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...

Friday, November 25, 2016

Oils on paper

Taping the back of the paper
Some of you may know that every now and then I make an oil sketch on paper. Sometimes in preparation of a larger painting, sometimes to convince a potential buyer to place a commission and sometimes just for fun.

I buy my oil paper pads online, 50 sheets of 240 grs paper, 30 x 40 cm (11.7 x 15.8"). The one I buy has this fake canvas texture. Unfortunately I was unable to find smooth oil paper, so if there's someone out there who did find it, please let me know.

Ready for use
The next few lines will have the word 'tape' in it an awful lot. So if you're allergic to the word 'tape', I suggest you stop reading. Here it goes: I tape the paper to a piece of board. The trick is to apply the tape to the back of your paper, then turn it around and tape the tape to the board, instead of the paper itself. This way you don't have annoying pieces of tape on the front side of your paper and you can use the entire surface.
 Anyway, I made a number of fresh oil sketches on paper. Below is an example. If you want to see them all (or buy one) please go to the online sale section of my website,

Breakers on a Peer, oils on paper, 11.8 x 15.7"

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Letting your paintings go

Last week somebody asked me how hard it was to let my paintings go when they're sold. She obviously presumed it was hard by definition and only wondered how hard. She looked at me with a bit of disbelief when I said it didn't bother me. A painting has to be looked at, not stored somewhere. But she's got a point: there are quite a few artists who have a hard time parting with their work.

For example a dear friend of mine. Every time he drops off his work at an exhibition, he's in doubt. The reason is that every work is like a page in a book for him, they're all interconnected. Tear out a page and the story doesn't make sense anymore. Every time a work is sold he wants the address of the buyer, just in case he needs this page for a specific exhibition. This Sunday, at the opening of a show he participated in, I purchased one of his small works, but only after inquiring if it was okay with him.

Windfall, oil on panel, 15.7" x 47.2"

For me it's totally different. In every painting I'm trying to say more or less the same thing. I just try to say it better or from a different angle. I'm still not exactly sure what it is I'm trying to say, but I'm pretty sure it's always the same thing. And when a painting is sold, I still get a buzz. It's very rewarding, in a non-financial way, if someone spends a considerable sum to own one of your works. And the money is nice too, let's be honest. A fellow-painter said to me: "Would I paint if I wouldn't make any money with it? Yes, I would!" Same here. The money just makes it better.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Web shop

A few years back I started my own web shop to sell my oil sketches on paper online. I wasn't at all sure if it was going to be a success, but I was lucky: almost every painting I put online found a new owner. And then I got a bit overconfident and thought: "why not put the small size panel-paintings online as well?" And that's what I did. When you visit my website and you hit 'online sale' you'll be presented with eight paintings, the largest of which is 11.8" x 17.7". Small size, small price, frame and shipping included. Two of them below. Hope you like them.

Brightening, oils on panel, 5.9" x 17.7" 

Little Cloudsoils on panel, 9.4" x 11.8"