Thursday, September 14, 2017

New oil sketches

Don't feel like writing a lot this week, so I thought I'd do a little self promotion. 

A week ago I put 4 new oil sketches on paper online. Two of them already found a new owner, two are still available for a friendly price, passe partout and shipping included. If you're interested, please go to my webshop at Thank you!

(If you read this in, let's say, October 2018 there is a possibility the above is no longer valid...)

Clouds in Backlight, oil sketch on paper, 8.7x15.7"

Cloud Mirror, oil sketch on paper, 11.8x15.7"

Friday, September 1, 2017

Little lies

Every time I put a picture of my work online I'm not totally telling the truth. Not totally lying either, but still. Let me explain. At first sight the two pictures below seem to be photographs of the same painting, but one is a small oil sketch on paper and the other is the finished painting on panel.

Evening Clouds, 11.8x17.7", oil on paper
Evening Clouds, 35.4x47.2", oil on panel

A little over a year ago I made them for an American buyer. To give her an idea of what I intended to do I made the sketch. It's about a third of the size of the finished painting. When you see them like this on your screen they seem to be almost identical. I'll show you some details to demonstrate they're not.

Now I seem to be telling you the truth, but am I? Displayed like this the two details are still misleading, because you see them at the same size. If you really want to compare the two I'd have to show them in a 1 : 1 ratio .

Like this:

And even now these pictures are only telling part of the truth, even though they're the size they have in reality. You're not seeing them in the totality of the painting, they're isolated fragments. And of course you're missing out on the reality of the painted surface. You can't look at it up close and then step back. 

Only way to overcome this problem is go see one of the exhibitions I'm participating in ( If you can't make it there, well, you got to make do with the little lies I tell you...

Thursday, August 17, 2017

The brush and the saw

Lately I've been struggling with a 12x20'' painting. Never got to the 'now-we're-getting-somewhere' point. In the same period I sold a 6x20'' painting to a buyer who didn't care for the frame, so I had a spare frame. Of the same width. One plus one is two, eh? I digitally cropped the picture of the original painting to a size that would fit the spare frame and I really liked the result. But there is a difference between Photoshop and reality: cmd z. Once the panel has been sawn in two you can't restore it with a simple keyboard command. 

The 12x20" version, before cropping

I slept over it a few nights and then decided I would go for it. I don't have the tools to get the job done, but I live in a town where they have something called a 'stadswerkplaats', a city work shop. It costs next to nothing, they have all the tools and if you're a bit clumsy (like me), they're always willing to help you.

I just got back from the work shop and placed the new painting in the frame and I must say I'm really pleased with the result.

Which goes to show that a painter needs more tools than just a brush.

Sun & Mist, oil on panel, 6x20"

Now I have a new problem: what to do with the leftover part...

Thursday, August 3, 2017

the marouflé technique

As some of you may know I often make oil sketches on paper in preparation of larger works on panel.  I sell them for a friendly price on my website. My frame maker produces wonderful passe partoux to protect them during transport. They look great behind glass. 

But every now and then a buyer wants a proper frame instead of a passe partout. In cases like that my frame maker applies the so called marouflĂ© technique. The word 'maroufler' is French and it sounds quite poetic, but it actually means 'to rub'. The painting (or the drawing) is fixed to a solid ground, such as MDF. When it's done properly you can't see the difference with a panel painting. 

Beach with Clouds in Backlight, 9.8x15.7", oil on paper, marouflé

A long time ago I used to do it myself, but to be honest, I'm not a real handy man, so the results often left to be wished for. But if you insist on doing it yourself, this is how it goes:
- The ingredients: acrylic binder, a solid surface (MDF, masonite), a spalter, a credit card, books and a sharp knife
- The paper must be slightly larger than the panel you're going to mount it on. Later on in the process you'll have to cut off the parts that stick out.
- Thin the acrylic binder with water 1:1
- Bring it on with the spalter on both surfaces, the board as well as the back side of the paper. Be sure to have a smooth surface. No humps and bumps. Use the credit card to even out irregularities.
- Now gently put the paper on your board and rub (there it is!) the paper surface from the center to the edges
- Let it dry under pressure (this is where the books come in) for about 24 hours.
- Cut off the parts of the paper that stick out with your sharp hobby knife. And when I say sharp I mean razor sharp. A blunt knif will completely ruin your work.
- Done!

I'd try the frame maker.

Friday, July 21, 2017


Probably every artist and certainly every gallery owner always wonders why one painting sells and another one doesn't. They're hoping to find some kind of secret rule that predicts success or failure. Quite useful in an unpredictable environment like the art business. Now take a look at the paintings below and in particular at the year in which I painted them.

Passage, oil on panel, 35.4 x 47.2", 2007

Shore Line, oil on panel, 15.7 x 19.7", 2011

Sunset with Storm Clouds, oil on paper, 11.8" x 15.7", 2016

The first painting is not exactly  a happy painting, with it's dark sky and the suggestion of bad weather. Now look at the date: 2007, one year before the economic crisis. Sales went through the roof and everybody was quite optimistic. The second painting was painted in the middle of the crisis (2011). A bright sunny painting, while the overall mood was pretty down. The third painting is again a rather dramatic, dark scene. The date is 2016. The crisis is over and our ideas about the future are much brighter than five years earlier.

My idea is that people only buy paintings with a dark mood when everything is fine and the mood is optimistic enough to stand a little drama. During the crisis people had enough trouble of their own and they weren't about to pay good money for more gloom & doom. No chance I would've sold a painting like the first one. Sunny works, like the second one, still sold, though  sales went down considerably. Now in 2017 the crisis is over and there is again room for paintings with a dark atmosphere.

Of course this is not an entirely new idea. During the crisis of the nineteen-thirties the great American  show movies with song and dance did very well. Probably the same mechanism. Maybe I should try my luck with a couple of heavy skies again...

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Indanthrene Blue

Sometimes I ask my wife (when she's going downtown to shop) to buy me some painting materials. She doesn't always stick to the list I give her. Or rather she brings home more than is on the list. That's how I started working with Transparent White for example. She's an accomplished painter herself and she knows what she's doing. This time I asked her to buy a few tubes of Ultramarine Blue, which she did, but on top of that she bought me Rembrandt Indanthrene Blue.

Now I don't know about you, but I never heard of Indanthrene Blue. It turns out to be a valuable addition to my palette (I told you, she knows what she's doing!). I hope the above picture gives you an idea, but I'm afraid the intensity of the color will get lost on the screen. It's a very deep and rather warm blue, a bit like Ultramarine, but darker.

Most blues loose color pretty quick when you add white and that's a problem when you need a very light sky that is still distinctly blue. Well, this one keeps it's color, even mixed with a considerable amount of Titanium White. I used it in the beach scene below. Just added a hint of Caribbean Blue (mostly in the lower part of the sky). I am really pleased with the result. This is probably not the last time I'll use Indanthrene Blue!

Rising Tide, oil on panel, 27.6 x 31.5"

Friday, June 23, 2017


'The level at which you're trying to solve a problem is often not the level that causes the problem.' 

I don't remember who said this. I picked it up sometime during the nineties, when I was still teaching art classes. It often helped me to look at a problem from a different angle and this goes for painting problems as well. Here's a painting I recently finished.

Summerwind, oil on panel, 11.8 x 19.7"

This is what it looked like in an earlier stage. Lots of fluffy clouds. I had been struggling with them for some time. Adding detail, changing color, what have you. Nothing worked. For some reason the painting lacked focus, it was in fact unclear to me what I wanted it to be about. When I replaced the clouds with a blue sky I suddenly knew: it's about the sunlit area behind the dune (that you can't even see) and not about the clouds. Once I saw that, it was a piece of cake: I brought more color and light to the sky behind the dune and within half an hour I decided the thing was finished...

Of course I didn't look at my painting and thought: 'The level at which I'm trying to solve this problem is not the level that causes the problem.' I solved it while painting. But still, what happened is that I approached it from another level. Maybe I should remember it the next time I get stuck...