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...