Thursday, February 23, 2017

The artist as a marketeer #2

I have always been drawn to trying my luck abroad. Not only because Holland is a small country with a small art market, but mostly because of the excitement. And that's what you get, though not always the kind you hope for. A few years back I showed my work at a Greek gallery. Getting the work there was no problem, getting it back was a different story. It turned out that for every art work you want to ship out of Greece you have to get permission from a Greek state committee. In the past the Greeks have been robbed of their art treasures, so I don't blame them. I got my paintings back in the end, but my shipper's bill was a bit higher than expected. The committee is seated in Athens and I had to pay for the detour. Of course I should've known this beforehand, but if I did, I probably wouldn't have bothered and missed all the excitement.

The funny thing is that, whenever I approach a foreign gallery directly I'm never successful. I get a rejection mail at best. Successful exhibition opportunities come from galleries that get in touch with me. Thanks to the world wide web.

Misty Passage, oil on panel, 19.7" x 59.1"

Let me tell you about my cyber empire. It has four interacting elements. Sounds like I'm an expert, eh? In reality it slowly grew by trial and error. By regularly posting a new article on my blog or a new clip on my YouTube channel I hope to draw visitors to my website (, where they can find information about my work, buy a video or even a painting.

In the previous article about the artist as a marketeer (September 5, 2016) I mentioned the importance of collecting email addresses and sending a newsletter. Every time I want people to know I posted a new video on YouTube, or new paintings on my website I send out a newsletter. Because I've been collecting email addresses for years it reaches thousands of subscribers. A newsletter always generates traffic on either the YouTube channel, the blog or the website. (By the way: if you want to subscribe to my newsletter, please send me an email at

Let me emphasize this is not some sort of standard recipe for success. It's just how I've done it and it works. It didn't make me a millionaire, but it sure helps keeping the ship afloat. And it connects me to people all over the world, who respond to my videos, ask me questions or just want to compliment me on my painting. Love it.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Painting a seascape

I just finished working on a seascape. I must admit I'm not a specialist, but every now and then I give it a try. In this case the reason was a commission. Though I was quite content with the result, the buyer rejected it. Turned out after all he wanted a beachscape. I should've made an oil sketch, like I usually do...

Evening Surf, oil on panel, 13.8 x 39.4"

Painting waves is a real joy. The best part is painting the foam. You can let the paint do the work. The painting technique I use always depends on what I'm painting and when painting foam I can go all the way in using impasto techniques. No need to smooth out my brush strokes (like in for example the blue of the sky). The texture only adds to the dynamic of the wave rolling over.

Because this is an evening scene I get to paint lovely warm accents with lots of paint on my brush. Still, it's not all impasto. Glazing can be very useful here as well. For the shadow part of this wave I used a glaze of transparent white mixed with ultramarine and a bit of sepia. Works great.

But like I said, I'm not a specialist. Maybe you should take a look at the work of a real seascape painter like David Smith (

Thursday, February 2, 2017

North Sea Beach

Quite a few people presume that when you're a professional painter you always know exactly what you're doing and that you control the outcome of each painting. Sorry to break the news, but even when you paint for a living the whole process can be downright frustrating and sometimes you run into a really stubborn painting that drives you nuts. Sounds familiar?

Last week I uploaded a 5 min. video on YouTube that tells the story of 'North Sea Beach' (oil on panel, 33.5 x 59"). Let me know if you have a similar story!

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Painting techniques #2

In my previous blog entry I mentioned two painting techniques I often use (glazing and impasto). This time I want to talk about two other techniques: one gave it's name to a late nineteenth century art school (Pointillism), the other is about making smooth transitions. I used both techniques in 'Evening Clouds over the Ocean'.

Evening Clouds over the Ocean, oil on panel, 47.2" x 63"

The below detail is part of the ocean, just left of the center. It's about 3.5" x 2.5". As you can see I painted a lot (a lot) of dots on top of a purple-ish ground layer. This is not according to the rules of the French Pointillists, who covered their entire painting with dots. The similarity is what is called 'optical mixing'. It means that, seen from a distance, your eyes mix the dots to a single color. The result is a vibrant surface. You'll never get this kind of surface when you mix the color on your pallet. I use it mostly when I paint the ocean to suggest the movement of the water at mid-distance. In my Painting Reflections tutorial you can see an example.

The realism of my work is for the greatest part the result of smooth transitions. Even in the above detail you can see I painted the dots on top of such a transition. The color of the sky is another example. From the left to the right it slowly changes from almost yellow to a dark blue. To achieve this I use a technique called stippling and a badger hair fan brush. In my Painting Clouds video I show how I do it.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Painting techniques

Just like most painters I don't use just one single painting technique. Depending on what I want to paint I choose the technique that will get me there. Let me tell you a few things about two of them: glazing and impasto.
Glazing is an age old technique, dating back to the 15th century. You apply thin, transparent layers on top of each other. Impasto is at the oppsosite side of the what-can-you-do-with-paint scale. You paint in thick, opaque layers that almost seem to come out of the canvas. Where as glazing tries to avoid texture, impasto is all about texture. In my painting 'Neap Tide' I used them both.

Neap Tide, oils on panel, 30 x 90 cm
In the lower part of the painting glazing was the  dominant technique. On a dry bottom layer of dark blue I painted an even darker blue, a mix of indigo, Prussian blue and sepia. This mix was extremely thinned down with Liquin Light Gel, so the first layer was still shining through. With a cloth I then 'drew' the shapes of the small waves in the foreground by removing the dark glaze. By doing so the first blue layer became visible again.
The next day I painted a mix of transparent white, ultramarine and sepia on top of the glaze, to soften the contrast between the bottom layer and
the glaze.

So, if you want to preserve your bottom layer but give it a different hue or partly place it in the shadow, glazing is a great option. You'll be surprised by the results.

The sparkles at the horizon make up the lightest part of the painting. Here I used impasto. As you can see there's a fine texture formed by an awful lot of dots, each individual dot painted with a very fine brush. Here I used less Liquin to prevent the dots from flowing out into the background. Every dot has to stand out from the surface.That's important, because I want it to catch as much light as possible. The combination of the color (titanium white, vermillion red) and the 3D texture of the dots results in a surface that reflects a lot of light, which hopefully leads to the suggestion of sparkles on the water.

If you want to find out more, please go to In the meantime, if you have questions I might be able to answer, please let me know!

Friday, December 9, 2016


I'm a happy little painter these days. For some reason my sales are spiking. Funny enough this is not just the case in one area, like for example the galleries, but online sales and commissions are doing great as well. The year started very low-key, but it looks like it's going to end on a happy note.

Of course I wondered why this is happening, and of course I have no answer. Is it the result of the growing economy? I have my doubts. The art market (at least the segment I'm in) hasn't recovered yet.

The economic crisis has been quite a challenge, that's for sure. But the good thing about it was that it forced me to find new ways to promote and sell my work. In 2009 I started a newsletter and build an email address data base. Shortly after that I began posting short clips on YouTube, in later years followed by two full length tutorials. At the same time I started the Painting Skies blog. In 2013 I began selling my work online, first the oil sketches on paper and lately I added the small size panel paintings.

Beach with Cumulus Clouds, oils on panel, 5.9x15.7", € 450

I flatter myself by thinking that all these activities are the cause of the present sales spike, and to some extent that's probably the case. But the truth is I have no way of telling what the real cause is. The truth is you can work your but off and still have zero sales. The truth is (and that's pretty hard to accept for a control freak like me) you got to have some luck too. Without it noone is going to do wel...