Welcome to my  blog: Introspection!

As much time in my studio is spent on thinking about and looking at art as there is on painting. Here I'll write about some of the things that pass my mind during those hours, or the inspiration that makes me grab the brush .

Be sure to visit my Studio Storage blog too, where I sell some of my earlier paintings at (very) low prices.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Inner Sanctum

Inner Sanctum © Marina Broere, 2009 oil/alkyd/cold wax/linen, 24x48"

Another one of my new paintings, one that ended up completely different as what I started with. What I always call, let the painting paint itself. I started this painting with an idea about color, I just had purchased a new beautiful violet from Gamblin and I envisioned using it with creamy whites, some green and deep brown. Gradually the white disappeared, as did the greens and memories of the old church next to the Center of Art i Natura in Spain started creeping in and taking shape.
Suddenly the painting became an intimate dark space with shapes that hint at a window, an old staircase, a holy water basin. The church in question is tremendously old, with just a dirt floor, very small and extremely simple and entering it gave me a mysterious feeling about centuries old rituals and worship taking place on that same spot where I now entered with my 21st century links to the world. Of course this feeling was not new to me, having lived i Europe for most part of my life I'm used to old buildings, cities etc., but having spent the last decade in the USA it made me look at all that richness with different eyes and appreciate it even more.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Placa Reial

Marina Broere: PLACA REIAL, oil/alkyd/cold wax/linen, 2008, 20x20"

This is one of the paintings I finished by the end of last year, still working on the inspiration from my artist residency in Spain. It's a 20x20 square canvas. Placa Reial is one of the squares in Barcelona that you reach through a narrow alley that then opens up into this wide but enclosed space, terraces, a fountain, lots of people. From where I was sitting I looked across the square into another entree alley that opened up on another sunny street and in front of me on the square a woman in a red velvet dress was assisting her partner in juggling. And that's how this came about....

Don't forget to visit my blog 'Studio Storage', where new paintings that are discounted have been posted!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

The White Places

Some of the most amazing landscapes that I've come across are in New Mexico and among them are the white rock formations that were one of Georgia O'Keeffe's favorite subjects. I believe she called them the white places. Eventhough I knew O'Keeffe's paintings of the white places, nothing prepared me for the outer worldly beauty of the real landscape. These tall rocks look like they are the work of some giant sculptor, some have the lacey structure of gothic cathedrals, some look like they have been piled up with a little dome on top. If you follow the path and enter the narrow valley you find yourself surrounded by all tones of white and some pinks and blacks, a vibrating deep blue sky usually over you and just the sound of the wind and some distant birds.
I have visited these rock formations on several occasions, and made sketches and water colors there that have resulted in these two small paintings, that can be seen at gallery The Edge in Santa Fe

Thursday, January 15, 2009

The Edge, Santa Fe

Here is a photo of my painting 'Kindling' , the one on the left, in an installation in Gallery The Edge, Santa Fe, New Mexico where we just spent a nice winter break, that is: a break from the severe cold as we have it in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Looking back for just a moment

'To another rose fingered dawn' 40x36", oil/alkyd/cold wax/linen

This time, when another year comes to an end, traditionally is a time to look back on the past year and glance ahead towards the new. What's coming in the new year will be a surprise, as always, but what lies behind we can evaluate.
Looking back I'm quite happy about my production and the quality of it. After I started experimenting with a, for me, new medium, replacing the toxinous rectified turpentine I used to work with with a less toxic mix of cold wax, alkyd and odorless mineral spirits, this year I finally felt like I reached the point that I know how to work with it. Sometimes it does take a long time to figure out the exact mix that gives the right amount of gloss and the right feel in the brush work. So I'm happy about that!

And then there was the artist residency in Spain from which I returned with a whole lot of work and inspiration as well as a renewed grip on where I want to go with my work.

I'm ending this year with one of the larger paintings that I finished during these last months, titled: 'To another rose fingered dawn' a title that not only refers to the moment of day that inspired it but also to a painting by Willem Dekooning from the collection of the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, that is my favorite Dekooning painting. I'm not quite sure what the full title of that painting was, something like 'Rose fingered dawn at .... and then the name of a Long Island beach. Dekooning was born in Rotterdam, like I am, and he went to art school there. Actually, the school is now called the Willem Dekooning Institute.

After I read the biography on Dekooning: Willem Dekooning, an American Master, I recognized that parts of the philosophy that characterized the Rotterdam art school in his days were still in some form present in my days (the 70's) It had a department for house painters for the longest time, where marbling, faux wood finishes and painting grisailles were taught. Letter drawing, for signs, was taught too and even I still had to learn how to write with a calligraphy pen there! Hard to imagine that barely a decade later all of that was considered outdated and replaced by computer design.

Another funny story from the Dekooning biography was that his friends recalled how he always on Fridays would wash the floor of his New York studio, which resulted in giving the wood a gray driftwood quality. Weird enough I too have this habit and when I told my studio neighbour about this similarity my floor washing was from then on dubbed : my Dekooning moment.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Any humble task.....

Over the past few weeks I have been working on some larger works, driven by the inspiration I brought back from my stay in Spain.There are interesting developments, with connections between earlier found softness to newly found looseness in painting.
However, none of what I'm working on I'm ready to share yet, except maybe for the two smaller paintings that just needed to be painted: the short-lived radiant yellows of the garden views that just pushed their existence into my daily view.

Besides all that, new canvases needed to be prepared, because it always constricts me if there is not a new batch ready for the moment when inspiration strikes! Thanks to a tip from a reader of my blog I was now able to order pre-stretched linen canvases (I have been on a crusade for the perfect canvas ever since I moved here)
They arrived and are looking promising, and as they are unprimed linen they needed to be primed before I could start.
I have always embraced every part of the profession of artist and priming linen is one of them. Before, I also used to stretch my own canvases, then Artel aluminum stretcher frames came into existence (in Holland) and they were so great (and I was earning enough then to be able to afford them) that I stopped with all that. In the forementioned crusade here in the US, I started stretching canvases again, and in an attempt to make things easier ordered prepared or sized linen, which turned out to be a little too hard to stretch on larger sizes for me. So now I have these pre-stretched beautiful linens and could concentrate on priming them. As the title of this blog indicates, this may seem a humble task, but it's one I love. First you have these flax colored raw linen surfaces, beautiful in that stage too,and looking at them gives you a real feeling of their size. Then when you start putting on the gesso from the center out and feel the tension from the shrinkage of the linen building up surprisingly fast it's wonderful to see that white surface grow. The first layer is always uneven, needs maybe some sanding before the second goes on, but then you get this pristine white plane, inviting your thoughts on what could become of this (always something else as I imagine!)
Preparing canvases is not just about preparing surfaces, it's also about preparing yourself to paint, to gain intimate knowledge of your materials, the tension of the linen, the texture and the size. It's only later in life that I discovered that doing every humble task as if it is the most important one, is one of the Buddhist principles, it's all about being in the moment and doing what is at hand to the best of your abilities and with full concentration - no multi tasking here!
I live by this credo and it makes life infinitely pleasant!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Back home and painting again!

It's more than a week ago since we returned from almost a month in Spain, but the memories still linger vividly of the warm late summer days, the light casting longer and longer shadows, the sweet smell of ripe fruit mingled with the first spicy scents of fall in the form of mushrooms and falling leaves.
Back here in Wisconsin it's not the usual warm Indian Summer October we've been used to for the last years, I remember swimming on the last day of October last year, in one of the nearby lakes. But you never know, today the sun came out after a couple days of heavy rain and we might be swimming this weekend....

In the studio things are going smoothly, I was able to tap right into the inspirational vein opened up in Spain and continued work on a large abstract that was well on it's way before I left. Another one turned out to be done when I came back. A little distance in time always helps to see things more objectively and while I did not consider that painting finished when I left, when I came back I saw that it was, there is nothing in there that asks for change. Great, of course - but then you need to get new canvases stretched.....

While working on that I will list some photo's from the work I did in Farrera, these are small Ampersand panels, 8x8" painted in acrylics.

On the subject of canvases, I find it extremely hard to find professional quality pre-stretched canvases. I prefer to paint on real linen and most of the pre stretched ones come in cotton canvas. I have tried The Italian Art Store, who does linen, but then the frames were not warp resistant, Centurion DLX now comes in linen but again, the frames are not warp proof and too light. That's why I returned to stretching myself on aluminum bars. In Holland there is Artel that sells aluminum stretcher bars of their own design ( very easy to adjust and to hang as hardware for hanging can be placed right in the groove of the bars) and a choice of wonderful linens but here I don't know where to go for that quality. Any tips?

As a PS, I have just added a new painting to my second blog: Studio Storage, where I sell some of my older works at very affordable prices.
And remember, nothing can make you feel as good as having a nice piece of art in these dire economic times!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

CAN Farrera, the end

Today our stay here at the centre d'art i natura has come to an end. Three weeks went by faster as imagined but I accomplished a lot of work that I'm very happy with. I'm sure that I will be working from the images found here for a long time to come.
Being in this part of Europe was such a happy reconnection with my former life, when I spent so many vacations in France, Spain, Portugal or Italy. The pace of life, the old, old villages and towns, the smells, the food....
Tomorrow it's goodbye here and on to Barcelona!
Here some pictures of the center d'art i natura as well as the amazing surroundings and views.
It's been a wonderful time and I can recommend this artist residency to anyone who loves nature and is not afraid to be in a remote place, away from stores, television etc. Visit CAN for more information.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Farrera, part 2

The full three weeks we have as an artist residency are progressing rapidly. As always, first you feel like you have a sea od time and then, before you know it the last week is on its way and the end of all this beauty, quiet solitude, flowing inspiration comes in sight.
First of all some photo's to illustrate the beauty of this place, if you look at the one with the church (from around 1600) we are in the building at the right side of it. It looks small but going downstairs it unfolds into a wide building that houses a double studio, an apartment with 3 bedrooms, kitchen and bath and downstairs a communal dining room where the most delicious meals are being served by Cesca, another large studio and a patio. The views are beyond believe and description, the one with the moon, taken early morning after full moon, is the view from my balcony.
The weather is still warm and nice, no jackets are required, on the roadside we find plenty of blackberries, the biggest mulberries I have ever seen and tasted and an abundance of bright orange rose hips. I can only imagine how these bushes will look and smell in May, reason to come back in another season.

I may have mentioned in my last blog that I initially started to work with the landscape - however, as I'm painting in acrylics here and on small panels, whatever I wanted to express did not come out. A day of contemplation was needed and after that I repainted the panels I did and used the remaining ones to create a series of small abstracts that symbolize Spain to me.
It's revisiting the Spain of Tapies, Picasso and Rafols Casamada that I visited several times before and that I'd never been able to capture in my work the way I wanted. Now I'm translating all that into my own 'language' of abstract signs.
Some are in dramatic dark reds and blacks referring to Spains certainly dramatic history, some have the sunny lightness of the seaside, referring to its recent prosperity. The acrylics, through there different consistency as the oils I use at home in the studio, have given me the chance to use a more pronounced 'handwriting' with visible movement and a little less subtlety, all of this very exciting.

Now the panels are done I'm working on a larger square paper format in acrylics, continuing the theme. Besides that I do almost one watercolor a day of the landscape directly outside. It's fascinating to be surrounded by so much texture, mass of rocks, an abundance of greens, hazy blue distant peaks, centuries old houses that are made of artfully piled rock, giving them the appearance of growing organically from the sides of the mountains. It does not stop to amaze me that every part of the world has its own unique characteristics, these mountains are completely different from the ones in New Mexico or Colorado where I was this summer. So much to explore always!
A couple days more here and then we're off to Barcelona, for museum visits, shopping and for me also some family time as my daughter will join us there before we return to Wisconsin!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Late summer in Spain

A week ago we, my friend Rebecca and me, arrived in Barcelona and the day after here in the Centre d'Art I Natura in Farrera, a medieval village, perched on a mountain top with an unbelievably beautiful view, for three weeks of contemplation on our art. There is a wonderful studio or atelier as they say here, for us to use with tall windows overlooking the mountains, down below is a valley where people have their vegetable and fruit gardens and some meadows.
Up till now I have been doing water colors and small acrylics, mostly inspired by the landscape surrounding me but today is one of those landmarks where I started to contemplate on the work I was doing back home in the studio. It feels like I need to make a link somewhere and I feel like I almost know how but not quite yet..... That was bound to happen ofcourse. But it s very hard not to be overwhelmed with and inspired by these surroundings. So that makes today a day of more thinking than painting, sitting quietly in my room, on the balcony or now here behind the computer, all with the same great view.

I have never been homesick for Holland after my move to the U.S., but when I came here I knew that my roots are in Europe more than anything else. Walking through Barcelona or the small town of Sort where we went to stock up on groceries feels so familiar to me and all the vacations we took throughout France, Spain, Italy and Portugal while I lived in Holland, came back to me. The smells, the sounds, the way of life.
One thing in particular that always strikes me is that it is so much easier in Europe to find furniture or houseware of modern design, even in relatively small towns you can find amazingly modern things, while in the U.S. .......well, I am rolling my eyes here, there is only one store in Milwaukee, which is a large town, where design furniture can be found, for more choices you have to go to Chicago and even there you have to really know where to go while here you just stumble upon it. Ofcourse it is different in New York or on the West Coast, but I often wonder what happened to the heritage of Charles and Ray Eames, Frank LLoyd Wright and others that we are now stuck with the kind of cheap knock-off antiques or other non descript trash that go with these phony MacMansions that pollute every other subdivision in the U.S.
I had an interesting conversation with Rebecca about this, who confessed that she knew very little about either architecture or furniture designers, according to her, art school education in the US is more limited. Somehow in art school in Holland architecture and interior design were subjects that were discussed, even in the painting department, sometimes during art history classes and sometimes just so, it was just part of the package.
Anyhow, that was one of my thoughts strolling the elegant streets of Barcelona.

Today is a holiday here so people are off and the village is kind of busy, there were a mere 6 cars to be seen! It is a lazy late summer mood, thick flies are buzzing in and out, down below I hear the dimmed voices of people working their gardens and dogs barking, the swallows cannot decide whether it is time to move south yet or stay on for a while, they keep chittering and gathering on the electricity lines and then, all of a sudden one must say' let's go, because then they whirl up in a big move of wings and tails, only to return to the line a few minutes later. Ah, the entertainment nature offers!

Yesterday I was fortunate to find a recent catalog of the work of Catalan painter and poet Albert Rafols Casamada and the address where to buy it, thnaks to Google Catalunya. More than 20 year ago I found a book about him on sale at a bookstore in Rotterdam, that is how I first heard about him. being here I knew this was my chance to find out more about him and hopefully even see one or two of his paintings in person. And of course everyone here at the art center knows about him!
Cannot wait to get my catalog!

Time for more contemplating in the sun now........!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Travel news

It may look like summer is a slow time for me but actually aside from not blogging, it is not. My summer is filled with long and short trips and in between I try to keep up with studio work.
First, July brought a trip to Santa Fe, New Mexico to see my work in gallery The Edge on Canyon Road - a fabulous gallery. Two of my paintings sold in the week I was there which made it even greater.
My friend Rebecca had her opening on July 11th so we could be there too and take part in the festivities. Other days were filled with visiting Santa Fe Art and checking out all the other art on Canyon Road as well as meeting fellow artist Diane McGregor who granted us a look at her (fabulous) new work.

Then it was time to leave for Colorado Springs to attend a conference related to my husband's business. We took a scenic route through the Rockies, where I had never been and enjoyed the amazing changing landscapes, from wide open planes in mostly pale yellows to the forest greens of steep mountains, deep red rock formations, lakes, waterfalls, quaint old mining towns etc. Part of the fun of travelling is also the people you meet on your trips. When we drove into Ouray and stopped there for a short walk through town and find a place to lunch, we ended up in a movielike Western Hotel. And; how things go, walking into the old fashioned saloon we noticed the guy behind the bar had something familiar, not as: I know this guy, more in looking like 'one of us' We ordered, he served and then asked: did I hear you speak Dutch? This we confirmed and then we found out that he was Dutch too, being on a 5 week working vacation (he's a law student in Leiden) at his aunt's hotel.
It was great meeting you Ijsbrand! I imagine you're back in Leiden again.

We enjoyed the rest of our trip and time in Colorado Springs, then went back home, left for a long weekend to the beautiful north-west part of Wisconsin where we met another enterprising Dutch couple who produces the best Gouda cheese outside of Holland, in Thorp, WI. You can find their cheese in the best specialty cheese stores and Whole Foods. We were immediately invited for coffee on the porch and had a lovely time.

Now it's almost time to leave for Spain, where I will do an artist residency for 3 weeks in September, together with my friend Rebecca. We're bot very much looking forward to this working time together, excited to see where it will lead us in our work. As taking large size canvases is out of the question I opted for small panels and acrylic paints for studio work, and water color for plein-air painting. Of course all of that is ready by now, the big question on what to pack for clothing in a fast changing mountain climate (we'll be in a tiny village nest to the miniature state Andorra high in the Pyrenees mountains) still has to be solved. At the end of our trip we have planned a short stay in Barcelona where it will most likely still be warm. There my husband will join us as well as our daughter and her boyfriend from Holland. But before all that I'll need to ship more paintings to Santa Fe - just hope my frames will arrive in time!

Friday, June 27, 2008

A long absence.....

Time to blow away the dust from this blog! I was astonished to see that my last entry was from March, what has happened to time? Probably nothing, it will be just my way of using it.
So, from March on many things have happened: there was a trip to Holland to catch up with family and friends.
There was the framing and shipping of fourteen paintings to my new gallery (The Edge in Santa Fe, New Mexico) there was a trip to Minneapolis and a stay with friends in Alma and there is summer, making me spend most non-painting hours outside; be it gardening or walking.

The trip to Holland gave me the opportunity to deliver a painting to its new owner myself, which was very nice. This was the painting that sold two years after the show and it's occasions like that that make being an artist really rewarding. Yesterday I was reading an interview with Callum Innes, a Scottish painter and he said this about it: "It's the idea that something exists beyond the studio and beyond the show, afterwards in the head. Every artist hopes that happens, that something lasts in the time after somebody has viewed their work" (Interview Paul Bonaventura and Callum Innes, January 2006)
Well, this happened to me when September 2007 I received an email inquiry from Hilde Hooiberg about the painting 'Winterfield, early sun'. After seeing it once during the show in galerie Vlasblom in Arnhem, the painting kept floating in her mind, untill she saw an opportunity to do something with it. Winterfield is now not only on show in her practice, it is also part of her website: digame In the picture is Hilde with her painting.

At the same time as our trip to Holland I found a gallery, after a long and intense search. My work is now represented by gallery The Edge in Santa Fe. That made for some frantic framing and shipping before leaving for Holland and immediately after coming back, but all fourteen paintings have arrived safely. In July I'll have the opportunity to go and see them myself in their new setting, while at the same time attending the opening of my friend Rebecca Crowell's opening at Darnell Fine Arts in Santa Fe on July 11. Besides the attraction of New Mexico itself, this is really something to look forward to!
And with all that said it's now time to paint some more in a by now, warm and summery studio.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Blue skies!

Getting work ready for the next Gallery Night on April 18 and a show in Mazomenie in May I decided to frame these water colors. I made these in the same period of time as the Jardin d'Esperanza 1 and 2,all of these paintings were inspired by the view from my house in early spring.The title Un Jardin d'Esperanza comes from an old tango sung by Carlos Gardel. Although spring has not arrived yet in Wisconsin, it's in the air and the color of the sky is getting that spring like vibrant blue, promising but still cool. No leafs unfolding however, there's still snow on the ground, but the first brave grape hyacinths are already peeping between Ivy leaves.

I painted these branches on Arches paper with the images floating on the white paper. Whenever possible I like to paint water color this way, with a visible irregular edge where the paint layers end. I usually create a vignette like field of color in which the 'action' takes place. I came to realise that I always like to give my paintings a breathing space, I frame my oil paintings in floater frames in order to give them half an inch of space and with the water colors I like to keep some white paper visible within the mat. I cannot say for certain where that originated but most likely from the time I did lithography (stone printing) in art school. I liked the somewhat soft and ragged border the stone left on the paper when printing a color field and felt it was a necessary addition to the image.

Monday, February 25, 2008

The source of inspiration

In my last post I wrote a little bit about my admiration for abstract painting and especially the paintings by Mark Rothko. That inspired my friend Rebecca Crowell to explore her roots in art tracing them back to a wonderful book about the art of the Duc de Berry. I have been attracted to drawing and painting as long as I can remember, it helped that my father worked at home as a graphic designer so I was surrounded by gouache paints, pencils, pen and ink and; what I thought was really attractive being age 3 or 4, a green rubber eraser. Mind you, I was not allowed to use it, he kept it meticulously clean so it would not smear his designs, I got a cheaper eraser. But he was very generous in supplying me with a porcelain palette, some blobs of paint, a brush and paper. From that early age on I was never allowed paintboxes with a myriad of colors (that I drooled over in art supply stores), he taught me how to mix from red, yellow, blue and white. I cannot remember him interfering much with what I was painting or drawing, that came later.
The fact that my father was in the 'art business' (he originally aimed to be a painter but the second world war interfered with an art school education, he was sent to Germany as a slave laborer) also meant that they took me to art openings of his artist friends. I can still vividly recall one that made a great impression, it was in 'Kunstzaal Het Venster' in Rotterdam and the paintings were in dark browns and blacks with some creamy white brush strokes. They must have been very fresh because I also remember the distinct turpentine and oil fragrance that I immediately loved. I did not 'get' those paintings, but I absolutely loved them (I was about 8 then) I tried to reconstruct whose opening this was recently, and asked my 84 year old mother and she thought it must have been Bas van der Smit.So my adventures in art started pretty early. However, when I was in art school, I had no real goal in painting other than that I desperately wanted to paint. I still loved abstract paintings but I had no clue how to paint a meaningful abstract. It was pretty clear to me that an abstract had to be more than a pleasing combination of colors and shapes and/or textures (unfortunately there are too many of those and I call that hotel art) and I was not yet equipped to realise that. And besides that, it was the early 70's and I cannot remember anyone in art school at that time doing anything other as representational work. I stuck to still life, that's how my dad taught me to draw, and I developed a love for the genre. Museum Boymans van Beuningen was in walking distance from art school and I spent many 'open hours' looking at a lovely Fantin Latour still life (plums in basket) I loved the simplicity of it and I wanted to find a way to paint still life in a contemporary way. I was lucky to have Klaas Gubbels, Kees Franse and Henk de Vos as docents. All of them did still life related paintings and I learned a lot from them. One of them introduced me to the work of Giorgio Morandi. A totally new world opened before my eyes, it was love at first sight and it changed my way of looking at objects completely.
For my end project I showed a collection of only still life's in subtle grayish tones and the still life would be the only subject for the first decade of my painting career. However, there still was the urge to go more abstract, and I started to try and force change in my way of working - which (need I say it?) did not work because I tried too hard and too fast. I got stuck.
Then I started painting landscapes in oil (see my Studio Storage blog) and that became the focus. Strange enough abstraction came first in my water colors, in small formats, then a bit larger and then I dared to switch to oils. I have now been painting abstract oils for about 10 years, next to landscapes and the occasional (yes!) still life.
Here is one of my newest paintings.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

The Rothko lookalike

This is a painting that I have painted some 2 years ago and somehow I never got around documenting it, I just put it up on the wall of our bedroom to enjoy it in private. Why did this happen? It was not because I was not happy with the painting, I was and I still am. It has everything in it that I'm looking for in a painting, rich yet subtle colors, it's focused, the composition is strong but tranquil. And yet I have never shown it. It's because to me it looks so much like a Rothko. And somehow I have trouble getting my thoughts around that. I shall explain: I come of a school of thought where copying other artists was not considered the way to learn art. You were allowed to look at other art and learn from it, but it was stressed that you had to find your 'own voice' instead of copying other artists works.

Now let's make this clear: I have not copied this from Mark Rothko, this painting started out as one of my abstracts with much looser shapes and lines but halfway it decided to become this and I let it be, being very happy with the way it turned out but at the same time not ready to show it to 'the world'. My Dutch friend and painter Louis always says that everything you paint is something you have seen before, somewhere else, nothing is ever new yet it is always new in the way you make it yours. And I agree with him, being a visual creature by nature as a painter, you're always open to shapes, signs, colors and somehow they float around in your memory waiting to find a place in your work whenever you're ready for them. I have always loved Rothko's paintings, I may have been the only 12 year old in my class with a Rothko poster on the wall, where all the others had the Rolling Stones or the Beatles. And I may not have understood his paintings in full at that age but they certainly spoke to me.

Reaching some form of abstraction has taken me a long, long time and it has been an interesting journey. I still do both, the abstracted landscapes and aspects of nature next to the pure abstracts, sometimes the inspiration comes from this side, sometimes from the other.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

A good start!

Late 2005 I had a show in Galerie Vlasblom in Arnhem, Netherlands. This last fall I received an email from someone who had seen the show and who had hung on to the invitation with a photograph of one of my paintings (from the Winter field series).
She told me how taken she was by my paintings and asked my permission to use one of the Winter Field paintings on her website,( she is a therapist with a private practice). We emailed some back and forth, had a very friendly and interesting phone conversation and as a result not only will my painting appear on her website (going live soon) but she also purchased the painting for her office.
Now if that is not a great start of a new year!
It also shows how long after a show results can come in, it really warmed my heart to hear how she had cherished that image on the invitation and then acted on it when she saw an opportunity.
Thank you Hilde, from Holland!

Here's a picture from the studio. Friday I got a 'new' worktable, courtesy of my studio neighbour Julie who is moving out of the building. It needed some re-arranging of the painting area but after all was set in place it turned out a wonderful addition and I had a great afternoon painting from my new spot.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Mississippi Memories

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I'm starting the new year with one of the paintings I finished by the end of last year - an early (summer) evening view of the Mississippi river in Alma Wisconsin. The inspiration was found on a balmy July night.
As long as I remember I have always been attracted by water, be it the sea, rivers, lakes or brooks. Being born in Holland, you're never really far from water, but as it happens I was born and lived in Rotterdam for an important part of my life and there the river is a very vital part of town. Living on the south side you always had to cross the river to get into downtown so there were always bridges that opened and made you wait among throngs of fellow bicyclists, watching the boats go by.There are many, many memories of river views stored on my visual hard drive yet I have done very few river view paintings. None in fact! It always seemed too obvious as a subject, endangered of ending up being a 'pretty/lovely' or kitschy sort of painting, something to be avoided at ALL times. Yet, somehow at this time in life I seem to have developed the tools with which to paint my experiences without falling into the pretty/lovely trap.
Being a painter of "less is more", much has been edited out of this landscape in order to abstract it, but I kept the vertical "signs" of the smoke stacks of Alma's power plant and also the floating buoys that mark the swimming pool area. Somehow that takes away any possible sweetness that still might lurk in this sunset scene.

The painting is in oil on linen and measures 24"x48"

Thursday, December 13, 2007

In the end, it's all about the paint

This is the phrase I used in a discussion with a Dutch painter/friend of mine about what makes a painting a good painting. He did not agree.
As a painter you cannot help but think about what defines a good painting, is it the contents (story/idea), the composition, the colors? Surely all of these elements are important to a painting, but I came to the conclusion that even if all of the aforementioned elements were there but the paint was not right or in the right place (this is a difficult definition, I know) then that would decide it to be not a good painting.
You can imagine my joy when I came upon an interview with the painter James Rosenquist (in Vogue of all magazines) and read his words: "The object is just to get the paint out of the tube and on to the canvas in the right place."
And that's it, exactly!
No matter how meaningful your idea is, if the paint does not feel right it just does not make a good painting. To me a good painting has to have a living and breathing skin, one that you want to touch (which unfortunatley is forbidden in musea and most galleries) and the paint has to have this almost sensual quality in the way it has been applied to, or moved around on the canvas or the panel.

Two new paintings that I spent quite some time on moving paint around untill I thought it was in the right place:

Low Horizons # 1 & 2, both are based on abstracted memories, the rainstorm is based on a road trip through Holland after I had moved to the United States, the mountain ridge on a recent trip to New Mexico, where things happen in the landscape that don't happen anywhere else.

Size 18" x 14", oil/cold wax on linen

Friday, November 30, 2007

The first will be the last....or when to stop painting

Finally it's done! This was actually the first painting I started after visiting the Kickapoo Valley, but it became the last one to finish. As I wrote in an earlier blog entry, this one has spent a lot of time sitting close by, in the corner of my eye while I'm at work, just to see if it will stand the test.
This was one of those paintings that immediately had a strong presence, in just the first layer of color I put on over the colored ground.As the first layer dried, I started the two other paintings but somehow this one was so strong already that I became reluctant to work on it further. There is this strange thing that sometimes happens, I could see myself that the painting looked great but because it was just the set-up in my opinion, I had trouble in accepting that it might be really done.
And there is also the experience built up over many years of painting, that even though a painting may look great from it's first sketchy set-up, it will look even greater after it's been worked on for many more hours.
This pictures very well what process is going on between the painter and the painting, you start out with an idea and after that the idea/painting get's a life of its own and an ongoing conversation starts between the painter and the painting. Do I stick with what I had in mind or am I going with the unexpected possibilities that are being offered by the painting?
Often I feel the dilemma of calling a painting finished when in my eyes it's just the beginning versus working on. There are pro's and con's for each choice. First set-ups are usually beautiful in all their spontaneity, focused on the big picture instead of the details. But sometimes they are also too representational for what I'm after, which is a more distilled/abstracted view of the landscape.
Famously, what looks great at the start often gets lost in the process of adding more layers, but many years of painting also taught me that almost always something better comes out. Adding more layers makes the colors richer, as I work in very thin, almost glazing layers of oil colors, and colors from the underlying parts shine through the top layer, giving the painting a deep glow of color as well as movement. The con on this can be a sometimes too polished look, but that is easily undone by adding some more glazes and using a palette knife and a rag to scrape and rub off paint.
Anyway, this time I decided to go with the first one, I did not add too much more to it, just cleaned up some rough parts in the sky and added some more light in the foreground.

Kickapoo valley #1, 30x40 oil/canvas captures a mid-summer day in late afternoon where clouds provide a dramatic light effect.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

An inspired art weekend, part two

The second part of our weekend trip (now already some weeks ago) consisted of delivering some more small paintings to The Commercial in Alma. The first batch was already there but the ones I delivered now had been waiting for their frames.
The paintings, of which you see three here are part of a series of small abstracts in oil/cold wax. It's only over the past few years that I developed a taste for exploring small size paintings, and I like the idea of combining a couple of small paintings to create a collage like art work of its own. As in exhibitions, by arranging art work in different ways, you get a new result every time, which I think is interesting.

The (museum quality)floater frames are from Metropolitan Frames from Minneapolis. I order them unfinished and finish them myself in either a whitewash or tinted wash, depending on what the painting asks for, then they are finished with wax.

The Commercial is one of the most interesting gallery/stores that I know here in Wisconsin. Owner and friend Kristine Kjos is a multi talented artist herself and her space breathes her very unique and individual style throughout, both in the layout of the store as in the choice of artists she represents. Her way of displaying and arranging objects and art invites you on a journey through the whole store,where moods are created from playful to dreamy and from tactile to serene.
This weekend (November 24/25)is Holiday Open House at The Commercial, but all through the remainder of this month and December you will be able to find artful and one of a kind gifts there. Some of Kristine's creations will be part of the Polderland = Wonderland show in my gallery on December 7,8 and 9.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

A very inspiring art weekend

Last weekend we made a very inspiring trip. My husband had to pick up something in the Minneapolis area for our bulb business and I had to deliver some more small paintings to my gallery in Alma, The Commercial. My friend Rebecca Crowell happens to live in that neck of the woods too, so we made her the first stop on our trip. This was the perfect opportunity to catch up on art talk and studio visits. We do email each other regularly and exchange photo's of works in progress asking for comments and critique, but nothing compares to the real studio visit!
Now, maybe I should explain that I have something with artist studio's, maybe all artists have, maybe not. I just love to be in art studio's.
Rebecca's studio is one I love in particular - you have to go down the steps from her house to the big barn that is her studio. Rebecca always puts smaller works in progress on the right hand wall and it was full of jewels. A series of small squares and rectangles, mostly in warm colors, a medium sized painting consisting of three panels in a wonderful combination of blues and rusty reds, the top panel being an esoteric pale blue with a vague imprint in foggy red. I just wanted to take them all for the Polderland = Wonderland event on December 7,8&9!
Then it was on to the larger works, now all beautifully lit by new daylight lamps, installed by her husband Don. What a difference that makes. No folks, we do not all have that perfect northern light exposure studio you always read about, most of us have to make do with what we can find.
As you may have read from Rebecca's blog, the demand for her work is growing, which places her in a position that is both wonderful and demanding. We've talked a lot lately about how to keep the integrity in your work while at the same time producing more of the same. Rest assured, she can do it! I've seen some wonderful new paintings, the one that is behind her in the picture is my (now) favorite, a panel of pale blue and white embedded in panels of deep earthy colors and golden yellow and coppery tones. Wonderful textures, lots of depth. Much more was in progress and looking very interesting, some new colors that I have not seen from her before. And then we had to talk paint of course...
The next morning we woke up to a beautiful sunny and mild day that lured us for a walk in the fields and over the hills, taking in many beautiful fall vista's, one of those I include.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

the Kickapoo Valley


More time has passed between the last entry and this one as I planned, but sometimes sitting at the computer is not as appealing as putting paint on canvas....
These two paintings are a result from a trip in July through the Kickapoo Valley in Wisconsin. A friend told us about that area and on our way back from a visit to friends in Alma we took this scenic route back. Meadows and roadsides were in full bloom, the trees still had very fresh greens in them, not the sometimes tired dark green from late summer and the time of day was a perfect one for the late sunlight. I made quite a few 'photographic' sketches and worked with those and my memory on a series of landscapes over the summer. These are the first two that I consider really DONE, another one looks like done? but I'll have to live with that one for a while longer before I know for sure if it's really done. This is the 'corner of the eye' period in which the painting sits within my view all the time - if it irritates me or if I get bored with it, it moves back to the easel, if not, you'll see it here very soon....
In September we visited this area once more and it looked very different, it had been hit by late August's heavy rainfalls and many areas had been flooded as we could still see. Lots of old trees had come down and there were still mud traces visible. Landscapewise this is a very beautiful area, rolling hills, fresh meadows and trees in the valleys, diverse agriculture, Organic Valley's headquarters are here too so I'm assuming a lot of organic farming goes on here, and we also saw some Amish farmers. The last ones provide the landscape with their wonderful traditional haystacks. I only remember those from my very early childhood when they were called 'hooi oppers' in Dutch. Think of Monet's series of paintings of haystacks at different light settings to visualise the shape of a soft rounded mound of hay.
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