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"

Friday, October 14, 2016

Mixin blues #2

In my previous blog entry I told you how I use my blues: never straight from the tube and often in transparent layers. I also promised to get a little deeper into the use of each different blue. Please note that titanium white is practically always a part of the mix, even if I don't mention it.

Here we go:
Cobalt and Caribbean blue in the upper part, kings blue and
Naples yellow just above the horizon
- Kings blue light: the starting point for mixing a lot of different blues. It's a nice, soft and not to outspoken blue. Goes perfectly with a little Naples yellow to get the greenish blue you often see close to the horizon. Or with other blues if you want to mix a darker sky color.
- Kings blue dark: don't use that a lot, mostly in a mix with kings blue light when I'm painting a smooth transition to a darker blue.
Royal Talens indigo with just a hint ofPrussian blue in the
upper part of the sky
- Cobalt blue: one of my favorites at the moment, mostly in combination with a hint of Caribbean blue, which gives it a greenish hue. I often use it for the darker part of a blue sky, but in the lighter parts (when mixed with titanium white) it's still a strong color.
- Ultramarin blue: a warm, purple like blue. I use it in more or less the same way as cobalt blue. Also a great color for glazing shadow parts of the foam lines on the beach.
- Ceruleum blue: a greenish blue, but not as saturated as Caribbean blue. I often use it mixed with indigo in the darker parts of a reflection. When mixed with vermillion red and titanium white it gives a wonderful gray. In my YouTube clip Mixing Colors it's one of the grays I demonstrate.
- Indigo: I use two diferent brands of Indigo: Royal Talens and Lukas. Though they have the same name they differ considerably. The Lukas indigo is almost purple, while the Talens indigo has a more neutral dark tone. I use the latter quite often, most of the time for the color of the ocean and every now and then as a thin glaze in the shadows of a cloud. I sometimes mix the two indigos if I need a very dark color. Black isn't a part of my pallet and as a matter of fact this mix looks so much better than black, especially when I add just a bit of magenta.
- Prussian blue: don't use it a lot, but if I do it's mostly in a mix with the Talens indigo for the dark part of a late evening sky
Caribbean blue in the upper part, mixed with kings blue
above the horizon
 - Caribbean blue: a very powerful green blue, the color of the Caribbean ocean. See cobalt and ultramarin.
- Old Holland blue-violet: a very deep purple blue, which I use exclusively to mix several shades of gray. The starting point is often Naples yellow, but the combination with other yellows works great too. In my Painting Clouds tutorial I demonstrate how I do it.
- Old Holland violet-gray: a wonderful soft violet, which I often use as a glaze (in a mix with transparent white) for the shadows of backlit clouds. My Painting Reflections tutorial shows how.

I seriously wonder if this is of any use to anyone. I think I would have quit reading after the first line... You'd really have to try it yourself to get an idea what these colors do in reality. If you have any questions or comments, please let me know! 

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Mixing blues

Got a request from Ash Aravind to either make a Youtube clip or write an article on my blog about mixing blues. Thanks for the tip, Ash. I'm a bit busy at the moment, so the clip will have to wait.

As you may have noticed, blue is a pretty important color in my work, so I have quite a few different shades of it, ranging from cold greenish to warm purple-like blues. I practically never use it straight from the tube, I always mix it with other blues, sometimes even with yellows or reds. And of course with titanium white, always titanium white. The only one I sometimes apply straight from the tube is kings blue light.

I also mix them by using transparent layers. Usually my colors are thinned down, so I need multiple layers to get the color intensity I'm looking for. I use this transparency to create very deep, intense blues. Not necessarily dark blues, but the transparency creates an interaction between the different layers that adds to the intensity.

For example: in the bottom layer I sometimes paint a smooth surface of ultramarine. When this layer is dry I paint a mix of cobalt and Caribbean blue on top of it. The Caribbean blue gives the cobalt  a greenish hue, which tones down the much warmer ultramarine. I sort of accidentally stumbled across this combination and I was struck by its intensity, even when mixed with white.

These are the blues I use in order of appearance:
1. kings blue light
2. kings blue dark
3. cobalt blue
4. ultramarine blue
5. ceruleum blue
6. indigo
7. Prussian blue
8 Caribbean blue
9. Old Holland blue-violet
10. Old Holland violet-grey

There are of course many more blues on the market. This is just my personal selection. Next time I'll tell a bit more about what I use each color for. If you like to receive my complete color list (including the reds & yellows), please send an email to and I'll send you the list asap.

Thursday, September 15, 2016


During the years I participated in quite a few exhibitions, most of them group shows. There are very few galleries left (at least not in Holland) that still host solo shows. They have their reasons, but for the individual artist it's a bit sad. You want to present the full scope of your work and not just two or three little paintings. Luckily for me there is a gallery in The Hague (De Twee Pauwen or The Two Peacocks) that still offers artists the opportunity to present their work in solo- or duo shows. This coming October it's my turn again.

Big Cloud, 70 x 120 cm, oils on panel
I've been working for the occasion for the last six months or so and I just loved it. It's such a pleasure to work towards a balanced presentation and not just jump from one painting to the next. But now that the opening date is drawing near I'm beginning to get a little shaky. As usual I must say. Happens every time. I'm getting second thoughts about practically every choice I made. Did I pick the right sizes, shouldn't they be larger/smaller, isn't the subject matter to divers/to one sided, didnt I paint to much/not enough sunsets. The list goes on and on.

The first thing I do when I start working on a project like this is create a folder in my computer and line up the paintings I already planned to do. For some of them I made oil sketches, others did not get past the Photoshop design phase. Always far more than I can possibly do in the given time span, so I make a new folder within the initial one, the 'first choice' folder and I start to move paintings in and out of it. This process can take quite a while, up to a few weeks. Actually, it goes on right until the end, when I start doubting every choice I made. But since it's not the first time this happens, I'm now able to look at it from some distance and I don't wake up anymore in the middle of the night with only one thought: "You've got it all wrong, you got to start all over again!". Now I only worry after sun up.

A friend of mine recently mailed me a line he read somewhere: "A satisfied artist is a contradictio in terminis". I tell myself to hold on to that thought...