I make many snapshots of flowers, trees and plants, and sketches using those to create a personal impression of the natural beauty and not a realistic image. For example, I like the photographic, interesting, abstract effects of the wind when it moves branches and stalks. I love to work with paper because the specific characteristics I cannot translate to other materials such as linen.
My technique allows fast results and using a method that suits my temperament. That means I don’t like to wait when painting materials needs time to dry. I make use of high quality paper like the 400 grams Hahnemühle - and the watercolor paper Fabriano. And before I start my method I’m stretching the paper with tape therefore nearly no wrinkles are visible when finishing my artworks.
Landscapes in the washed ink technique of the early 16th century Japanese Hasegawa Tõhaku, a famous artist at his time and working at the court, I discovered during art-school. Even now his ancient wall screens are having a modern atmosphere. Besides the washed ink technique I was occupied by model drawing and the dry-point etching method still visible in my varied especially black lines.
The name Pastel paintings is invented in the 18e century while famous artists made portraits of the elite with pastels on paper similar and alike paintings. Masters like the early 18th century Italian Rosalba Carièrra and the French Maurice Quentin de La Tour were accepted as a serious method. Remembering the early Renaissance period when Leonardo Da Vinci and Michelangelo making their sketches which are still fresh and very beautiful. Meaning that paper, when well preserved, can be like canvas having a long lasting quality.
My Pastel-paintings are a mix of Eastern and Western techniques that yield picturesque effects. I start with a charcoal of with pastels at a background drawing on a piece of chucked paper. In this layer, while it is still wet, I make scratches in some places, simply by using my nails. To some works, I add a thin layer of white acrylic paint. As a last phase, I apply pastel. This technique features great density of color because it uses pure pigments. In summary, the means I choose are minimal: ink, water, chalk, to which I sometimes add a base layer of washed ink. Except for the base, for which I use brushes, I draw as directly as possible with my hands, especially when I apply the last pastel layers where I must use my fingers to achieve a delicate blend of colors. The combination of this technique and the prepared background results in strong-bodied, colorful pastels with a picturesque effect. I like that.
The Grids: tic, tac, toe / boter kaas en eieren
Years ago I started with the idea to entitle some series ‘tic,tac,toe’ or in Dutch: ‘boter, kaas en eieren’ or ‘butter, cheese and eggs’ as a playful thought and also because it evokes for me a fertile place a spot under the sun and a green land of milk and honey.
Besides grown ups especially children do enjoy this game and fill in the grid easily with circles and crosses because the game is simple to do. But why name it in Dutch: boter, kaas en eieren..and what about the history behind this designation ..? Its well known that the Netherlands is a land of cows grazing in the many meadows that milk produces a lot of products in making cheese and butter. And these symbols reminds me of the old fashioned milkman or greengrocer who used to deliver milk, cheese and other goods at peoples doors.As I can remember, they put crosses when the customer paid up, and a zero when delivery was on credit.
Obviously the origins of the game are unclear. At an archaeological dig in Italy, depictions of a 3 x 3 grid from the Roman period were found, accompanied by the text ‘terni-lapilli’, or ‘the three pebbels’. Thinking about at a different level the range of the positive- and negative electrical poles or the countless zero-or-oneschemes that produces all kind of signals over the world. Perhaps the universeis the sum of all mathematical numbers, a gamble in which numbers sortthemselves in groups and form the structure of nature and construction of the earth.
The grids in my series are small circles, little planets similar like our earth, with fantasy forms filled in with colors as budding buds of flowers or where life begins and a fertile green growing placeto be. Because of their gentle and calm appearance the colorful little ornaments are a contrast within the my many strong brushstrokes and areas in my Pastel paintings.
Since ancient times flowers are associated with that life and both beauties are short-lived. The flowers of fruit trees as preliminary stage for the growth of fruit and still lifes with flower as Vanitas themes shows the transformations of life. Admiring, germinating flowers is about trying to defy time and leaving an impression. I have described a number of flower types that regularly appear in my work as an important source of inspiration.
Passiflora or Passion flower
This flower fascinates me the most because of its name and in my view has an extraterrestrial shape and odd numbers namely in the 3 pistils, 5 petals and 10 leaves in the underlying foliage. 3 / 5 /10. In numerology, these numbers have a special meaning. The 3 for the trinity, artistic energy and pyramid shape, the 5 for courage and personal freedom and the 10 for the end of a cycle and completion. There are 500 known species and this flower has its origin in South America and was discovered in the 16th century.
The plant is also a medicinal plant for the heart to calm it down. In my work, this calming effect of this flower is far from visible and rather reversed.
Spanish missionaries saw in the passion flower the crucifixion story of Jesus Christ. I experienced this flower as a spiritual one in addition to the odd numbers, in the color scheme: the deep black, light yellow, purple tones and deep red. The interpretation of the flower depends on the content of my work some in more realistic form or more in abstraction.
The flowing floating branches and wisps of seaweed in the lagoon, some with their roots attached to the side of the shore or others floating with the current of the water, were one of my source for inspiration to ‘The waters of Venice’. The curling, spiraling, circulating and tossing motions of the seaweed reminded me of the threat of rising sea levels around the city.
Datura or Trumpet Flower
In my new series of this year 'The Singing Bells' I was inspired by the Datura plant, also called Trumpet plant or Thorn apple. I can remember when I was in art school reading books by Carlos Castaneda, the lessons of Don Juan, which described the Datura and the spiritual journey of this American writer where the plant is used as a drug in Mexico and induces hallucinations and can be fatal if misused due to toxicity. But under the wise lessons of the Mexican wizard Don Juan Matus. It fascinated me, but also that so much beauty can be so dangerous and this stayed in my subconscious for years.
Inspired by the Tulip
Inspired by the passion flower
Through my many walks in parks, I found the Datura at an Orangerie. And even found a beautiful Trumpet plant at the front of a house in Amsterdam. Several photos of this plant I used later as a source of inspiration for new series. Using the spiritual meaning and the trumpet-like overwhelming beautiful shape that evokes a positive charge in me.
Over the years I have grown hollyhocks by first germinating them for the garden. Each hollyhock has about 40 seeds for each finished flower bud as stock for new growth. Just calculate how many seeds 1 plant can produce and that nature is very generous in spreading new life.
In addition to the described flower species, I have a preference for weeds that grows on the roadside or in meadows.
Besides the Rose the Tulip having the same symbol of Love but also the vanity of earthly things. Turkish traders brought from Persia the Tulip in the 16th century to Europe. By the start of the 17e century in Holland the Tulip enjoyed great popularity and some where rare and therefore very expensive. The success of the flowers was so great having speculations on the colors of the new bulbs that it became winning and losing of large sums of money in the proces. An all out mania until 1637 when the market collapsed. Even the Estates General wasn’t able to stem the financial panic. Because of the ‘costly’ beauty of the Tulip it appears in many Vanitas paintings.
In addition to the described flower species.