TECHNIQUE



History

There has been some development in my technique. I started painting very swiftly and sketch-like, in the style of the impressionists and expressionists and I also copied a lot of paintings, especially by Van Gogh. After learning about the work of modern dutch realists like Carel Willink and Dick Ket, I started to paint more realistically. Following some of the old masters like Vermeer and Caravaggio (see David Hockney 'Secret Knowledge') I also experimented with using optical devices such as projectors, mirrors, the camera lucida and the camera obscura, and I also experimented with alternative media like artificial resins that harden when irradiated with UV light. However, these methods did not really give satisfactory results. Strangly a medium and technique that has been around for maybe 500 years or so, despite of all technological developments, still is the best (for me), namely oil-paint and working after nature. Lately, my technique has been converging. I work in a quite rigid manner, but I try to suggest as much as possible, for instance by adding structure to the surface of the paint with a palet knife. I am fascinated by paintings that show a realistic image when viewed from a distance, but when one moves closer one still can see a lot of small structures, a kind of 'atomic' structure of the painting. Often this constitutes a world of its own that one does not see immediately, like the real subatomic world the laws of wich remain hidden for the superficial observer. An aspect that also fascinates me is the study of all visual elements (structure, shadows, high lights, reflections) from which our brain reconstructs an almost tengible three dimensional world in our imagination. The painter may use these elements to create his own world and take along with him the observer.

Current Technique

I work on masonite panels which I ground using 4 layers of diluted acrylic paint. This results in a a smooth, egg-shell like surface which is non-absorbent. This allows me to completely control the surface structure of the painting and to move around the paint on the surface or whipe it off, to make corrections. On such a surface, it is more difficult however, to complete a painting in one session, as brush strokes or stripes often remain visible with the white ground showing through. Thus, one has to paint in at least two layers.

Making a new composition at my parent's attick. 
To optimize the light I removed a few tiles from the roof.
 


Making a new composition at my parent's attick. To optimize the light I removed a few tiles from the roof.


To compose a new painting, I lay out a configuration of objects and take a large number of digital photographs, usually a 50 or so. In each photograph I change a small detail of the configuration, I move around objects or change the lighting. After reviewing the pictures, I pick out the one that I like best, and when necessary, make some more changes. Thus I try to obtain the optimal composition, as far as this is possible. In doing this, I carefully judge elements as balance in weight, color and luminosity of the objects, spatial suggestion by using planes, and the space around the objects themselves.

In the actual painting process, I start with a fairly detailed pencil drawing, in which all contours are recorded. I use a ruler to measure the actual distances in my setup, and scale them up to the size of the panel. I like to depict objects in their real size, or somewhat larger. When content, I remove the excess of graphite to prevent contamination of the oil paint. Thus a barely visible drawing is left (1st image).

In the first layer of paint then, I use turpentine-diluted oil paint. Alternatively, acrylic paint can be used. It is applied with a course, firm brush, although I sometimes use a soft-haired brush to achieve an even film of paint, e.g. for the backgrounds. In this layer I focus mainly on global forms. I first start with filling in the background (2nd image). This way, the objects I paint later don't seem to float in an empty space. Then, I fill in all objects (3rd image). Finally, I try to improve some contours or remove some unwanted brush strokes, when necessary (4th image). In this stage, the full range of tones arising in the composition should be covered, as corrections in tone are difficult to make in later layers. This first stage of the painting should give a sound impression and should be a good first-approximation of the final result.

In the second layer then (5th image), I build up paint further and oil-paint is now applied undiluted. Often I use a bit of impasto alkyd medium to speed up drying. In some parts, I use a medium consisting of half alkyd medium and half lineseed oil. The film of paint thus built up stays liquid for about half a day and is dry in one or two days. As this layer is fairly close to the first layer in tone and color, unwanted brush strokes dissolve in this second layer and the painting looks more smooth. This is the right moment to add more detail. In this stage, I also add structure to the painting, i.e. I use paint thickly where I think this is necessary. Using the palette knife and coarse brushes, one can suggest many details using thick paint, that are not actually there. The eye of the beholder interprets small structures in the painting in such a way that they fit in the entire picture. Thus one can achive illusionism with a relatively small amount of effort. For a good example of this technique, look at the later paintings of Rembrandt.

In the final layers (6th image), I add a lot of medium to the paint. This gives the paint a liquidity and transparency, that allows one to make subtle gradients in colors. Here I use 1/2 part alkyd medium and 1/2 part lineseed oil. I like to apply a thin layer of medium to the entire painting before I start to actually paint. Then I brush in the colors. When such a 'glazing' layer has been applied to heavily structured areas, scratching it off again with a palette knife enhances the structure. The glaze stays put in the deep parts ('valleys') of the structure, and is removed at the high parts. The glaze that stays put thus follows the form of the structured paint underneath. This is another trick the 17th century masters used to fool the beholder into seeing a detailed painting.

After a week of drying I usually finish with a layer of glossy retouching varnish. Retouching varnish allows the paint to dry further, as apposed to final varnish. The latter should be applied after 6 months or so of drying. The reason I use glossy varnish, is that this returns the surface quality of the dried painting to that of the wet painting (more or less). As dicisions about colors and tones are made by the artist when the paint is wet, I feel that this is what the painting should look like in the end. Hence I prefer glossy varnish.

Still life with blue book and red ribbon, 35x23cm, 2014.

Still life with minneola, 50x38cm, 2014.

Still life with cherries in chinese bowl, 36x33cm, 2014.

Still life with Apricot Jam, 58x35cm, 2014.

Still life with cherries and tankard, 54x40cm, 2014.

Still life with Yellow Cherries, 51x35cm, 2014.

Portrait of Susan, 40x40cm, 2014.

Tangerine, 14x18cm, 2014.

Cherry, 13.5x10.5cm, 2014.

Portrait, 29x40cm, 2014.

Still life with Lemons and Black Bowl, 55x52cm, 2013.

Still life with purple napkin and wine glass, 40x57cm, 2013.

Still life with Pears and Green Bottle, 65x55cm, 2013.

Portrait of Irene, 80x51, 2013.

Still life with Pommegranates, 40x46cm, 2013.

Portrait of T.H., 23x28cm, 2012.

Still life with Clementines and Vase, 46x37cm, 2013.

Still life with apples, 34x44cm, 2012.

Still life with Clementines, 35x32cm, 2012.

Still life with Black Jug, 52x30cm, 2012.

Still life with clementines, 33x34cm, 2011.

Still life with Apricots, 50x32cm, 2012.SOLD

Still life with peaches and bottle, 44x33cm, 2011.SOLD

Still life with pomegranate, 35x22cm, 2012.

Still life with quinces, 50x32cm, 2011.SOLD

Still life with cherries and vase, 24x28cm, 2011. SOLD

Still life with small teapot, 13x13cm, 2011.

Still life with sun light, 60x40cm, 2011.

Figure Study en Plein-Air, 34x24cm, 2011.

Stilleven met koffiemolen, 35x37cm, 2010.

Still life with plums, 45x48, 2010.

Still life with kiwi, 12x14cm, 2009.

Still life with chives, 40x40cm, 2008.

Still life with candy, 10x14, 2007.

Still life with Reine Claudes, 17x42cm, 2006. SOLD

Still life with apples, 60x60cm, 2006. SOLD

Still life with pomegrenate, 60x60cm, 2006.

Still life with pumpkin, 60x60cm, 2006.

Still life with coffee A, 60x60cm, 2006.

Still life with Chisel, 42x22cm, 2005.

Kitchen still life with bread, 61x43cm, 2005.

Still life with Open Book, 87x56cm, 2005

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Fill in the background
 




Filling in the objects
 




Filling in the objects
 




Make some corrections
 




Next layer: build up paint
 




Glazing