Anna Belleforte

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love and craft

Posted by Anna Belleforte on December 6, 2017 at 4:45 AM Comments comments (1)

I like to recycle Christmas cards into new cards. After cutting out decorative borders and images of reindeer, trees or wreaths, they are grouped into new compositions. It is sort of like collage. There’s nothing special about the technique, it’s just grouping by theme and making simple symmetries and patterns, but the result is always one-of-a-kind cards. I’ve also recycled old maps (with my Narrative Maps series) and made ‘worldly’ Christmas balls from landmasses. What I haven’t done is add a layer of paint to the mix. Taking it to that kind of level somehow adds too much pressure. I want any kind of art to remain something I get pleasure out of. Whether it’s throw-away Xmas cards or more permanent art, I feel I’m exercising the same muscles and pursuing some kind of primal need. It’s just a quest for something visually pleasing and personal satisfaction, which is why most people do art and craft. Keep the ‘amateur’ in your art: be a lover of art.


strength in style diversity

Posted by Anna Belleforte on November 12, 2017 at 7:30 AM Comments comments (0)

More and more I’ve come to believe that diversity in artistic style is a real strength. I say this also in the context of a digital age, where there is so much information (and imagery) out there that it’s difficult to distinguish between the real and the fake, between original ideas and subliminally absorbed ones, and where the information we do access is ‘pre-packaged’ to fit a narrative. It’s difficult for creativity and originality to flourish in this kind of environment. But to return to style diversity, I feel this kind of flexibility exercises my creativity. I KNOW the established art world wants to see style consistency, and to make a name for yourself in the beginning this can be smart. But it almost seems passé. Because what artists can truly contribute is creative ways of thinking and how to translate creative thoughts through to hands and deeds – albeit that our products are all on a small scale. It all starts with the small. For example, when I’m thinking about new work I want to build (2-dimensionally), it helps to take an architectural image with a similar vibe, cut it up and rearrange. (Using existing images fits with my need to accept the world as it is, using it as the starting point.) Forcing different perspectives helps to see new opportunities. ‘Cutting up’ information you are given is also a way to dissect and focus on some details, encouraging true reflection, whether it’s words on a page or details in a picture. These are my starting blocks.

affordable art in Hof van Twente

Posted by Anna Belleforte on October 16, 2017 at 6:40 AM Comments comments (0)

All installed for Kunstmoment in Diepenheim – the 10-day art event showing loads of artists’ work at various village locations. I love exhibiting where the owner of a place loves the work (my Irrealities series). She’s one of those genuine souls who I think likes to feel a connection with the artist she’s inviting in, appreciates the affordability of the art and gets that art can be fun and uplifting.

Since after this I’m taking a break from showing for a bit, to focus on producing a new series, it got me thinking about what it means to be a professional artist. And voila, the internet gives some great answers. This article outlines some basic truths: https://skinnyartist.com/9-warning-signs-of-an-amateur-artist/ Being creative takes work: hours, discipline, brain-exercising, long-term commitment, marketing tasks and an understanding that your art is never perfect and you’ll never stop learning, but that you keep making because you need to be true to yourself.

artistic path of a collagist

Posted by Anna Belleforte on October 6, 2017 at 6:30 AM Comments comments (0)

We took down the ‘Sense of Place’ exhibition at DePloegh this week. I think we all felt it was a good show, and with several works sold I feel a sense of satisfaction. On the last weekend there was a group of art-lovers visiting (the Friends of the Teyler’s Museum from Haarlem – oldest museum in Holland, wonderful collection of antiquities, by the way), who loved the exhibition and the Kunst & Varen art route. Someone also pointed out Dutch/German artist Paul Citroen to me: architectural collages from the 1920s. The name didn’t ring a bell, but I can see a similarity – the most famous piece being a series of buildings compacted together showing a metropolitan city. Looking into him a bit more, it’s interesting how he ended up going in a completely different direction: painting portraits. I’m a true believer in not sticking to a single road. The consistency much of the commercial art world seems to want can turn into monotony for a some artists. I’m curious what drew him away from architecture into the world of faces.


art prize criteria and the circus of words

Posted by Anna Belleforte on September 30, 2017 at 3:00 PM Comments comments (0)

Every year I admire the selections they make, yet interestingly the annual Van Lanschot Art Prize (which I didn’t submit to) has decided that none of the 500+ works submitted was worth nominating this year. Apparently the jury felt no works met all 3 criteria: visual impact, representative of our current times, originality.  Have we criteria-ed everything to death? Or rather, what are we asking of artists today? I just find it hard to believe that there really weren’t 10 works of art of quality (read: skilfully drafted visual stimuli that touch you in some way). I can appreciate that a jury needs to justify nominations, and a checklist helps. But what about their gut feelings – has this simply been banned from art? And what defines impact, contemporariness and originality in relation to art? Well apparently not the art itself. It’s all about the ‘explanatory text’: what does the artist SAY about his/her purpose, process or end-product? The crux of the matter is: they (established art critics, juries, curators) want to see a specific explanation, a specific WHY behind the making, and preferably one that shows social engagement. I can only reference myself in this regard… and my why is a basic need to create with my hands and be mentally stimulated by a subject (whether socially engaging or not). But is this enough? Given that I haven’t yet been nominated for any Dutch art prizes, I suspect not. To be honest, this is not entirely my ambition, but I can see that it’s good for an artist’s profile and that there’s an art business out there that relies on such validations.

So while artists are expected to create on instinct, they must also explain themselves to survive in the contemporary art world. I’m all for good communication skills, and yes the story behind the work can be enlightening, but isn’t the purpose of choosing visual means to communicate precisely the point: to express things we don’t want to put into words, things we would rather leave in abbreviated form, things that others can do with or think over as they please?

Be eloquent in order to be relevant, it seems, at least in this specific world. Of course, the art must also be good. Yet in a culture of image saturation, it’s not easy to achieve visual impact; in a culture of broadcasting self over interchange with others, it isn’t easy to recognize what the collective spirit of the times is; in a culture of criteria (and the need to sometimes earn money), it’s hard to be completely original. In fact, originality in art is impossible – all an artist can ever do is build on what went before. I wonder if any pre-21st century artist would have been nominated by the jury in 2017? I’m sure they would say yes, because they have the perspective of history. I guess I’m just wondering: has it been necessary to create a circus of words around art? Why do artistic choices and motivation need explaining in order to be valued? We value a writer for their words without asking for a painted explanation. We value the skills of a furniture maker or a doctor without asking them why they do what they do.

#contemporaryart #kunstprijs #whymakeart

Why buy art? Here's my take

Posted by Anna Belleforte on September 14, 2017 at 2:35 PM Comments comments (0)

I would say foremost is the sense of well-being it gives. When you come home from a long day, you take a few moments to decompress and looking at art you like can help. You can lose yourself in looking, and if the artwork has lots of details you always find something new. The kind of day you experienced also allows you to see or interpret new things. Or maybe it’s soothing colours that works for you, or the art is a trigger to a happy memory, or you just connect with it in some way (that may not even need words).

Secondly, I think people buy art because they believe that quality matters. I don’t mean in a show-off kind of way, but in a way that gives us a sense of solidity and footing. In an era when everything is replaceable and nothing is made to last, we have lost a sense of what lasting quality is. Advertising for expensive goods is full of words like quality, luxury, authentic – so much so that we may have forgotten what they really mean and how they are achieved. It’s good branding, but it takes time to make quality, to craft something, to evolve an authentic idea. And it takes time for the maker to grow and achieve excellence. Personally I know that I’m not at the excellence stage of my creativity yet, which is part of the reason I don’t price my work high. But I feel I’m good and that I’m growing and constantly working towards excellence.

These are my thoughts today - but I'd like to know: what might motivate YOU to buy art?

drawings in encaustic

Posted by Anna Belleforte on September 7, 2017 at 8:40 AM Comments comments (0)

It was a wonderful opening for the Sense of Place exhibition – including 3 works going to new owners! Always interesting to see/hear people’s response to my work, and to the exhibition concept which included artists Justyna Pennards-Sycz, Hanneke Barendregt, Nannita van Veen and Jenny Ritzenhoff. Since lots of people asked, I will explain the process behind my encaustic works in the Elsewhere series. I draw directly onto plywood with graphite or colour pencil (even though it looks photographic – it’s not), then apply hot wax and pigments, send transfer another drawing by rubbing the ink onto warm wax and wetting the paper to disintegrate it. Then another wax layer and playing about with the resulting images. Together it creates a depth and moody/cloudy atmosphere.


tight or loose?

Posted by Anna Belleforte on August 31, 2017 at 11:05 AM Comments comments (0)

Ok, summer’s come to an end. Back to work! The exhibition A Sense of Place was hung today at De Ploegh (for the month of September). My Irrealities and Elsewhere series are showing. I often get comments on my tight grouping of pictures. I appreciate there’s much to be said for calmness, giving an artwork space, plenty of white wall left, but I quite like the salon style of hanging art – all that loveliness crowded together and going on a treasure hunt for the best bits for you personally. The mixed media Irrealities has lots of dense imagery and shared colouring, and in grouping them together I feel it pulls the eye in to observe the details, the small lines, and you can jump to the next and the next.

Orange is the new art form

Posted by Anna Belleforte on June 18, 2017 at 3:25 PM Comments comments (0)

Some nice news to come home to: I have won the Bronze prize in Art Ascent magazine‘s Orange issue, along with a featured article: https://artascent.com/anna-belleforte/ (comments on their page welcome). Zuleika Murat wrote a nice piece on the work, which was from the recent Irrealities series.

I get a lot of feedback in person on my mixed media work. People are often surprised about what they see – they can’t figure out what they’re looking at, they tell me. Especially because looking from afar at my work is so different from close-up looking. I think that’s one of the biggest advantages of mixed media work: it allows you work with different layers and each layer may have its own story which you can let shine through (or not). The base is a collage of architectural fragments, over which I’ve painted and drawn. But the photographic aspect of the base pictures peeks through in parts, creating quite an interesting effect. I think people do like being challenged visually. The question is whether it’s a good idea to tell them about the technique or not. When you look at an artwork do you really want to know or would you (unconsciously) prefer to keep things mysterious?

at home, Amersfoort

Posted by Anna Belleforte on June 17, 2017 at 6:50 AM Comments comments (1)

The key is being alert to visual stimuli. The trip was confirmation that I am a studio artist above all else, but I do need observation of the outside world as a starting point, a place to come upon surprising things, to photograph ideas and garner real-world shapes, light, lines and contrasts. I feel more than ever that these need to be tools in building compositions that do not exist in reality. I’m drawn to how nature interacts with architecture, or how nature becomes a kind of architecture. So, weeds pushing up through cracks and concrete, but also pruned hedges, natural archways formed by erosion or even the ‘structuring’ of campgrounds. Why am I drawn to this? I guess maybe I’m looking for where the balance falls between natural and man-made endeavours, because it creates an interesting tipping point. I’m not sure yet where these insights will take my art, but I know I would like to work on gaining more painting skills. In any case, I have an upcoming show at De Ploegh here in Amersfoort, A Sense of Place, so will get to work on preparations.


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