Initially, my move away from the green shores of New Zealand was a bit of a shock, but I was pleasantly surprised by the multitude of parks near to our temporary home in The Hague. As I have always been hugely fond of trees, they got my undivided attention. However, they posed a real challenge to draw. It’s hard to pin down why I found the intricate details of a tree more difficult than the details of a wing, but I did. That, and the absence of an eye looking at you as with my previous drawings. I found myself in completely different territory. How to make a tree drawing interesting? A living organism that is communicating with its environment in a completely different way than birds, whales or humans. I found that I needed to rely much more on the technical aspects of drawing: the tonal balance, the working with transitions and edges and the composition. So, I had to apply all that I had learned before with cast drawing in a new subject matter. I gained much appreciation for the tree drawing artists in the world. Very soon my trees, along with my last New Zealand kea drawing, will be on display at the Brabant art fair (12-13th of March in Breda). Do come, if you’re not too far away.
In the meantime, we found a quirky little place of our own, south of Rotterdam, away from the hustle and bustle of the city. So, a change of scene after exploring the parks, dunes and shoreline of The Hague. I am now taking root behind the dikes of the Rhine-Meuse-Scheldt delta, yet a little closer to my birthplace.
Due to trees on my road and moving houses, I was a little slack on progressing my painting skills. However, I learned some new skills with online courses. I was lucky enough to borrow a taxidermized hoopoe bird. Not exactly live drawing, but I do prefer drawing a 3D bird above drawing while using a reference picture. And hoopoes are gorgeous birds. They are quite rare in the Netherlands but we came across a foraging hoopoe in Nepal a few years ago. Painting a bird ala prima style, that is completing a painting in one go, is definitely a new step on my art journey. After working extensively on a preparatory drawing in a less than ideal setting with poor lighting, I spend 7 hours non-stop painting. As always, my expectation was for something better than my current skillset could provide, but considering it to be a first ala prima painting project, I was quite pleased.
In my new home, which is an old cottage style building with low ceilings and few windows, I am setting up my studio and need to think of ways to bring in the natural light. The hoopoe has been returned and there is a starling eyeballing me now, with sparkling purple and green spots between the many shades of black. Dividing my time between art and decorating a home, I am drawing in sight size and perfecting my painting skills. Waiting for spring to arrive and discover the beauty of my new place.