Sunday, 27 September 2009


I love butterflies and always have done.
Butterflies often appear in my art work and it must be their beauty and fragility that inspires me.
This week I received an email from a friend and she named the email 'butterflies'; she had a look at my blog and liked my stories about Cambodia.
The email didn't mention anything about butterflies at all, but I thought about it for a while, maybe my stories gave her butterflies in her tummy, I hope so.
Isn't that a weird expression in English... "butterflies in your tummy", poor things, I can't imagine that would be a nice place to flutter around in!
The day before I left Wat Opot to go back to New Zealand, Wayne and us volunteers were having our evening meal in the outdoor gazebo and a little butterfly landed right behind me on the wall.
It sat there for a while and then flew away, but it came back time after time and again landed behind me on the wall.
We all started to notice and then Wayne said:"someone's soul is coming to say goodbye to you".
Wat Opot is such a special and spiritual place,I am totally convinced that miracles happen there even in the shape of a butterfly.
I am back now in New Zealand and in a society where miracles are sometimes a bit harder to spot.
The shopping malls are getting bigger and bigger and when I try to do my weekly groceries I feel bombarded by loud music and advertising and people trying to sell me things I really don't need.
In Cambodia people also tried to sell me things I didn't need, but for many of them it was plain survival and to have some food to eat at the end of the day.
Many times since I have been back I have felt frustrated and wanted to shake people up around me and say to them: just share something of all the wealth you have, just a little bit is enough to make a difference in a life only 12 hours flying from here.
I share my stories, show my photographs and make my "saving piggies" for Cambodia and hope that a little butterfly creates a miracle in the hearts around me.
I know it will and I have seen already some of it by way of a lovely email from someone who bought one of my fund raising paintings of 'Trade Me' (the Kiwi e-bay), three bags of soft toys given to sell for fundraising from a colleague of Henk and the sewing from my students for the children of Wat Opot.
I know its not my doing, but God that changes hearts; I just have to learn to be patient and let the Holy Spirit work... maybe in the shape of a butterfly!

Saturday, 19 September 2009

The power of art

The first week at Wat Opot I met the art group, mostly teenage boys and girls working with Hoeut,the art teacher.
The big project was the mural on the school wall and the mural was nearly completed only some ants needed to be painted and Pisey was working one day with the other boys to complete the mural.
I had a closer look at what they were doing, being interested in everything to do with art and Pisey greeted me in English and we started talking.
Pisey is really involved in his art and so he and I planned a painting session together for that afternoon.
We were sitting in the gazebo near the pond and I was amazed how quickly and confident his painting came along and the ease in which he used his colours and brushes.
I got to know Pisey better over the following weeks and we both shared our love for art.
One afternoon when I was tidying up the work room, Pisey came and asked me if I wanted to see his art work and I felt very privileged that he wanted to share his art portfolio with me, because paintings and drawings are very personal and it takes a bit of courage to show your work to someone else.
Pisey's art work is very broad and he has many different styles and used many different techniques.
Hoeut has taught him well.
Pisey made a beautiful pencil drawing of his father and really captured his likeness and his personality and that is not an easy task.
One colour full drawing caught my attention and I asked Pisey what the drawing was about.
He told me that one night he was dreaming about his mother and in his dream he and his sister Srey Lek were holding his mothers hand and they were walking towards the village were they once lived and they had to cross the river to reach the village.
The next day Pisey did the drawing.
Pisey told me that he wanted to become a famous artist and he wanted his mother to be proud of him.
When I looked at the drawing I could see all the sadness and all the love Pisey wanted to share as a tribute to his mum and words could not have been more power full.
Pisey lost both his parents through Aids and he looked after his sister and mother when she was very sick till her death at Wat Opot.
More of Pisey work is on the website under stories:

Thursday, 3 September 2009

Tai Ming and I

Tai Ming is a little girl living at Wat Opot with her mother.
Tai Mings mother has AIDS and Tai Ming has HIV.
Tai Mings mother walks very slow with a walking stick around the grounds at WAT OPOT and she doesn't communicate with or smiles at other people much. She lives in her own world now.
Tai Ming doesn't talk much either and doesn't attend school, she also lives much in her own world.
Tai Ming has not put on the anti viral drugs by the doctor; Wayne doesn't know why this decision hasn't made yet, because she is not well and she gets reocurring skin infections,like herpes and she is very thin.
Cambodia is not New Zealand,a western country with all the medical services at our fingertips, but a developing country were decisions are sometimes not as clear cut.
The first time I met Tai Ming was very special.
I arrived at WAT OPOT and felt very unsure of what would happen at WAT OPOT and if I could stay there for five weeks.
We had lunch with Wayne and the other volunteers and after lunch everyone left and did their own thing as you would.
That afternoon the New Zealand volunteers organized games for the children and after the rain the games went still ahead in a slighty muddy way!
I was watching the children and volunteers and felt very lonely and far from home and asked why am I here?
Then this little girl came over to me and looked at me with her big eyes and climbed on my lap and nestled herself against me.
She wasn't the most beautiful of the children and her clothing was not the cleanest and nicest either, but when I think back at that moment tears well up in my eyes.
Tai Ming looked deep into my soul and all my fears subsided.
I knew at that moment God send me to WAT OPOT and that my life would never be the same again from the moment Tai Ming climbed on my lap.
The time I have spend at WAT OPOT Tai Ming became my special friend and every morning she came over to the volunteers quarters to see me and say hello.
Tai Ming could say my name Marijke very well and repeated my English perfect.
I loved being with her and she is a very bright little girl eager to learn, we did painting together and reading English picture books.
The day before I left Tai Ming spend a long time with me, cuddled against me as if she knew I was leaving.
The day we left I didn't see her, she wasn't there when we said goodbye to the children,teachers and Wayne.
I hope to see her again,my little soul mate Tai Ming.

Saturday, 29 August 2009

Buddhist monk at Wat Opot

The Wat Opot childrens community were I volunteered is part of the Buddhist pagoda and living quarters of the Buddhist monks.
Most mornings when it was still cool before seven o'clock I liked to walk around the village and often came back through the Wat and past the pagoda.
The scent of frangipangi and other trees lingered in the morning air and it was just such a great feeling being part of the surroundings and listening to the chanting of the monks.
But mostly the chanting started earlier in the morning after the sound of the gong at five o'clock.
One morning I took my sketch book along and water colour paints and decided to sit under a tree at one of the tables and do a bit of painting.
I was there for about half an hour and very quietly a monk came over and sat with me at the table.
He was around twenty years old and tried to talk to me in broken English.
Not long after a second monk walked over and decided to sit with me at the table as well and talk to me. He told me he was twenty nine years old and had been a monk since he was eighteen.
Buddhist monks are not allowed to touch a woman or look a woman straight in the eye,because in Buddhist teachings a monk should look down all the time.
A woman can't give a monk anything directly or touch a monk.
These two monks were a bit different!
They tried to practice their English and had no problem looking me directly in the eyes and asked many questions like "Are you married? What is your name? How old are you?"
I was really amused because this was an interesting conversation and both monks wanted to look at my sketches and how I was using my brushes and paints.
I don't know what they were thinking of this tall white woman sitting at their table,but they were not shy!
We parted after an hour with I see you tomorrow in the Pagoda,because the next day a group of Singaporian business people were coming to visit the community and we were going to have a meal with the monks and indeed I saw the same monk again.
This time he didn't smile or talk to me,because maybe he was on 'duty' ,but I really treasure the encounter and talk with the Wat Opot monk.

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Art with the children

During my stay at Wat Opot Community one of my favourite activities was to do painting and drawing with the children and especially with the younger ones.
Hoeut Rint is the art teacher and he teaches art to the older children on Sundays and he is an amazing artist.
Some of his work is displayed in the art gallery at Wat Opot and looking at his abilities he would be a famous artist in New Zealand or anywhere else in the world, but Hoeut is happy to teach and in that way help to develop the talent in the young people living at Wat Opot.
I had only a little time to work and play with the younger children and was so inspired by their joy to express themselves with pencils and paint.
One Sunday morning I was sketching the rice planters nearby and had my paints, brushes and pencils spread on the ground.
Tai Meng was sitting next to me and just observing what I was doing.
I gave her paper and a brush, but she wasn't sure what to do, so I continued my sketching.
I felt her watching me closely and then she started to draw and with every stroke her confidence
grew and her little face expressed joy. Other little ones came over and watched what we were doing and one by one joined in and suddenly there was 'my art class', sitting on the dirt road and painting and drawing with the limited art supplies I had with me.
I had many more opportunities with the children to paint and draw and wish I had more time to develop regular art activities.
Art in any form is a great way to express your feelings, sometimes even more then using words, because it comes from deep within. Not only does it give joy, but it also helps with healing. Then language doesn't need to be a barrier, because visual language says more then words.

Friday, 17 July 2009

Cambodia like a picture book

We arrived in Cambodia and when I looked out the window of the plane to Phnom Penh it was looking like into a picture book of an unknown world; a feeling of what is this going to be? Can the plane please turn around?
But this was real and happening.
The first experience was with Customs, where the visa cost us $20. My passport went past a row of custom officers and I never got my change back from the $50 I gave to the first one! I paid for both of us,so I lost only $10. Later that day I heard that this happens a lot to tourists coming in. So be aware..
The last two days have been a roller coaster of emotions: from amazing to sad, fear of the unknown, gratitude to be here, anything you can feel stepping into this country.
We had two amazing days so far and visited many places with help of our English speaking driver Sok, a genuinly lovely and helpful man. We visited the palace and national museum, but also the killings fields.
I will write more about this later, have to go now, we are leaving for Wat Opot in an hour and I have to pack my bag!
hope to write later and show some photographs.

Saturday, 11 July 2009

on our way to cambodia

Just one day to go and then Fiona and me are on our way to Cambodia.

We leave on monday 13th July with Singapore Airlines and stay one night in Singapore,nice hotel and a little sightseeing and then on our way to Phnom Penh,Cambodia.

We will stay two days in Phnom Penh and with help from Sok,our guide,try to find some suppliers for beads and some outlets were hopefully we can sell some of the jewellery made by the children of Wat Opot.

Then we travel to Wat Opot on the 16th of July and meet up with Jena and her daughter,now staying in Wat Opot. Jena took already 15kg of gifts and supplies with her to Wat Opot.

I have packed my backpack and bags,more medication then clothes,but what I don't need I will leave behind for the children.

Our adventure can begin and we feel supported by all the prayers and good thoughts travelling with us on this journey.

Saturday, 27 June 2009

Looking up at the mountain.

A while ago I found my little travelling book from 10 years ago. The family did a bit of tramping then and I took it with me to write down my thoughts on the way and do little sketches of the surroundings.
I still do this now and fill little notebooks with writing and sketches when I am travelling and will do again when going to Cambodia in two weeks time. I already bought a lovely little book with a blank page on the left side and a lined page on the right side when opening the book.
The last few weeks so many more little blessings have happened and lovely friends have donated money towards my trip to Cambodia.
Two old friends Jo and Jean gave me both a generous amount tucked in lovely cards with their good wishes,so unexpected. I feel really blessed by their friendship.

When I was reading my thoughts of ten years ago written at the foot of glorious Mount Cook I like to share these thoughts,because again they will follow me as a prayer to Cambodia.

Mount Cook 24.5.1999

It is a sunny and warm morning and I look at the mountains.
Not everyone of the family is happy this morning,the night was not as comfortable as we had hoped for.

But the mountains look glorious and the river runs deep through the valley of peace.

Would it not be wonderful to just have peace and harmony in our life and not be afraid of the storms,because we can stand still and strong as the mountain.

Our daily struggle and anger will just pass as clouds drifting away from the mountain top and we accept and live the passage of time given to us.
We are here only once! This time will never come again.

Friday, 5 June 2009

little blessings for Cambodia

The brunch at Vanessa,a lovely morning!

Only five weeks to go and Fiona and myself are on our way to Cambodia to work at the Wat Opot Community,time is going so fast now and still lots to organize and think about.
The last few weeks so many little blessings are happening towards my trip and raising the money for all the expenses and extras we want to take with us.
One of the ladies from my button necklace making class at Hands craft shop paid for a craft punch I still needed to pay because she was inspired by my coming trip to Cambodia.
One morning I got a phone call from Cynthia,a lady from Sumner card making group,she received $100 back from the tax department and she likes to donate this money towards my trip.
Rachel organized that the fundraising money from the Avonmore Tertiary Academy mufti day goes towards my trip to Cambodia. The staff gives a gold coin towards a charity of their choice on the mufti day and this time Rachel inspired them to donate the money towards the trip and work in Cambodia. Also some of the students donated money towards the trip as well.
Tomorrow morning Vanessa Taylor,my friend is organizing a ladies brunch at her house to fund raise for our trip and all the ladies pay $10 for the brunch and the money goes towards all our medical supplies we need to take with us and what we don't need ourselves during our time there we will leave behind at Wat Opot.
I need to take extra malaria medication because I am allergic to the common malaria preventative tablets and one of those strips cost around $90.
I must have spend around $400 on all vaccinations and need to get more medical supplies from my doctor for our trip.
On trade me I put 100 coloured pencils and also oil pastels on my watch list I would like to take for the children and maybe some New Zealand colour in books or stickers.
I am getting excited to share all this with the children,but most of all just the experience of being there and sharing their life at Wat Opot for 6 weeks is such a gift and blessing to myself and Fiona.

Friday, 29 May 2009

painting of Annelise

I have slowly been working on Annelise portrait and because I can only paint during the weekend the process is slow. I use the old style of oil painting and wait till one layer of paint is dry and then use thin layers of glazes on top.

This is in itself a slow process,but I hope to achieve the depth in colour and the beautiful smoothness of her skin this way,without the feeling of overworking.

To create the lace in her shawl I underpainted the skin of her arm first and now I am slowly creating the look of the lace again with thin layers of paint.

I always keep correcting my painting during the process till the finishing stages,I learned this from Mehrdad Tahan,a great portrait painter I went to for art lessons.

That way I know that the painting can take me were it wants to go and I don't get stuck in set structures and know I can always make changes if need to.

This work method takes maybe longer and sometimes more complicated then when the first drawing is exactly right,but that method gives me not enough freedom.

I still have no idea what I am going to do with the background,but again this is for later and the answers will come to me during the painting process.

Friday, 15 May 2009

button necklace

In the last few weeks I have been busy making button necklaces and also using bottle tops and filling these with pictures and resin to make them into necklaces and also using other items like coins,beads and buttons.
This coming week I am going to teach a class at Hands,a Christchurch craft shop and this will be interesting,because we are going to make necklaces out of recycled materials like bottle tops.
I hope to sell my button necklaces to fundraise for my coming trip to Wat Opot Cambodia,only 6 weeks away. Time goes really fast now and so much still to organize.
Fiona is teaching me lots of great jewellery techniques and tips on how to make my own earring hoops and jump rings!
I can use all these new skills in my job now and in Cambodia,great stuff.
My painting is a bit lost because of all these other jobs,but I am slowly working on Annelise portrait.
I must say I really miss her and Rebecca in my art class at work,they are so nice to have around.
I hope they are still painting!

Sunday, 19 April 2009

Fundraising event with artist Kees Bruin and baritone Jeremy Baker for Aids orphans

What a great night it was last night at the Anglican Church in Sumner.
We had at least 80 people coming to the fund raising event and the night went really well.
Jeremy voice sounded wonderful and Kees bruins images of his amazing paintings were really thought provoking.
I have seen his paintings in exhibitions before,but it was great to hear why he paints the way he does and all the messages in his work.
In one of the models he painted it took him a month to paint just the hair,that's patience!
We raised a good amount of money for both the orphanages in South Africa and in Cambodia.
It was well worth all the effort and work involved.

Friday, 3 April 2009

fundraising night for Wat Opot Cambodia

This is one of my oil paintings,not as good as Kees Bruins paintings,but because of copy right I can't put his paintings on my blog,but please visit his web site to view his work.

In two weeks time we are holding a fundraising night with artist Kees Bruin and baritone Dr.Jeremy Baker at Sumner to raise money for the Wat Opot project in Cambodia and the Ingwavuma orphan trust fund of New Zealand,an aids orphanage in Africa.

Kees Bruins paintings are amazing in detail and realism,but also very moving. I feel very privileged that Kees and Jeremy are willing to give up their time to be part of this fundraising and many people will be touched by his paintings and Jeremy beautiful voice.

What a blessing to be part of this event and to be able to organize this evening.

The evening is at Sumner Anglican Church,Wakefield Terrace,Christchurch 18Th of April at 7.30 tickets are $20. Door sales available,cash only. Contact me on

I had more immunisations today of hepatitus and the flu shot,need only one more round to go and then rabies shots in April. Glad when all the shots are done, they make me feel a bit tired afterwards.

Kees Bruins website is to view his visionary realism paintings.

Saturday, 21 February 2009

chickens and art

My adopted chickens are a picture of health! I got them about half a year ago for $9 each and rescued from a battery where the girls would had a life of living cramped in cages and not able to stratch the soil,have a dust bath or even enjoy the rain on their feathers.
When I got the three sisters,they where nearly naked with hardly any feathers,bare bums [not sexy!] and in a miserable state.
The first night I had to help them up the plank into the night shelter and into the straw.
One of the girls could only walk three steps forward and three back for the first day,never done anything else!
After good food,even a bit of dog roll for protein and lots of fresh air and love the sisters started to lay three beautiful brown eggs a day to say thank you.
Even my most cynical friends have to admit that ex battery hens can produce eggs and that the eggs taste good! "They will never lay an egg again,the chooks had it!"
I prove now with the photographs that it is worth to rescue battery hens, I have got three great girls to look after.

I am still working on my big portrait painting Annelise,time is not always on my hands.
Hopefully I get it done before going to Cambodia and can auction or sell the painting for fund raising.

Butterfly cards and Wat Opot Cambodia

The butterfly cards are made from the watercolour paper painted at our last month girls coffee morning when we had fun with watercolour.I bought a template and used the template to trace the butterflies and assembled the cut outs on the card with silicone glue. The butterfly images are stamped and then embossed with embossing powder.

The trip to Wat Opot Cambodia is booked and paid and Fiona and I leaving 13July and back 16 August.
We are working and staying in Wat Opot Community for about four weeks.
I hope to bring art materials and craft supplies from Christchurch,as much as possible really. I hope to do some sewing when I am there as well,because there are 8 sewing machines and maybe I can do some mending or teaching some basic sewing.
I have opened an ANZ account for all my expenses to come: vaccinations,insurance and stay in Wat Opot and supplies I like to take with me or send.
ANZ WAT OPOT 01 1158 0160332 00 maryke lups.
All the money will go towards the trip and stay in Wat Opot.
The new website is:

Friday, 6 February 2009

Wat Opot Cambodia

This year part July and August I am going to visit and work in Wat Opot Community,Cambodia together with Fiona.

Wat Opot is an orphanage for children and their families affected by HIV and Aids.

Wat Opot is about 50km from Phnom Penh.

Fiona and myself are hoping to teach the children and young adults basic jewellery skills like braiding,weaving with beads,making simple but funky jewellery.

The jewellery made can be sold for extra income for the children and community.

I am very excited and also a bit nervous to go to Cambodia,but what an experience.

I am serious going to do fundraising to take as much supplies as possible and to pay for my trip and hopefully extra funds for Wat Opot.

Visit and have a look at the beautiful photographs and read their stories.

I also love to do some art activities with the children just having fun with colours!

Monday, 26 January 2009

Water colour play

A few weeks ago our' once a month breakfast girls' came together and we had a creative morning painting with water colour and of course lots of nice food and coffee.

We have not finished our paintings,but only done the first layers and just had fun with colours.

We promised to work on the paintings in our own spare time {When??] and take the results with us to our next get together on my birthday 14 February.

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

mixed medium quilt

I add a few more photograhs of the process making the little quilt.

mixed medium quilt finished

I have finished one of the mixed media quilts and still working on another one.

Also making a variety of button necklaces for my work shops coming up at Hands,craft shop in Christchurch and to sell on my monthly market stall in Sumner,Christchurch.

When all the preparation is finished for workshops and my work at the community trust Supergrans were I teach three days a week I can do a bit on the portrait I am already started on a few months ago.

I have always unfinished projects waiting for me.

Thursday, 15 January 2009

making a paper quilt

My holidays are nearly over and I will start work again next week.
In New Zealand we are having summer, last week we had temperatures of 40 celsius for a few days!
I always like to paint or do anything creative when I have a moment spare and I mostly work in oils,acrylics and watercolour.
The watercolour is good when I like to paint on location or for quick sketches.
Last week I started with a mixed medium painting and I only wanted to use watercolour,but ended up sticking images down and started to embroider and embellish with beads and buttons.
Now the painting is turning into a paper quilt and I will use a wooden coathanger to hang the painting instead of a frameI also want to paint and decorate the coat hanger.

It is great working with vintage fabrics and to recycle materials.

I take some photographs and add this to my blog.
The pencil drawing is of my beautiful daughter Rachel.

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

The dog Phoebe

I like you to meet my great friend Phoebe.

She is 8 years old and she has been very loyal to me and has a great sense of humor!

In Australia were her family came from she would have lived on a farm and would have worked hard,but living with me is very relaxed and a lot of hanging out. The good life.

The family loves her to bits and I would like you to meet her.


I have not had a blog ever before and totally new to the process of blogging.
This is a good thing tho for the New Year to start my own blog,because exiting things are going to happen in my life!
Not only on creative level,but also on a personal level.
So this is a good time to start a blog about this new journey.