2 October 2014

How an autumn tree traveled to Ireland

As a teenager I used to have a lot of pen pals… from the USA, Canada, Australia, Great-Britain, Germany, Switzerland, Romania, China. To me having those contacts felt a little like exploring the world through the stories, pictures and cards my pen pals send me.

Nowadays it is Instagram that gives me the same kind of feeling. Besides the fact that it's a fun place to share my own photos and little arty projects, I love connecting with modern pen pals (more like: photo pals) from all over the world. I may not know them in person, still they can feel close to me, inspire and encourage me.

Ruth and I are Instagram friends for quite a while now. She's from Northern Ireland and makes lovely photos of the area where she lives… Beautiful landscapes, impressions of the North Down Coastal Path where she regularly walks Socks (the sweet, old, patient dog of her sister in law), magical nature shots of trees, flowers and pretty cobwebs in her backyard. Please do check her Instagram. She's also the proud and loving mother of 3 beautiful red-haired children, who she sometimes captures on camera too. At the start of September she asked me if I wanted to make her youngest daughter Laura an illustration for her 11th birthday. What a lovely request! Ruth had a vision in mind of an autumn tree, and I painted it with Laura and her brother David sitting up in it, and her 15 year old sister Catherine sitting at the bottom reading a book (no, not her smart phone this time ;-)). And of course some cute animals join the scene...

As soon as the paint dried, I send the illustration over to Ireland, for it needed to be framed still. The parcel arrived in a weekend; curious Laura noticed the delivery, but Ruth ultimately managed to keep it a secret until her birthday a few days back. I was so happy to hear the birthday girl liked my painting! The photos Ruth send to me say it all, I think...

Being born in the 70's and grown up without the internet, it still strikes me how simple and wonderful it is to be able to share and connect with people from all over the world through online places like Instagram. Ruth and her family really do feel familiar & close to me. The world is a smaller place now.

P.S. In return Ruth send me these lovely prints illustrated by Lieke van der Vorst. A perfect art-swap!


  1. A very lovely drawing, Annemieke! I really like your style.