It’s not easy to have a consistent portfolio, especially when you’re not specialised in one technique but like to alter your way of working. Dutch artist Danielle Frenken succeeds in consistency though: all her works, varying from sculptures, photo manipulations, drawings and paintings, have a dreamy vibe and are clearly inspired by nature. I got in touch with Danielle and she was excited to share some of her thoughts and insights on her work with Bleaq in this third edition of ‘Spotlight’. Enjoy!
Bleaq: If you had to describe your work in one sentence, how would you do it?
Danielle: That’s a hard question. I don’t know if it is possible to describe my work in one sentence. I use different techniques and styles; sometimes my work is inspired by a story, a symbol or just the shape of an animal. But my intention is to bring the viewer in another world for a single moment. It’s more of a title then a sentence with which I would describe my work: ‘Another World’.
You use several techniques to showcase your vision: drawing, painting, sculptures and so on. Is there a technique you prefer? And do you get an idea before you choose a technique, or the other way around?
I do not prefer one technique over the other. I love to vary in the techniques I choose. I have a lack of patience so It’s necessary to switch between different techniques to keep it interesting for me.
It’s an interaction between the idea and the technique. My drawings are almost always based on an idea I have, the next step is working it out.
When I’m working on my watercolours I start with the shape of an animal that I prefer. Then I let myself be guided by the materials. When I use this technique, I add water, watercolours, ink and gouache during the process. I never know how it turns out and there is no turning back. Especially the watercolour and ink, it’s unpredictable how the colours and ink will flow over my paper. You can never fully control it and that is what I love about this technique. I’m a kind of control freak, but this is a way to loose myself completely in my work, totally focussed on colours, lines, spots and the way my different paints are flowing into each other. It are little surprises how it turns out. During the process I’m trying to control those ‘surprises’ so there are at the end a lot of interesting details in my work.
Creating my sculptures is a different kind of process. The first step is collecting plastic animals, ugly statues and kitschy junk from flee markets and thrift stores. Mostly I got an idea when I look at a statue or a plastic animal and start adapting them.
In other cases I have an idea and start working it out like the tree full of birds. And the last way is puzzling. Arranging the stuff I have, looking which parts belong to each other. It’s the same way I make my collages, I collect a lot of old animal or nature books and my own photos. I spread a bunch of them out over the floor and start puzzling which photos belong to each other.
– Tree full of birds
Your work is often based on nature and animals. Are those two elements also your main inspiration? What other things inspire you?
Yes they are. Other things that inspires me are for example Christian (animal) symbols, Greek fables, Alice in Wonderland, fairy tails (Grimm), travelling, and other artists.
More on Danielle’s inspiration on Eyespired (in Dutch).
Who are your favourite artists? How do they inspire your work?
I got so many artists I really really love. One of my favourite is Charles Avery. This artist made his own imaginary island. He works with different type of media, which makes him able to bring his island to life. A few years ago I went to his exhibition ‘the Islanders’ at the Boijmans van Beuningen museum in Rotterdam. I didn’t know what to expect, but when I saw his work he definitely became one of my favourite artists.
– By Charles Avery [source]
It’s probably like asking parents which of their kids they like best, but do you have a piece or pieces from your work that you like best? If so, why that one?
I won’t say I would like it the best, but it’s a work I won’t sell because I love it. It’s a white crocodile that is spitting out a black silver cloud. In that cloud you can discover tiny parts of animals.
– The crocodile piece Danielle won’t sell
With many social networking websites it’s almost hard to keep track of everything! How important is the internet for you as an artist?
Really important. It’s important because I gain a lot of information and inspiration from the internet. I don’t know if I reach a lot of people with the internet (Instagram, Facebook and my website) but I think it’s really important that people can find you on the internet. I hope I will have a lot of followers in the future. People over whole the world are able to see and buy my work because of the internet, it makes your work more accessible.
Last but not least: van you recommend a book, movie or artist you’ve enjoyed lately?
Yes, a friend of mine send my this amazing website, these photo’s are amazing!
That’s it! A big thank you to Danielle for taking time to share her work and insights with Bleaq! Thanks Danielle! If you want to see more of Danielle’s work you can take a look at her website. Thanks for reading once again, have a lovely weekend!