Another year of practise has gone by and I’m happy to say I’m beginning to see the fruits of my labour. Continuously pushing towards mastery, I’ve been studying old master paintings and my practise has picked up speed. Earlier last year I have been painting mainly from life: fruits, some flowers (which I found especially difficult) and a wooden sculpture of a cat. I attended the open atelier ‘Fine art academy’ in Molenaarsgraaf, with Marco Krauwinkel, to get some guidance on brushwork and use of colour. At the open atelier, I painted an albatross and a master copy from Willem Frederik de Haas (1830-1880) in oils. I found it very useful to study the makes of a very good painting. I found lots of joy in the design of the master copy: the shoreline winding its way into the background and the majestic cloud dominating the scene without breaking up the harmony of the painting. I also explored the gentle shifts in colour and temperature. The warm oxide red in the foreground, the greenish brown of the waves that shifts towards a cooler purple on the horizon. But as always, it is the waves and clouds that draw me nearer. Luckily, I live a 20 km bike ride away from the sea for some live practise.
In July I was lucky enough to travel to Oban, Scotland for a plein air painting course with Lee Craigmile from the Glasgow Academy of fine art. My husband made me a fancy plein air travel box, including a special compartment to protect my canvasses from the rain. This turned out to be a very Dutch invention, compared to the Scottish solution to rain: bring an umbrella. We were very fortunate that the wind kept quiet and we weren’t swept away, easel and all, to the Hebrides. It was a wonderful week of painting shores, distant mountains and foreboding skies. I was encouraged to use a warm colour/purple hue to paint the sky and water. This worked wonders for the local atmosphere and kept me smiling as all my canvasses turned out quite pink. There was also a big emphasis on design, as there were so many elements to choose for making up an interesting painting. The mountains and hills emphasize distance, the ocean waves are always a bit choppy, which gives a bit of movement, and the sky is never boring. At home, where the fields are flat and the sea at the local beach is calm, I need to spice my paintings up with a dramatic sky. In Scotland the challenge is to find unity in all the angles and movement before your eyes. Needless to say, 5 days were not enough. My new year’s resolution is to return to Scotland in May.
Back home I have been painting on the beach several times and in the local fields. Here I’ve been trying out cloud design to break up the horizontal lines that dominate the landscape and shore. This involves painting things you do not necessarily see in front of you, which is a bit challenging for me, having relied on drawing and painting from life until now. This is also a particular challenge of painting ‘en plein air’, as you can be captivated by beautiful skies one minute and loose them altogether in the next 5 minutes. So, in addition to en plein air painting, I have studied different type of clouds and movement in the sky using reference photos. I’m currently working on a painting featuring the North Sea breakers and two gull paintings.
Very shortly my own atelier will be extended and will have a sky light and floor heating, as it is way too dark and cold to work as it is currently. It will be a bit tricky to find a good spot in my quirky cottage style home during the time of the building works, but the reward will be worth it. If all goes to plan, the new studio should be ready for visitors at the end of April, when I will participate in the Nissewaard Art trail (20 / 21 April). Do come and say hello when you’re nearby.