5007 finished

Finished this one. It took a while as I couldn’ t decide if I would ad more, but here it is. No more changes. I’ll back off now! Starting a new one…

Updates to the Painting gallery

Added some recent paintings to the gallery on this website. I noticed some of these paintings are slightly darker than the others. Nothing wrong here. I like things a bit moody sometimes. There are bright ones too. especially 4906 and 5001. I also added some new links on the right of this website.

The Process of painting:Connected themes.

Some paintings are just one incarnation of one idea. There can be more.

Like these circle trees. The earlier one is quite small(40/50cms) and mostly blue, green and umber. After a while an idea grew to make a larger circle combined with the planetary view as it occurred in another composition. The idea of a circle of trees coinciding(or not) with other circular forms seemed inevitable. So the latest project is this larger painting showing red planets and trees.

Sometimes an idea comes up while painting another one. For instance when I was painting the small astronaut(40/50cm) the urge to paint a larger space themed painting became rather strong, so before the portrait was finished I had to paint the spaced rock arch(100/80cm). So really this shows how one painting can be the start of the next.

The process of painting: Plein air painting? Doesn’t work for me!

The weather improves and the urge to be outdoors becomes very strong. So why not go out with the easel and box of paints and brushes? The colours and subjects are there right before you! No lack of inspiration to the “plein air” painter. Well maybe, but I’m not one of those. I see the colours and landscape, the sky and streaming sunlight, but to me they are not subjects for painting. They are elements for painting, but actually looking at a landscape and jotting them on a canvas ruins my view. I do want to go out with a camera and capture the moment, but in my paintings I need that other moment that is never actually there except in my mind or on my canvas. I can paint outside, but  several elements form my landscape: a sky I saw yesterday, a building I encountered somewhere. Painting what I see makes me restless and impatient. To use the camera suits me at such moments.  When I paint outside it is never the landscape before me. I can draw as I would draw schematics to remember the landscape or a composition, but later I might draw or paint my true impression of the landscape I saw. I will use the sky I saw yesterday, move the mountain to the centre, grow a rock or two and add an animal I know could be there somewhere. Meanwhile the outdoors is just another well lit studio.

Painting outdoors, but not the landcape before me.

Painting outdoors, but not the actual landcape.

The process of painting: How to decide a painting is finished

While painting you could always technically improve your picture until at some time it might be “perfect”.

But sometimes a “flaw” makes a painting more interesting, so it is hard to decide to change something after a long time. Usually, I make small changes within the first few months. So when to finish?
I suppose this coincides with the stage where any improvement I try doesn’t really work. There’s this self portrait for instance where the rear of the room is slightly askew because I drew it like that in the sketch. Working on the painting I was on my way to correct this as I realised the “wrong” perspective worked better than the intended straight “horizon”. Perspective can be measured an any viewer who knows how to do that can find the flaws, so it is tempting to try and fix them all. It’s the same with wayward brushstrokes that I made while setting up the painting or smudges that are supposed to grow into an object. Sometimes leaving the brushstrokes or even blurring earlier details make a much stronger effect than completely working it.

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I’ve heard someone say every artist should have somebody who takes a painting away before he works on it too long.

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The process of painting: the growing canvas

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The start of a 17/12cm

Starting a large canvas is a daunting thing. There are huge surfaces of emptiness to fill with tiny brushstrokes. Starting a small painting is the reverse: the small surface seems to small to give a good look into a whole landscape. The urge is to fill it with something small, like one bird or a far away view of a tree or building.  It is hard to realise the small canvas is suitable for the same principles of composition as the large one.

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50/40cm seems large enough

When the composition has been decided and while the painting progresses, something interesting happens: The canvas grows! The surface that at first seemed too small to even show a sparrow in some detail, turns into the window to a wide landscape. Obviously the small canvas has less room for small brushstrokes compared to the large one, but on a large canvas it is not common to use the same “resolution” anyway.  We really shouldn’t be surprised by this growing canvas, because that’s really what happens when you print your holidaysnapshots on a fifteen centimeter wide paper. This size would be  a miniature for a painting.

The average computer screen is smaller than most paintings and we are used to view large paintings as Da Vinci’s “last supper” on our laptops, while really it’s size is closer to the screen we see in a small cinema.  This only shows how the human brain and cultural conditioning translates the elements of a picture of any size into a window into the artists world. It is even possible to make a large painting look small by using the appropriate elements. That is how we can accept a “budget print” landscape and a portrait of our beloved dictator spanning a stadium wall as a creditable rendition of reality.

I’d say the difference between a large painting or a small one only amounts to the difference between looking through a hole in the fence or over it.

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The process of painting: Must an artist disconnect from modern life?

Imagine an artist working in his quiet studio, a slightly dark room with only one source of light on his painting. An easel, a small table with paints and one chair are the main objects in the room. Maybe there’s not even a chair because the painter works standing up. Maybe there’s his subject: a person or a slowly decomposing still life.  But not much else, the painter works in silent solitude. This is what many people see when they think of an artist at work.4613 023 - Copy

But in reality there will be few painters who still work like that. There will at least be modern lighting. A few good daylight lamps and more often a whole battery of fluorescent tubes turn the romantic studio into the modern workshop it really is.  Some painters will work in silence, but others have a good array of audio equipment softly playing classical music or blaring loud rocktunes. I use daylight from my window, a few fluorescent tubes and at least one light bulb, so I can see how the painting works in common “livingroom” conditions.  Up to this point it’s all at least forty year old technology.  There might even be a telephone.

In my studio there’s also a computer and I bet there are quite a few computers in painter’s studios. I use it to store photographs. Digital Photography is great for subjects that don’t like to sit still or to show people all over the world what my paintings look like. Oh, but for that you’ll need internet and a website too.  I also like to show people how the latest painting is going. There comes the weblog.  When I forget to update that log I get emails asking if I’ve gone on holiday.  So the modern painter can use email.  When I finish a painting I upload a picture to my website and if it’s for sale it goes in my webstore.

I must say it is a strange contrast when I think about it. All those digitools don’t make a painting, but they are part of the world.  Some would say a painter should move it out of the studio as painting is a purely manual occupation.  The painter should climb his ivory tower, shut the door, grind up his pigments and oils and paint some esotherical images. Well if you’d like to do that I’m sure that will make for beautiful paintings, but my preference is to link up with the world. I find it is interesting how this digital technology has entered our world and the world of most people. I’m still convinced internet is a road to showing art to a larger public. I’m so happy to read comments  from people far away or to see work from colleagues in places I had never heard of.  I know people suffer from information overload, but I’m convinced that is just one of the teething troubles. People will learn how to filter the information they need or want. Off course we run the risk that information and products will be smoothed down to ugly mediocrity by syndication or advertising, so we need to make sure Internet will remain the free platform it is now, by supporting open source applications and creative communities.

I have no idea what the future of  modern communications will bring us, but I am convinced I’ll be using them for a long time. In my studio, next to the ancient brushes and slowly drying oils.

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A short biography of Victor Linford

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Victor was born 21st of May 1940 in Mile End London as Victor Harrison. Harrison was the name of his adoption father. His natural father was unknown. When his mother left Mr. Harrison, she changed her name to Linford so Victor became Victor Linford-Harrison and later Victor Linford. Victor was sent to the Norwood Home for Jewish Children in 1951. One of his schoolmasters recognized his artistic talent and later Victor was accepted to the Camberwell school of arts and crafts. He received his National diploma in Design in august 1960 with painting as his special subject. After some traveling to Sweden Victor moved to the Netherlands in order to work there, marry and raise a family. After some factory jobs, he succeeded in establishing himself as an artist.

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The first artistic period coincides with Victor’s stay in the local vicarage with his in-laws in Spankeren, a small village near Arnhem. This period started with rather dark drawings and paintings about social issues or even parenthood mixed with commissioned portraits and landscapes. Halfway the sixties Victor, his wife Mienke and son Christiaan moved to an old farmhouse where he built a studio in the stables.

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Meanwhile his work had evolved to rather fantastic landscapes, nudes and vivid (though not always flattering) portraits. Two daughters, Lilian and Victoria were born and Victor diligently worked on his exposure while showing a natural aptitude as a Bon Vivant as well. He exhibited in many galleries in the Netherlands and in 1972 and 1973 traveled to Tel Aviv and Haifa. Also in 1972 he moved to Nijmegen after his divorce. Here the “Nijmegen” period started where his landscapes became even more detailed and impressions of his travels to France were absorbed into his world. In 1974 Hein Steehouwer wrote his book “Meta-Realisten”, launching a group of seven artists as a new painting “popgroup”. Victor was one of this group and there were exhibitions, radio and television broadcasts. Victor worked in Nijmegen and traveled to France for the rest of his career. The paintings became even more detailed and multicoloured. He was working on a commission for a series of zodiac paintings when, at the 6th of December 2002, driving home after a celebratory dinner with Victoria’s family, his hart stopped and the “Victorian era” in the Netherlands ended prematurely.

Christiaan Linford

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The process of painting:Did Rembrandt hit a”Procrastination phase”?

I don’t think so. By most accounts Rembrandt was a pretty effective artist in a time when there wasn’t much room for frivolities. A painting, mostly a portrait was commissioned and the artist was supposed to deliver the goods as ordered. It’s us modern artists who can fret and doodle as our whims dictate.

Sometimes I use the "Phase" to make a small one.

I can use the "Phase" to make a small painting.

Sometimes at the first stages of setting up a painting I will hit some kind of barrier.  I’ll have to decide where certain parts of the composition need to go or where the light needs to come from.  I can sit staring at the canvas for a long time and nothing happens. Well not on the canvas, but the thoughts race through my mind. It will take a while and sometimes it feels like a mild form of stress and I feel guilty for not being able to work effectively. Sometimes I decide it’s better to do something completely different like fixing a car or to go for  a long walk.  Maybe even writing for this weblog. I call this the “procrastination phase” . Only later I realise this phase is an important moment:  I set  the design while I “procrastinate”.  It’s an essential part of my painting process. It’s not procrastination at all! It just looks much like it.

Wikipedia says:

Procrastination is a type of behavior which is characterized by deferment of actions or tasks to a later time. Psychologists often cite procrastination as a mechanism for coping with the anxiety associated with starting or completing any task or decision. [1] Psychology researchers also have three criteria they use to categorize procrastination. For a behavior to be classified as procrastination, it must be counterproductive, needless, and delaying.[2]

For an individual, procrastination may result in stress, a sense of guilt, the loss of personal productivity, the creation of crisis and the disapproval of others for not fulfilling one’s responsibilities or commitments. These combined feelings can promote further procrastination. While it is normal for people to procrastinate to some degree, it becomes a problem when it impedes normal functioning. Chronic procrastination may be a sign of an underlying psychological or physiological disorder.