Hi, I’m Yolanda Rijke. My nickname is Yool, which means happy, joyful etc. I’m born in 1957 and have been working in education for almost 40 years. I’m a Chichi myself and have 3 siblings. I became a Chichi® painter in April 2022, when Serena’s Art Factory needed some new painters.
It all started when Della, my dear colleague’s wife, told me Serena’s Art factory was looking for new Chichi® painters and she thought I could become one. I told her I would take a look at it, but thought why bother if there are so many good painters out there. Later on she reminded me again, so I decided to react on the ad, by telling them that although I am a self-taught painter, I’m willing to give it a try.
I received an email telling me to be at the factory on a certain day and time. I didn’t even know where the factory was located, so we decided to go looking for it a week earlier. When I arrived on that specific day, I thought only a couple of people were invited, until I saw more than 40 people gathered under the palapa. I thought I would go and sit at the far end, because there must be real painters among these people, who were better than me.
Everybody got their assignment and we were supposed to return 2 weeks later our painted Chichi’s®. To my surprise I was chosen to be a painter in training. So, I did my best every two weeks, because I didn’t want to let anybody down. And 5 months later I was asked to become an official Chichi® painter. I was emotionally surprised.
I have to thank Della for encouraging me to enlist and to Serena and her crew for believing in me. And also thanks to the LORD for my BLESSED hands and all the inspirations.
I have always liked being creative and innovative. Handcraft is my passion; from earrings to X-mas pieces to elaborate designs.
When painting the Chichi’s®, I sit on my front porch, filled with plants, surrounded by nature and my 5 dogs. I work mostly with daylight. Especially after a bee fell from the lamp into my hair one night. To me, that was a shivering experience.
When I have to deliver my Chichi’s®, I’m always a bit tense, hoping I will deliver up to the Factory’s standards. Although I was happily surprised when I was asked to become an official painter, I was also very thankful and honored. It feels very good to know that my work brings nice memories of Curaçao in different homes around the world.