Thursday, April 20, 2017

Warm-cold contrast

I finished my studies at the Minerva Art Academy (the Netherlands) in 1973 and in 1974 I got a teaching job for three days a week. Though I liked teaching I actually wanted to do something completely different, so after a few years I decided to quit and do what I really wanted to do: make music. No more room for painting. I had a great time as a musician. Made just enough money to survive, but after a few years, when the band split up in the early eighties, I went back to teaching.

It was only till the mid-nineties that I suddenly felt a deep urge to start painting again and that's what I did. Of course my subject was the landscape of the Dutch coast, it's light and it's space. I remember how I struggled, mainly with scenes that had dark clouds and sharp contrasts. I almost always felt the clouds were way to dark and heavy, but when I lightened them up, I lost contrast.



In the course of the years I slowly found out that the contrast between warm and cold colors is sometimes a very effective replacement of the light-dark contrast. I could keep my clouds lighter by contrasting them with a warmer area instead of a lighter one. In this detail (of a painting I'm still working on) I used a glaze of burnt Sienna.




On top of that the warm-cold contrast makes your painting come alive, much more than a mere light-dark contrast will. In the above picture I digitally removed the color of the warm burnt Sienna glaze, without changing the rest of the colors. Bit dull, eh? Without the glaze I would've been forced to either make the clouds darker or the background lighter. Like the great Johan Cruijff once said: "You don't see it till you see it".





Thursday, April 6, 2017

Painter with a writers block

Usually I enjoy writing a new blog entry every two weeks. I start thinking about it on Monday, I write it on Wednesday, check it on Thursday and publish it on Friday. But this week was different. I often get the idea for an article during my daily walks, but no matter how far I walked, nothing happened.

So, dear readers, this will be all for this week. See you in fourteen days.

Clouds in Backlight, oil on panel, 9.8 x 17.7"

Friday, March 24, 2017

Oils on paper #2

In my November 25 (2016) blog entry I wrote about the fake canvas texture of my oil paper pad and asked anyone who had found a smooth oil paper pad to let me know. A few weeks later a very kind lady wrote me an email saying she bought her pads in Germany without the texture. Another few weeks later she even brought it along to my studio. Lots of kind people in the world.



Last week I made a number of oil sketches for a possible commission, one that was a bit outside the normal range. The client wanted a large painting, with nothing but a big, dark sky over the ocean. Most of my commisioners ask for sunny beaches, so this one triggered my imagination and I made not one but three sketches. On the new pad.



I like it so much better than the fake canvas paper. It's a lot more like painting on panel. Only possible downside is that you cannot remove a layer like you can on a wood panel. But hey, you can't have everything.  I did get the commission though.



For those of you interested in the new pad, here's a picture.













Wednesday, March 8, 2017

The color of the beach

Whenever I get an email how to mix the color of the beach I have a hard time giving an answer. Problem is, there is no color of the beach, there are countless colors of just as many beaches. Even in my home country (pretty small country as you may know) the sand has different colors on different islands. Sometimes a little reddish, sometimes with a hint of ochre.

From time to time I find new combinations to mix an okay sand color, like in this recent painting. The bottom layer is a mix of flesh color (Lukas) and a bit of yellow ochre. To tone it down in the second layer I applied a rather thinned glaze with lots of transparent white, indigo (Rembrandt) and again ochre. It's just a small part of the painting, but I like it.

Untitled work in progress, 13.8" x 39.4

Very often the Lukas flesh tint is the starting point of my beaches. If I need a pale, almost colorless, beach I'll add a little sepia. If I need a soft brown beach I'll add a little burnt umber and sometimes even burnt sienna, though most of the times I'll have to tone that one down with a glaze of some kind.

Shadows on a beach often have a hint of purple, be it of a cloud or a dune. Old Holland violet-grey makes an excellent shadow color in a mix with transparent white, flesh tint and maybe a little ochre. Works just great when you glaze it on top of an existing beach.

Anyone with new recipes? Let me know!


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 (www.paintingskies.com), 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 info@janhendrikdolsma.nl.)

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 (http://davidlyttletonsmith.com).




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!