Yrma van der Steenstraeten
A little story about myself and my work
I was born and raised in the Netherlands.
For as long as I can remember I was always drawing or painting. My dad, a good draftsman, would draw something and I would try to copy it. Every now and then he and I visited my uncle, his brother, who was an artist and who let me play with his oil paint when I was small.
It was my dad as well who taught me photography, developing film and printing in the dark room. He gave me his old camera when I was 9 years old. I still cherish these memories and also this old camera.
It was not surprising anybody that I went to the Art Academy after high school and later on to the Graphic Design Institute, both in the Netherlands.
Just before I moved to the States in 2003 I photographed close-ups of flowers. I would crawl into them with the lens. I felt that I could personalize them more by painting them. And I painted them big. Once I lived in Castle Valley,, Utah I got inspired by the red rock, and did a few landscapes. Well, not really landscapes, more rock formations. I just could not get super excited about it though. I decided that landscapes were not my thing so I went back to painting flowers.
In 2012 I got in contact with Debbie Pappas, a wildlife rehabilitator, and helped her by organizing fundraisers for her center in Price. As a thank you she let me release one of the Golden Eagles that had been in her care. This changed me. It was such a wonderful experience to give this big beautiful wild bird its freedom back. It spiraled up into the sky straight above me as if showing gratitude.
I did not start painting eagles though but ravens; birds that have been inspiring many of us for over decades. Instead of painting them black I paint them blue, like the iridescent blue from their feathers.
From there I went on to other birds, wolves and even insects. Trying to show their character I sometimes use Steampunk which results in whimsical work like hummingbirds with helmets, ravens with goggles and a praying mantis on a Harley.
I work in oils on canvas and a selection of acrylic paints on watercolor paper or canvas. It depends on how I want to portrait the animal, realistic, steampunk or with graphic designs.
I am not done yet, there’s a lot more where all this came from….