The Froggy Caravan

The bond I share with my daughter is more than just the typical mother-daughter. In the same way that my mother insisted on raising me as her friend, I carried on the same tradition and have always been able to communicate openly with Maike. There isn’t a topic that we haven’t touched or explored, and there is no such thing as taboo, unless of course we draw personal lines of privacy, which we both respect. In addition, we also share the artistic link that has helped us through many a turbulent period.

I was introduced to art and dance very early in life and fell in love with oil painting by the age of seven. I explored all the mediums but it was really oils that held my fascination, until of course I discovered the camera. This love for the arts carried over and when Maike was a toddler, I gave her crayons and colouring books instead of dolls, and introduced her to water colours later on, while kindergarten took care of acrylics and finger paints. It was a messy job but she took to it like a fish to water. Art has become her most powerful form of expression and she channels her thoughts, beliefs, emotions and affection through it.

She may be my photography muse, but I am the proud recipient of some of her art work. We understand each other’s artistic temperament and how one can easily get lost in the creative moment. Writing or photography have no respect for time and function at their own pace, when inspiration strikes. If that means some godforsaken time frame between 02:00-04:00 then so be it, and if you life with an artist, you know better than to interrupt the mad genius at work! We consult each other regularly for feedback and critique on each other’s work, and even now, despite the geographic distance, she sends me progress reports.

FrogDiva Logo
©FrogDiva Photography

At some point I asked my daughter for her art work as Christmas or birthday presents, instead of store-bought ones. To me, this was was the ultimate gift of time and love she could present me, knowing that she focused, put in the effort and that intrinsic need for perfection. One of her productions from 2015 became my official FrogDiva logo, which is copyrighted and familiar to all of you

Her art has defined certain milestones in my life. Like this next piece, which she did on the spur of the moment while experimenting with felt pens. It was at the end of my therapy, when I finally took charge again of my own life and destiny, emerging into the light after a prolonged journey in the darkness.

FrogDiva Redefined
©Maike Tatiana Herzog

This next one was given to me as a farewell present right before moving to Portugal. She knew I would not be ablt to take any of my frogs with me (except for the nine Feng Shui frogs that I refused to leave behind). The thing about Maike’s art work is that it is always whimsical, tender and full of symbollisms.

Froggy’s New Job
©Maike Tatiana Herzog

You will find the ubiquitous cat, the elephant ear plant that I adore and it pained me to part with it (Olaf), ferns, which we both love and could probably fill an entire house with, not only because of the simple abundance, but because it is a source of artistic inspiration on many levels. Then there is the old-fashioned manual typwriter. She knows I learned to type on my grandfather’s old typwriter (ironically it was my father who taught me how to type) and the romantic notion attached with such typwriters to writers.

House of The Wandering Frog
©Maike Tatiana Herzog

This year she presented me with the Froggy Caravan, symbollic of my move to Portugal and ongoing emotional, cultural and geographical journey. The detail is exquisite and her work has evolved leaps and bounds now that she has embraced being an illustrator. Again, it is full of carefully chosen symbols that represent who I am:

A caravan because I am still in transit until I move into a more permanent home.
The two cats, obviously Lolita and Cherry, who were supposed to be part of the move.
The ladder, representing the steps towards that final hurdle “home”, and all the false starts along the way.
Curtains, because wherever I go, the first thing I put up are curtains! Emotionally as well, I only reveal the true self to a select few.
A Zanzibar plant for luck, and because both my mother and I always had them at the entrance, since they are also known as the welcome plant. These are very resilient plants, also known as the students’ plants, because they are reputed to survive even the most neglectlful student, and can go weeks without being watered and thrive in darkness and shade. It takes mad skills to kill this plant!
A pothos plant (devil’s ivy) hanging outside the caravan, never absence for Feng Shui purposes, and incredibly easy to propagate. Pretty much like a frog, it will survive and thrive in water or soil and you will never feel lonely with one of these in your home. Some refer to it at the money plant as well, so never go without it.
The colourful clothes on the line is my return to colour in my wardrobe and departure from the Berliner grunge of black, grey and dark blue. It is also symbolic of everything I put on the line by moving to Portugal so suddenly, arriving with basically just the shirts on my back. The pink blouse at the end is representative of a Filipino kimona, a blouse we have shared over the years whenever we needed a national costume. I don’t own a yellow skirt yet, but am not too far away from obtaining one!
The lavender bouquets on top of the door represent my esoteric side, a strong preference for essential oils, and the need ward off any harm from me and my home.

I suppose the entire caravan will also represent my life as a traveling apothecary, one who brings cures and light to those who need it. Yes, Maike and I share the arts, the esoterics, the temperament, the appetite!, and above all, mutual respect as artists.

For more of her art work: @pencils_and_hibiscus on IG

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