Wednesday, July 25, 2007


Nocturne 48 x 36 oil on canvas Chris De Dier

We think of organisms, bacteria and viruses that undermine our health as diseases and question why there are so many of them - why they weaken their host, eventually killing the environment upon which they depend for their existence.

Humans are no different. Like any other parasites, the growing number of our species and our industry are taxing the planet until it becomes ill and eventually dies. We have become the spreading cancer of the Earth. Is it too late to reverse the trend? Is the future all dark?

Cycles Of Nature

Surf 40" X 40" oil on canvas Chris De Dier Available at Davis Gallery, Austin, TX

This painting would fit very well in a meditation room. It invites the viewer to reflect on the wonder of the natural environment on this planet. More than the top half of the canvas is reserved for an overcast sky. There are no dramatic cloud formations; a calm solid warm gray blanket covers a tropical atmosphere - thick and heavy with humidity - that screens the light of the afternoon sun. The bottom of the canvas is where the visible action takes place. At the left, barely visible behind the foam, are the wide expanse of the ocean and the distant horizon. In the middle and towards the foreground, a big wave builds up from that ocean, reaching into the air above, then crests and crashes back into the main body of water with a wild display of foaming frenzy. During the crashing, surface wind lifts up splashes of water that partly evaporate during their trip through the air, thereby nourishing the atmosphere with moisture vapor that later in a showering rain returns back to where it came from.

What is the purpose of exploring space in search of new worlds if we can't appreciate and take care of the precious beauty we have on Earth?

Friday, July 20, 2007


ARRIS STUDIO, received a new shipment of furniture from the workshop in Mexico. The last two weeks kept me busy preparing for their arrival, unpacking, assembling, making deliveries, etc. I also found time to paint and some new work is nearing completion.
In the meantime, it continues to rain in Central Texas...

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Time For A Painting

Cloudy oil on masonite panel 12" X 16" Chris De Dier

Wednesday, July 4, 2007


We are planning an English version of my mother's blog. I will post the link as soon as it is up. Here is one more of her stories.
I like this story in particular because I heard it told so often when I grew up.

When I was old enough I was allowed to walk by myself across the market to the house of my aunt Jeanne in the Burchtstraat. Mama would pick me up there and together we walked home, which was on the Aalsterse Steenweg. Mama used to sing along the way " We are sworn friends, We will never leave each other, We are united and we will stay in touch, We will never leave each other, ...." Singing together made the walk seem so much shorter.
And one day there came an end to the singing. It turned into a sad act, that walk home. Along the Burchstraat it went relatively fine, but we barely crossed the railway in the Weggevoerdenstraat when mama started weeping. At first tears would quietly run down her cheeks, but by the time we had passed the college beside the gendarmerie, she was already audibly crying.... every day. Papa had been mobilized like so many, joining the Belgian army at the coast. WWII had begun.
It didn’t take long before word spread that the Germans were about to invade the city. Rumors went around about the atrocities to the civil population. There was fighting here and there; nobody knew where. Many people fled. But nobody seemed to know exactly well in which direction it would be safer. After some nervous chatting back and forth between mama, aunt Jeanne and Granny , the decision was made that we would flee also, rather than wait and see for events to unfold. The first part of the plan was to go to Aspelaere, where papa’s mother lived, and from there they would see what to do next.
An old fashioned baby stroller on high wheels was filled to overflow with food items. Coffee, sugar, flour, ... We could sense the anxiety of our mothers. I was five, my cousins Vivianne and Herman were eight and ten years old respectively. There was a crowd on the road. Almost everybody was preparing to flee. Neighbours gave each other advice, nobody followed it. There were no cars. Many wheelbarrows and pushcarts, filled to the brim with everything one thought they might need or deemed necessary to bring to safety. Bicycles with heavy bags on both sides, too heavy to push or keep balanced under normal conditions, but now with the fear for life people pushed and pulled.
We went through the Geraardsbergse Straat and Preulegem, until we reached The Ox. From there straight into the Outerstraat. We arrived at the convent behind the church of Outer. The street was packed with refugees there also. People said there was still fighting in Muylem. In the meantime the evening fell. We were told it was dangerous to press on to Aspelaere. Someone guided us inside the convent where we were helped by the nuns, who had more than their hands full with all these unexpected visitors. We were not the only ones there, there was not enough room.
We settled in the basement of the convent where we spent a sleepless night, sitting up on a bench against one of the walls. The next morning, our journey continued. Through the Prieelstraat we arrived at the hamlet of Muylem. The sun was shining, everything looked green and peaceful. Here we were the only ones on the road. A few more houses, a country lane, .... we could already see the steeple of the church of Aspelaere. We passed the last farm, arrived in an open field, and hell broke loose. Ratatatatatatatata!!!!!!!!!! Bullets flew across the lane. The English on one side, the Germans on the other. A few more steps and we would have landed in the middle of the firefight. We jumped back, the six of us packed upon each other hiding behind a tree, out of breath with racing hearts, panting from fear.
"Jeanne! the stroller....the stroller!!!!"
In the panic of the moment the stroller was left behind, which now began rolling backwards by the pull of gravity. Heavy with its load, it gained more and more speed. Steerless it rolled past us in front of the tree, with not one of us courageous enough to leave our cover to grab it. The stroller bumped on the uneven pavement, balanced on two wheels for a few seconds until it keeled over, dumping its entire content into the wet creek on the other side of the lane. Later, when everything sounded quiet, we saved what we could and continued the hike.
We had to cross the village because my grandmother lived on "the Droon" - the road to St. Antelincks. When we arrived, she and her two daughters, aunt Rachel and aunt Irma from Brussels, were about to climb aboard the last truck of an English Army convoy. The news was that there was still fighting in the Brodhoek and that it was unsafe to stay in Aspelaere. Of course the English soldiers were eager to take my grandmother with her two young and beautiful daughters with them. That the truck had a big machine gun mounted on it was considered an accessory for safety. And that the convoy was heading to West Flanders where the heaviest fights along the front were happening, they could not know. They returned later safe and sound.
We would have the farm all to ourselves. But if mama was a city slicker, more so were her sister and her mother. They were not comfortable there at all and while my grandmother and my two aunts disappeared behind the curve in the road, our small group concluded to return to Ninove at once.
In the Burchtstraat almost everyone was out in the street. Many houses had been broken into. At first it was blamed on the soldiers, but later it came to light that people from the area had done it.
Everything in our house had been vandalized. The beds in the bedrooms had been trampled with muddy shoes, cookie crumbs between the sheets. My little piano was smashed to pieces. Even the meager Christmas decorations were destroyed.
The back door of CafĂ© The Keyser was open. Baaske’s wife called us inside to see the damage there. All their belongings had been destroyed there also. Even the childrens’ toys.... and the war had just begun.

Copyright Jacqueline De Dier 2007

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Smile Nice!

Look, it's me in the forest. Hello, everybody!

In The Air

Here is another story that I picked from my mother's blog and translated in English (if there is interest, I may end up translating her entire biography).
This one precedes the previous story by several years. It is WWII, Spring 1944.

Mama hung the laundry to dry on a wire that is stretched between two poles across a narrow creek. I am laying on my back in the grass, between countless dandelions. The bedsheets are gently rustling, rhythmickly undulating in the wind.
High above in the blue sky are thick white clouds flocking together into castles that melt and dissolve, reforming a little later into splendid big palaces again. When I grow up I will live in a castle because I will marry a baron... or a prince.
I can hear a soft mutter in the distance. It grows louder as it approaches.
"There they are!..." I jump up and run to the road. A uniform rumble fills the air by now. Hundreds of small sparkling white dots in formation. Small triangles that disappear, hidden by the clouds for a moment, to reappear glistening in the sun.
The neighbours also came outside. Everybody is standing by the earthen road, gazing up in the air. " That is not for Brussels, they are flying too high." "It’s for Germany...They’re going to get it over there!" A feeling of excitement, a feeling of hope. Caution is put on the side for a moment.
Shining silver metalic ribbons are filling the air and falling like snow around us. Someone shouts not to touch them, they could be contaminated... poisoned pencils had been distributed from the air before, they said.
I do not understand why they throw those ribbons. The rumbling ends, the airplanes disappear from sight. It is over, they are passed for today. Tomorrow there will be more, and again after tomorrow, and the day after... they fly over each day... somewhere there is hard fighting.
"Come on, Jacqueline, let’s go play!"

Copyright Jacqueline De Dier 2007

Monday, July 2, 2007

Hiking In Paradise II

The natural beauty was spectacular. After a hearty picnic we climbed down several waterfalls in one of the creeks on Scott's property and swam in a natural spring-fed pool. During the previous week, the area had been inundated with 18" of rain during a storm that lasted 6 hours, causing massive flash flooding. Large trees had disappeared and we saw massive rocks that have been turned upside down by the force of the water. Most interestingly we had a glimpse of nature's way of creating travertine; the remains of soaked maidenhair ferns that grew on the rock face beside a waterfall were already calcified.

Hiking In Paradise

Yesterday we went hiking on a friend's property near Burnett, TX. The area calls itself the Top of the Texas Hill Country, and indeed, the view from the cliff above Lake Buchanan is dramatic. We climbed down dense forest to reach the vertical rock face, where water dripped down on us from the ledge. Scott, an expert avian veterinarian, led the way -regularly pointing out different species of vultures and hawks that hovered in the sky above us - while Gary and I trailed behind taking pictures. We climbed back up the steep slope along a waterfall. The coolness of the water was refreshing.