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).



The artist’s life/1

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Notes from the studio

“Art is a kind of innate drive that seizes a human being and makes him its instrument. The artist is not a person endowed with free will who seeks his own ends, but one who allows art to realize its purpose through him. As a human being he may have moods and a will and personal aims, but as an artist he is “man” in a higher sense — he is “collective man”— one who carries and shapes the unconscious, psychic forms of mankind.”  – Carl Jung –

How does one become an artist? Is it a matter of choice? Or is it a matter of fate or luck or even bad luck for some? Or is it because of a desire or passion that emerges from deep within the soul, evoking a vague feeling of making meaning through art in a seemingly meaningless world?

James Allen wrote: “The dreamers are the saviours of the world. As the visible world is sustained by the invisible, so men, through all their trials and sins and sordid vocations, are nourished by the beautiful visions of their solitary dreamers. Humanity cannot forget its dreamers; it cannot let their ideals fade and die; it lives in them; it knows them as the realities which it shall one day see and know. Composer, sculptor, painter, poet, prophet, sage, these are the makers of the after- world, the architects of heaven. The world is beautiful because they have lived; without them, labouring humanity would perish.”

I’ve been making paintings for over twenty years. Lately, I am beginning to feel the need to write down and share some of my experiences as a visual artist along the slippery road to “Fame and Fortune” (note the quotation marks!).

First of all because the rational part of me likes to get a better understanding, if possible, how an abstract painting can convey sensations like meaning, purpose, harmony, rapture, beauty and joy to the spectator and how I “allow art to realise its purpose through me”. Secondly because I think it will shed some light on the backgrounds that drive me in my work, which might be of interest to the potential spectator and collector of my paintings. Thirdly because I think my experiences in the Art World might be of practical help for emerging artists. And finally because I just like to write about a subject so close to my heart; the visual arts.

If you’re interested in my voyages through the wonderful landscape of lyrical abstract painting, click to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email. Pictures can be enlarged by clicking. Words or sentences underlined contain links to more information.


References:

Carl Jung – Psychology and Literature, (1930)

James Allen – As a Man Thinketh (1903)


(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).


Lulu Hayes SS15 Collection Launch

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Lucy Ann Hayes is a young London based designer who contacted me in march this year for having one of my paintings (Free flow, 250 x 120 cm) to be used in her next spring collection of prints on silk garments. Each garment style is individually tailored in the UK.

For those who missed the official launch party, or simply want to re-live the fabulous evening here is the official video and blog of the Lulu Hayes SS15 Collection Preview and Launch Party…

http://www.luluhayes.com/blog/4583676654

http://www.luluhayes.com/shop/4582491553

https://www.facebook.com/www.luluhayes.co.ukFeatured image

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My painting on a dress…!!!

Lucy Ann Hayes is a young London based designer who contacted me a while ago for having one of my paintings to be used in her next spring collection of prints on silk garments. Each garment style is individually tailored in the UK.

Some sneak peak pictures of the new designs will soon be published so stay tuned…

http://www.luluhayes.com/blog/4583676654
http://www.luluhayes.com/

Free-Flow-blue

 

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Abstractie in Nederland anno 2015 in het Zandvoorts Museum


Vrijdag 6 Maart 2015 om 16.00 uur, opent de tentoonstelling ‘ABSTRACTIE IN NEDERLAND ANNO 2015’  met een selectie van 10 van de meest innoverende, nog levende, kunstenaars binnen de (lyrisch) abstracte schilder – en beeldhouwkunst van de afgelopen 20 jaar in Nederland. Gevestigde kunstenaars die zich allen blijven innoveren en ontwikkelen en daarbij een duidelijk herkenbaar persoonlijk signatuur kennen binnen de abstractie.

In alfabetische volgorde zult u werk gaan zien van AD ARMA (schilderijen en geblazen glas), ARVEE (Schilderijen), HANS vanHorck (schilderijen en beelden in steen), JAN KEES LANTERMAN (Beelden in steen), JAN VAN LOKHORST (schilderijen), EELCO MAAN (schilderijen) , MIEKE PONTIER (objekten in geblazen glas met steengoed), WILLEM van SCHEIJNDEL (schilderijen), KAREL VREEBURG (beelden in steen) en RON v.d.WERF (schilderijen).

De gedachte achter deze unieke verkoop tentoonstelling is het publiek te laten zien dat er grote verschillen zijn binnen de abstracte schilder- en beeldhouwkunst.
De werken van de exposerende kunstenaars ‘bijten’ elkaar niet. Dit kan ook niet daar abstractie eigenlijk een vrije interpretatie is van de werkelijkheid onder invloed van de emoties en het vermogen van de kunstenaar om alle ingegeven dogma’s en ‘dwanghandelingen’ los te laten.Pas als dit proces zich in de geest van de kunstenaar voltrekt, kan de eigen interpretatie van de werkelijkheid naar buiten treden .

U bent van harte welkom!

ZANDVOORTS MUSEUM
Swaluëstraat 1
2042 KA Zandvoort
tel 023-5740280
http://www.zandvoortsmuseum.nl/

OPENINGSTIJDEN:
Maandag en dinsdag: gesloten.
Woensdag t/m zondag: 13:00-17:00 uur.


To walk with you by the pond in the twilight just one more time

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In hindsight my career as a professional artist truly started 10 years ago when I bought this incredible house in the Dutch countryside which allowed me to work in a studio the size I always dreamed of.
With the purchase of the house came three of the most extraordinary souls I have ever met in my life. They were called Dees, Reen and Lisa. They were feminine, black, full of joy and energy and equiped with an endless capacity to console; three crossbreed labrador dogs.
Through rain, fog and snow, sunny sprinkled mornings and dappled twilight evenings, through winter, spring, summer and autumn, they took me to the endless road and they accompanied me where ever I went; I must have had them by my side for a thousend miles, a million footfals through all the long years.

I had to let go of the last of them four weeks ago. While saying goodbye to Dees, all three of them seemed to be ultimately gone forever…
The single problem with dogs is that they are unable to live up to our human lifespan.

I couldn’t paint for weeks. When finally I started up again every brushstroke reminded me of what was irretrievably lost. In some sort of incomprehensable way they seem to walk through all my latest paintings, at least to me they do.

“To walk with you by the pond in the twilight for one last time…”

The title says it all. One evening while out walking, we found a special place, with a pond and great pine trees and wind and silence and rabbits and deer, a dog’s paradise…

If I could go back in time I would like to be there, just one more time, during that blessed summer evening in the forest with all three of them by my side.


Thoughts on Painting

The art of putting some colored substance on any kind of surface goes back to the dawn of humanity. The oldest yet discovered cave paintings were found in 1994 in the Cave of Chauvet in the Ardeche, France and were made, not by Cro-Magnon hunters, but, surprisingly, by Neartherthals, some 38.000 years ago. And quite recently (2010) cave drawings were found in Romania’s Coliboaia cave. Discovered by chance during a routine expedition in a very remote area in Apuseni National Park, the 13 drawings, which represent animals such as rhinos, buffalos, horses and cats, are approximately 32,000 years old.

The famous paintings on the walls and ceilings in the caves of Lascaux (France) were made by human hunters between 28.000 and 15.000 years ago. They contain some of the best-known Upper Paleolithic art.

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Altamira (Spanish for ‘high views’) is a cave in Spain famous for its Paleolithic cave paintings, featuring drawings and polychrome rock paintings of wild mammals and human hands. The paintings are about 15.000 years old.

Also in India North- and South America, Africa and Southeast Asia, cave paintings have been discovered dating back back at least 12.000 years.

Great ingenuity was displayed by ancient artists. At the Lascaux caves were found pestles and mortars in which colours were mixed, together with no less than 158 different mineral fragments from which the mixtures were made. There seems to have been no shortage of pigment large lumps have been found at some sites. Shells of barnacles were used as containers. One master employed a human skull. Cave water and the calcium it contained were used as mixers, and vegetable and animal oils as binders. The artists had primitive crayons and they applied the paint with brush tools, though none has survived. All kinds of devices and implements were used to aid art. Important lines were preceded by dots, which were then Joined up. Sometimes paint was sprayed. Stencils were used. Blow pipes made from bird bones served as tubes for applying paint. By these means, the more experienced Magdalenian painters were able to produce polychrome art. (http://www.artchive.com/artchive/C/cave.html )

The reason for ancient men and women to be painting is largely unknown. There might have been spiritual or religious meaning to the paintings or they just liked to make and experience art, just as we do. It might gave them fun, entertainment and excitement. In  a way, these caves may have been the first ancient art-galleries and museums.

Closer in time, in the beautifully carved and painted murals of the Valley of the Kings at Luxor in Egypt, I somehow recognised on a much grander scale, a style of expression somewhat similar to my own. While they invented, I copy or borrow; we all stand on the shoulders of giants… Maybe I carried these ancient symbolic signs with me since I was very young, seen in books or learned in school or maybe I’ve  drawn them out of Carl Jung’s collective unconsciousness, who knows… maybe I’ve been a Farao in one of my former lifes after all… Still, what remains is a sense of deja vu.

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The ancient tombs of Egypt do not simply represent decorated burial sites or a grave-yards, they combine myth, legend, religion and spititualism with art on a level of the highest form, in an attempt to trancend the bounderies between life and death. To me they revealed something of the mystery of life on earth, of space and time.

Stepping into an ancient Farao’s tomb is crossing a tresshold of 5000 years. Almost all of the people and their doings, the battles, the politics and all worldly strivings have since long been forgotten. What remains is the work of some of the most highly skilled crafstmen and artists that ever lived, reaching out to us across the milennia.

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The Colossi of Memnon on the Westbank of the Nile look like they have been created in another world. The vastness and age of these two statues, placed in the empty desert are bewildering and confusing my sense of proportions. They once guarded the entrance to a huge palace and each has been carved out of one solid block of stone. It seems vitually impossible for people living 5000 years ago to complete such a task without the help of modern equipment. The almost unearthly hugeness of these guardians of a lost kingdom evokes a feeling of alienation. They make me think of two alien cosmonauts, sitting on the bridge of their space-ship…

So, if you’re an artist, you might keep this in the back of your mind next time you start a new painting; you’re following an impressive tradition that goes back almost 40.000 years. Can you feel the inspiration of those ancient artists softly whispering to you through the ages? Maybe like them, you possess this unstoppable need to express, to make sense, to find a way to understand life on a deeper level by creating an image of what you experienced, something you saw or just felt a moment ago. Or maybe you looked at how the sunlight fell on a beautiful flower in a spectacular way and you sensed the desire to capture and behold that precious moment for all eternity…

So what can be the purpose of an artist’s strivings, this drive, this irressistable longing to fill the virgin white (or black) void with color and form?  This human need to reflect, to materialise, to form, to bring to life, to become, to create…?

Scientist Freeman Dyson defines the universe as something trying to become conscious of itself. And thus mankind as one of the products of this purpose. One of the most elegant descriptions of the word God I’ve ever heard. Carl Jung stated something similar; God needs mankind to become conscious of him- or (her)self.

From the start, to me, painting has been a journey into the unknown, a voyage from logic into intuition. Big questions create the need for big answers. I have no answers, not in words. Intuition speaks without words. When we are speechless we start to visualize. Painting can reveal consciousness on a level beyond words. It’s another way of communicating while trying to understand something about the mystery of life on earth.

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Along the silky lane

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90 x 90 cm, mixed media on canvas

Sold to a private collector in Rotterdam

This one I painted in the week between I learned one of my best friends had died, and the day we buried him. He got in a car-crash in India in january 2012, got into a coma and never came out of it.

Even during the week that the bad news sank in, it never occurred to me to create a painting having a connection to his death. I don’t work that way. When I paint there are no thoughts, concepts or emotions.

I am body, hands and eyes, it’s very physical, aiming to create something that is at the same time beautiful and meaningful. I’m looking for harmony between composition and color and in that way hope to seduce the spectator to take a closer look and make some sort of connection. We all are not so different after all.

Only after I had finished the painting, I felt some sort of connection with his passing away.

Yet, I don’t believe the painting is about death, though, or even particularly about him or his death. It is about transition, a new beginning, about love, drive, passion, bliss, the mystery of life and death and light…, always the light. Hans was a person who I considered to be a light in my life, a true friend.

The title I derived from a song we wrote together when we about 16 years old. We had just started our first rock ’n roll band; we wanted to become popstars, like the Beatles, the Eagles and the Stones… the high hopes of shy adolescents embarking on life. Yet it sounds like an epitaph:

“You came to me on a summer’s day,

you said: “you got to go with me far away”,

We travelled until we met a cloud,

you’ll find me there, without any doubt…

I had to wait for a gate so white,

the Angel said: yes, you’re going right

Along a silky lane I went, all in timeless Heaven’s land…”

Hans, as the drummer, made rhythm and wrote lyrics, I played guitar and made melody…

In the end life’s strange twists and turns made up for a different future: Hans became a manager at Unilever, I became a visual artist.

Life can be hard sometimes. A month after burying my best friend I had to let go of Lisa, one my dearest dogs.

We buried her under the apple tree in the back of our garden. I am sad of course, but I find great relish in the fact that I have been so privileged to know both of them. They have enriched my life to the fullest and I will never forget them.

A citation of Plato comes to mind, considering all these recent past events: “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle”…

RIP Hans 15-01-1962 / 23-06-2013

RIP Lisa  19-09-2001 / 13-08-2013


The making of a painting

(This a repost from a blog of december 2010. Click on the pictures  to enlarge)

Yesterday I started on a new painting and I decided on photographing the various phases of the painting proces. Might be interesting for the reader and for me to check how the unconcious proces of inspiration takes place.

I started out on a canvas of 115 x 140 cm. Beginning is easy. With all sorts of media like paper, thick paint, cement and other secret alchemistic substances, I fabricate an underground, with gives structure to the skin of the painting and gives me a starting point to work from. No plan, no color, just a little bit of form and structure and a silent state of mind. Before going any further it has to dry.

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Now the real work begins. The first brushstrokes will set the outcome of the end result. Oh dear, where to begin? And with what color?

This is the first moment of many of just sitting and watching and waiting until the urge to get into action becomes irrisistable. It is not so much a decision of the mind, it’s my body, hands and eyes that suddenly spring into action. OK, “burnt sienna” it’s gonne be over there just a bit to the right of the centre… And here we go…

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I’m quite satisfied with the beginning. Used some yellow, a bit of pink, some more burnt sienna and a lot of white and some black airbrush.
I’ve got movement, I’ve got some color, and I’ve got depth by the blacks. And most importantly I’ve got that tingling sensation deep inside me that I’m of the ground, I’ve cleared the tower so to speak and I’m heading full trottle into the unknown, onto the pathway of ecstacy. The mind is silent, I just exist by notions of form and color and deep down inside there’s the longing for a vista that I want to see unfold before me. It is not so much of a vision I see before me, it’s more of a taste, like tasting color and form.
There are many, many ways to go from here, the doors of perception are wide open. Painting is about making decisions. Let’s lean back for a while and see where we have come just now.

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Sitting, watching and waiting. I know what I want to make visible. I want to create a landscape of exhilaration, of ecstacy, a way out of the grey dullness of modern life, I want to make a connection to the almost forgotten sacred sensation which lies at the heart of human life.

Ok, big words, I just want to make a good painting…
I just want to see all those colors and forms and innate harmony in a dazzling array before me to tell me that what I’m doing is worth the effort. I’d like to get inspired and energized by looking at it. And hope to communicate that sensation to others.

Arrived at the midway point. Ego begins to interfere. From here on changes will be minor or wrong. Have to watch my steps. Not enough light yet, but that’s for later. Decide to do some work on the middle upper and lower part. I want to bring in the gold but can do no more at this moment. The paint has to dry first… Sort of half way, but still a way to go.

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Gloomy december skies these days. Hardly enough light to paint by and I don’t like to work under electric light due to the richness of color I wan’t to achieve in my paintings. Did some work though when it cleared a little.
Enhanced the light and colors here and there and applied some gold pigment.
I’m not satisfied with the composition though but at the moment rather unsure how to make it right.

Made a detailed photograph of the middle part of the painting to get some idea of the structure on the canvas.

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Finally today this gloomy december weather cleared a little, enough to paint by. Put nr 422 (no title yet) on the easel and the whole process of watching and waiting starts all over again. I’ve got light, I’ve got color and I’ve got movement but I still miss something in the composition. I guess for me that’s always the hardest point.
And I’m scared shitless to start and make a move that probably destroys what is already there… Don’t know where to start but I’m positive about feeling that it is not finished yet. And I’m also convinced that all the ingredients for a truly good painting are already there.

Well, I got a computer, got Photoshop, let’s delay the moment of decision, of true painting and see what we can come up with in the virtual world. I should like to do something about the composition and I want a bit more color, just a hint a blue here and there.

After a while, this is what I what I came up with, just bits and bytes but sometimes it helps to break the moment of indecision and give me new starting point.

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Put on some Harold Budd music, my all time favourite when it comes to ambiant music. Very atmospheric, colored, great to paint by, to concentrate in the moment. Sitting and watching again, with the digital image I made in photoshop in the back of my mind (or eyes).

Ok, got to translate my Photoshop actions into real paint, which is of course impossible. But that is no problem. The digital processing just gives me a hunch how to proceed and what it might look like.
I’ve decided on blue. The painting leans too much on all the reds and yellows. And I guess I want to make a warm, shining summerly-like colored painting due to the overcast skies of lately.
That’s the real beauty of painting. I can make the summersun shine in winter…

Out of some cerulean blue, a bit of white, purple and grey I mix a color that I hope will do the job. Here we go again and for real now.

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Better but not satisfied yet. The blues are to pronounced. Have to bring them down in a way. Been enhancing the lights and colors also. Put in some grey here and there. Composition is much improved. I like the lines from bottom right to upper left and vice versa which give an impression of going up.
Applied some more gold pigment here and there to enhance the sensation of light.

And here comes the true joy of painting. Now, so close to completion I’m dead sure of every brushstroke, of every little change I make. It’s just this little moment in time when everything falls into place, when it feels like I’m guided from above… Ending is as easy as beginning in a way; isn’t that a great metaphor of life?

Think I’m finished now. Have to sign, varnish and frame it though.

A friend of mine suggested of putting the painting on sale to the highest bidder after finishing, right here and now. Great idea; as a one time exception you can start bidding from 1250,- euro’s which is about half the prize you pay in any gallery of mine. You can contact me by email:
ejmaan@xs4all.nl or through my website. Before purchasing you can of course see the painting for real here in my atelier in Basse and then decide if you really want to buy it. Dimensions: 115 x 140 cm, mixed media on canvas, framed.

Auction will be open until the 4th january 2010.

That’s when Galerie de Vlaming is coming to collect a number of my paintings for the Kunstsalon Eindhoven where they will be on show and for sale from the 28 – 31 of january 2010.

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Expositie “Kleine Kerk” te Steenwijk

In de sfeervolle Kleine Kerk van Steenwijk is in de meivakantie van 30 april t/m 5 mei 2012 een expositie ingericht met schilderijen van Eelco Maan, Ammie Elling en Betty Boer. De feestelijke opening van expositie Driekleur  is op maandag 30 april 2012 om 20.00 uur.  U bent van harte welkom in de Kleine Kerk, Vrouwenstraat 5, Steenwijk. De toegang is vrij. De Kleine Kerk is dagelijks geopend van 10.30 – 16.00 uur.

Kleine Kerk Steenwijk  I  Vrouwenstraat 5  I  8331 HX Steenwijk