In Portraits series no. 32. our ten questions about life after (and before!) fifty are for Grace Spiegel. Born in 1968 in Amsterdam, so freshly fifty. She inherited the entrepreneurial genes from her father who sold antiques both on the famous Amsterdam Waterlooplein market as in his antique and interior store. Grace learned the observative eye from him, how to look deeper and appreciate details. She also learned from young age not to get attached to things, she still can let go easily.
Grace is married to Enrico. They have two daughters, two dogs, a cat and hotel Zeespiegel right on the beach in Zandvoort. This family loves the nomad living style, one year they rent an apartment in the old city center of Barcelona. To visit as much as they could. The other year it was a place in Aix-en-Provence and now their favorite destination is a place in Ibiza. Already year three.
After owning interior fabric stores in Amsterdam for many years, Grace made another choice. She literally followed her heart and found her true meaning in life: to paint. More specifically, paint Asian women on canvas. She both has an atelier in Zandvoort and Ibiza, Grace Spiegel paintings is a fact.
How do you feel about being over fifty?
I feel like this is the best time of my life! I feel great and I know what I want. This is the age where I started to follow my heart and turned my hobby painting into my profession. Every morning I walk the dogs on the beach and meet my friends for a coffee at Ubuntu beach club. After that I start painting at my studio in Zandvoort.
Which age is your favourite time? Would you like to go back?
I don’t want to look back. I live in the here and now. I truly believe that the best days are yet to come. When I do look back it seems that this has always been my state of mind.
What would your ideal day look like? No restrictions in time, money, people or whatever.
Ideal day? Since there are no restrictions, my ideal day will last a year! Together with Enrico and the girls we start in the UK. For three months we tour the countryside of England, Scotland and Ireland. We make great hikes and visit numerous castles and stately mansions. Downton Abby, here we come.
After that we hop over to the Provence for the next quarter. It is Springtime, the sun is out abundantly and we are ready for some joy de vivre. We revisit the house we rented for a year in Aix-en-Provence and I spend my days with painting, reading books and French food.
From there – still in Europe – we move to Tuscany. I am going to do a very exciting thing: attend a painters masterclass in Florence. Indulge the beauty of Italy’s great masters.
The last three month – time flies – we spend in Asia and Australia. First China and Japan, both first time visits and on my list for long, can’t wait to see its inspirational beauty. And look for antiques., I collect Asian objects as well. I am painting Asian women, now I step into their world.
We finish our trip in Australia. Roadtrippin’ to where our camper takes us for that Aussie laid back feeling everybody is talking about. And who knows, we might fall in love somewhere close to a beach and stay for a while…
From which experience did you learn, what made you stronger?
Until a few years ago I had a very successful interior fabric store in Amsterdam. I had everything but was not happy. Something was missing. Eventually I sold my business and went to art school at the age of 45. This was the start of something new. Making art is what I love most and really experienced first hand what I hear people say for a long time. If you want something, you can do it. A true revelation which made me stronger and more self-assured.
What is your golden beauty trick or favourite product(s)?
Green tea, green tea, green tea. And, whatever the weather, my daily walks with our dogs on the beach for at least an hour. I am also a Clinique fan for a very long time, the tinted moisturizer and glow stick are my favs.
Which book and/or film and/or music shaped/changed you and why should we read it?
The books of Elizabeth Jane Howard, The Cazalet Chronicles. Five episodes about the Cazalet family, set in the English countryside. If you need a good family saga read on a deserted island, brings these. Elizabeth wrote the fifth chronicle when she was 90 years old!
The movie that really touched me is The Danish Girl. A beautiful love story set in Denmark around the 1930’s. It is about a married artists couple where the husband undergoes the transgender path to become a woman. Absolute taboo in that age.
Who should we follow on Instagram?
- @casperreinders hospitality entrepreneur with good interior taste
- @iljaamsterdam I admire the designs of Ilja Visser
- @@ibiziafoodstudio amazing food by amazing chef Boris Buono
- @jimmy.nelson.official especially his female portraits are inspirational
- @mocomuseum Modern & Contemporary art in Amsterdam
What’s your favourite destination/hotel/museum/restaurant in the world?
- Destination : El Born in Barcelona, we lived in this neighborhood for a year
- Hotel : Hotel Casa Fuster, also in Barcelona
- Museum : the Louvre in Paris
- Restaurant : Taller de Tapas on Ibiza, amazing food
What’s your signature dish? The one that makes your friends demand a seat at your dinner table.
That would by my penne with vodka sauce. As in lots of garlic, vodka, tomatoes and cream… When I think back about my youth, the dish I liked most and have fond memories of is what my grandmother used to make every week for me. Beetroot with potatoes and meatballs.
Trivia time, make a choice and share your favourite brand
- Nail polish or Lipstick? Lipstick, always the same: MAC Pretty Please
- Heels or Flats? I plea guilty to wearing my Adidas sneakers most of the time
- Dress or Trousers I feel good in both, but for painting I always wear jeans (7 For All Mankind)
- Coffee or Tea? One coffee on the beach each morning, then later in my studio I switch to green tea
- Swimsuit or Bikini? I feel better in a swim suit (Eres). They have a good fit and beautiful colors!
Follow Grace Spiegel on Instagram
For more interviews of inspiring fifty somethings, see our Portraits series.