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Paws & Watercolours | Meet Joyce Van Balen-Kleine

Joyce Van Balen-Kleine is mum to a goldfish, two dogs and two cats, and is one fantastic illustrator. We had the pleasure of meeting her recently and we couldn't resist asking her all about her inspiring blog where she portrays her life with husband and pets. Read on as Joyce talks art therapy, love for pets and living with a chronicle illness. 

You are the proud mum to several pets including two dogs, two cats and a gold fish, could you tell us a bit about your life and love for all creatures?

I live with a chronic illness, called chronic paroxysmal hemicrania (CPH), which effect my daily life. Without medication I have about 280 seizures a day, with medication it is reduced to 12 on a good day. The meds are a lifesaver, as well as a destroyer. The adverse effects are quite severe. So not only do I have to live with an abnormal amount of headache 24/7 combined with the seizures, I also face failing kidneys, peptic ulcers, rheumatism, Raynaud's disease especially in my hands and the one that’s constantly nagging; Crohn's disease.
I have learned to live with my illness with the help of the not so great and greatest therapists along the way, my husband, and without a doubt, my furry friends. Oh, dear me, and off course my scaled friend..... he wouldn’t like it if I forgot to mention him.
Sorry Bruce...

What does illustration mean to you? Where did the inspiration to take this activity on originate from?

I never, ever would have survived so many years of only going downhill health wise, if it wasn’t for my furry friends. Last year I got to hear I will never get better, and it all depends on how strong my body is to keep going as strong as I can be, and survive. Which meant I have to rely even stronger on what makes me happy. And that is my husband most importantly, our two English Cocker Spaniels that feel as our babies I could never have, and our two cats and goldfish. My husband once told me in my darkest hour, to focus on what makes me happy, to draw my furry friends, and tell stories of what happens in their lives. And that was the greatest tip in life I could ever receive.

What effect does your art have on your daily life and your health?

Illustrating means the world to me. It keeps me focused on the bright side of life. But it is also keeps reminding me of my ever failing body. When I am in a drawing rush, I stuck a pencil between my teeth, to bite the pain away, because my hand won’t hold the pencil as well as should be. So I have to keep reminding myself, I draw or paint to make myself feel better, meaningful. To keep my mind straight, peaceful and happy. That even though life and people around me, can really make me feel inadequate, hell.....even a burden of life... my drawings keep me sane.

What is your favourite piece of work so far?

My favourite piece of work I haven’t still accomplished. The oil painting of Kuzco at the beach, I hold very dear. Kuzco is my everything, and the beach is what make him and me, extremely happy. My husband made a beautiful frame for it. And it hangs prominent above our couch in the living room. But I still believe my best is yet to come. I am a work in progress.

From our current Hiro + Wolf collection, what would you love to see your pups in next?

When we got the privilege to get a puppy from Kuzco, we went to London a few days before we got baby Malha home. We wanted to buy a stuffed animal just for her, which became Peter Rabbit, after seeing my all-time favourite Beatrix Potter exhibition at the V&A. And we purchased the most beautiful first collar of Hiro and Wolf. We absolutely adored the shop on Columbia Road. We bought a set of Geo Green Dog collar for baby Malha, lead and harness for daddy Kuzco. We really want to have a larger size collar for Malha when she’s outgrown the little one. But we can’t wait to extend the Hiro and Wolf collection with the Kikoy Botanical stripe. So happy and colourful! Just as our little
pooches!
Read more about Joyce's inspiring life with the pooches on her site, and see her latest drawings on IG @joyce_vbkleine.

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