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Archive for the ‘Sine Parole’ Category

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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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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Zuckerberg in prison on cropped window with white borders V3 with red effect cropped

Petervan Artwork © 2018 - Digital Mix based on WIRED cover

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Main liberty post

Petervan Artwork © 2018 – Liberty in Prison – Digital Mix

 

Spoiler: there is nothing in this post that is business, FinTech, Blockchain or AI related.

General

It has been a quiet couple of weeks since my previous update of Jan 2018. I am getting used to the post-employee rhythm of the day: art, garden, chickens, biking. My day schedule is getting close to “the perfect day” as described in Freed From Desire.

The Artschool project

Most of my artwork is related to the Hot Dogs Tonight (HDT) project. If you want an intro on HDT, check out my previous post.

As the HDT is at times so geometrical and becoming a real obsession – and to assure you and myself that I am not completely flipping – I sometimes alternate with more organic work like this:

Main messing

Petervan Artwork © 2018 – Messin’ – Acryl on canvas – 120x100cm

But back to HDT: Marie-Ange, one of my teachers at academy, introduced me to PVL, who had been experimenting a lot with painting on canvasses that themselves where prints on canvas.

When he heard about one of the sub-projects of HDT, he suggested me to go fully digital and print on canvas instead of painting on printed canvas. He sounded like a perfectionist: nothing below 750 dpi, always use high quality print shops, only use Adobe Photoshop, etc

So I “perfected” the prison window to this reference shape (all formats, colours, line weights, etc are now documented for different sizes…)

Main reference

Petervan Artwork © 2018 – Reference Prison Window – Digital Mix

I also tried a bigger painting (120x100cm), with 720 little prison windows. The yellow went fine, but for some reason the purple paint started creeping under the mask tape, and I lost the precision of the preparatory work. I tried to hide the imperfections with carbon black acryl markers, but made it worse (although some disagree).

I should have tested these new markers a couple of times on test surfaces before applying it to the 720 HDT canvas. Also the canvas started undulating after applying and re-applying so much tape. Again, some good lessons learned in addition of having become some semi-expert in mask taping.

Main big one

Petervan Artwork © 2018 – 720 Windows – Acryl on canvas – 120x100cm

I also started to prefer the shape without the prison bars: hoping less is really becoming more. I experimented with different settings, formats, colours, with/without lines, taped lines, acryl marker lines, etc.

This time using very cheap 20x20cm canvasses from the local Action-store (discounter)

main 2 small windows

Petervan Artwork © 2018 – Small windows – Acryl on canvas – 20x20cm

Main 20 experiments

Petervan Artwork © 2018 – 20 experiments for essence – Acryl on Canvas – 20x20cm

People seem to be intrigued by the HDT work, and it can serve many different (post-fact confabulated) narratives. Some narratives that seem to tick/stick:

Golden Cage: the life of employees with all the perks and stocked fridges, but still living and operating as self imposed inmates, loosing all sense of agency, and keeping quiet and obeying whatever real or imaginary authority. I can imagine HDT full-size installations with different insides/outsides to let the visitor experience what they missed by staying inside the cage.

Main 4 city views

Petervan Artwork © 2018 – NYC/SFO/LON/SYD – Prints on Canvas – 20x20cm

The whole theme of surveillance, sous-veillance and the prison guard’s option to open the window at will, or worse overlooking all the prisoners in Jeremy Bentham’s Panopticon, so well put into the social media context in Andrew Keen’s Digital Vertigo. Keen has btw a new book out “How to fix the future”. The look from within the prison cell, seeing the sunshine outside. The look from outside, seeing the cheap light bulb inside.

Main inside outside

Petervan Artwork © 2018 – Inside/Outside – Print on Canvas – 20x20cm

Trumpism: Americans seem to be frustrated with it. There seems to be a sort of complacency that leads to statements like “As long as it does not burn in my house”. Your own house has become a prison cell and/or refuge. “Liberty in Prison” seems to appeal to that, as well as the baseball hat referring to some other possibilities than America First. Same for all the shootings in schools, schools being experienced as danger zones: Schools behind bars.

main liberty and schools

Petervan Artwork © 2018 – Liberty/School behind bars – Digital Mixes

The HDT shape can also be seen as some sort of code, a symbol, an icon, a tag, a font, a sign-of-the-times. I have used it as part of the design of the world clock installation, or contrast experiences in Green/Red/Blue. For the world clock, I also have a more complex design with gyroscopes and smartphone holders, and a smartphone app to take pictures/selfies from behind the prison window.

Petervan Artwork © 2018 – World Clock - Installation 6 acryl canvasses – 20x20cm

Main 3 colors V2

Petervan Artwork © 2018 – Green/Red/Blue – Acryl on Canvas – 50x50cm

The algorithms of the online print shops pointed me to cross-sell offerings for all sorts of merchandise. I have now received designs for T-shirts, baseball caps, notebooks, mugs, pencils, stickers, etc

I could not resist and ordered the black T-shirt, and it did arrive nicely in my mailbox two days after uploading my JPEG file to the print shop. The caps are not ordered yet. Still hesitating for white caps, or red caps to make the link with “Make America Great Again” and to find some alternative tagline. Could be something with “resist” or “released” or ???

main t shirt

main white capmain red cap

Petervan Artwork © 2018 – Merchandising – The T-shirt exists 😉

main stencils

main mono print

main etch

Petervan Artwork © 2018 – Stencils/Templates/Etches/Monoprints

The HDT project unleashes many other ideas. Some folks refer to the Blue Dog Phenomenon by George Rodrigue or the OBEY memes of Shepard Fairey, who recently even started covering huge apartment blocks with his memes. I have no idea where HDT will lead me. It just happened to me. There is no plan. Let’s celebrate happenstance.

My academy teachers told me there are enough ideas now, and it’s time to “execute” and make some of the existing work “presentable”:

  • Most of my canvasses are stitched on wooden panels. After a while, especially with a lot of tape-work, they start undulating. I need to get some of them properly framed (or do it myself) so they look somewhat “neat”.
  • I have load of digital work and try-outs. My teachers say that that work is worth seeing as well. This could include printing some of my digital designs on high quality paper and presenting them in some kind of gift box that people can browse through

New tools

I completed my studio with the following new tools:

Co-creation: Prison-Window-as-a-platform

I am playing with the idea of making available the Prison Window in different formats (PSD, JPEG, etc) and inviting other creative folks to have a go with it and sharing their results with the community. I will probably do a separate post with invitations and assignments for that.

I will probably start simple with some Google-Doc folders, but wondering if any cloud platform already exists to do just that. Also interested on any models for licensing and compensation models for collaborating artists. You never know somebody wants to buy this stuff. Just ping me if you know of any platform or models that can serve my needs. I will be eternally grateful 😉

The Pigs & Chickens Project

Just a moniker for my garden project. And for this edition just some pictures will do.

Main moestuin

Petervan Industrial Constructions © 2018 – Self made vegetable box

main chickens

Petervan Chicken diversity/inclusion/#metoo 2018

Interesting quotes/random ideas/reflections

  • About Trump: “As long as it is not burning in my house” and “The destruction of complacency”
  • About time: “Future Memories”
  • About employees: “Self imposed inmates”

Social media disconnect

As in “the perfect day”, I am now almost completely disconnected. I have unsubscribed from almost all mailing lists. I am down to about 2 emails per day and of course an empty email box. My mobile can only take calls and text messages. 3G is disabled. I have stopped tweeting, FB-ing, etc. I put a blocker on my browser (https://blocksite.co/) on my laptop and mobile and it does what you’d expect it to do. I feel I have more agency with my time. I am enjoying the physical and emotional silence.

What’s next?

During Apr – June 2018, the plan is to work on:

  • Hot Dogs Tonight, with a focus on wooden 3D objects, and more rough and bigger scale projects
  • Pigs & Chickens Project
  • Studio Oxygen (see previous post)
  • Lots of biking (it’s spring and summer after all)
  • Whatever feels interesting (A.F.E.A.R.) and comes naturally into my flow: a couple of leads developed after my latest post, we’ll see how that goes.

main green

Petervan Artwork © 2018 – Green – Acryl on canvas – 50x50cm

That’s it for this edition. If there is something worth reporting, next update is for June 2018.

Warmest,

petervan-signature

 

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IMG_5412IMG_5411IMG_5413

Artschool 2017 Academy Ghent. First time drawing eyes and mouth. 
Pencil on cheap sketch paper. Format A4

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IMG_5290

Petervan Productions 2017 - Live Model
Pencil, charcoal and acryl on Steinbach paper A3

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Waterdragers voorstudie 1

The watercarriers - Petervan Productions 2017
Pre-study with basic greys - Acryl on canvas - 90x60 cm

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