Thursday, July 23, 2015

Painting side effects

I love being a painter. For several reasons. The most important of course being painting itself. Nothing compares to working for hours, struggling to get it right, and at some point look at your painting from a distance and think: "Hey, now we're getting somewhere!".

The Last Quarter, oil on panel, 80 x 60 cm

Another reason is the fact that I get in touch with people from all over the globe. They share one thing: their love of painting. Every now and then I get to meet one of them in person. Like Robert Hobkirk, for example. He's an amazing guy. Lives in Northern California with his loving wife Jeannine and their dogs Belle and Molly. A few years ago he wrote me an email about my work and that was the start of an ongoing correspondence.

Last fall we met at the Rijks Museum in Amsterdam. He's 71 now, but that doesn't keep him from travelling Europe. We spent the day looking at great art, talking about the price of gas and about our favorite paintings.

Robert Hobkirk is a bit of a Renaissance-man. Not only is he the author of a great art blog, but he’s also the sculptor of wonderful objects made from stuff other people throw away. Not only does he write short stories that are both funny and sad, he’s also an amazing poet, who recently published his first book: Haiku Avenue, 333 haiku poems.

Though the classical Japanese haiku style is pretty old, Hobkirks poems are as fresh and alive as can be. The subject matter ranges from sensitive nature observations to steaks sizzling in a frying pan. I just love every one of the 333. Here's one:

Hard rain after dark
we slept in a driftwood hut
ocean snored all night

Even more recently he came out with a second book: Somewhere Poetry Grows Wilde Under the Eucalyptus. In the fall he hopes to publish some short stories and a novel is scheduled for next year. Just can't wait...

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Photographing your work

Some five weeks ago I bought a new compact camera. Not that the one I had was broken or anything, but I wasn't satisfied with the video quality. The new camera is absolutely amazing. HD video quality and fantastic stabilizing.

It also has a time lapse mode. That was new to me, so I had to figure out how it worked. I had planned to make an oil sketch for a possible commission (which I didn't get...) and I thought it might be a good idea to film the making-of as a time lapse. Great fun to see myself as a Comedy Capers character working like mad on this little painting. Hope you enjoy it too.

Now let's get serious: taking pictures of your work can be quite frustrating. The colors are off, the image is unsharp, annoying reflections, what have you. There are a few simple groundrules that can make your life easier, at least when it comes to taking pictures of your work.

Here we go:
- The quality of the light is the most important factor. Bad lighting, bad picture. The best light can be found on an overcast day with diffuse light. Take your painting outside and you'll be amazed by the quality of the pictures.
- When you shoot indoors, make sure you use daylight lamps. Most everyday light bulbs are way to yellow.
- No direct flash. Direct flash equals reflections. 
- Use a tripod. A stabilized camera allows you to use a wider diafragm and higher shutterspeed. Which leads to sharper pictures.
- Treat yourself to a photo software program. It will allow you to adjust  not only lightness and contrast, but color hue as well. I use Photoshop Elements. It has all the features I need and is relatively cheap. Indispensable for fine tuning your pictures.


Changing Weather, oil on panel, 15 x 45 cm