“Music is very important to me,
All the titles I use are lines (or parts of lines) from song lyrics. Mostly from pop music, sometimes a title from a jazz track.
There are so many references to the landscape to be found, (and the sky, the weather, the time of day, the time of year, and so on), which I thankfully use.
Usually I give the title to the painting when it is finished, browsing through my collection of songlines and selecting the most appropriate one. But sometimes I make a painting with a particular songline in mind.
Working from this concept is inspired by the novel “The Songlines”, by Bruce Chatwin.”
Can you explain your painting technique?
On the canvas I put several layers of white, gesso-like paint. The brush strokes of these layers give a nice structure. Because I use transparent oil paint in very thin layers, the structure remains visible, adding much atmosphere to the painting.
Instead of adding the paint precisely with a brush, I work the other way around; I put on a lot of paint and rub a part of it off with brushes or tissues. Later in the process I carefully remove some of the paint with a brush, the backside of a brush, a cloth, a tissue, a Q-tip or whatever is suitable for making the lines, the forms, the dots etc. In the beginning, I paint in a very loose way, gradually getting more detailed to finish with the finest details.
Do you live in the countryside or within a town?
I live in the city of The Hague, and although I love to go out to the countryside there are months that I don’t see anything that you can call a landscape. I love to live in the city, but I miss the scenery too; maybe my work is a bit of compensation.
Do you feel your work, with its calm order of composition and the landscape its represents, reflects values and sensibilities that are typically Dutch?
I never think of my landscapes as typically Dutch. Although I made a few paintings with ditches, meadows and willows, for me these elements are the same as all the others I use, I don’t use them because they are Dutch.
Working on my landscapes I take some of the possible landscapes elements; the fields, the trees, the roads, the clouds, even the use of perspective, and compose them to an image of a landscape. It doesn’t have to be typical for a region or country; it doesn’t even have to be a possible landscape.
It is a landscape constructed and composed with only making a painting in mind. In the end the effect of the combination of all the landscape elements, the colours, the proportions and composition is what is important to me. And I think (and hope) this is more universal than that it is typically Dutch.
In most of your paintings, human presence and activity is absent. The result of this seems to be a more open and peaceful image than might be otherwise. Is one of your intentions to create calming and meditative work?
This is exactly so, I think in my work adding human presence changes the whole painting.
The implications of human figures in the landscape distract from what I want to make, I compose a landscape with all this landscape elements. In a way, it is like composing music, from improvisations on a theme or groove or some chords, I gradually give the newly found melodies and rhythms their place in the composition. The human element is left out, no singing voices and lyrics; it is instrumental music.
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