“My daughters have taught me a lot about simply starting things out of curiosity or fun, instead of planning for perfection. Children are great at that.”
Mariken van Heugten’s Artistic Style and Medium
Mariken van Heugten is a 49-year-old artist who grew up in a rural setting surrounded by nature-loving parents who fostered her appreciation for the arts. While she initially considered attending art school, she was drawn to a variety of interests and lacked the necessary focus to pursue that path, ultimately opting for a degree in business. Despite her professional endeavors in sales and logistics across multiple countries, she remained connected to her creative side. A year ago, she deliberately carved out more time to dedicate to her artistic passions, buoyed by her daughters’ spontaneous and inquisitive approach to creative expression. Through this experience, she came to realize the importance of embracing the process of exploration and enjoyment, rather than fixating on perfection.
Mariken van Heugten’s artistic oeuvre comprises of modestly sized compositions, crafted with ink on paper. The hand-drawn lines and shapes in her pieces showcase an organic quality that oscillates between being translucent and delicate, to vivid and chromatic, or even stark and monochromatic. The shapes employed in Mariken’s works are deliberately unassuming but unambiguously defined, creating a playful and exuberant aesthetic.
Finding Inspiration in Nature and Art Materials
In Mariken van Heugten’s ideal workspace, there is a door that can be closed and music can be played. The room features a large table with inkbottles and rinsewater jars, as well as additional tables for drying, studying, cutting, and comparing. Large windows allow natural light to fill the space and offer views of trees, the sky, and birds, while plants and dry weeds add an organic element. Although she works alone, Mariken’s colleagues are located down the hall and available for input and coffee breaks. The room is adorned with big white walls for displaying her work, and colleagues and customers frequently visit to appreciate her creations. The studio is a source of pride and inspiration for her.
She finds inspiration in the interplay between lines, shapes, and natural elements, such as the intertwining of clouds and trees, the fluid movements of birds and water, and the intricate patterns of plants and landscapes. Even the solidity of rocks and the underlying structures of the world around her serve as sources of inspiration. While hiking or jogging through the local terrain, these visual stimuli spark her creative process, setting the initial idea in motion.
Subsequently, Mariken’s art materials themselves become a wellspring of inspiration. The ink’s fluidity and the way it interacts with the rinsing water, for example, provide endless creative possibilities. She allows the ink to develop naturally, giving it time to granulate, thicken, or even develop a mold. Within the depths of the ink, multiple colors are hidden, adding an element of surprise to the artistic process. It is this interplay of materials and natural elements that fuels her creativity and enables her to create unique and captivating works of art.
Heugten’s Stylistic Evolution and Growth as an Artist
Mariken van Heugten has undergone a stylistic evolution in her artwork. In her earlier works, she had a strong attachment to using pure, deep black ink, but over time, her preferences have shifted towards a more diverse and vibrant color palette. She has come to appreciate the emotional associations that different hues can evoke in viewers. As a result, her recent works are characterized by a significant use of color. In addition to her stylistic changes, her artistic ambitions have grown, leading her to create larger and more ambitious pieces. This development showcases her growth as an artist.
In her personal estimation, Mariken van Heugten believes that her most exceptional creations are yet to be discovered within the pages of A5 size sketchbooks. She finds that the spontaneity and purity of her artistic expression are at their highest within this compact format, and she has a particular fondness for the way the ink interacts with the paper. Working within these sketchbooks, without any self-imposed limitations, provides her with a sense of absolute comfort and familiarity.
Comfort Zones, Challenges, and Creative Ambitions
Although occasionally receiving suggestions to explore larger formats, she finds that doing so presents a distinct artistic experience that requires her to step out of her comfort zone. Despite the challenge, she has created several larger works of which she is particularly proud, due to the creative growth they have provided her.
Mariken van Heugten would be thrilled to create a church window design that incorporates a playful, organic aesthetic, allowing light to illuminate its intricate details. Additionally, she has a preference for using fabrics with messy patterns, such as plaids and towels, to further enhance the window’s visual appeal.
For Mariken van Heugten, drawing – particularly coloring and doodling – has a calming effect. This creative activity can lead her into a meditative state where her focus is solely on the artistic process, and she becomes fully immersed in it. She only sees the end product of her work after completion.