Friday, December 26, 2014


Been working less than I planned. You know how it is these last days of the year. Don't get me wrong, I love the family visits, but it's not easy painting with a bunch of kids playing in the studio.
Still I managed to finish the painting I've been working on for a while. It's quite big: 80 x 150 cm. I love the large formats. They give a sense of space you don't get on the small ones.

Tracks, oil on panel, 80 x150 cm

I'm writing about this particular painting because I used a different method to paint the clouds. In the first stage I did the blue of the sky, with it's transition from a greenish- to a darker blue. It took me two days and a number of layers to get it right, but that was worth the trouble. The transition gets much smoother and the colors more intense. The next day I did the first layer of the clouds in a mid tone, much like the cloud on the right side of the painting. Used my thumb to give the edges a fluffy look. In the next few days I slowly built up the white of the clouds (Titanium White with a little Vermillion Red to be preciese), using the initial mid tone for the shadow parts.

I use this method mainly for free floating clouds against a blue background, but I think I'm going to try it for more overcast skies as well.

Well, that's it for now. Hope you're enjoying the Holiday Season. All the best for you and your loved ones for 2015!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Autumn island

A few months ago me and a close friend made a trip to Vlieland, my favorite Dutch island. We planned on shooting some footage for my second longplay video. My friend is a skilled cameraman who also shot my Painting Clouds video.

The idea was to crosscut the images with paintings I made, to show the impact of the island on my work. The weather forecast was good, so we were hoping for sunshine and clouds. When we got on the ferry it was still a bit misty, but we didn't mind. The boat trip takes about an hour and a half and we shot some wonderful images of the hazy sun, reflecting on the water. We were convinced that, by the time we'd get on the island, the sun would come out and we'd see some stunning clouds.

Well, you probably get where this is going. Nothing of the kind happened. The sun didn't come out all day. We rode our bikes all over the island and we had a great time, but we'll have to come back for the clouds.

I used the footage we shot for a short YouTube video. Hope you like it.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

A peculiar sky

Yesterday I finished the painting I told you about in my previous blog entry.  I initially thought it would be a piece of cake; I did a smaller version earlier (see my July 5 blog) so what could possibly go wrong? I should have known better. Every time I think stuff like that, I get into trouble.

The Sea #3, oil on panel, 120 x 160 cm

It turned out the hardest part was the sky. It's a peculiar sky, with a diagonal line that separates a lighter and a darker part. I didn't make that up: I saw a similar sky this spring. The line is caused by a cloud that blocks the sun. The funny thing is that it coincides exactly with a contrail.

The problem was how to balance the two parts. In the early stages of the painting the line was too hard, so I kept softening it, till it almost disappeared and I had to go the other way. And then again I had to soften it and so on and so forth... It's a big painting, so it took me quite a few days to get it right. I'm okay with it now. What do you think?

Painting the water is a lot of fun. Especially the little dots of foam. Titanium white, always mixed with just a hint of color. In this case Naples Yellow. I'm using Bohemian Green with a little Burnt Sienna in the shadow parts of the waves. The Dutch beaches are very sandy and that has an effect on the color of the water. It gets a bit muddled and sometimes it is downright brown or even green. Every now and then I envie those of you who live on the coast of the Mediterrenean or the Pacific with it's blue-green water, but I do love the endles shades of grey-ish blue that are so typical of the North Sea. They're the colors I grew up with.


Thursday, November 13, 2014

The Sea #2

Maybe you remember the triptych I made a few months ago. The centerpiece is a picture of my grandson and his dad walking towards the sea. I wrote about it in my blog entry of August first. It's a small painting and I have been imagining for some time what it would look like on a really large panel, 120 x 160 cm or something like that. A few days ago I decided to stop imagining and start painting.

Underpainting of 'The Sea #2', oil on panel, 120 x 160 cm

Starting a painting often means thinking about it, making a plan. In this case I wondered should I do the landscape first and paint the figures on top of it, or integrate them in the underpainting. I decided to the latter. They're such an important part of the painting, they should be involved in the equasion right from the start. The downside of course is that you can't paint the landscape in a single stroke as it were, but you have to leave out the figures in the first stage. It's more work, but hey, I love painting, so who cares.

Anyway, here's a picture of that first stage. In my next blog entry I hope to show you what happened next.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Pedestrian with Red Jacket

Last time I told you about the painting I was working on: a guy with a red jacket, walking towards the ocean. Well, here it is:

Pedestrian with Red Jacket, oil on panel, 40 x 120 cm

I must say, I really enjoy this new direction my work seems to have taken. I always avoided the human figure, because I wanted the focus to be on light and space. When you introduce a figure the painting becomes a narrative, like a still from a movie. The funny thing is: that is exactly what I like about it now. What on earth is this guy with his red jacket doing there?

It has been a while since I painted a human figure   (almost 40 years I guess) so I was a bit out of practice. Still I enjoyed it a lot. The problem often is to make the figure  a part of the landscape. It should not be isolated, like it's a separate world. To solve this problem I painted the background just over the edge of the figure and the figure on top of that. Of course the reflection in the water also helps. 

Feedback is welcome!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Rømø Beach

As promised in my previous blog entry, here's an oil sketch of a beach scene on the Danish island Rømø.

Rømø Beach #1, oil on paper sketch, 30 x 40 cm

Maybe you remember the triptych I was working on last July. Each of the three images had a human figure in it, which is quite exceptional for me. Since then I've been thinking about doing more of that. Got some encouraging reactions to the triptych and  when I showed it in an exhibition at the Møhlmann Museum (a privately funded museum of contempory Dutch realism) all three paintings were sold within a week. 'I must be on to something here...' I thought. Lots of different ideas went through my head and at the moment I'm working on a painting with a guy in a red jacket walking towards the sea. Hope to show you the result in my next blog.

Rømø Beach #2, oil on paper sketch, 30 x 40 cm

Anyway, I wondered what the Rømø sketch would look like with a few figures in it. 'What's the worst that can happen' I said to myself and I added  three guys walking on the beach. I'm not sure about the result. Did it get better? Please let me know what you're thinking!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Reflections #4

I keep coming back to this theme. Must be the time of year... 

Reflections, oil on paper sketch, 30 x 40 cm
I'm considering the idea of making a second 'how-to' video, this time on how to paint reflections. Some of you may have seen my first video (how to paint photo-realistic clouds). It was released in June 2013 and I had so much fun with the comments I got from all over the world that it gave me a taste for more. What's holding me back is the fact that it's an awful lot of work. I'll talk it over with my friend the cameraman and we'll see.

Cumulus Clouds, oil on paper sketch, 30 x 40 cm

In the meantime I made two more oil on paper sketches. I plan to make some more in preparation of a large painting on panel. Last week I visited the Danish island Rømø and I saw some stunning scenes of backlit clouds reflected in the wet sand. Made me feel like driving home, get into my studio and start painting. By the time I post my next entry I hope to have one or two sketches to show you.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Painting sand

Before I get to the subject of this entry I'd like to (once again) draw your attention to the new blog I launched two weeks back: 'An oil painting a week'. If you get the chance, please take a look and let me know what you think. End of commercial.

Dunes in the Sunlight, oil on paper, 30 x 40 cm

This last week I've been working on an oil sketch on paper: a dune in the sun with a blue sky and some summer clouds. I wanted to emphasize the grainy texture of the sand, so I decided to conduct a little experiment. Why not apply the texture beforehand and paint on top of that? I still had a can of modelling paste and I applied it with a palette knife. Got out my stippler and worked the paste till I got a very fine texture that looked like this:

Then I mixed a bit of fleshcolour (Lukas) with Yellow Ochre (Talens) and Bohemian Green (Lukas) and soon found out I needed a lot more paint. A surface like this absorbs paint very quickly. Took me a few layers to get it right.

Painting foliage has never been my strongpoint. This time I started with an underpainting of Burnt Sienna (Talens) and Yellow Ochre (Lukas). Once dry I painted the sand reed on top of it with my beloved saber/squirrel brush (see blog entry Friday, January 17th, 2014).
Drew some more reed in the wet surface with the stem of my brush, exposing the brown underpainting. It was a struggle, like always...

For a bigger picture of the painting please see my online sales page.

Friday, August 29, 2014

An oil-painting a week

Where would we be without the internet? For an artist like me it's a great way to get in touch with my audience. It's one of the reasons to write this blog and to sell my video and oil sketches online. 

Today I'm going to launch a new blog: An Oil Painting a Week. I plan to present a new painting every week on Friday.  Each painting has the size of a picture postcard and comes with a small black aluminium frame. It can be ordered with a mouse click for a modest price. I'd really like you to check it out and let me know what you're thinking!

Beach with Cirrus Clouds, 10 x 15 cm (3.9 x 5.9"), oil on panel

In my July 18 blog entry I already told you I was working on this series. Posted an example, which I thought was finished. But you know how it is: after a few days your perspective  changes, so I started working on the thing again. Now I really think it's finished. If you like, you can compare it to the July 18 version. Did it get any better? Let me know!

A size like this comes with specific challenges. On a 3.9 x 5.9" panel (it's really tiny...) you can't maintain the level of detail of a larger painting. So I had to stick to the real important aspects: color, light and space. I taped the making of 'Beach with Dark Sky' and posted it on YouTube

Friday, August 15, 2014

Reflections 3

Sunset, oil on paper, 30 x 40 cm
Been working on some new oil sketches. Got a solo show in 'De Twee Pauwen' Art Gallery in The Hague next spring (one of the few Dutch galleries that still sell large works). Making sketches is a great way to find out if an idea has enough potential to turn it into a big painting.

Some of you may remember previous blog entries about painting reflections. In my sketches I use yet another approach. It's simple, but very effective. Might try it in a big one.

Reflected Clouds, oil on paper, 30 x 40 cm
Firts step is painting the reflections area in a midtone, in this case a greyish blue. Then I added the lighter colors (in vertical strokes) and the dark colors in the bottom part, all wet on wet. I slowly built it up to the right tone by adding lighter/darker colors. To smoothen the surface I used my badger hair fan brush.

For large areas I might have a problem. I use a fast drying medium (Liquin) and since this is method is wet on wet, I'll have to work fast. I'll keep you posted!

Check out my online sales page for bigger pictures:

Friday, August 1, 2014

The Sea

Been working on the centerpiece of my triptych. Added some detail in the sea and changed it's title. 'A Day at the Beach #3' is now 'The Sea'. It reminded me of the first time I saw the sea as a kid. Must've been five years old and I still clearly remember how overwhelmed I was.

The Sea, oil on panel, 32 x 64 cm

In this painting there is quite a difference between the surfaces. The sky and it's reflection are smooth and you can't see a brush stroke. The sea and the two figures show a different approach, whith dots of paint on top of a ground layer. This ground layer is painted much like the sky and it's reflection. In this stage the water showed little movement. The dots of the second layer changed that.

The color of this second layer is also pretty important. Seen from a distance you don't want the dots to stand out from the background, you want them to more or less blend in. There are to ways to achieve this. The first is to slightly change the color of the dots. Make it just a tad lighter or darker than the background. 

The second has to do with color contrast. In this painting I used Burnt Sienna, which is a warm color compared to the blue background. I toned it down to just about the same shade as the background. If you'd take a black and white picture of it, you'd hardly see the difference. Different colors of the same tone. Works miracles.

It's still magic to me how a painting that is almost abstract, with it's dots and small brush strokes, can change into a detailed scene, when seen from some distance.

I'm also still working on the 10 x 15 series. More about that later.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Small is beautiful

We just got back from a short vacation on the Croatian coast. Great scenery, lovely weather and nice people. Now that I'm back I find it hard to get started again. The weather is hot (and that doesn't happen very often in Holland), the summer vacation just started and everything slowed down, including me.

What I did do was make a very small painting of 10 x 15 cm (4 x 6 in). I'm plannng to make a series of this size. I'll tell you later what I have in mind. 

Beach With Cirrus Clouds, oil on panel, 10 x 15 cm

Making a painting this small, is quite a challenge. You can't paint as many details as you're maybe used to, at least I can't. There's simply not enough room, unless you're painting with a one haired brush. So you're forced to leave the details out and at the same time produce a painting that convincingly suggests light and space. I may need some more practice...  

Taking a short vacation also gave me a fresh look at my tryptich. In my previous blog entry I told you about the doubts I had about the left- and right wing. These doubts simply vanished. What a little distance can't do...

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Breaking my own rule

Those of you who are familiar with my work know the human figure doesn’t play a prominent role in it, and that’s an understatement. Still, for some resason I don’t really understand myself, I lately painted an image with a human figure in it. A woman in white, strolling along the beach, her feet in the water. I called it ‘A Day at the Beach’. 

A Day At The Beach #1, oil on panel 32 x 32 cm

Then I got the idea I could maybe make ‘A Day at the Beach’ triptych. The second painting was a little boy, playing in the water. Totally absorbed in his play, like children can.

A Day At The Beach #2, oil on panel 32 x 32 cm

I usually have a pretty detailed plan before I start working, but not this time. I had the right- and the left wing of my tryptich and all I needed now was a centerpiece. I searched my photo archive for an idea, but nothing came up and I let the whole thing go.

Last May me and my family spent a short vacation on one of the Dutch islands and I took a picture of my grandson and his dad walking towards the sea. There it was, my centerpiece!

A Day At The Beach #3, oil on panel 32 x 64 cm

Now I got another problem. I’m really content with the centerpiece, but it doesn’t go well with the right and the left wing, I think. That’s what you get if you don’t make a plan… Maybe I should start all over again and make a proper plan for the right- as well as the left wing. What do you think?

Thursday, June 19, 2014

North Sea Breakers (2)

I finally finished the North Sea Breakers painting. Been working hard. Had a deadline to meet: the start of the Summer Show at the Twee Pauwen Art Gallery in The Hague (Netherlands) on June 29. Yesterday the painting left my studio to be framed and transported to the gallery.

North Sea Breakers, oil on panel, 120 x 160 cm

 In reaction to the question in my previous blog entry I got a few reactions in the mail. Thanks! One comment suggested I'd get rid of the beach pole and I agreed. When I removed it, the painting seemed to have more depth. I also softened the color of the beach. Dutch beaches are a bit pale, which goes great with the greenish color of the North Sea. For you painters out there: I used Flesh Color (Lukas), Sepia (Rembrandt) and Yellow Ochre (Old-Holland).

The weather was real nice, so I worked with the windows open. The blackbird in the yard provided the soundtrack to this YouTube video. Almost four weeks of painting boiled down to nine minutes...

Please check out my online sales page for the oil sketch that goes with the painting.


Friday, June 13, 2014

North Sea Breakers

In my previous blog entry (May 30) I promised you some footage of me working on a new painting. It seems that I was a bit to optimistic as to when the thing would be finished. As I write this I'm still in the last stages, but I keep seeing stuff that bothers me, so I keep working on it.

Here's the present situation:

North Sea Breakers, oil on panel, 120 x 160 m, under construction

I'm still in doubt about the beach pole. Should I keep it? The edge of the cloud in the upper left corner may still be to sharp and there are probably  a few more things that I need to work on. To close to see em. If you do, please tell me!

I'll get back to you as soon as I finished the painting and the video that goes with it!

Friday, May 30, 2014

Summer Exhibition

I'm working on a large painting for the Summer Exhibition at 'De Twee Pauwen' Art Gallery in The Hague (Netherlands). Their theme for this year is Water and that fits me like a glove. Thought it'd be nice to keep you posted with some footage of the painting process, starting with the design.

I spent quite some time on the design of this painting. In my archive I had a photo of a beautiful April morning cloud. Couldn't get a clear shot, because of the trees in the foreground. It needed a little Photoshop magic before I could use it for my painting.

Spent a few hours in my photo archive to come up with the right sea for this sky. I was looking for a 'bright-day-sea', that would dissolve into the sky on the left side of the picture. That is a bit of a contradiction, so it wasn't easy.

After some experimenting I started to like what I had, but I felt the picture needed a warm accent, so I pasted a beach (got a lotta beaches in my archive) in the bottom part of the picture. 

Please, click the play button to get a 40 second impression of the process.

I finished the design with a small beach pole in the lower left corner. It has a deep red top that adds yet another warm/cold contrast to the picture.

Next time some footage of me working on the painting. That's a bit scary; there is always a possibility the painting goes horribly wrong...

See you in a fortnight.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Top 10 Painting Tips Part Two

Like I promised, the nrs. 5 to 10 of my Top 10 Painting Tips. If you want to check out the first 5, please read my previous blog entry, or watch this YouTube Video.

6. Take A Plein-Air Class.

When I was younger I spent a lot of time painting outdoors. In the summer I took off to the Dutch islands, to paint the beaches, the dunes, the ocean and most of all the skies. I learned a lot during these years, most of all because I had to work fast. The light changes suddenly on these islands and before you know it, a cloud blocks the sun and you're looking at a different landscape.
What I learned most of all is the importance of observation. Just from watching a sky you learn an awful lot and that will be of great use later on, when you try to paint it. It’s a bit like the old Chinese masters, who (as the story goes) sat in a landscape for hours on end, went home and painted it in just a few minutes. I’m no Chinese master and it takes me more than a few minutes to paint a decent sky, but observation is the start if you want to learn how to paint clouds.  

Water color, 1998

7. Learn Linear Perspective.
Linear perspective is an age old way to make a 2D canvas look like it's 3D. Dates back to the second half of the 15th century, but it's still a very powerful tool. It is mainly used for buildings, but for a landscape painter it's very useful too. Check out this great YouTube video by Kenney Mencher and learn all about it.

  8. Try Different Sizes.

Do you feel comfortable with a small canvas or do you prefer a large size? Square or oblong? The only way to find out is to try. You'll be surprised by the possibilities an unusual format has to offer.

 9. Change from canvas to wood, or vice versa
In fact this whole painting business is about finding out what suits you best. For example: it took me quite some time to find out that painting on wood was the best choice for me. Turns out I love a really smooth surface. Prior to that I worked on canvas and on paper (still do).
Don’t be to hasty to decide that something is not right for you. When I first started working on MDF panel it felt like I was painting on ice. But now I wouldn’t change it for the world. Maybe you’ll have the same experience with canvas. Just find out!

 10. Try Working On A Colored Surface.
Most of us are used to working on a white surface. It has been that way for the last couple of hundred years. But some Renaissance painters worked on a deep red bottom layer and quite a lot of contemporary painters still do. For example my friend Frank Speyers (USA) in his wonderful painting Kelderhouse Farm. He tells me he grounded his panel with an acrylic cadmium orange. He left the windows unpainted hence the orange shows through…"As if someone were home. Crazy eh?" he says.

Kelderhouse Farm, Frank Speyers, www.frankspeyers,com

Perhaps you've noticed that most of my tips deal with change and experiment. The reason of course is that the only way to find out what you're comfortable with is to try stuff. Ironically, you will probably feel rather uncomfortable during some of your experiments, but you'll also make some exciting discoveries. Have fun!

Monday, May 5, 2014

Top 10 Painting Tips

Painting is a lot of fun most of the time, but once in a while it can really ruin your mood. Whatever you try, nothing works. You're stuck and you don't have a clue how to get back on track. Here are 5 of my Top 10 Painting Tips to prevent that from happening. I hope you'll find them useful!

1. Spend More Time Designing Your Painting.

Do you know that feeling, when it seems a painting is painting itself? From the first to the last brush stroke it's smooth sailing. Some people think there is magic involved and maybe that is true, but it's probably the magic of a good design. When comparing a few of my paintings where I've had this feeling I came to the conclusion they all had one thing in common: a good design. I know it's hard to define exactly what that is, but for now, lets just say you'll know a good design when you see it. Don't settle for less.

2. A Great Photo Doesn't Always Make A Great Painting.

A lot of painters use photo's in their work. Nothing wrong with that. Painters have always used the technical possibilities of their time to make their images more convincing. But you can't just copy a great picture and think it'll automatically turn into a great painting. A painting often needs a little more than that. It needs a clou, a focus point. 
I use Photoshop as a design tool for my paintings. If you want to find out how that works, please take a look at my Youtube video 'The Computer Is A Painter's Best Friend'.

3. Make An Oil Sketch Before Starting The Real Thing.

When you're planning a large size work, it can be useful to make an oil sketch first. Somehow the transition from pixel to paint tells you if it's a good idea to turn the design into a painting. Plus you can solve some problems in your sketch, that you otherwise would have to solve in the final work.

For more oil sketches, please check my online sales page.

Ocean With Clouds in Backlight, oil on paper, 15 x 20 cm

Ocean With Clouds in Backlight, oil on panel, 120 x 160 cm

4. Make A Plan.

A fellow painter once said to me: "Failing to plan is planning to fail". I don't know if that's always true; if you work in a spontaneous abstract expressionist style, you may want to avoid planning alltogether. But if you make realistic landscapes like I do, planning is pretty important. For example: I often have to make a choice between painting the clouds on a dry blue bottom layer or leave them white and paint them while the blue of the sky is still wet. I applied the latter in my Painting Clouds Video, but both approaches have their advantages. 

5. Learn Linear Perspective.

Linear perspective is an age old way to make a 2D canvas look like it's 3D. Dates back to the second half of the 15th century, but it's still a very powerful tool. It is mainly used for buildings and stuff, but for a landscape painter it can be very useful too. Check out this great YouTube video by Kenney Mencher and learn all about it.

 I'll be back with the second half of my Top 10 Painting Tips in about two weeks.  

Till then, please post your comments or mail me at

Friday, April 18, 2014

A reason to paint

Every now and then someone asks me why I paint what I paint. Why the skies, the sea, the beaches? Good question but difficult to answer. It's hard for an artist to be perfectly aware of his real motives, so any answer will be an educated guess at best.

I could say that the root of my love for this landscape can be found in the vacations I spent as a kid on the Dutch islands. Every year we'd rent a cottage in the dunes, just a few minutes from the beach. It was the highlight of my year. Freedom to play, to swim, fly a kyte or feel the power of a storm, it was all equally amazing. Even now, almost sixty years later, I feel that same glow when I get on the ferry.

Or I could say that as an art student I found out that landscape painting was my thing. How I discovered the great masters of the past: van Ruysdael, Turner, Constable, Weissenbruch. In their work they showed the sublime, effortless character of nature. I wanted that too.

In my day to day life I don't feel sublime or effortless at all. I guess most people don't. We try hard, but most of the time we're rather clumsy. We stumble through life, get bruised and dented and we make do. Still, every now and then, we have our moments. Most of my moments are related to the islands. Standing on a high dune, overlooking the ocean and see the storm clouds gather at the horizon. Walking on the beach at sunset, with a huge cloud hovering overhead. Watching the white sails between the islands on a hot summer day. And don't forget the sounds that go with these scenes.  Birds, rolling waves, the wind.

Maybe that is why I paint what I paint. A reminder of what gets lost so easily in our daily routine.

And of course it keeps the home fire burning...

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Reflections (2)

Didn't get a lot of painting done this last week. The exhibition season is starting and I've been busy organizing transport of my work to different galleries. 

Anyway, in my last blog I promised to tell you a bit about painting reflections in moving water. In the nineties I did a series of water colors with no horizon, only water. Very frustrating on the one hand (it just won't sit still) but quite instructive on the other. I wasn't interested in the results, but in obtaining a more or less intuitive feel of the patterns.Funny thing: back then I signed my work in the middle of the picture...

In my oils reflections play a prominent role. For example in this painting of a windy sunset on one of the Dutch islands. I made it a couple of years ago. It's a rather small panel, 50 x 50 cm. The title is 'High Tide'.
The bottom layer is painted wet on wet, with an indication of the reflections, painted in subdued colors. If you make em to light, you'll have a hard time applying the lighter details later on. Don't waste your color range, slowly build it up. Find out more, if you want, in my Painting Clouds video.

 The wet on wet layer is done with hog hair brushes and then smoothened with badger hair brushes. You need the smooth surface to contrast with the impasto of the details that will be painted on top if this layer. 

In the picture at the bottom you can see how the actual movement is caused by a pattern of brushstrokes. Doing these details is the fun part of a painting like this. When you look at the surface up close it's an almost abstract painting.The dots are not placed randomly though, they follow the pattern of the waves.

For more details of this painting, please go to my website, click 'portfolio', then 'archive'. It's listed as nr 7, 2009. 

Please, add your comments or questions. I will answer them as soon as possible!

Saturday, February 15, 2014


Lou from Australia asked me to follow up on my Painting Clouds video with a video on reflections. Maybe in the future, but for now you'll have to make do with this blog post. Sorry Lou...

After the Storm
90 x 120 cm, oil on panel

Sometimes, when the tide is low and there is little wind, a film of water is left on the sand. A perfect mirror for passing clouds. There are a few groundrules. First, reflections are always a tad darker than the stuff they reflect and second, they have less contrast. No sharp edges and hardly any detail. Perhaps that is why painting reflections is a lot easier than painting clouds.

In 'After The Storm' I did the beach first. So, no reflections in the underpainting, just sand, including the details in the lower right corner. When this ground layer was dry I painted the reflections on top of it in a transparent layer, wet on wet.  I applied the paint with a wide brush and blurred the shapes with my badger hair fan brush. I used Talens Transparent White as a starting point for mixing the greyish colors. Because of the transparency of this layer, you sort of 'feel' the sand underneath it.

As you can see the blue of the sky has turned into a much less saturated color, that gets darker close to the bottom edge of the painting. It repeats the smooth transition in the sky from a light to a darker blue, but in a grey tone. But remember: never use black to make your greys, start with a real color and then break it. In my Painting Clouds video you can learn all about how to make a colored grey.

Next time I'll share what I know about reflections in moving water. Hope it doesn't get to technical. Let me know!

Friday, January 17, 2014

The Ruysdael Project (2)

View of the Vlieland Lighthouse, 120 x 160 cm, oil on panel

You may wonder where the lighthouse is. It's the dot on top of the dune in the centre of the painting. I'll help you out.


There it is. It's been quite an experience, this attempt to paint a tribute to one of my favorite landscape painters Jacob van Ruysdael.The hardest part was the landscape itself. It had been a while since I painted a panoramic view like this. One of the things I stumbled into was how much detail I should add (in particualr in the foreground), and at the same time not loose track of the big picture. 

I decided to go with the pointillistic approach: painting dots in different shades of green on top of the underpainting. That worked really well to light up certain areas, but I was looking for more refinement. So I paid a visit to my local retailer and I found a fantastic brush: a core of sable hair with squirrel on the outside. Squirrel is often used for water color brushes, because it retains a lot of water. In this brush it serves as a reservoir for the sable. It enabled me to create a network of subtle lines in the foreground, just like I wanted. 

 In my previous post I told you I wasn't sure about the water, but in the end I decided to keep it. It connects the sky to the landscape. In one of Ruysdaels Views of Haarlem (he made several) there is water too. Happy coincidence. 

I just finished a 2 minute Youtube video showing the different stages of the painting. I also posted a bigger picture on my website (, with more up close details. In April 2014 it will be part of an exhibition in the Møhlmann Museum (The Netherlands).

Let me know what you're thinking!