zondag 2 februari 2020

Working on a commission

The place for the paintings
In April 2019 I had an exhibition with a couple of artist friends. A lot of people came to look at our work and one of them decided that I was the one who could paint "grisailles" for his hall.
"Grisailles" were very popular in the 18th century to put over doors. It are paintings in grey-tones depicting little angels or 'putties' or 'cherubs'. The paintings have to look like plaster reliefs.
One painter in particular, became very good at making those paintings. His name was Jacob de Wit (1695-1754). He was born in Amsterdam, and became famous for his door and ceiling paintings. He lived on the Keizersgracht in Amsterdam, and many of the buildings on the Keizersgracht still have door or ceiling paintings done by him. Since many of the families who lived in Amsterdam in those days had country villas, de Wit also painted in houses in the fashionable areas of Haarlem and the Vecht river. His paintings became known as "witjes".

Jacob de Wit
So in May 2019 I started to study the work of Jacob de Wit and made some sketches to show my commissioner.

I made more sketches, but these are the ones he choose.

I got some wood panels in the right size, put a primer on them  and drew the sketches with a pencil. Because of the loose panels, I could take them everywhere I went. Even when I was minding a cat in Friesland, I had the panels with me.
After the pencil sketch I started to paint with acrylic to make an under-layer. Acrylic paint dries very fast, so I could make easy corrections.

May 16 2019
The greys I made with a mixture of raw omber, Prussian blue, white and yellow ocre to make a warm grey.

July 16
In June and July I still worked with acrylic paint. It went slowly, because I never did this work before and I had a lot to learn, especially about shadow and light-fall.
In this time I also made a lot of urban sketches and I was a volunteer at the Urban Sketchers Symposium which was in Amsterdam this time (during the heath wave).
So in August I started to use oil paint. With oil-paint it is easier to make the grey nuances. It takes longer to dry than acrylics, but I mixed the oil-paint with turpentine to keep the mat look. This will dry faster than mixed with  linseed oil.
Eventually, it had to look like a plaster relief and not shiny like an oil painting.
Now it was not possible anymore to take the paintings to my commissioner (he is ill and can't leave the house) as I had done in the acrylic phase. Oils, even mixed with turpentine take a week to dry.

Augustus 21
In November I made very small adjustments and towards the end of November I was content with the results and took them to their future 'home'. Also to see if I had the shadows and grey-tints right.
I saw that I had to make the arch around the putties a little lighter so they would match well with their future surroundings.

My friend Guus helped me to put them up and on December 14th we had an opening party. My commissioner said: "Now, the hall is really finished." He has been renovating his 17th century house since the eighties.
December 14th before the party

dinsdag 7 januari 2020

Happy 2020!

Around Xmas I was in the United States. The first couple of days after I arrived I stayed in The Green Mountains National Forest. From my sons warm work-room I made this sketch. It was a beautiful sunny day.