The artist’s life / 2

Notes from the studio / The discovery of painting

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“The soul is dyed the color of its thoughts. Think only on those things that are in line with your principles and can bear the light of day. The content of your character is your choice. Day by day, what you do is who you become. Your integrity is your destiny – it is the light that guides your way.”
― Heraclitus

Deep down inside I have always known I would become an artist. At the age of thirteen I discovered the rapture and bliss of poetry, literature, painting and music all at once.

Art as a way out from the dread of puberty. I wrote horrible poems and did some clumsy drawing. I read Hesse, Kerouac, Sartre and Hemingway and marvelled at Dali, De Kooning and Rembrandt in the Boymans Museum in Rotterdam.

I listened to Debussy, Ravel and Satie but favoured The Beatles, Eagles and Stones. I started a band with my best friends and bought my first guitar. I still remember how it smelled like in the music shop of Servaas in The Haque, where I bought a second hand Ibanez Les Paul imitation. I loved that guitar. I thought it was the most beautiful thing in the world when I woke up the next morning and saw it standing beside my bed.

To become a Rock & Roll Star seemed the best of all options (boy + guitar = girls) so there I was on stage at shaky 17 before a massive crowd at the New Year party of my local school. Life was sweet and full of promise.

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At the age of 32 I hit a brick wall. My latest rock & roll band suddenly fell apart. I ended a five-year relationship with a girl I didn’t love. Just before that I’d quit my part-time job as a scan operator at a big newspaper company because it bored me to death. I had studied history at the Erasmus university of Rotterdam half-heartedly for one year when I decided to stop. I had tried photography but got tangled up with a friend in the filming business, making promotional videos like something called “Fishing in Sweden” (a six week trip through beautiful rough northern Scandinavian country, smoothed by lots of liquor and beautiful blond haired girls). The company lasted for a year until we got broke.

However, I made it to the end of the photography course, got my degree, did some work as a press photographer and even found a job in commercial photography. After 3 months I decided “commercial” wasn’t my thing.

By now, getting a bit desperate, trying to find out what I really wanted and what life was all about, I buried myself in philosophy and spirituality. I learned by Heraclitus I couldn’t step in the same river twice and discovered I had been in Plato’s Cave all along, merely looking at shadows on the wall. Damn. Plato’s Cave allegory may be one of the greatest metaphors about conscious life on earth, except it has one flaw; it doesn’t show you the way out…

Meanwhile, I had experienced that tending bar at Rotown/Rotterdam was not the best way to make a living. I finished writing a collection of poetry that almost got published. Almost… (18 years later it did get published). I got into yoga and meditation but failed to get enlightened overnight. In short, I surely was driven but I seemed to go everywhere and nowhere…

On my 32th birthday, I received from a friend as a gift some brushes and some paint. “You just try a bit of painting”, he said, “it will do you good”. So it did. It felt like coming home. Within nine months, I had a small gallery show in Amsterdam and sold six of my paintings. I was ready to follow my bliss. My voyage into painting had begun.

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Studio; the “Red Table”


Pictures can be enlarged by clicking. Words or sentences underlined contain links to more information. If you’re interested in my journeys through the wonderful landscape of lyrical abstract painting, click to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email. (I have decided to write these blog posts in English, which is not my native language. So beforehand I want to apologize for any textual and/or grammar mistakes).


Over Eelco Maan

Eelco Maan (1962), originally educated in photography and graphic design, is working as a visual artist since 1994. Bekijk alle berichten van Eelco Maan

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