Install Marije Vermeulen

Marije's Strange Aunt & The Dude

Dutch artist Marije Vermeulen finds her inspiration in a mixture of Brickhouse-detailing and tile patterns combined with garden design and pop culture. 

 By creating lots of little pencil sketches, she repeatedly collects possible shapes, colors, and patterns. Some shapes have been a part of her personal motif library for years.


Marije Vermeulen


Apeldoorn, Netherlands



Artist Q&A

Where do you live? What is your day-to-day like?

I live in the middle of the Netherlands, together with my guy and two kids.  We have the luxury of a studio in the garden where my husband, who is also an artist, and I, work. 

The big wallpaintings I make are site specific. So this means that I work at a lot of different locations, like schools, bars, museums and private homes. I really like the interaction with the people and the purpose and use of these places that comes with this. 

How did you get started making art?

In my family there already was a big interest in art, so we often went to museums and historic buildings like churches and archeological sites. I always expressed myself quite individually and creatively.  

 So after high school I wanted to go to Art School and chose to start with Fashion Design. Although I really loved it, I eventually sought out a more autonomous way of working with my ideas, and so later graduated in Fine Art.  

ArtStar Marije Vermeulen The Dude

What is your medium and your process? What tools do you use? 

I start working on something new by making lots of little colored-pencil sketches in my sketchbook. Over and over again I draw and collect possibilities to put shapes, patterns and colors together in a new and fresh way. I’ve collected these shapes over the years in a kind of library of motifs. This library keeps on growing with new shapes, colors and patterns I made my own. I inject my research for new options with rational procedures like flipping, stacking, cutting, dividing into equal parts, repeating, etc.  When I feel “this is it!” about the work, or a part of it, I execute it in paint on a clean prepared surface. This can be a canvas, a wall, a plywood shape I constructed, or actually anything else. In the case of a wallpainting or installation there is always the influence of the space where it’s at. The shapes and measurements of this specific site play a big role in the work and bring me new ideas.

Where do you find your inspiration? 

I love looking at decoration details of houses like brick variations (in the Netherlands most houses are built in brick), weird shaped windows, tile patterns, concrete constructions and balcony fences. The combination of architecture with garden design is also an inspiration, especially tropical styles with palm tree motifs, tropical flowers and lots of color.  The (art)work of other artists is always a great source of knowledge and pleasure. Going to exhibitions and having long talks about them with others is a good way to reflect on the world, each other and my work.  POP is maybe a good word to describe another influence, with this I mean comic books, music videos, street style fashion, graphic design, magazines, festivals and interior design.


Describe your work in three words?

 energy, color, romantic.

Who are your artistic influences? 

Christo for thinking big, Daniel Buren for being consistent, Jan van der Ploeg for showing the way, David Hockney for the joy of painting, Mary Heilmann for the good vibrations, Sol Lewitt for the concepts, Frank Stella for playing with possibilities, Henri Matisse for setting the bar high , Lily van der Stokker for being fierce and Guido Nieuwendijk for the necessity of humor.

What do you love the most about being an artist? 

The combination of being a “maker” ,working with my hands, and being a “thinker”, solving self-imposed puzzles. 

The process from: everything is possible, to: this is the only way!

Do you have a signature color or palette?

I always use lots of color. Put next to each other they should stay individually bright and powerful, and together form an unexpected fresh combination that sparks your senses.  I place them most of the time on a white surface, for extra brightness, putting on several layers of paint for a deep hue. Using soft brushes makes the painterly skin smooth and solid. The color combinations are specific and can refer to all kinds of memories, longings or things I encountered. For example; a romantic sunset situation, a cool festival or concert I went to, the garden I remember from my grandparents or a great outfit someone is wearing in the street.

What role does art play in the home?

For me art represents the home. Art makes your home familiar. You can put it in any place to make you feel at home. Because it is part of your life, memories and personal taste. You chose that one out of all the opportunities you had, and that says something about you. So the works of art you have can be the centre of all your other interior choices.

Tell us about the series launching on ArtStar - What does it mean to you? 

The works I chose for Art Star fit together because they were all made with elements from my library of motifs. This way the works are always one big family, with the occasional strange aunt ;) Although the same building blocks are used, in every painting I challenge myself with a new issue, and only one option will eventually be executed or shown.

What are your favorite piece(s) in the series you are launching on ArtStar? Why?

“The Dude” is maybe my favorite.  In this work I managed to use the “Wave”( from the library of motifs) in a strict, exact, yet funny way. Also used from the library are: the “Outline”, the “Picture Frame” and the 45 degrees striping pattern. This painting was the start of a new way of combining this abstract playfulness of motifs with some reference to actual objects, in this case a rug.

Can you tell us the story behind that piece? 

A theme I am working on is framework. I draw a precise outline in (wall)paintings as a parameter of the available “field” to work in. “Drawing” a frame around anything from a window to a tablecloth, is a simple classic way of decorating, and I was inspired by this idea.  For “the Dude” I started making sketches with this simple outline and continued collecting all kinds of possibilities within my visual language for the center part. So I turned around the order of things by starting with the frame and searching for the shapes and subject in the centre of the painting later. I like the humor of that.  While drawing I had a strong association with a rug. This idea settled more and more while sketching and made me think about one of my favorite movies;” The Big Lebowski”. That’s why I named it after the main character in this movie, “The Dude”.  

What do you hope to accomplish with your art? How do you want people to feel when they see it? 

I would like to bring some positive energy to the world. Make people wonder and start a conversation with each other, where my work can be the trigger. Also I would like to show another way to look at your daily surroundings. There is so much to see and to play with all around.

ArtStar Marije Vermeulen Install
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