ll never catch. I feel hopeless.  In those moments I usually have to leave my studio for a bit, a good excuse to take our Labrador Yogi for a walk!  In my work I take inspiration from nature and it rarely disappoints, I return to my studio with new energy, fully charged batteries!  About two days later I will finish my painting.  Even if I think nature itself is much more beautiful than my painting, at least I was able to share my enthusiasm with you.

-Marjolein Bastin

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