When we arrived 25 ago in Valencia I struck it lucky with a large retrospective exhibition of Joaquin Sorolla at the IVAM Museum. It was my key introduction to this master. Inspired by his work, I picked up my brushes and I made these paintings. Some one-fold exercises, but I wanted colour, colour, and colour again on my canvas. The intense impression of Sorolla´s show opened doors to a new world of painting.
We are bird watchers. We like to go out, taking along our binoculars, and look at the birds around. Even in the immediate vicinity of our house we see many different species. Occasionally we even go on a special journey for bird watching. For example, at the end of September we will travel to the Netherlands, to the Northern Islands for the autumn bird migration. This week however we did not even have to walk out of the door to see something very special. Last Thursday, at twilight, some hundreds of storks came down in Chelva. On the roofs of houses and churches, no ledge or striker remained unoccupied. We had never experienced this before, and also for the villagers this was totally unusual. Friday morning when the sun gained some power the flock left again. As expected, I made photographs to show you.
In the beginning I told you that this blog would not always be about portraiture. Well this is a similar kind of different post. Not about brushes or paint but about a spectacular show just in front of our eyes.
Next week it will be 25 years since we left Holland and moved to Spain. Friends offered their house in Valencia. We planned to stay for a year but then never came back. We set our wings to the wind, to wider horizons. In Holland we were very happy and content, as we are now in Spain. Here was work to provide our livelihood, sometimes more, sometimes less, but we managed. We have been lucky to make many friends, and we still enjoy the simple life, in rural Spain. None of us knows what lies in store for us tomorrow. But just more of the same, that would be great.
It’s not always fun in the the beast´s belly of creation. Once in a blue moon it’s doom and gloom. You always feel as good or bad as your last painting. When you have done a great job you feel invincible, then there is nothing to worry about. But once in a while you make something mediocre, no matter what you do. You feel miserable. Fear is lurking to be unmasked as a bungler, a charlatan. The strange thing is that this phenomenon of despair grows with you. If all goes well your quality as a painter improves with the years. But sometimes you realize that you might not reach the top that you had in mind for yourself. Winds of uncertainty. Then it’s good to look back, and see what you have created. On the occasion you see a piece again and it can be surprising. In such a way that you think: Did I make that? It’s not really bad!
I recently came across this portrait, a commission that I made in 1999. The subdivision of the background may not be great, the person’s ear is a bit fancy but the brushwork and the atmosphere surprised me. I wish I could paint that way again!
If you ever travel through Spain do not forget to visit the Poblet Monastery, a Cistercian Monastery, founded in 1151, located at the feet of the Prades Mountains, in the comarca of Conca de Barbera, in Catalonia.
Friends invited us for a concert by Jordi Savall and his orchestra. In the cool summer night we enjoyed the magic of this medieval music. It was the highlight of our short summer break.
Short impression of the concert.