Enjoying Art (again): Ido Vunderink

Yesterday I visited the historical city centre of Woerden. The museum there shows an exposition by local artist Ido Vunderink. He’s an 80 year old who nowadays paints abstract Dutch landscapes and flower arrangements in bright colours:


vunderink

I was thrilled to discover his work, earlier that morning, while I was still in bed waiting for the cortisol to kick in and start the day. His art reminds me of my own work, when I was so very much inspired by Norwegian mountains and their running waters, and made art there, ten years ago:

Abstract shapes reminding you of something in the real world.
One dark colour, one light and two in between.
Bright, happy colours to lift the spirits in the dark days of Winter.
Intersecting lines, defining planes.
Planes connecting behind other planes.
Lines running beyond their boundaries. Reappearing.

Vunderink is exploring the same things I did! Playing with the same toys!
(Not saying we’re at the same level, I was just starting, he is a master.)

I never got to transport my muse to Holland nor did I manage to reconnect with my teachers at the Jeroen Bosch Academy and talk about any of this. I subsequently dropped out of art school and dropped out of health. I haven’t been able to make art since.

Ido Vunderink, Dutch artist
“Evening Light” by Ido Vunderink.
Is that a city scape whose rhythm extends into the sky above? Or are these tulip fields in the Netherlands? With the beach and the sea at the back. It’s whatever you like.

Viewing the works of a kindred artist, who finds inspiration here in Holland, today, fills me with tremendous joy. So, it IS possible to find things here that lead to the same playing field of art. This overcrowded, over-gardened piece of land DOES offer shapes to talk about large spaces and slow time and natural compositions.

The exposition was thrilling. I spend two hours there, sketching the works, examining them close-up, watching from afar, drinking in the colours and following Vunderink’s conversation about composition, colour, contrast. I felt like a fellow-artist and was very happy about it.
Untitled

For all the bursting colours and abstractions, this was nonetheless my favourite:

Ido Vunderink, Dutch artist
“Kruiken”. 2014. Ido Vunderink

The same subjects are still here: lines, shapes, planes, colours. But they all play closer to the chest. The abstraction doesn’t leave you guessing what’s portrayed although the painting is quite high so it’s more about vertical lines than it is about tall jugs.
The colours are similar to each other, you have to stand still and look at it for a bit to appreciate their differences and their interaction.

This painting is magical!
The undersketch is coming through, in purples and olives and intense yellow, while the planes themselves were made so thoroughly opaque and in these fantastic colours! The light and dark contrast is subtle but meaning full. The jug in the middle is the main player but it’s mates are brighter, except for the one at the most right.

Vunderink has signed his name in the wet paint, a lovely way to do that doesn’t interfere with the colours.

Yes. This is the painting I would love to own and look at for the years of my life left. In turn it lifts me up, makes me laugh, makes me contemplate, makes me silent, makes me curious, makes me investigate, makes me want to paint and it makes me … “carefree” is the word I guess.

I’m trying very hard to stay in that moment. To not think about making art myself, picking up where I left off. Not making ANY PLANS. Not thinking about either the future or the past. Not spinning any stories to put my life into some kind of perspective.
Reverse Therapy has me working hard in shutting up my chatterbox of a mind, that sock puppet with its running commentary:

Shut up muppet. We’re here to enjoy the moment. Living in/through the body.

The exposition is held in a very old building that’s very sympathetic with little windows and shutters and wooden winding stairs and hand cut details and little bricks. This added to my joy:
Screen Shot 2015-12-23 at 18.39.48

Vunderink’s exposition here runs until the 10th of January.

a still life of lemons and art

Soon I will have to sit down and mark my limitations and sketch what forfilling life I can lead within their parameters. It’s now sinking in that I will not recover from ME more than I have. And that I’ve already lost some of that improvement. It hurts.

pic by Keith Syvinski

I can’t sit down now because I’m still in the turbulence of a hormonal week. My feelings are not my own. My thoughts cannot be trusted. I question life and everything. I hurt very deeply.
It’s a tiresome affair to manage. Because no matter how unjust these feelings are, they are still felt deeply. These emotions and thoughts are caused by chocolate bars I ate last week, one every day for six days. It may have been the sugar, it may have been the soy lecithin. Something caused too much estrogens in my brain and I’m totally of my rocker.

pic by Jeremy Hanke

I have to wait until this clears my system before I can sit down and deal with life.

One thing that confuses me is how true and profound the thoughts are that too much estrogens provoke in me. Thoughts about life, the essence of life, the existence of man, the meaning of mine. Paired with the strong feelings I cannot help but wonder if there’s not some truth to them. If they should not be addressed, thoroughly. But I know I shouldn’t while I’m still weird in the head. Time will once again prove that this is not me, these thoughts are not me, these feelings are not me.

I hope soon to sit down and converse with myself about the real things. The parameters and living within the limitation thing. In the mean time life goes on, every day.

Today I’m rewatching an excellent British documentary about painting stil lifes.
It resonates with some things essential in me. Some essence of me as an artist. Of me as a human. Of me as a Dutchman. And of me as a chronic ill person.
I cannot sort these into separate labels. They overlap. And have something to do with the meaning of life.
It’s confusing and exhilarating at the same time.

To name just a few subjects they touch upon, in no particular order and in now way conclusive:

DAILY OBJECTS
There’s talk about the importance of everyday objects in our life. Things you touch every day. Their colour. Shape. Texture. Handling. Weight. How they look in the different light throughout the day, throughout the year.

pic by Ruth Harris

You touch them every day. Your body communicates with them.
You see them. People are eye-animals, they revel in seeing things. When an object forfills its visual promise with an appropriate tactile experience perhaps even a smell, that’s simply heaven on just a common day. It’s what life, as a human, is about. In part.

DUTCH GOLDEN AGE
The explanation of how Dutch society got to get a Golden century in the 17th century when money was flooding into the country and everybody was buying paintings to decorate their houses with and also selling houses just to buy one single tulip bulb or at least own paintings of tulips. While there’s still a Calvinistic streak running through us chastizing us that we should not be vain or enjoy possession.

Ambrosius Bosschaert, the Elder “Tulips in a Wan-Li Vase”, 1619

This importance to enhance your living quarters. This persists right up to today where IKEA caters to this need and we all long for something that’s displayed in adverts of Nordic and Japanese interiors.
(It makes me think of one of my dear books about Mexican houses. With warm colours and bold materials and much art of local history)

Somehow your house, your room, your things tie you to your place in life. Your identity. Your time of living. To your country. Its history too. You take your place in your era and in your location as you decorate your living surroundings.

Pictures in your house do something. But only as long as you keep seeing them, as long as they don’t become invisible.

IKEA art by Mike Toy, prone to invisibility.

I think there’s a chance for a new kind of “pictures”. No longer the posters that you frame and hang. No longer the mass catering IKEA does. Something else…
Something that ties you, your soul, to a wall, to a room. And reflects you back to yourself.

THE ART OF PAINTING
Ahh, the talk of shapes and composition. How mainly in Western paintings the light comes from the left. The documentary proposes that this is because we read from left to right. But they do not offer non-western still life paintings that have light from the right.
I think it’s as probably we prefer light form the left because we like to face south in daily life. And then the sun rises on the left.
Light from the left reminds us of this promising event, when the day is still young and full of opportunities.

This talk of the mechanics of art make that I see its components all around me, right where I sit, here at this cluttered table with a funny lamp beside my laptop and a cup full of colour pencils.
I see shapes and textures. Compositions and directions. I love it. Having an artist eye makes that you are never bored. Even if you cannot sketch anything because you are too weak to hold a pencil.

art by Milton Avery

Well, there are many things in this documentary that make me happy. That provide me with beauty in thought and sight.

Isn’t that the weirdest thing, that one can hurt so at the core and have questioning thoughts about the essentials and be happy at the same time?

Here’s another picture of shapes and colours and composition but also a story. I think it’s beautiful! All the round shapes…

affordable art by CorellaDesign on Etsy

I’d like to do this very much. So much it aches. So much that I have not thought about this for years, because the hurt was too great.
Now I’m thinking about it again. Want to do this. But I am crippled. Crippled with ME but more so with something else. With life, I guess.
I hope to sit down soon and flesh it out. Find a way.

Here’s the description the BBC website had of the documentary:
Apples, Pears and Paint: How to Make a Still Life Painting
“A richly detailed journey through the epic history of still life painting, featuring a range of delights from the earliest existing Xenia mural paintings discovered at Pompeii to the cubist masterpieces of Picasso.

Awash with rich imagery of fruit, flowers and humble domestic objects, this lively take on the story of still life encompasses the work of some of the genre’s greatest artists from Caravaggio to Chardin and Cezanne. But it also captures the surprising contributions of the less well known, including asparagus enthusiast Adriaen Coorte and female flower painter in the court of Louis XVI, Anne Vallayer-Coster.

With contributions from historians Bettany Hughes and Janina Ramirez, art historians Andrew Graham Dixon and Norman Bryson, and philosopher Alain de Botton amongst others, it opens up the huge social histories that lie behind the paintings and the fascinating lives of the people who made them.”

visual arts: thinking about styles and planes

this picture by LoveAshleyDesigns on etsy.com :

reminds me of Kay Nielsen: East of the Sun, West of the Moon:

Sure, Ashley Taylor uses a different visual style, it’s more formal, more “clean”, more “now”. But it shows some of the same use of proportions, decorative fields and fairytale atmosphere. (Nielsen is a bit more ‘sharp’ in his atmosphere I think)

A lovely opportunity to think about recreating a loved image in another style, not your own. Just to play with lines, planes, fields, atmosphere.
If I have the time and the energy, I’d love to do that more. :)

Some other art that popped up on my radar is about using two fields of colour to create an image. Using planes and not lines offers a whole range of interesting puzzles to solve.
These puzzles have been played with for centuries in block printing and silhouette cuttings. Last century in comic novels. Nowadays in decals. It’s a dear fascination of mine, only recently in that pop up card I got to play with it again.

Untitled

Here’s some work by artist Shou:

All the “black” has to connect to each other if these are to be cut out of one sheet of media. The details in the face of the last woman do not. But that’s a detail. I love how with silhouettes and wit the use of concave/curves all kinds of shapes are made and atmosphere is suggested.

I also like the free hand style that is used. It talks to me of Sumi-é, my other fascination. In which I also have a particular taste for expressive, high contrast work. This is one of my own brushings:

In the last century Frank Miller made the comic Sin City. Also quite expressive and full of contrast. (All his work can be found here.)
Some images from Sin City. The comic itself is more brutal, more sexual.

Bill Watterson from Casper and Hobbes also has this expressive use of line. I love it. On more than one occasion I have tried to find out what kind of brush he uses so I could start to play like this too.
I love brush technique but I have yet to find a brush that act like I want. Basically I’d love my fingers to have some sleek tails.

Watterson also plays with the style in which he presents his images, switching them around:

I am in absolute awe, especially because the fun he has doing this radiates from the work!

And I totally support the man in his decision to stop when he was done; to remain a private person and in his views on merchandizing and judging art. See wiki for the synops on that.
Watterson’s publisher

IN OTHER NEWS:
I’ve set up a reasoning to think my way out of feeling useless in life. I’m too tired now to present it to you, this art post took way longer than anticipated. But I will in the near future. At least before I lose my line of thought. Or can no longer read my scribbles…

judging-life

(don’t bother, I took too poor a picture for you to read. Not on purpose though.)

Basically I first look at “being in existence”, if that yields any purpose. Animals, plants, bacteria, planets. (Nope. But a few interesting viewpoints to try out for fun.)

Then I look at “being human”. This yields results. I follow a few ways of looking at things: how judgement works; how values come into play; what is typical for humans and what is typical for me. This gives a few areas that require more investigation for me personally.

“Typical human” is then focused on some more. I divide it in having this brain and having emotions. Both give interesting clues for leading a purposeful life, as a human being.
Then there’re all kinds of overlaps and connections between intellect and emotion to discover. Quite fun to think about.

“Typical me” is concerned with how I roll (what fascinates me and what boundaries are sensible for me). This would differ for every individual. For me this will ask adaption and adoptation of mental attitudes. I’ll need to learn some new habits of how I look at the world, at life and at my days.

five jobs: Started to draw (no pictures yet)

I have begun to draw. The beginning of my job as an illustrator, I hope. One of my five jobs.

This is a weird job. I can’t sit at the table at 9 in the morning, get my stuff and start working. Drawing for me is done in that minute between other things you want to do. I have to do my day and have a notebook handy and just when I’m about to get up and make some tea, I stop myself and instead draw for 45 seconds.

There has to be absolutely no pressure. Of course I started to dream up future publications and merchandize immediately which made the no-pressure-thing pretty obvious pretty quick. When the world emporium ambitions started, my scetchbook stayed empty or had just a few schematic drawings. “I’ll fill in the details later” is a red flag for me. That means I’m thinking, not drawing.

No dreaming of publications at any time because not only does it kill my drawing I’ll also alter my work to what I perceive to be the publics preferences. Right now I need to draw for fun. Draw something because the subject interests me. Because spacial relations interest me. Because lines interest me. They do, they do, they do.

I’ve been at it for a few days now and some old familiar feelings have sprouted. The feelings I know from back when I was an artist. Things like these:

  1. there’s a buzz. A restlessness. It lingers all day (and night). My mind is preoccupied with art, it is always in the back of my mind. I have to juggle this restlessness with the ones I experience from too much chocolate, too little hormones, too much Copper and the legal procedures about that darn manure factory they’re planning across the road.
  2. I see more. Everywhere I look I see lines and textures and subjects. And beauty. It’s a wonderful eye to have.
  3. The need to adjust the compass constantly. For example, I have to remind myself that not every art that is possible needs to become in existence. It’s ok to not draw something that would be beautiful and/or loved by others. Take a breath, take it easy. Another example: I tend to turn away from things that really fascinate me and go to safer things. These safer things I make into style exercises and I convince myself that that’s important. I need to stop this ratio-cackle and just draw for the fun of drawing. Last example: the inner critic. A well known voice for many people. It looks at what’s in my notebook and finds it appalling. Childish. It probably is. But that’s no reason to criticize it. I’ll need a lot of practice anyway, to find my own style. AND I need to accept my own hand of drawing, not try to draw like some of the artists I admire.

Really fascinating subjects: alternative stories to well known fairytales. Or something weird I saw in Dublin. But they are hard to render onto paper. Because it all has to come from the mind. There’s no model.

Easier and safer subjects and just as much fun: drawing the cat. In various styles. Or taking interesting artists and studying their work (with a pencil).

Well, this is what I’m doing. In between things.

Here’s an artist I’m looking at at the moment: Kay Nielsen

wonderful compositions.
'Then He Took her Home' - Kay Rasmus Nielsen (March 12, 1886 – June 21, 1957) was a Danish illustrator who was popular in the early 20th century, the "golden age of illustration" which lasted from when Daniel Vierge and other pioneers developed printing tIllustrator Kay Rasmus
pictures by Amber Case, caseorganic on flickr

ps that inner critic is a drag. It also gives me lip about how this blog is looking. With all the words. When pictures are so much easier to look at. Well….

from Icanhascheezburger.com

 

“where dwells my mind?”

work by anna

“sitting at a table, looking out through the window: where dwells your mind?” this is the main question I want to answer in this blog. It will tell me where to head in the coming years. Possible subjects: cuttlefish; nervous system; colour. I remember some thoughts on art. Continue reading