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Archive for the ‘Petervan’s Artwork’ Category

magritte behind bars

Magritte behind bars – Digital Mix - © Petervan Artwork 2018

On 12 Sep 2018, I will do a live performance at the Finnovista Summit in Mexico-City. The theme of this year’s event is “Listen, Learn, Lead” and the title of my performance is “Get out of your prison cell! – An artistic reflection on listening, learning, and leading”

UPDATE: here is a link to the slide-deck I used during the performance: https://www.slideshare.net/thepierre/finnosummit-mexico-2018-petervan

Manoeuvring through this theme, I have prepared a new performance, recuperating some older material, but also with new elements from my artwork series “Prison Window” and other metaphors capturing more recent reflections and insights. From a stage-crafting perspective, I use a multi-media approach, including props on stage, a live camera feed, some vestimentary attributes like hats and masks and drums, and a lightning script for the light technician.

This post is however NOT about the stage experience, which is rather artistic with self-created visuals, soundscapes and poems, hopefully resonating beyond the cognitive. This post is about the underlying thoughts, messages and insights. Preparing a talk, a blog, or a presentation forces you to get your ideas together and structured. And as usual, by refining and experimenting, I sort of stumbled upon most of these insights.

Otto Scharmer meets Simon Wardley

As many of you know, I am a fan of Otto Scharmer’s work on Theory-U and the accompanying ideas in his book “Leading from the Emerging Future: From Ego-System to Eco-System Economies”.

otto clean

Key image from Leading from the Emerging Future – Otto Scharmer

In essence, Otto Sharmer’s model is about increasing the levels of quality of attention in attending, conversing, organizing and coordinating. It is about getting better at these along higher levels of consciousness. For example, attending at the 3.0 Stakeholder Level is of a higher quality than attending at the 1.0 Habitual Level.

That’s a mouthful, and although we don’t have time here to go into any depth into Theory-U (read the book), it is about letting emerge your future state from being your true self.

I combined this with the insights of Simon Wardley, who – if we discount several thousand years of military history – I would label as the godfather of situational awareness and the accompanying situational awareness maps.

wardley tweet

He labels them as “topographical intelligence in business”. Simon positions his work in the “observing position and movement” part of John Boyd’s OODA model

Wardley circle

Sun Tsu meets John Boyd – courtesy Simon Wardley 

Except for Magritte-behind-bars, none of these visuals are used during my performance, but my metaphorical narrative on stage is in essence about getting better. But getting better at what? And along which dimensions? In what direction?

  • It is about letting emerge a better way of listening, learning and leading.
  • It is about letting emerge a better way of observing, game-play, deciding.
  • It is about letting emerge a better way of attending, conversing, organizing and coordinating

Let me guide you through this forest.

Listening

“If you are very very quiet you can hear the clouds rub against the sky”

Raul Gutierrez, Poet

Listening is usually about hearing sound, spoken words, music. In my performance, I expand listening to observing in general. Observing sound, time, location, movement, structure, memory, and patrimony.

listen

Listening is about observing and attending. Getting better at that is making progress along the levels of quality of attention. Open willed listening is better than habitual listening.

Learning

“Assume that the person you are listening to might know something you don’t”

Jordan Peterson

Learning is usually associated with studying, going to a course or training, follow a workshop. It is usually associated with downloading or acquiring new information, knowledge.

In my performance I share the ladder of learning, from innocent to mentor to expert to… God! I talk about learning in the wild, natural emerging apprenticeship, and evolution with/without skin in the game. John Hagel refers to some of this as “scalable learning and tacit knowledge.”

“Tacit knowledge trumps explicit knowledge. The latter can be articulated and written down and it usually takes time before it can be expressed clearly and coherently to others. Tacit knowledge is within our heads and we have a hard time even expressing it to ourselves, much less to anyone else. Because tacit knowledge is generally newer knowledge, emerging from new experiences that we’ve encountered, it’s often the most valuable knowledge, providing us with insight into how to act in a rapidly evolving environment. Tacit knowledge becomes accessible through shared practice

Ise Shinto

Ise Shinto shrine in Japan

In my performance, I metaphorically refer to the Ise Shinto shrine in Japan, which is rebuilt every 20 years for around 1,300 years as a way to preserve process knowledge aka tacit knowledge.

learn

Learning is about game-play and conversing. Getting better at that is making progress along the levels of quality of attention. Learning through doing in the flow is better than learning through downloading information.

Leading

The first job of a leader is to learn. Only then can a leader do their second and third jobs — care and love ”

Umair Haque

Leading is usually associated with leaders and followers. I wrote a post about “The End of Leadership” long time ago.

In my performance, I focus on different types of archetypes of change agents, and the evolution from the forbidden, through the rebellion into creation. I talk about the coherence of narrative, motives, and governance. All addressed in previous posts on this blog.

lead

What is new is that I could now map “leading” to the “organising & coordinating” columns of Otto Scharmer’s model or to the “leadership” quadrant in Simon Wardley’s circle.

Leading is about deciding, organizing and coordinating coherence of narrative, motives and governance. Getting better at that is making progress along the levels of quality of attention. Leading in awareness-based-collective-action is better than leading in command-and-control.

Personal reflection

During my performance, I am inviting the audience for a moment of personal reflection after each chapter, with the explicit instruction that they will NOT be asked to report back.

This is about personalized learning, letting humans internalize with attention for privacy and intimacy. Learning as a personal secret.

“All our choices are among life stories that end with our individual deaths.”

Venkatesh Rao

Every reflection moment also challenges the audience in taking personal leadership for stepping out of the prison cell, hopefully in a series of choices among life stories. Every choice is a choice between inside or outside of the prison cell.

So, please, get out of your prison cell!

Warm regards,

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CarPaint-01w floor of paint shop Christie Hemm Klok

Floor of paintshop - Picture by Christie Hemm Klok

 

De pols was weerbarstig

en brak in duizend snippers

Daar lagen ze dan

Als stukken van een nieuwe puzzel

Waar we het raden naar hebben

Op een hoopje

Zoals kinderen na het springen

“We zijn een hoopje” Zei ze

Toen ze hopend op een hoop bij elkaar lagen

Het zwarte canvas van de trampoline

+++ Rough translation +++

The wrist

Refractory

Broke into thousand snippets

There they were

Pieces of a brand new jig-saw puzzle

Its purpose still unclear

A little heap

Like children after jumping

“We are a little heap” She said

When they were lying hoping on a heap

The black canvas of the trampoline

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This is an essay (longer read) about maps. There is no big message, no purpose, no call for action, none of that. Just recording and documenting of some reflections about maps. I don’t know where it came from. Suddenly I had enough notes to try to make something coherent out of it. Hope you enjoy the trip.

fietsmap

Modern Biking App Map – Notice point #27 – Denderbelle Lock

The theme of maps maybe emerged from my biking tours. Or from my recent tendency to do recordings: soundscapes – of probably better “silence-scapes” – of broken silence in nature. A sort of witnessing and documenting what was at that moment.

Maybe it emerged in preparing my upcoming performance for Finnovista in September: one of the themes is “learning” and I found that quality of observing says more about learning than teaching. So I used maps as a metaphor.

Maybe I am still intrigued by Simon Wardley’s situational awareness maps, which are all about observing, and mapping out position and movement.

wardley map

Simon Wardley - example of situational awareness map

Position on a map is often about geographical location and relations. But there is also the position in time: what was, what is, what can be. And like there is position of location, there is also position in time.

The time element hit me when I was bicycling along the river “Dender” and made a pit stop at the lock of Denderbelle. It’s a relatively small lock, and you can still walk over the doors of the lock to the other side of the river.

There I found this map on a tourism panel:

old map

Old map of the area Aalst-Dendermonde – before 1769

Before 1769, the Dender was a meandering river that was very difficult to manoeuvre for ships. It was Charles de Lorraine – at that time Duchy of Brabant, Austrian Netherlands – who gave the order to straighten the meanders and build two new locks. Today, the river feels more like a canal that goes almost straight from Aalst to Dendermonde. It has a very well maintained towpath along silent borders, which makes it a nice bike trip.

Close to the lock, there is still the old ferry house, now inhabited by an artist. There was a chain pulling the ferry from one side to the other. Even today you can still see the stairs on the shore where people boarded.

veerhuis 1769

Denderbelle ferryhouse – Anno 1915

Maps as documents of past ways of living. Thanks to Richard Martin and Mark Storm, I discovered the Maps of Days by Grayson Perry.

A-Map-Of-Days_edited-1

Map of Days by Grayson Perry – 2013 – Etching 111.8 × 149.9 cm

perry video

Video with the artist Grayson Perry

‘A self-portrait as a fortified town, the wall perhaps my skin. Each day I worked on it I finished by marking the point with the date to highlight the passage of time in the production of art to reflect the forming and reforming of one’s identity. The ‘self’ I think is not a single fixed thing but a lifelong shifting performance. My sense of self is a tiny man kicking a can down the road.’

Grayson Perry

The map is an awesome alternative way to document one’s life. Richard Martin arguments that the question “what is your map” probably gives better answers on who you are than asking “What do you do?” or asking for your linear CV or portfolio:

In the Map, Perry presents his complex personality and plural identity in the form of a walled city. Streets, buildings and other locales represent personal traits and behaviours, indicating a self-exploration that embraces both the positive and the negative, that poses questions, as well as providing answers, binding together truth and fiction. At the centre of Perry’s map is a labyrinthine garden, in which a figure walks, off-centre, pursuing ‘a sense of self’. Each time I look at the Map, either in a gallery or online, I question how my own version would differ from Perry’s. What words would I choose? What images?”

The same applies with the question “where do you come from?”. Should one say “a Chinese artist” or “an artist from China”? If you say “a Chinese artist” then you place the work of the artist in an ethnographic bubble, a cultural bubble. But when you talk about an artist coming from somewhere, you just connect the artist with a geographical starting point. I prefer the latter.

qiu map of total art

Map of Total Art by Qiu Zhijie – Ink on Paper – c. 5m length!

The work of Qiu Zhijie is fascinating. Check out this video interview with him and curator Davide Quadrio about the exposition ‘Qiu Zhijie: Journeys without Arrivals’ that was shown from 1 april – 24 september 2017 in the Van Abbemuseum in Eindhoven.

One year later, this video still resonates with me, so I made a full transcript of it, some extracts below:

Qiu Zhije is an artist, and he is producer, teacher, student, curator. He is a Master with capital “M” in Calligraphy. He is one of the most respected calligraphers in China.

As from 2010, I started drawing maps. If somebody asks me who I am, I answer I am a cartographer. Drawing maps is close to art, organizing exhibitions, teaching and researching. It is also writing. I feel it is a very multi-faceted way to show my talents as calligrapher.

qiu map and child

For me, maps are a source of knowledge at arms’ length distance, knowledge you do not acquire on the field, but from the sky, like a bird’s eye perspective. Then you can move that knowledge on a flat surface, to understand the correlations between what belongs together. Things should not be understood individually, but in the context of their relation to each other. So maps have a lot of influence. Making maps is a way to re-establish the integrity of the world because they illustrate the correlations on how everything relates to each other.

Teaching has always been an important part of my life. By teaching I keep learning. I continue to actualize and renew myself. Although teaching takes a lot of time, it is never a loss of time. On the contrary, it allows me to learn. That’s why I define teachers as those who organize the process of learning”. I like to teach about things I don’t know much about. I like subjects that I am highly interested in, so we can dig deep to know more.

His work is extremely free of themes, but also so encyclopedic. And so easy to connect with the idea of museum as a collection of objects and things. At the same time, his work is also able to crush this idea of objects and really enter into a world of fantasy.

Maps are models. Maps mark the land, they are landmarks. They document the “land-scape”, as a sound-scape documents the sounds.

Artist Andrew Pekler even created a sonic map of phantom islands.

Andrew Pekler

Phantom Islands – By Andrew Pekler – online experience, turn sound “on”

Andrew Pekler explains:

“The sweet spot for me is when a piece I have made can be simultaneously heard as both a field recording and as a completely composed, synthetic construct,”

Making maps is a sort of learning, a form of in-the-field-research and observation. Sharing with others what I am seeing, give context, some sense of coherence of position and direction/movement, and with some suggestions for maneuvering.

But in my case it is making pictures, writing and composing and creating a body of work from each trip. Field recordings, sound- and image-scapes like maps, at times creating a bizarre alienating, almost David Lynch kind of atmosphere, trying to resonate at another and additional level than the pure cognitive.

In that sense, I feel my current (art)work is getting closer to my real self, helps me to untether my soul, act as a witness, getting closer to alertness. With crispness, organic textures, precise rhythms,…

heartbeat

Natures Heartbeat – Online animation of earth’s heartbeat

In that sense, I am still doing the same as during my time as event curator. But the work is becoming more a documentary, a map, a set of interventions, interruptions and provocations that hopefully lead to higher states of alertness and aliveness.

Some kind of heartbeat that maps your open mind, heart, and will into a broader context.

petervan-signature

PS: Mark Storm suggested I add the Buckminster Füller Dymaxion Map. He is right! How could I – as a true Bucky fan – have missed this one? 😉

DymaxionMap-e1487584228714

Also an interesting link via Mark Storm on this Bucky topic.

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There is nothing to report since my previous update of March 2018. I could have stopped here, but I didn’t and kept going. So, in case anybody would be interested, here we go.

This post is more a snapshot in time, of a period when nothing must or should. Where there are no more bosses, managers, and no deadlines. When time flows like the water of a slow river in its bedding. When there is time to be aware of the silence of the house when the family is still sleeping. When you start noticing the little sounds that break apparent silence. When there is time to notice the growth of the corn on the fields and the grass on the lawn.

hans op de beek

"The bed a raft, the room the sea, and then I laughed some gloom in me." 
Life sized sculpture © Hans Op de Beeck 2018 @ Galleria Continua in Art Basel.

The corporate jacket became too small to thrive; I needed the sort of freedom that Venkatesh Rao recently described in his post:

“Freedom lies in the privilege of being able to solve a problem for aliveness, rather than money”

Although problem solving is not good enough. As Nora Batenson wrote:

“The problem with problem-solving is the idea that a solution is an endpoint.”

Problem solving is reactive; creating what you want is pro-active.

It feels like I am pivoting. When time flows well, I create interventions, interruptions and provocations that lead to higher states of alertness and aliveness. Formats can be artwork, installations, performances, immersive learning experiences, writings, soundscapes, recordings, documentaries, or just casual conversations.

I feel privileged to create what I want to create, and to be able to apply the A.F.E.A.R. principles at will.

Family

It’s almost a year now since we settled in our new house, including my little art studio. And it still feels it was the right thing to do.

On May 1, 2018 we celebrated our 25 years of marriage. We went out for dinner with our parents to thank them for giving us birth, care and opportunities. Thank you Mieke for your endless patience with this always-unpredictable guy, your care, and your encouragements when doubt creeps in.

Astrid is doing very well at school. And she is starting to show first signs of her puberty, especially developing her little character 😉

She made this nice little paper rabbit and greeting card for my father’s day:

paper rabbitfront fathers day croppedtext fathers day cropped

The Artschool Project

The 2017-2018 Art Academy year has come to an end, and I already blogged about my latest work in The Story of 4 Paintings.

curieuze

On March 31, 2018 I also participated for the first time in my life in a pre-selection of an art competition. The competition was called “De Curieuze Collectie” (The Strange Collection). My coaches had encouraged all students to participate. Only a few did.

Philippe Van Cauteren

Philippe Van Cauteren – Artistic Director S.M.A.K.

The jury was a quite eclectic mix, and included some people you normally don’t have access to like for example the Artistic Director of S.M.A.K. (Museum for modern art in Ghent). So I though why not, let’s give it a go.

This year’s theme of the collection was “Vox Populi – Populism in times of social media”. I presented some of my “Hot Dogs Tonight – Prison Window” work.

To make a long story short: I did not make it to the last 10 finalists. But it was a good experience to present in front of a select jury and a very diverse group of artists and locals. With hindsight, I feel that I tried to say too much, tried too hard not to be obvious: some level of vanity, which shows also in the background text I submitted to the jury (and a bit embarrassed now…)

“Hot Dogs Tonight” depicts a social media based panopticon, where the citizens are subject to continuous surveillance by governments, organisations and institutions. Attacked in their privacy, the citizen only sees the familiarity of her own cell. The convenience of the social media leads to an illusion of options, limited by the populist discourse of political demagogues. The Vox Populi becomes a Vox Populistus, a myopic view of reality, a fragmentation of time and identity. This lack of protection and security causes eventually a loss of personal leadership, courage and risk.

On June 12, 2018 I presented my Jan-June work for year-end evaluation at the academy: the latest work of The Story of 4 Paintings and some of my “Hot Dogs Tonight – Prison Window” work, especially the World Clock installation (physical version).

IMG_0701

Petervan Artwork © 2018 – World Clock – 7 time zones 
Acryl on canvas 7x20x20cm

IMG_0683IMG_0687

Petervan Artwork © 2018 – Prison Window project – Acryl on Canvas – 20x20cm

I am happy to report that I passed. Even better, two of my works(the Garden and the Blue Boat) were selected for the year end exposition of the academy on 23 & 24 June 2018 in Ghent.

33191523_10156347286922902_6583427825242472448_o

Next year, I will probably do some sort of specialisation or crossover, as I very much enjoyed the combination of digital and canvas this year.

About Silence

Some years ago I was diagnosed with auditory hypersensitivity, which in laymen terms means I hear extremely well. I hear for example the blood streaming through my veins in my head. It’s a soft rustling, but not very disturbing, no worries. On the other hand, I can’t stand television sets playing too loud, or the sound of the highway in the distance, or the crowds in subway stations. But I do like a loud rock concert or performance. “Functional loudness” if you want. So let’s say I am hypersensitive to noise pollution.

It dawned to me only recently that I could actually do something with this sensitivity. I started recording silence. Or rather, I started recording the noise pollutions that are disturbing a wonderful silence. Like the sound from a small motorcycle in the distance, passing by, and Doppler effect disappearing on the other end. Same with planes, trains, bicycles, voices, the list goes on.

Like in painting, it feels that this is also about managing contrasts and the spectrum of contrasts: loud/soft conversations, light/dark, calm/wild,….

Some of these recordings include video, some not. I plan to use some of these “silence-scapes” in my upcoming performances and/or installations as well. It’s a bit weird. I may get myself a GoPro camera and some decent audio gear, although my iPhone 6s captures it quite well. For the video below, I was just holding my iPhone in my hand when driving. Simple.

Biking noise and silence. 
An 8-minute raw non-edited capture of a bike tour 
in the area of Aalst (Belgium), illustrating sound and silence
To be used in some upcoming performances. 

 

About time

My tempo has become so slow and peaceful that it starts to be incompatible and dysfunctional with the rat race of so called “normal” life of deadlines, busyness, and fragmentation of everything.

That’s what I wrote a while ago as some reflections on this theme.

Jan Fabre

Jan Fabre self-portrait - Part of series "Promises of a Face"

The first occasion where this dysfunction hit me was during a visit to the Museum of Fine Arts in Brussels, where my cousin is senior curator. He just had curated and opened an exposition confronting contemporary multidisciplinary artist Jan Fabre with the (mainly Flemish Primitives) classic artists (see also below). He gave me a quick-guided tour on the latest at the museum. I could not follow him (mentally). In one-hour time he gave me so much information, it seemed to me that I couldn’t process it all anymore, I needed more time to let it fully come in.

Around the same period, I was picking up again my Ableton skills ànd reading Venkatesh Rao’s “Tempo: Timing, Tactics and Strategy in narrative-driven decision making”, describing virtuoso how “tempo” is an always present but less outspoken aspect of our relationships between people, corporations, etc

In that book, he categorised some archetypes of tempo synchronisation. Some examples look very much like Gantt Charts.

Tempo archetypes

Extract book "Tempo" by Venkatesh Rao

 

The tempo intervals made me associate immediately the visual metaphor of the “Venkatesh Gannt Charts” with the user interface of the music composition software Ableton Live (that I use to compose soundscape for my performances).

Especially the Ableton “session and arrangement view” visualizes in a very similar way the bars, tones, pitches, rhythms, tempos, velocities, automations, and quantizations of an arrangement or musical composition.

ableton interface

Ableton Live music software – arrangement view

One also hears intuitively when the score is right or not so right. When the beats are too digital and lack human variation. Life is more than bits and bites and rhythms in an arrangement…

Again, like in painting, it feels more and more that my work is about managing contrasts and the spectrum of contrasts: loud/soft conversations, light/dark, calm/wild,….

Exhibitions

Still trying to visit an art exhibition once/twice every month. During the last 3 months, I went to see:

 

John Kotter cropped

John Korner – Running Problems

 

  • “My Queens” by multi-disciplinary artist Jan Fabre, honoring the 8 important women in his life in a dialogue with the Flemish artistic tradition (curated by my cousin Joost Vander Auwera). I was very impressed by the monumental Carrara marble bas-reliefs with incredible detail

My Queen

Detail of Carrara marble bas-relief by Jan Fabre

 

 

 

Upcoming performance

I am very excited to have been invited again to do a performance at the Finnovista Summit in Mexico-City on 12-13 Sep 2018. I was invited last year, but the event needed to be cancelled halfway due to the 7,4 magnitude earthquake on 19 Sep 2017. So the organisers were so kind to invite me again.

The theme of this year’s event is “Listen, Learn, Lead”. Manoeuvring through this theme, I will make a new performance, recuperating some material from last year, but also with new elements from my artwork series “Prison Window” and other metaphors capturing my reflections and insights of the last year. This time, and in addition of the multi-media approach, I plan to include props on stage, possibly a life camera feed, even some vestimentary attributes, and a lightning script for the light technician.

centro cultural

The venue is indeed fantastic: it is the main concert hall of the Centro Cultural Roberto Cantoral, a real theatre stage with all the audio/lightning whistles and bells one can dream of.

The working title of the performance is “Get out of the prison cell! – An artistic reflection on listening, learning, and leading”

Chickens and Pigs Project

A nickname for our garden and chicken farm.

The chickens are doing fine, thank you. Normally 2-3 fresh eggs everyday, but recently – because of the warm pre-summer here in Flanders – one of my hens is broody. I told you, I have nothing to report 😉

The garden is developing well. We now have different salads, tomatoes, cucumber, zucchini, carrots, paprika, berries and raspberries. And the trees in the orchard start developing apples, pears, cherries, and prunes.

garden1garden2

Petervan Vegetables © 2018 - Lettuce still free of snails – June 2018

 That was just in the garden. Small stuff compared to what my uncle Hubert and son David are doing. They are professional farmers cultivating several hectares of land and keeping a livestock of about 250 cows and sheep.

One of my long time bucket list items – driving a tractor through Flanders’ Fields – finally became true. It is an almost Zen-like experience to make nice straight lines in open fields, with just the sound of the tractor and the warm wind blowing through the open window of the machine.

IMG_0649

Farmer Petervan on tractor of uncle Hubert, Aspelare, Belgium June 2018

I was impressed by the technology on board of these modern tractors. They have a joystick, auto speed control, airco, etc. and some of them even have GPS to make really straight lines, or to ensure no part of the land is sprayed twice, a matter of efficiency and cost control. Also the seats are awesome, better than in most cars.

I also learned a lot about nature: when cows keep their tail up, it means there’s thunderstorm underway, and when swallows fly low over the pasture, there is a good chance of rain coming. We also saw a lot of hares, and even a fox.

What’s next?

Besides the obvious year-end resolutions (renewed every quarter or so), the plan for July – Sep 2018 is to work on:

  • V1 of “Casual Conversations” aka Studio Oxygen
  • Make and publish some more Silence-recordings
  • Create 1 painting every 2 weeks > 6 paintings in 3 months
  • Write 1 blogpost per month
  • Mexico Sep 2018: make and rehearse the new performance

Looks like I am running out of time 😉 So, that’s it for this edition. If there is something worth reporting, next update is for Sep 2018.

Warmest,

 

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The 2017-2018 Art Academy year is coming to an end, and on June 12, 2018 I will present some of my works for the year-end evaluation. Good that I kept a logfile of the evolution of most of my paintings; it helps me reflect on sources of inspiration, different stages of decisions, and lessons learned. Some friends encouraged me to share these stories, for some reason they find them interesting.

So here is the story of 4 paintings:

Painting 1: Watercarriers

This is actually a series of paintings. The inspiration was a 2007 newspaper picture of children carrying water to the refugee camp in Tsjaad (I have a file of “interesting” pictures that I keep somewhere in a drawer and/or electronic file).

Watercarriers group of 2

On the left the picture, on the right the very first sketch on A4 paper. This was one of the first big lessons learned this academy year: my coach Chris told me “and now, never look back at the original picture, and base your work on the sketch, on the memory of that picture”. In other words, it was not so important to create a realistic reproduction of the picture, it was more important to transmit the impression.

Watercarriers group of 5

During that time, we also got some basic training in making grey tones of colours, and I made a series of those (read from left to right). The sketch on the left is on A4 paper, the one next to it is on paper A2 format, and the others are on canvas about some A2 size.

Painting 2: Blue Boat

Inspiration this time from the on-line coastal sciences and societies Hakai Magazine: an article titled “The secret language of ships” got my attention. Many great pictures that could be used as basis for a painting, but I took this one:

7-tanker-reading-ships-1200x800

I started out with the lesson from painting #1 in mind: “and now, never look back at the original picture…”

Boat group of 5

First iteration on the left. I was quite happy with the sky, and had some fun by turning the canvas 90° and dripping paint to get some fluid effect. The very first version of the tugboats also appeared in this version, happy to see that with just a couple if lines it is possible to create the impression of a boat.

My coaches are too gentle, but the main feedback was that it all felt a bit too busy, and I should try to get rid of that sky and make it much more neutral. So I made it grey-white. Next, I added some white line on the body of the big tanker to improve the perspective effect. In the fourth picture you will see I tried to calm down also the sea surface. And at the far right (and below) the final result with purple sky, better tugboats and reflections in the water.

Boat final cropped

Big lessons learned:

  • A couple of lines are enough to create an impression
  • Calm down, avoid gimmicks, don’t distract but create calm by big surfaces
  • Create calm (repeat)

Painting 3: Cowbow Henk in his Garden

Inspiration was this picture of a person in a rather large garden

Garden inspiration picture

I started out as usual with some solid general structure foundations (first picture on the upper left below):

Garden group of 9

Then, I tried – within my basic skills – to do some impressionistic representation of reality (2nd picture). The feedback from my coaches was consistent: “EVERYTHING screams!”. So the first step I took was to “neutralise” the lawn. By pure accident – I did not see it at first, it was Frieda, a co-student – I got some sort of “Trompe l’Oeuil”: it was as if the lawn rolled out in infinity in the front of the painting.

In the second row, first picture, I painted over the back and sides with a calming light-greenish colour. A mix of brush and spatel. And added the black border line. Then I tried to remember principle #1: bring some rest in your work! Something important happened in third row, first picture from the left.

I started playing with digital. I imported my last result into Sketchbook Pro and tried different alternatives, using multiple layers and turning them off/on until I had a result that I somewhat liked. You see that result below in the picture on the left. The I tried to apply the digital design onto the canvas with real brushes and paint. The end result is on the right below.

Garden group of 2

I named the painting “Cowboy Henk in his Garden”. If you do not know Cowboy Henk, he is a strip character by Kamagurka and Herr Seele, two absurdists from Absurdistan, in good neo-Magritte surrealism. Check out for more background here. To be honest, I don’t think it’s Cowboy Henk in his garden, but his brother Dikke Billie Walker – the anti-hero of Henk – or another absurd family member…

Lessons learned:

  • don’t scream all over the place
  • create calm (repeat)

Painting 4: Trampoline

Good example of a painting that makes sense at the start, but alienates the audience when it is truly finished.

The source inspiration was a picture of my daughter laying on a trampoline, wrapped in white linen sheet, during a warm summer day two years ago.

Astrid Trampoline

You can easily follow from left to right, row after row, how this painting evolved.

 

Trampoline group of 12

Important steps IMO are:

  • Row 1, step 3: adding of a solid green trampoline border
  • Row 2, step 2: draping a real white sheet on top of the painting to see/study the shape and shadows of the blanket
  • Row 2, step 3: adding the folds in zinc white. After that step, I did not touch the painting for about 5 months. Then, suddenly, I painted over the white with some red’ish folds, and put some green-yellow accents above/below the mummie, which I painted over right away in the next session
  • Row 3, step 2 is a digital mix. Again, I imported the previous image in Sketchbook, and experimented with a lot of variations, including feathers on the head of the mummie (not shown below), but in the end I liked the result below:

Trampoline group of 2

On the left the digital composition, on the right the real painting on physical canvas. So, digitally, I adjusted the two green backgrounds, added a dark shadow around the mummie, got an extra red line, and finally, drew the white line around.

So, this was the end-result. Like most paintings above, all is acryl on canvas, and the format is 120x100cm, except when mentioned otherwise.

Trampoline final cropped

Lesson learned:

  • Feel free to experiment with digital
  • create calm (repeat)

With sincere thanks to my academy coaches Chris, Pieter, Koen, Inge, Marie-Ange, and Annick

Warm regards to all of you,

petervan-signature

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Trampoline final cropped

Petervan Artwork © 2018 - "Trampoline" - Acryl on canvas - 120x100cm

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Woorden maken me moe

De stilte ontwaakt me

Het bombast verveelt, vervelt

Kwetsbaarheid heelt

Traagheid verdiept

Het banale en marginale

Dragers van schoonheid in lelijkheid

Dan nog liever

De verse bloesem in de hoge kruin

De geur van gegrild vlees

De liefde van merrie en veulen

De drang naar zorgvuldigheid

De kracht van eenvoud

Zuiverheid, Alertheid en coherentie

Allen verleiden ze me

 

+++ rough translation +++

Words make me tired

Silence awakens

Bombast bores and peels

Healing vulnerability

Deepening Slowness

Banality and frugality

Carriers of beauty in utter ugliness

Then rather

The fresh blossom in the treetop

The smell of grilled meat

The love of mare and foal

The craving for careful

The power of simplicity

Purity, alertness and coherence

They all seduce me

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