Recent painting, oil on canvas, no title, 2011
What are you working on in your studio right now?
I am currently working on several canvases at the same time: a few small paintings and a number of bigger works. One of these is a
50 centimetres high by 180 centimetres wide horizon which I have been working on for a while already. It is progressing steadily.
Can you describe your working routine?
I do not really have a routine. I hardly ever work at regular times. Only when I arrive in my studio, do I decide what I am going to do. I may continue with canvases that I have already been working on, but sometimes it is better to let a painting rest/mature, give it time, and take some time myself. In that case, I may start with a fresh painting or do preliminary work like preparing or mounting canvases, or making panels.
works in progress
Can you describe your studio and how, if at all, that affects your work?
I have an average size studio: it covers
50 square metres (10 by 5 metres) and is 4.25 metres high. Two large windows facing north provide me with beautiful filtered light; no sharp sunlight with cast shadows etc. The space is suffused with tranquillity. That is what I need to be able to work, to distance myself from the issues of the day. I have been working here for more than ten years now. Unfortunately, in one and half years time I will have to move out.
My present studio has definitely had a great impact on my work. My previous studio was a garage from which finished work had to be replaced to a storage space as soon as possible to be able to start with new paintings. Fortunately, my present studio offers the opportunity to have my work around me for a longer period of time. This is important because sometimes looking is better than working. You start asking yourself questions like: Did I make the right choices? Am I sure, and why? The proximity of the paintings that preceded the present work helps to create a dialogue. It clarifies the steps I have taken, confirms my decisions, gives incentives or raises questions.
The calmness and space of my studio are the most important pillars of my work. Since the moment I have rented this studio, my work has developed more explicitly in the direction of serenity. The landscape elements that were already present in my work have received an increasingly prominent role.
Tell me about your process, where things begin, how they evolve etc.
I generally start from a concrete idea. This idea is usually connected to things that I am working on or that keep me busy, and is often landscape related. My inspiration is frequently sparked by little pencil sketches -- often not much bigger than a matchbox -- based on observations that I have made in the countryside. I also make sketches from photos I have taken. Sometimes it is a combination of these things. There are many of such little drawings in my studio. I often flick through them when I want to start working on a new painting. Once I am working, I let myself be influenced by what happens; the next steps usually present themselves automatically. If not, then I just give it some time.
What are you having the most trouble resolving?
That is a difficult question to answer. Of course, difficulties often arise, but in the end there is always a solution.
Do you experiment with different materials a lot or do you prefer to work within certain parameters?
I usually work with paint on canvas or panel. I rarely use paper as a ground. The choice of the paint has a great influence on my work and depending on what I want to make/achieve, I choose acrylic, egg tempera, or oil paint. In the past I used to work primarily -- for practical reasons -- with acrylic, which is ideal for creating strongly diluted layers. However, the risk is that it turns out too much like plastic. That is the one of the reasons why I started using less acrylic paint. I prefer oils and egg tempera now because of their possibilities and the skin of the paint. Theme and material go together, and my current work asks for these kinds of materials.
work in progress
What does the future hold for this work?
Nobody knows what the future holds; not for my work and not for myself. I would like to follow the path I am on at the moment and continue my journey, in search for new horizons.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
I really enjoyed taking part in Valerie’s initiative. I hope the readers of this article took pleasure in reading it, and might have learned something from it, maybe to go and see visual arts more often and -- most of all -- to take their time to appreciate it.