washed ink with pastel, acrylic paint on paper

 

In the same way as artists in the wake of Romanticism, I have a great affinity with nature. The inspiration for my landscapes is close to home: the beautiful dunescapes that border the Dutch coastline and the many natural flowers in my neighbourhood, by the wayside, along canals, in gardens and public parks. I make snapshots and use those to create a personal impression of this natural beauty, not a realistic image. For example, I like the photographic, interesting, abstract effects of the wind when it moves branches and stalks.
 
Some of my works show human figures vaguely present in the background. In others, a human figures prominently featured in the foreground (as in my ‘Being an artist’ series), but in a simple compositional form, as in the Renaissance: a central figure in the foreground against a natural background. My larger drawings and landscapes are more complex. They show a mix of figures and plants, transparant human figures that are at one with their natural surroundings, horizontal and vertical lines of branches and stalks that suggest movement, and sometimes small symbols that enrich the composition.
 
detail of one of my drawings
 
My 'painted drawings' are a mix of Eastern and Western techniques that yield picturesque effects. Ink wash drawing is originally from China, from where it spread to Japan. I start with a charcoal background drawing on a piece of chucked paper, to which I add a base layer of washed ink. In this layer, while it is still wet, I make scratchings in some places, simply by using my nails. In some places, I carefully dry some of the ink by pressing tissues against the surface. All this must be done comparatively quickly, before the ink has dried, to achieve dashes and line patterns that suggest movement. To some works, I add a thin layer of white acryl paint. As a last phase, I apply pastel. This technique features great density of colour because it uses pure pigments. In summary, the means I choose are minimal: ink, water, chalk. Except for the base layers, 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 colours. The combination of this technique and the prepared background results in strong-bodied, colourful pastels with a picturesque effect. Pastels keep their colours perfectly because they are made with pure pigments and very little binding agent. Even in a hundred years’ time the blue, yellow and red colours will continue to have the same radiating brilliance.
 
As a rule I make very few preliminary studies because they would lessen the spontaneity of the moment. But I do actively use the many photos that I take myself of natural subjects and human models.
All the details are stored in my mind before I get to work. Lines and amorphous shapes stimulate my imagination as they appear. Since my time at art school, my affinity is with paper – the specific characteristics of paper I cannot translate directly to other materials such as linen.
 
 
                                            
Tõhaku                                                                    Sesshu                                                        


                                    
Quentin, selfportrait                                         Rosalba, selfportrait
 
  
Famous Japanese ink wash masters from the 15th century like Toyo Sesshu, and at the beginning of the 16th century Hasegawa Tõhaku, continue to impress me, especially Hasegawa’s chamber screens with suggestive, grotesque landscapes that dwarf the human figure. Another strong influence on my work is famous female Italien pastelpainter Rosalba Carriera and the French pastel master Quentin de La Tour who both, in the 18th century, worked for the elite, as well as the 19th century Romantic painter Gustave Moreau. I particularly like Moreau’s later work. It had an innovative effect on later generations such as Dubuffet, whose work features exciting contrasts between spontaneously applied thick brushstrokes and finely detailed lines and figures.

 

 
 
 

 

 
 
 
 
 







 
 
 


 
 


















      




                
                portrait by Carriera