Jacob Maris (1837–1899), Dutch oil painter and watercolourist

Among the many Dutch artists, Maris started his interests in the arts during his teenage years. At the age of 19 he joined the Hague Academy of Art, in The Netherlands. During that period, he studied with Lawrence Alma-Tadema.

Maris was one of the founders of a group of artists from The Hague, who, influenced by the Realist school, used a color palette tending towards earthy and gray tones. A more neutral color palette constantly made the areas of light in the works stand out even more, creating an interesting aerial effect, especially where the sun cuts through the clouds, characteristic of the Dutch school at the time.

Although most of Maris’ works dealt with seascapes, woods and mills, some portraits of young girls were painted.

A brief comment: oil media is characteristic of greater stability and, above all, control over the canvas. There’s plenty of time for the artist to make whatever modifications he wants before it’s completely dry. This usually results in works that are more elaborate and complex in detail.

Below are some works by Maris in oil on canvas. Note that edges and lines are more defined, as are shadow and light regions. The planes are also more evident and separated from each other.

Jacob Maris – The Pet Goat (1871)

Jacob Maris, The Girl feeding her Bird in a Cage (1867)

The dimensions of the canvases are very small which makes it difficult to execute any details, even in oils.

Maris married Catharina Hendrika Horn in 1867 and had two daughters, Tine and Henriette. The two girls are represented in some of his works, but now using watercolor as a medium. The key frame shown below shows the two girls blowing bubbles. Notice how changing the paint medium makes the image more dynamic. Due to the rapid drying rate of this medium, the artist only has a few seconds to make adjustments and often the transition effects come from spontaneous and rapid blending between adjacent or rapidly overlapping layers. This more dynamic aura further suggests the instability the soap bubbles present in the work. Maris often places props like intense blue ribbons in the models’ hair.

Here, however, this more intense blue was reserved for the ceramic bowl on the table, creating an interesting focal point, intensifying even more with all the gray and brown present on the canvas. Probably this blue was made from Lapis-Lazuli, a very expensive pigment.

Jacob Maris – Two Girls Blowing Bubbles (1880)

A second appearance of his daughters is in the work below, where the eldest daughter appears to be teaching her sister to play the piano. Here, the dark brown of the wood contrasts even more with the blue ribbons present in the girls’ hair, which have now been painted more intensely. A much less saturated version of this blue is present on the bench and in the vase of flowers above the piano. You can almost hear this painting as they talk with each other about the piano—like you are there, watching them.

Jacob Maris, Two Girls, Daughters of the Artist at the Piano (1880)

The third painting depicting his youngest daughter was also done in watercolor, now in a lit external environment. The white of the white dress, the focal point stands out even more. The blue ribbon in her hair is still present, and a slightly more desaturated version is also present in the bouquet of flowers she holds. Everything is very light, loose and spontaneous, characteristic not only of the medium used, but also of the painting object itself and the plein air technique.

Jacob Maris – Young Girl (Artist’s Daughter) Picking Flowers in the Grass (1899?)

[Christian at Agapeta has made it known that he has an extensive collection of on-topic paintings that can be used in posts. So if anyone is interested in having a higher-resolution copy than what is found on this site, contact him. Also, he would be a good resource if you are interested in writing an article for Pigtails on a particular painter. -Ron]

Azuma Itsuko, Japanese Illustrator

Recently while researching some material for references, I came across Azuma Itsuko (東逸子), a Japanese illustrator who made me fall in love with her works at first glance.  Unfortunately, information about the artist is vague on the Internet. The few images I could find about her work were enough to spark my interest. After a week of research, I decided to buy some of her books which, as they were printed in the ’80s and ’90s, are no longer being reprinted, becoming quite the collectibles.

Four books caught my attention the most: Pulstella, Passacaglia,  Aquarium and Twilight. I also bought a few others, including from other artists. The illustrations are made on textured paper, using dry and oil pastels, I believe. Most of them are monochromatic or with only a couple of colors. The theme is very interesting: mostly nymphs, with symbioses with animals such as mermaids, butterflies and birds. Often the characters merge with the environment.

The use of light effects is impeccably carried out adding lightness and transcendental airiness. Flowers are also often used, followed by various types of ornaments like pearls; angel-like creatures are also frequently seen. Often the characters are levitating or in very smooth and peaceful conditions, reminiscent of a pure fantasy world. A few of them, however, can have a more dense atmosphere. The sky, stars and constellations are also used in both the characters and in decorating the background. Nothing seems isolated, but rather interconnected between the entire composition, with a dynamic effect for the viewer—a continuous flow.

Below I’ve selected some beautiful images from the books.

Azuma Itsuko – Pulstella (cover) (1987)

Asuma Itsuko – Pulstella (page 21) (1987)

Azuma Itsuko – Pulstella (page 30) (1987)

Asuma Itsuko – Aquarium (cover) (1989)

Asuma Itsuko – Aquarium (page 12) (1989)

The cover of Passacaglia is quite damaged, but the content is perfect.

Asuma Itsuko – Passacaglia(cover) (1991)

Asuma Itsuko – Passacaglia (page 25) (1991)

While trying to acquire Twilight, I was scammed by the Japanese store selling the book, in a pack with other artists. I’ve lost a good amount of money but, hey, it’s life. I don’t have any images from this book.

Asuma Itsuko – Twilight (cover) (1988)

Another book that I couldn’t find anywhere to buy is Pirouette, about ballerinas:

Asuma Itsuko – Pirouette (cover) (1993)

Azuma Itsuko – from Pirouette

She also illustrated few story books, with several Japanese authors, mostly with fantasy and fairy tales as the subjects. There are few more gorgeous images and not so much famous works scattered through the internet. You can find the originals in Japanese auctions, but the books are still hard to find.

Into The Night, by Benny Mardones: classic (and controversial) rock song from the ’80s

Benny Mardones was an American rock singer known for his great success, Into the Night, written with Robert Tepper, where Benny (34 years old at the time) falls in love with a 16-year-old blonde schoolgirl.

Into the Night music video (1980) (screenshot)

Into The Night is the third track on the 1980 album ‘Never Run, Never Hide’, by Polydor Records. The success was immediate, skyrocketing to #11 on the Billboard Hot 100 in that year.

‘Never Run, Never Hide’ album cover (1980)

In the music video, Benny goes to the girl’s house, but her father insists that he leave. After this, Benny calls her, goes to her house, they both exchange touches and finally, Benny takes her onto a flying carpet, where they kiss passionately, ending the video.

Into the Night music video (1980) (ending)

The video is simple in production, but it was enough material to disturb people and be censored for a long time. It was not so recently made available on YouTube. Below are the lyrics and the video can be found here.

She’s just sixteen years old
Leave her alone, they say…
Separated by fools
Who don’t know what love is yet…
But I want you to know…


If I could fly
I’d pick you up
I’d take you into the night
And show you a love
Like you’ve never seen—ever seen…


It’s like having a dream
Where nobody has a heart…
It’s like having it all
And watching it fall apart…
And I would wait till the end


Of time for you
And do it again, it’s true…
I can’t measure my love
There’s nothing to compare it to…
But I want you to know…


If I could fly
I’d pick you up
I’d take you into the night
And show you a love…


If I could fly
I’d pick you up
I’d take you into the night
And show you a love
Like you’ve never seen—ever seen…


If I could fly
I’d pick you up
I’d take you into the night
And show you a love…


If I could fly
I’d pick you up
I’d take you into the night…

Also, I strongly recommend watching the live version too. It’s one of Benny’s best performances, with a lot of passion and quality. The final part where he takes more freedom, looks like a wounded animal: a raging vocal, tremendous skills.

Benny has given some rare interviews about the origin of this song. In one of them, he sums up that he met the girl who inspired him in this song while living in Miami. I find it much more interesting to hear the story directly from Benny than to read my summary. However, for those with little time available, I give a brief summary below.:

During his time in Miami, this 16-year-old blonde schoolgirl lived with her family who had financial difficulties, in the same apartment block as Benny and co-writer Tepper.
The girl was known by both, due to mundane daily interactions. After a while she and Benny became friends.

On a certain day, the girl showed up at Benny’s apartment, in tears, explaining that her parents had suddenly split up. Benny comforted her and her brother, then offered her $50 a week to walk his dog every day before she went to school.

After another night with little sleep, Benny and Tepper were still struggling to make progress writing the song. Early in the morning, someone knocked on the apartment door; it was the girl, to talk with Benny. Tepper was mesmerized by the 16-year-old’s beauty in traditional school clothes: uniform, short skirt, knee socks, with hair done. Benny quickly tells him “She’s just 16 years old. Leave her alone…”. This phrase clicked with them, and fit perfectly with the harmony they developed up to that point.

With this small interaction is born one of the most iconic lines of rock. After that, the music flowed quickly and both managed to finish it in the next few hours.

After the tremendous success of the song, the girl became a celebrity, met a guy, and got married. The girl has always been grateful to Benny for how this song changed her life, always writing to him on Christmas. And Benny was always grateful for how this girl changed his life.

Benny had serious financial and health problems in his senior years, mostly due to drugs. He developed Parkinson’s and had many difficulties paying for the treatment, relying on friends and relatives to help.

Still, Benny at 71 years old gave a last performance of Into The Night in 2017 at the Turning Stone Resort Casino in New York, where he said goodbye to the public. Benny amazed with the vocals (really, really awesome) and said thanks a lot to the audience, accompanied by a fevered response from his illustrious presence. Months later, Benny died from complications from Parkinson’s. Check out this link to his last live performance.

It’s one of my favorite songs. Hope you enjoy it.