Sunday, 3 November 2013

Day 408- Sans! By Renata Jansen

I have yet to see her or hold her or experience her in any way up close but already she is singularly my most precious possession. You know, the kind where someone ask, if there is only one thing you will rescue if your house is on fire... Ya, she's it.

That's Sans! And with her, Renata Jansen, her beautiful creator. 

It was this year, 3rd January, a little before 10 am and I remember sucking in my breath sharply and then going ooooooh.  My memory of that 1st encounter is as vivid as if it happened only yesterday. The piece was Duet, the 2nd one of hers in the series of the same name. I was of course, bowled over. 

An artist painting an artiste and in the true sense of life imitating art, we see the artist in a dance pose with her painted dancer as if they were in a pas de deux. The idea for this evocative masterpiece was germinated from something as simple as a mini canvas Renata found in an art shop. It gave her the idea of sculpting an artist painting the canvas and then it progressed into a figure painting a figure. 

The piece spoke to me in a way that was at once rousing and intimate. Intimate because the themes of art and dance were so close to my heart, rousing as I watched the lyrical reaction of the artist to her art. She might as well be depicting me, lost to the world that I have created, living in my abandoned house

4 hours later, I found myself typing an email to Renata asking if she would create another Duet for me. 

The Duet,1st of the series

Re-reading those January email reminded me of how tentative I was. Awkward and  too terribly shy to tell her outright that I wanted the subject matter to be about me, I was actually glad when she replied to say she could not start another project till July. Our exchange ended with her promise to contact me some time after July or at the end of that month. 

To my immense surprise, she really did write and on the dot too. 25th July 2013, I received an equally tentative are you still interested because if you are not, please don't be worried to tell me,it's perfectly fine and I won't be offended email from her. It was only a few days ago that I found out what was behind Renata's discomfort. She was concerned about writing after so many months to ask if I still wanted to commission her as she thought I would go oh no, now I would have to say yes even though I really didn't want to anymore! That could not be farther from the truth as this dream sculpture that I felt only Renata could realise had been looming large and real in my head and it had refused to go away. 

That is the kind of person Renata is. She is completely humble and void of any self importance, so unassuming and always thoughtful. In the past months from late July to October when we were emailing back and forth about the work, I found Renata to be everything you could hope for in someone you want to entrust something important like realising a dream. Where I was unsure, Renata was patient, coaxing and gentle. When I was insecure, she was encouraging, generous and sweet. There were so many times when I was desperately trying to convey something significant without the right words but Renata knew exactly what to do. What I couldn't tell her, she read it at my blog. 

With time, she made it easy for me to tell her how I felt and she in turn, shared with me something of herself.

Art has always been a big part of Renata's life. At college, she studied textile design and was a designer of fabrics for bedding and curtains for 12 years. She had jokingly mentioned that she could paint a flower with her eyes shut but I believe her. She still loves painting but apart from painting the walls on the bases of her sculptures, these days, most of her time is taken up with sculpting. 

Renata started sculpting in 2006/2007 which makes this only the 7th year that she has been doing so. It all began when her daughter wanted to make friendship bracelets to sell at a fund raising event at school after the 2004 tsunami and Renata thought maybe they should make a face from polymer clay for each bracelet. 

While researching online, she found artist making amazing faeries and then Mark Dennis or the madsculptor who was and still is a true inspiration for her. From there, she was hooked. Hours were spent surfing sculpting forums and scouring tips and know how. So while she waited for her birthday to get clay and tools as presents, she started sculpting in her  head.

Renata told me how when she finally started really sculpting, she was terrified, wondering if she would really be able to do it. 

When I shared with her my own insecurities about creating, she has this to say: 

Feeling wobbly when it comes to your creating is just the right way to be. It is then that you push yourself. Doubts are good only if you can push through them and keep going, they can make you do better because you are never satisfied. The one thing is to not let your doubts make you feel so down that you don't want to do anything. 

Art should first and foremost be about loving what you do. It is about doing things that'll make you so excited you can hardly think straight. Don't ever worry about whether something will sell or if you will do something others will like. Just do the things you love and the rest will sort itself out. The most important thing about creating art is how it makes you feel.

I love it because I can be in a bad mood when I start sculpting and in about 5 minutes, I will have forgotten what upset me. It relaxes me and excites me and makes me feel like my life is buzzing with energy!

3 months, 80 email and hours at my blog later, Renata was finally ready to unveil Sans! I remembered it was in the wee hours of 25 Oct that I saw the 1st picture (also the 1st picture in this post). So thrilled and excited I was that  I barely slept that night. 

To say that Renata has a gift is stating the obvious. And an understatement, I might add. It's the thing  she does with her gift, now that must surely be the domain of a mere handful. She has the ability, with her incredible talent and art,  to make a person feel like she's God's special child because that's exactly how I felt like when I saw the "me" she has created. An ideal version of oneself forever immortalised in a happy state, doing what she loves,what more can a girl want? 

Many of Renata's friends thought it was a self portrait and even when she told them no, it's Sans, look, this is her blog, one or two still insisted. What a huge compliment that was for me. 

Yet, despite all the accolades and acclamation, Renata still refuse to acknowledge or accept her own brilliance. She said in an email : San, ... I can't take the credit for how your sculpture turned out in the end ....I didn't know how she would turn out and didn't plan it...Sometimes I really think these things come from somewhere else and we are just the hands that do the work!  She evolved into what she is now and ...I think she was always going to be like were there in her before she was even made.

Ren, I don't care what you say. You are everything everyone says you are: superb, amazing, brilliant, not of this world! I am in awe of you, as an artist, as a person, as a friend. 

To you, Sans! may never be a a great piece of art but forever for me, it is a masterpiece that will always affect me in the most profound way. I had wanted to freeze time so that I can remind myself whenever I am down how much happiness I have had doing what I love. You have done that and more, Ren. You have truly encapsulated for me that moment of consummated satisfaction, that intoxicating thrilling instant when I have made something successful. 

Thank you Ren, for surpassing my expectations in every way and for making my dreams come true. 


Remco said...

Perfect sculps these are, awesome vignettes....
I guess these are in scale 1/12
I love it all, thanks for sharing.

The Old Maid said...

I want to know now! Do you have her home yet? Or still waiting for her to arrive? She is so so you! I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw her on FB!!!! FANTASTIC! BEAUTIFUL! JOYFULL! EXACTLY as You are, dearest Sam!!!!!!:) :)
I have no more words in English, lol! I would find a few more in Polish for sure!;)
Oh yes, is she 1/12? I think she can be a bit bigger right?
Hugs and kisses!!!

Natalia's Fine Needlework said...

She is a great artist, I am following her work too! Thank you for this fabulous post, Sans! My computer is sooo slow right now, I will be back to re-read it again! Mini hugs, Natalia

Daydreamer said...

Oh! OH!!! OOOHHH!!!!!
Utterly Spellbinding....!!!
There are no words.....
But I can see and Feel the LOVE, the Energy... the Gift... !!!
I am speechless... with Awe!!!

Cindy Teh said...!!!! Missed you!!!!!!!!

Plushpussycat said...

Congratulations on your wonderful news, Sans! May this gorgeous sculpture always remind you of one of your happiest states. xo Jennifer

Sans! said...

Remco, it is not 1/12. If I am not wrong, the doll is about 10" high. I haven't seen it yet but the parcel is supposed to be here in Singapore already :).

Sans! said...

Ewalina, after Renata messed up her hair a bit and sent a pic of a headshot (sideways) to me on my mobile, I did think for a splitting second that I was looking at myself. Mind you, I saw it at about 9pm on a dark road..hahaha and of course that iPhone screen was very very small :).

Renata has made a dream version of me. The doll is like maybe as Christine said, after much photoshop and I won't dare expose my midriff these days although I will definitely wear a sari. That joyful expression and happy state is something I can identify with.

I am waiting for it to arrive and I will take some more pictures. I still don't really know how big the whole thing is but is is bigger than 1:12.

Remco said...

Must be awesome to have your own small 10" statu.
Does she makes men or not, hahaha
Have fun with this nice model!
I dit look to this post a few times now, incedible...

Sans! said...

Remco, she made men and she made them wonderfully. You know the workroom that Sylvia made you? I think you need a mini you there. Renata not only can make you, she will make you hot and sexy! You know like a man at his workshop doing very manly things! hahaha

No, but seriously, check out her website and this link shows one of her men :

She can so totally make you, Remco, painting one of your mini Asterixes or constructing a mini clothes rack or just repairing a bicycle.

Sans! said...

Cindy, we must meet :) before I leave for Cambodia & Laos in December!

Margriet said...

I'm in total awe!!
This is one of the most beautiful scenes I have ever seen and I think the reason is because it is so personal. Amazing!!!!

Sans! said...

Natalia, Renata is very popular and I can totally see why. She's really a terrific person . Thank you for reading this post.

As I have said to Renata, my post won't do justice to her art or her wonderful nature but it is from my heart.

Sans! said...

Bets, there are times, many times when I can just browse Renata's web site and drink in all her details. Her dolls especially are so expressive and realistic. You would think an artist with that kind of mastery will be unapproachable and strict but she is just the complete opposite. This whole experience has been such a joy in so many ways :)

Sans! said...

Jennifer, it will, it will!

Sans! said...

Margriet, the little house alone is enough to make most of us go awwwwwww right? :).

I think the joy is universal for all of us who create and if what we do are dollhouses, then even better. :)

Drora's minimundo said...

It was worth waiting for! A wonderful
artist. I can understand what a treasure this is for you. Renata captured everything I can imagine about your personality with this incredible image of you.
What a wonderful post!
Hugs, Drora

The Old Maid said...

Came back to read your reply and what I see??????? Cambodia? Laos? Girl, if I envy something(except for any special talents people have, lol) this is it: travels.
Well, I hope to see a lot of pictures of your trip too. And to read at least a few post before you leave.:) I am sure it will be a great trip!
Hugs and kisses

claude said...


Tallulah Belle said...

I actually came across the first duet while I was browsing on my phone in bed a couple of weeks ago. I had to get up and turn on my laptop so I could see it bigger. Fell in love with her work then and didn't think I'd ever see a sculpt more beautiful than this.

And then I see this....what can I saw. Beautiful work by Renata but made so, so special by the subject. This, my friend, has captured you perfectly.
I can't imagine a more precious possession. You are a very lucky lady xxxx

rosanna said...

My dear, you already know what I feel for mini Sans and I loved reading about her "mum".
She is so definitely YOU! the smile is yours, the pose is yours, she has a soul on her own and yet it is yours.
I understand that you cannot wait to see her in real: I would have already gone hysteric if I had to wait for so long!
Again and again WONDERFUL !!!

Flora said...

Dear Sans (and dear Renata, at this point),
I read this beautiful post with bated breath, as if I were invading the intimacy of two people who love each other, and they have created something special together ... But then, I thought that they want to share with me their joy and their wonder, so I can I also confess my great sense of emotion in the face of this beautiful art test and empathy between two universes.
What can I say?
I hope that your house should never be in focus, but if it happens, I understand why would you save the sculpture!
It is beautiful, I do not know if it is the best part of you, but for sure it is an image of you as I have always felt, full of color and poetry and music ...
Now, I think of you always so :-)
Lovely hugs my dear,

Sumaiya Mehreen said...

unbelievably beautiful!

Kikka N said...

MiniSANS is amazing , brilliant (I think I don't have the word..) :)
The Atist is so talented and wonderful!


Miniature Treasures said...

Simply beautiful, she has certainly captured your artistic spirt sans, Thanks for sharing :)

Fabiola said...

Fabuolus! Renata is a great artist.
Greetings, Faby

CWPoppets said...

Oh my! When I see Renata's dolls I don't know if I should stop making dolls completely or if I should go all in and get better. May I ask where your new mini-you will be on in your flat ?

BiWuBär said...

This is absolutely breathtaking! Thank you for introducing me to this wonderful artist - there's no need to point out how talented and gifted she is, you already said it, it's obvious - even to those who never tried to find something in a piece of clay. *grin* I needed to see the second picture of "Duet" to understand that it wasn't a collage but that artist lady was indeed a sculpture! What Renata said about arts and creativity would be worth framing it for sure. And what touched me the most is Mini-Sans! -representing the wonderful lady I'm proud to have met last year. Renata not only posesses incredible sculpting skills but she also has the talent... no the gift to fill her figurine with the personality of the person she's reproducing - in this case you, perfect to every single lovely detail (tattoos) up to the whole scenery representing Sans! as we all know her and love her. This is a masterpiece... I had a look at all the additional photos on her website of Mini-Sans! and Renata managed for sure to add your character and personality and habits and likes in this beautiful piece of art. Congrats that you treated yourself to do this - you will never regret it!


Elizabeth S said...

I LOVE Renata's Work and I had pinned so many of the photo's that you have shown here onto my Pinterest boards, so when I began to read your post, I thought that I was momentarily hallucinating, and seeing double. Then I began to get really excited to learn more about this Incredibly talented lady and just what she has done for you! I love the hands and the feet of her doll sculptures and the eyes which convey so much spirit, even when they are closed! Your Mini Sans, is Exuberant and Fun and in Creative Motion! I can Hear the Joyful sound of your laughter echoing through time and space! What a treasure to have yourself so immortalized and your miniature haunted house and how Brave of you Sans to take the plunge and follow through on this commission!
Every artist needs a muse and a patron; And you my dear Sans, have been BOTH! :D
What a FANTASTIC Journey!!!


Elizabeth S said...

I LOVE Renata's Work and I had pinned so many of the photo's that you have shown here onto my Pinterest boards, so when I began to read your post, I thought that I was momentarily hallucinating, and seeing double. Then I began to get really excited to learn more about this Incredibly talented lady and just what she has done for you! I love the hands and the feet of her doll sculptures and the eyes which convey so much spirit, even when they are closed! Your Mini Sans, is Exuberant and Fun and in Creative Motion! I can Hear the Joyful sound of your laughter echoing through time and space! What a treasure to have yourself so immortalized and your miniature haunted house and how Brave of you Sans to take the plunge and follow through on this commission!
Every artist needs a muse and a patron; And you my dear Sans, have been BOTH! :D
What a FANTASTIC Journey!!!


Remco said...

I looked at her work, fantastic.
So she can make me look sexy...
At that point I lost you, whahahaha

But the idea is great, me painting would be a cool item on our fair.
I will think it over, maybee I will order a sexy Sans in advance ;-)

Susan said...

Mini Sans is absolutely awesomely brilliant!! I love her, love her!!!

Ilona said...

Awesome, stunning, brilliant work by Renata, Sans! I just have not enough (English) words to express myself, it is such a pity! I always feel that as a shortcoming in the blogworld: I never can say exactly what I want to say :(.
Your miniature Sans! does it look like you, if so.....WOW!
Hugs, Ilona

Sans! said...

Thank you Drora! By the way I have just received a notice from the post office that she's here :). Hooray!

Sans! said...

Ewalina, it's my 1st trip to Laos and Cambodia and I am really excited. I will not hesitate to bore all of you with my vacation pictures hahaha but you know what, I think these 2 countries are fascinating and you will probably agree! I will be visiting World Heritage Sites so I am really looking forward to going :).

Sans! said...

I agree with you, Claude! Extraordinaire. And you and you , Sumaiya and Faby!

Daydreamer said...

Is she as Beautiful/Awesome?Stunning as she looks from afar?????
Is it a little spooky to have her there in front of you????
I hope she is as Inspiring for you as she is for Me... just the idea of making such gorgeous Emotionally Vivid "people" has me all Awobble...!
The leap of faith from wishing I could.... to thinking I might Try.... Someday....
What does it take to just Start?
You always manage to enrich my world... expand my horizons.... add to my list of "someday"....
It's what I Love so much about your blog.... and You!

Veronique Blommaart said...

Ooohhhh... speechless! Such talent, such beauty. Thank you for sharing this. I just cannot find the right words, my brain is experiencing a short circuit at seeing such amazing talent.

Sans! said...

Jayne! It is such a joy to read your comments ! Again, welcome welcome back.

I am expecting my doll today to arrive. You know this is truly a dream come true. Once upon a time, I was told that my features were not distinctive enough for caricatures and therefore I always thought what a pain it must be to any artists if they were to do my portrait. I was really so tentative about this. But Renata made my otherwise ordinary, everyday face into this expression of sheer joy.

I will treasure her forever more! :)

Sans! said...

Ro, I have just read your email this morning and I will definitely reply! OMG!!!!!! Just as we type, the parcel is here!!!!!

Do you want to see more pictures? Well, I will torture you with more any way. hahahaha

Thank you, my dear friend for your wonderful compliments. Of everyone here, you have seen me up close the most time. We have even slept together!!!! hahaha So for you to say it the sculpture embodies my spirit is a HUGE HUGE deal :).

Sans! said...

Flora, you are as always, astute and perceptive with your observations. There is definitely, if I may be presumptuous, a bond between me and Renata. My affection for her is very real. I think it is impossible not to feel connected with someone who is able to portray you such that you can identify and say , yes, that's how I felt, that's what I knew, that's what happiness was like.

And as my life in blogland is as real to me as any other, I am not surprise this can happen even if we have yet to meet.

Sans! said...

Kikka and Susan :) Thank you for sharing how I feel .

The huge box is now sitting on my table and I am hesitating...

I will wait till I finish replying here. :)

Sans! said...

Tony, I think Renata will be over the moon with your compliments. I definitely am :)

Sans! said...

Christine! DO NOT STOP, ever making your dolls! That is what I will say and definitely what Renata will say too.

You have such a unique and beautiful way of expressing your artistry in your dolls. How can you even think (although I am sure you cannot be serious)of not doing it ever again?

Mini me won't be in my home. It will be in my office, reminding me everyday about what is important in life :).

Sans! said...

Birgit, you thought the lady in the 2nd Duet was a real person right? Well, guess what, she did it again!

About 2 weeks ago, I showed the 1st picture of Renata and mini me to my best friend. He was the 1st person I have shown it to. Of course he couldn’t tell it was me. He kept going wow , that’s amazing! Is that a diorama? I said yes. Then he asked me : but how did she get the woman to be in there? I was like huh? What do you mean? He said how did she get the woman to be part of this sculpture? Hahahahahahaha. He thought the doll was a real person!!!!! The doll was so realistic that his brain could not tell him that because of the size (Renata's face vs the sculpture) the doll was not real! He kept thinking it must be some kind of a camera trick.

Birgit, can I take this opportunity to thank you again? Thank you, my dear dear friend for agreeing to meet with us. Friends like you have made this such a special place for me. I can't believe I have just posted about my cat so you all can get to know her! kisses to you and Fluby from me and Amitis!

Sans! said...

Elizabeth, would you believe the 1st feature I recognise as my own were those feet? Renata was really sweet and she was raving about how much she love my feet! teeheehehehehe. That might have sounded strange in most circumstances but not this time.

Of all my body parts, my feet have got to be the most abused. Yet they also brought me immense joy because they made me run and they made me dance.

I believe the 1st sets of pictures I sent Renata were those of my face and my feet. Especially the foot with the tattoo. :) You may be able to tell now that my favourite part of my body is my left foot. :):):)

Sans! said...

hahahahaha Remco!

Promise to post the mini you if you ever decide to do it ok? And ask Sylvia to help you pick good pictures of your face because you look much much much younger in person :):):). Seriously, you do!

Sans! said...

Ilona, Google translate is getting better and better. So if you ever want to say it in Dutch, say it and we will try and translate.

There are many sentiments that can be expressed in Mandarin which I feel the English language cannot do. Even in my dialect, the Chinese language cannot commiserate, especially swear words..hahahaha.

Sans! said...

Veronique, what I said for Ilona, well, that goes for you too :):).

Thank you!

Sans! said...

Bestie, henceforth, that shall be my nickname for you cos Bets, you truly are a bestie!

I can't wait, really can't wait for us to meet. If you are willing of course :).

YOU have been such an inspiration and what a joy it is for us all that you are in blogland sharing your art and yourself.

Ok, now I shall go find my camera and then I will open my box :)

sylvia said...

This is soooooo GREAT, beautiful!!!
I understand that it will be de first thing you get out your house

Hugs Sylvia

Daydreamer said...

Dear Sans! I eagerly await the time when we will find a way to meet in RL!!! However that will be!!! So never hesitate to believe you are welcome here... it is I who am less able to Gallivant around the World... although I wish I could! :)
So.... Now you have seen your Mini you...???
I am all agog to see more!!! :)

Catherine / Mooghiscath said...

C'est magique ! et fabuleux .

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