Thursday, January 22, 2015

Canvas or board?

Got several emails with questions about the surface I paint on. The short answer is: 6 mil. MDF panel, mounted on a wooden frame to prevent curvature.

The long answer is: I used to paint on canvas, but the texture of the fabric started to bother me. I wanted the decision to be up to me, wether I needed a smooth or a textured surface. So I started painting on wood. I used to prepare my own (masonite) panels. Grounded them with Gesso (a Talens brand) and a brush. Watered the Gesso down in the first three, maybe four layers. Less water in each following layer and you avoid "gumming-up". I used very fine sandpaper to smoothen each layer, always with lots of water. To speed up the drying process I had a hair dryer on stand by. To tell you the truth: I hated it, it was an awful lot of work. The results were great though.

Now I don't ground my own panels anymore. I found a guy here in Holland who does a great job preparing MDF panels. Smooth surface like you've never seen. At first it was hard, painting on his panels. Very slippery, made me feel uneasy. But over time I found a technique based on layering that allowed me to do just the stuff I had in mind.

 I did a 70 minutes video (Painting Clouds by Layering) that tells the whole story. Here's the trailer.

Thursday, January 8, 2015


A positive comment I often get is "Your paintings look just like photographs'. A negative comment I often get is "Your paintings look just like photographs'. Same phrase, opposite meaning.


Painters have always used the technical possibilities of their time to make their work look as real as possible. The 17th century Dutch painter Vermeer used an ingenious lense system and the 19th century Impressionists were keen to use the newly invented camera. In the 21st century painters use digital cameras and computers. A few years back I made a YouTube clip called 'The computer is a painter's best friend'. It's a small demonstration of how I use Photoshop to design my paintings.

Ocean with Evening Clouds, detail
 Seen from a distance my work may seem photographic, but when you look up close, you'll of course see that it's not. That's why on my website (at least in the 'recent work' section) I always include two or more details when I put a paintng online. Sometimes these details become almost abstract. Dots of paint and small brush strokes that you don't see from a distance, let alone on a computer screen.

Ocean with Evening Clouds, oil on panel, 120 x 160 cm
Got an email a while ago from a guy who just saw one of my paintings: "This was only a painting, but it made me feel the same way as I had just done on the beach" This is a great compliment and it sums up what I'm after: make a painting that mirrors the feelings I have when I'm in this landscape, wether it's standing in awe for the grandeur of nature or simply enjoying the beauty of it all. For me realism is the way to achieve this, or at least get as close as possible. Mission impossible ofcourse, but I just love to keep trying!