Deconstructing a painting

How does an artist (myself) know a painting is finished? How do I begin a painting? What are the decisions made during the process? In an ongoing series the reader will journey with me during the creative process. From inspiration, through deliberation, consternation, hesitation, a lot of perspiration and finally culmination.

The painting above entitled ‘Sri Lankan schoolgirls nr. 3’ will be our subject. It is painted on two aluminum panels and has a total size of 110×220 cms. I have been painting on aluminum for a little over a year now and I enjoy the hard surface that ‘pushes back’ rather than ‘giving way’ such as with stretched linen.

Upstate New York studio

Actually, working on such a surface began in the late ’90’s when my studio was in upstate NY and I painted for both the Borzo Gallery in Holland and the Dillon Gallery in Soho, NYC. I was constantly stretching, unstretching, rolling or restretching the canvases depending on whether they would be trucked to New York or shipped in tubes to The Netherlands. For expediency I began to tape the linen to large wooden boards, deciding later how to prepare the painting based on its destination. I began to take a liking to this surface and in my current Amsterdam studio I found that aluminum panels met my needs and demands.

Galle Fort, Sri Lanka

A portrait of a young dutch girl painted back in 1982 who became and remained a dear friend was my link to this far away land. Together with her American husband they renovated an original dutch home there and invited Lili and I to stay. We arrived in February 2018. I had made an agreement with myself that this was a vacation with Lili and not a solo painting adventure like my 8 week trip to Italy the year before. But of course, that was not taking into account the sudden visual spectacle of 70 or more Sri Lankan schoolgirls in white dresses, white sneakers, complemented by red and pink backpacks and neckties piling out of a school building on a hot afternoon soon after we had arrived. I could hardly be expected to remain true to my vacation vows as they assembled in a row against a long, white wall; their dark, dancing legs and constantly gesticulating arms and hands forming an ever-changing calligraphic text on the white page formed by their uniforms and the schools enclosure.

I was smitten. Enraptured. Head over heels inspired. My pen, sketchbook and iPhone were recording the scene before I had time to think….


To be continued……

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