A short message in this mid-week post. In some of my portrait painting videos, the music is provided by my cousin Will Sophie. For those who want to learn to play guitar like Will: that is possible. Check out his video, really great. I wish you lots of success Will.
As a young child I knew what I wanted to be. Not a fireman or a pilot. I wanted to be a carpenter. My neighbour was a carpenter and it seemed to me the best job in the world. When I told this to my mother one day, she replied literally, “No, Ben, you can do more.” However, I wanted nothing else. With my very first pocket money I bought a bag of brand new nails at the hardware store. I had seen my dad always dabbling with these bent, rusty things that needed to be straightened. All that fiddling, not my thing. No. I had made up my mind. I wanted to tackle things rigorous from the start. But… I did not become a carpenter.
Eventually I went into art, portrait painting. And devotedly. It’s come to dominate my life as I wrote you last week. But besides painting I did however teach myself carpentry as a hobby. Once in Spain, I got the opportunity to build my own studio. And I seized this chance with both hands. From the first construction drawings to the building itself. The masonry, the welding work, the plumbing, the electricity, and of course the carpentry, everything done by myself, albeit with the help of my wife. It has become a perfect studio and a wonderful workplace. That was fifteen years ago. Recently we moved to an other place and I work in a different studio now. Strangely enough I don´t miss my old studio. Maybe the building process itself was more important than the finished result (traveling is better than arriving, so it often goes).
Ps: the work on the family portrait is progressing.
Below more pictures of the building site.
“If you are planning to make a living out of art, I have to warn you, it might consume you completely. It will confiscate your life and hinder any relationship. In fact, Ben, it is wise not to marry.¨ These are the words of Beatus Nijs, my art teacher. I was fifteen years old and did not really understand the meaning of his ardent advice. I was a boy. Almost fifty years later, casting my mind back, I recognize some truth in this statement.
The large painting that I am busy with, sequestrates me completely, and not just when I’m painting. Also when I am eating, when I go shopping, or taking the daily walk with my wife. Continuously the work is in my mind. For me it´s no problem but for people around me it certainly is. I am not very sociable. However I’m glad I never followed Beatus´s advice. Of course.
This week I am busy working on the family portrait I told you about last week: many hands, and that is really where I enjoy myself. So, literally handiwork. However, I have to be careful that drawing attention to them will not distract too much from the faces! By all means there is still a lot to be done. To be continued…
I´d like to start this post quoting Chuck Close.
The advice I like to give young artists, or really anybody who’ll listen to me, is not to wait around for inspiration. Inspiration is for amateurs; the rest of us just show up and get to work. If you wait around for the clouds to part and a bolt of lightning to strike you in the brain, you are not going to make an awful lot of work. All the best ideas come out of the process; they come out of the work itself. Things occur to you. If you’re sitting around trying to dream up a great art idea, you can sit there a long time before anything happens. But if you just get to work, something will occur to you and something else will occur to you and something else that you reject will push you in another direction. Inspiration is absolutely unnecessary and somehow deceptive. You feel like you need this great idea before you can get down to work, and I find that’s almost never the case.
(Charles Thomas “Chuck” Close (born July 5, 1940) American painter and photographer.)
Last week we returned from our short trip to the Netherlands. And back to work right away. The project of which I wrote in my post of August 13th was already on the easel waiting for me. Everything well prepared before I left. The sketches approved by the client, the linen stretched, covered with three layers of gesso and the drawing carefully transferred in red crayon. So, immediately after returning I was able to start. I like to work from nine to five. I never have to wait for the inspiration that Chuck Close writes about. However, I do need to be well focussed and the run up to that sometimes takes days. Part of the concentration process is applying the underpainting. In the final version of this painting there is a lot of blue and green, and that’s why I like to use a magenta undertone.