Another juxtaposition of elements drawn from African art and abstract, or technomorph shapes.
I relinquished the precision of drawing and designing on the Mac, although I sometimes still use Illustrator CC to create graphic work when it requires dry precision. But, for my own free stuff I just have fallen in love again with the imperfections of hand-painted, or hand-drawn lines. The way ink never quite dries evenly. Having no technology between the process that is going on in your imagination and the medium is ultimate freedom.
And, taking a few steps back, I also notice that I slowly float away from representation with each drawing or painting I make. Recognisable elements are becoming signs, or chiffres.
Well, I suppose it is because it’s Friday and the word ‘black’ is ubiquitous that this design has no colour. India ink, and Rohrer & Klingner’s “Ceres Black”, with pen, and brush on 130 gsm Hahnemühle paper. Although this paper is made for acrylic, I noticed that it is excellent for ink drawings too.
I now use a mix of Escoda brushes, and the home brand of my art supply store Van Beek. I must say the the Van Beek Kolinex brushes, synthetic watercolour brushes, are just as good. They have fine strands that hold up to a bit of pressure. Suited for my fast and furious drawing and inking technique.
In the summer of 2016 I travelled with my family through the Italy from east (Le Marche) to west (Umbria). On that particular trip I preferred the company of my small sketchbook, (Hahnemühle, not Moleskine), to my camera, which only sporadically left its bag. In Le Marche we rented a wonderful historic water-mill. The villages and ‘frazione’ – small communities consisting of only a few houses – were exquisitely authentic. Only a week after we spent a wonderful week there, the area was hit by a devastating earthquake.
In Umbria tourism and recent economic prosperity has left its mark, resulting in a style of building that appeals to a certain category of people with money to spend on real estate, but a taste that was mainly formed by Italian popular TV. Expensive, no doubt, but cheap and tacky. Luckily enough there are plenty of small towns and villages that are relatively unaffected by Berlusconi-induced tastelessness. Civita di Bagnoregio is one of these very pleasant places. The small town, perched on a high rock is well-known and loved by tourists, and a visit is certainly rewarding.
From the terrace of the house we rented in the volcanic valley not far from Civita, I could see the old town, high on its weathered volcanic rock. Inspired by that enchanting view I filled my sketchbook, not by copying what I saw, but by drawing from my imagination, inspired by what I had seen moments before; sometimes floating into near abstraction, sometimes staying closer to reality.
Together these images evolved into a number of juxtaposed sketches which form the point of departure for a series of oil paintings. These are only loosely based on the reality on the ground. With the components of these sketches, supplemented by mental images of colour and atmosphere, and influenced by my background as art-historian with a predeliction for medieval and early renaissance art. The murals of Ambrogio Lorenzetti in the Palazzo Pubblico in Siena are among my all-time favorite works of art. Size, perspective and technical perfection are still less important than atmosphere, meaning and symbolism. In my own work the same apparent disregard for linear perspective is a recurring feature.
But in colouring and style I always draw from another rich source, which is my love for the masters of the European comic strips, or ‘bande dessinée’, in particular André Franquin, his fellow artist Jidéhem, and Edgar Pierre Jacobs.
Somewhere in between, between the serious art of Ambrogio Lorenzetti and the tongue-in-cheek virtuosity of André Franquin is another one of my heroes, Jean-Michel Folon, another Belgian artist. His simple, but evocative lines, shapes and colours, never fail to move me.
Therefore my works can never be regarded as ‘serious’. Although deep down, they are, very serious. But that is for another post.
All images are copyright by me. If you would like to use them, or want to have better copies, please contact me by leaving a comment.
A while ago I posted some images from a portfolio of French architectural drawings that I bought at an auction. Today I post the first of a series of re-illustrations based on these drawings. I re-imagined them, well, actually I am still working on the series, to be able to create a flexible series of art prints that can be reproduced digitally on high quality art paper with archival inks. Working on every detail of these images, which are lithographs, makes me appreciate the tremenous skills of the reproduction artists that created them.
Stone lithography in the 19th and early 20th century was as important to all kinds of commercial imagery as DTP and digital design is now. I once wrote a small book on the collection of sigar-box labels that were printed in the south of the Netherlands during the first half of the 20th century. There was a plethora of designs to choose from. Only a few survived as commercial brands. Lithography was the preferred medium. The artisans were creating subtle images and wonderful colours by putting tiny little dots on the lithographic stones rom the Sollnhofer quarries – by hand. They were real virtuoso’s.
These French architectural images were part of a large portfolio of housing types. From small labourer’s cottages to stately city mansions for affluent people, from hunting lodge to architect’s practice, everything was pre-imagined. Driving throug semi-rural and semi-urban areas of France, one can still encounter many of these charming buildings.
The art-print is available in Moonfrog Studio’s Etsy shop. It will be printed on high-quality paper, sent in a tube, and is available in 3 sizes:
I have been busy with an number of parallel projects, both writing and art. I was looking for a nice signature/sign/icon/logo to use universally as a signature on graphic work, but also on websites, social accounts, and prints. I think I created a very simple, minimalistic even, logo.
The logo is inspired by geometric art, but also by the signatures of Japanese masters on their prints and scrolls. But it is also a typographic logo, combining the E and the B, from which it takes the negative forms and transforms it as red discs.
So far, so good. I like it, and I will be able to use it in many media.
… in de Leeuwenkuil. Achtervolgd
Door het Genetisch Manifest.
Sinds onheuglijke tijden, sinds erbarmelijke tijden.
Sinds zij de stier berijden, bij mensenheugenis.
Waar zwarte monniken knielen tijdens de avondmis.
Zij aan zij neuriën in een woordloos a capella.
In het aanschijn van een goddeloos predella.
Ging hij er vandoor met haar. Onaangenaam getroffen.
Door de steunberen op zijn weg.
Het smalle pad, het bochtige pad, het rechte pad, oh … pad.
Langs graaiende armen van zondige querulanten.
Langs nissen vol enge predikanten.
Naar link! Naar links!
Te ver. Te ver uitgeweken.
Te dicht bij de gapende Afgrond van Ongenade.
Een kuil om snikkend in te vallen.
Transformatorhuis in oprichting.
Corpus Eriugena, eriogena, erogenia.
Plato’s norse blik maait als een lichtbundel,
Als een vlijmscherpe zeis, vastgehouden door een stevige vuurtoren
Door de vochtige duisternis en daar is zij,
Zoekend, zoals Daniël…
III – “Nox”
… in the lion’s den. Chased
By the Genetic Manifesto.
From times immemorial, from times miserable.
Since they ride the bull, from the dawn of time.
Where black monks kneel during evensong.
Humming side by side in a wordless a capella.
In the face of an ungodly predella.
He took off with her. Dismayed.
By the buttresses flying in his trajectory.
The narrow path, the sinuous path, the straight path, oh … path.
Along the groping arms of sinful trouble-makers.
Along recesses filled with creepy ministers.
To the left! To the left!
Too far. Swerved too far.
Too close to the gaping Abyss of Ignominy.
A pit to fall into, sobbing.
Distribution substation in statu nascendi.
Corpus Eriugena, eriogena, erogenia.
Plato’s surly gaze sweeps like a beam of light,
Like a razor-sharp scythe, held by a sturdy lighthouse
Through the damp darkness and there she is,
Searching, like Daniel…
Ok. I’m in the zone now. I’m running slighlty ahead of my schedule. But I have to, because the idea of having to create the illustrations accompanying the poems make me slightly anxious.
Often when I look at architecture and architectural drawings, I have an almost synesthetic perception of music. Not a real melody, but a sense of musical rhythm, somewhere deep inside me. Of course the structure of a piece of music is often referred to as its ‘architecture’, so the association between these two arts is not really uncommon. This inspired me to create this image of an apartment building with the facade removed. The visual elements in the interior, and the structural elements of the building are like a colourful musical notation with nested patterns, repetition, and silence.
I know that the term ‘automatic’ in conjunction with writing and drawing conjures up the Surrealists and psychoanalysis. I have always been interested in the process because I am a fan of the Surrealists and Dada. Many years ago a tried to write poetry in this fashion, but I lost most of the results. And, of course, I like all things ‘Automattic’, because WordPress blogs are what the web is all about.
Recently (see my previous post) I rediscovered the charm of automatic creation. Using a very basic graphic design tool: an ink pen that can only be used to draw lines along a ruler. I exhibited the results in September 2016 during an art event. In fact, I created them on the evening before the opening, because most of my oil and acrylic paintings were not finished in time. People were charmed by the freshness and lack of finish of the drawings. Some of them I coloured with pencil (Faber-Castell Polychromos), and some I coloured with watercolour.
The inspiration for the drawings originates in Italy, and more specifically a journey from Le Marche to Lazio, and Umbria. The drawings are ‘inspired’ by the landscapes and villages, not literal copies, they are concatenations of shapes that popped up during these automatic drawing sessions. The pen, the unstoppable flow of ink, are the main protagonists of these drawings. These pens are created to draw straight lines of even thickness, they are totally unsuitable for fine drawing. But they are great to invent things as you go an to discover the things your mind throws at you.
My mental world is the world of pre-Socratic philosophy, myth, and eternal landscapes, which is also reflected in these drawings. Are they art?
A free impression based on a visit to Orvieto last summer. In September 2016 I made a series of very quick sketches using India ink and a very old pen used for technical ruler drawing. The pen has a screw that governs the flow of ink. They were normally used for technical drawings, frames etc. I inherited this one from my father, who used it as a typography student.
The ink flows out, and you can’t do much to control it. So you have to move very fast, and preferably without a pause, because when you stop you will get a blob of ink. No time to plan, no time to think, just go. A perfect way to create a series of spontaneous drawings with flaws and all.
I used very rough blueish grey sketching paper that I bought years ago and can’t find anywhere anymore.
A series of 4 is now framed and forms a perfect match to the colours of the panelling in the main corridor of the wonderful B&B (or better, D&D = ‘dining & dreaming’: Voorheen de 5 Platanen) of nearby friends.