Meadow Paradise by Marjolein Bastin


Marjolein Bastin

Marjolein's earliest memory is when, as just a toddler, she would lie in the grass outside her family's home near Utrecht, The Netherlands, breathing in the sights, sounds, and smells of the natural world around her. Little did her mother know that when she lifted little Marjolein from her baby carriage and placed her into the hands of nature, she was placing nature into the hands of Marjolein. As a little girl, Marjolein collected and treasured simple items from nature – pinecones, seeds, and flowers. As soon as she was able to hold a pencil and paintbrush, she began to lovingly capture the beauty of nature in her sketches and paintings. "It was my way of holding forever the impression I loved so much in nature," she says. Marjolein continued to pursue those impressions as she grew and developed her talent as an artist, ultimately attending the Academy of Arts in Arnhem, The Netherlands. Shortly after completing her studies there, her work came to be publicly recognized when she was asked to illustrate a one-page feature for the popular Dutch women's weekly Libelle. Marjolein's work currently is enjoyed the world over. In addition to her partnership with Hallmark, she provides ongoing contributions to Libelle, as well as a variety of product partners in Europe and North America. She also writes and illustrates children's books featuring the endearing Vera the Mouse character, which she created. Through her art and words, Marjolein offers people a simple reminder to pause and enjoy nature and allow it to be a source of serenity, energy, and healing. Finding inspiration in a bird lighting on a branch or a leaf drying in the autumn sun, Marjolein takes long walks each afternoon to seek new ideas for her artwork and her writings. Her workday often begins as early as 6 a.m. and extends into the evening, as she sits at her worktable, which inevitably is crowned with flowers or other finds from the day's walk. Brush in hand, she brings her special relationship with the world full circle: Nature captivates her, and she captures it to share with others. Marjolein's work falls into three main groupings: detailed and exact snapshots of nature (close-ups of what she sees around her); those detailed snapshots that also include Marjolein's personal written observations on nature; and finally, works that show the beauty of nature as touched by human hands, including cut flowers, potted plants, and birdhouses built with pencils. Marjolein and her husband Gaston divide their time between country homes in Holland, Switzerland and in Missouri, near Hallmark's headquarters, as well a tropical retreat in the Cayman Islands. Each setting provides a unique glimpse of what nature has to offer throughout the world. The couple has a son, Mischa, a daughter, Sanna, and two grandchildren. Marjolein's parents, whom she thanks for literally putting her in touch with nature all those years ago in the soft green grasses overlooking the banks of the Vecht River, have passed on. But nature keeps them at her side. "When I'm in the woods around our house picking holly branches and pinecones for our holiday table, I feel my mother there with me. And my father, too. Somewhere in me. All the ones we love will live forever in our hearts.” Her passion for the natural world is of a universal quality that appeals to people the world over. You can find Marjolein’s artwork on greeting cards, calendars, dinnerware, bedding, gifts and many other products. But for Marjolein only one thing remains important: spend every day behind her desk painting the natural world around her.

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On a hot summer day in August quite a few years ago I found myself in the middle of a vibrant, blooming and buzzing prairie in Missouri. It was the first time I had ever experienced the prairie in full bloom and the experience was quite overwhelming. All those flowers! While I was familiar with the Purple Coneflower and the Black-Eyed Susan from our nursery back home in the Netherlands, I had never seen them bloom in the wild. It was during this first walk that the beauty of it all suddenly stopped me in my tracks. The vibrant colors, the deafening chirping of countless grasshoppers, crickets and cicadas, the buzzing of bumblebees... I just stood there for a moment, taking it all in. Just then an American Goldfinch landed on a stem right in front of me. The beauty of it took my breath away: a bright yellow bird in the middle of a sea of yellow flowers. Then slowly, very slowly, the stem bent down under the weight of the finch and the inspiration for my painting was complete. I immediately knew I had to make this painting to capture that sense of enchantment forever.