Wednesday, December 25, 2013

LaTeX in blogger

you may or may not be aware that i also maintain a math & science & philosophy blog. an important reason for starting this as a separate blog on wordpress was that the mathematical typesetting of formulas used to be difficult on blogger. but recently things have changed, and now it is possible to use LaTeX (math formatting language/software) also in blogger, through the platform of mathjax, see here how to run this on blogger.

so, just because i like math formulas also aesthetically, let me write some simple formula here. Let $f:\mathbb{R}\rightarrow\mathbb{R}$ be given by:


whatever that may mean... and i'm left with the problem of deciding whether i should integrate the two blogs or not...

[update: since this post scores way too high on google search, let me include the instructions for installing mathjax:

to get mathjax to work in blogger, go to your blogger account. click through to your blog's dashboard called `overview', and then click `template' on the left-hand menu. (at this point i myself always backup first, top right side). next click "edit html". after the first <head> you see, paste:

<script src='' type='text/javascript'>  
        HTML: ["input/TeX","output/HTML-CSS"],
        TeX: { extensions: ["AMSmath.js","AMSsymbols.js"],
               equationNumbers: { autoNumber: "AMS" } },
        extensions: ["tex2jax.js"],
        jax: ["input/TeX","output/HTML-CSS"],
        tex2jax: { inlineMath: [ ['$','$'], ["\\(","\\)"] ],
                   displayMath: [ ['$$','$$'], ["\\[","\\]"] ],
                   processEscapes: true },
        "HTML-CSS": { availableFonts: ["TeX"],
                      linebreaks: { automatic: true } }

you can now use $...$ or \(...\) for inline equations, and $$...$$ or \[...\] for displaying equations centered in their own line.]

art appreciation a century ago and today...

some time ago i came across the book of tea written in 1906 by okakura kakuzō. and i was surprised to see what he had to say on the subject of art appreciation, in chapter v:


V. Art Appreciation

...[i omit the beginning of the chapter]

It is much to be regretted that so much of the apparent enthusiasm for art at the present day has no foundation in real feeling. In this democratic age of ours men clamour for what is popularly considered the best, regardless of their feelings. They want the costly, not the refined; the fashionable, not the beautiful. To the masses, contemplation of illustrated periodicals, the worthy product of their own industrialism,would give more digestible food for artistic enjoyment than the early Italians or the Ashikaga masters, whom they pretend to admire. The name of the artist is more important to them than the quality of the work. As a Chinese critic complained many centuries ago, “People criticise a picture by their ear.” It is this lack of genuine appreciation that is responsible for the pseudo-classic horrors that today greet us wherever we turn.

Another common mistake is that of confusing art with archæology. The veneration born of antiquity is one of the best traits in the human character, and fain would we have it cultivated to a greater extent. The old masters are rightly to be honoured for opening the path to future enlightenment. The mere fact that they have passed unscathed through centuries of criticism and come down to us still covered with glory commands our respect. But we should be foolish indeed if we valued their achievement simply on the score of age. Yet we allow our historical sympathy to override our æsthetic discrimination. We offer flowers of approbation when the artist is safely laid in his grave. The nineteenth century, pregnant with the theory of evolution, has moreover created in us the habit of losing sight of the individual in the species. A collector is anxious to acquire specimens to illustrate a period or a school, and forgets that a single masterpiece can teach us more than any number of the mediocre products of a given period or school. We classify too much and enjoy too little. The sacrifice of the æsthetic to the so-called scientific method of exhibition has been the bane of many museums.

The claims of contemporary art cannot be ignored in any vital scheme of life. The art of today is that which really belongs to us: it is our own reflection. In condemning it we but condemn ourselves. We say that the present age possesses no art:—who is responsible for this? It is indeed a shame that despite all our rhapsodies about the ancients we pay so little attention to our own possibilities. Struggling artists, weary souls lingering in the shadow of cold disdain! In our self-centered century, what inspiration do we offer them? The past may well look with pity at the poverty of our civilisation; the future will laugh at the barrenness of our art. We are destroying the beautiful in life. Would that some great wizard might from the stem of society shape a mighty harp whose strings would resound to the touch of genius.


well, a lot of the above still seems true today, in my eyes. yet it is somewhat heartening to see that other people recognize this as a problem too. maybe in another century's time things will be different :-)

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

vincent van gogh ... speechless

van gogh - lane near arles
vincent van gogh, a lane near arles (painted 1888)

at age 48 i'm still astounded and usually speechless when i look at vincent van gogh's paintings and drawings. we all have our own story to tell, therefore no artist should have the need to be envious, but i am envious nonetheless, more than i would normally expect of myself. not that i would want to paint the same kind of painting ... it goes deeper. i am looking and have been looking for a long time to paint in a similarly intense and personal way, but with a similar link to reality.

it remains utterly inspiring and at the same time daunting for me to see how brilliantly vincent achieved this in his paintings. look at the above, the incredible colours, but also the incredibly effective mix of detailing and broad brush strokes. and this is just one of countless masterworks. thank you vincent, you are the wordless answer to all those sceptical and non-appreciative of art.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Philosophy, finally (`we live through maps', art & imagination from a different perspective)

You may be aware that I also maintain a math & science & philosophy blog... I have to admit that I sometimes regret not having integrated the latter blog into this one, which is my first and most important blog. But an important reason for not doing so was a technical one: Blogger does not support LaTeX, which is the formatting standard for mathematics and the exact sciences in general.

The drawback is the artificial separation between my thoughts on art and my thoughts on philosophy that sometimes results. After all, I consider art to be a profound form of philosophy, not less so for (mostly) being non-verbal. I have long been wanting to write something about the relation between art and philosophy, but in a way I was held back by the fact that I had already written something on that Dutch.

In my last year as a student of mathematics, I had to write a philosophy paper. Philosophy was quite an extensive requirement at the time, to obtain a Master's degree in math. I don't know how things stand nowadays. Now, as a math student I seldom went to math classes, preferring to study for my exams from the literature, since already then I devoted more time to my artistic endeavours. (I had already been to Art College prior to my math studies). But I did attend the philosophy classes faithfully, since philosophy has always interested me greatly.

The writing of a philosophy paper I found almost harder than the writing of my Master's thesis. I still remember the mental stress I felt, since I wanted to really write down how I felt about philosophy and our existence on this planet, but I strongly felt that words are often not my preferred medium. How then to put such a philosophy into words? Agonizing, but I did not want to turn in some rehashing of other people's thoughts, and the philosophy requirement could not be evaded.

The result of a month of mental hard labour was a 7000-words paper, a typewritten manuscript for which I used my preferred sketch paper type, which gave a beautiful `aged' feel. Not standard for documents of course. The teacher graded it an A-...which in my natural modesty I found too low:-). But the contents were even more non-standard I think than the exterior, so perhaps I should have been very happy to pass at all.

Nonetheless, the paper actually surprised me, since it came very close to expressing my feelings on philosophy and on our Western culture. I occasionally reread it, and then each time was struck by how close to home the words struck me. Surprisingly to me at least is that I still feel the same way.

So finally, after 22 years, I decided to translate it into English. As a series of posts on my math & science & philosophy blog, titled `We live through maps'.

The paper should go a long way in explaining my feelings on art in relation to verbal philosophy. It also explains why I think we should actually integrate science with art and philosophy much more than we usually do. Finally, it gives me a basis to refer to when I'm writing on art and philosophy. This is really nice about the internet: we can share thoughts, knowledge, pictures, music much more easily than ever before.

Monday, October 21, 2013

(four seasons...) art & imagination: `blue remembered earth' by alastair reynolds

trailer for blue remembered earth by alastair reynolds

in the thread on the four seasons, i discussed the novel `the botticelli secret' in the previous post. it did not really capture me, but it rekindled my enthusiasm for botticelli's wonderful painting `primavera' (`spring').

it then struck me that the four seasons are in fact a result of our earth revolving around the sun. did you know that the seasons do not have equal length? on the northern hemisphere currently (and for a long time to come) summer and spring are longer than autumn and winter...(see this website on the length of the seasons). the landmass on the northern hemisphere being the larger by far, this is likely to contribute to global warming.

but to be honest, it provides me with a nice opportunity to discuss one of my favourite writers: alastair reynolds. here we have a science fiction author who imagines whole worlds and futures in an astonishingly visionary way. and more importantly, the science in his fiction to me is always daring yet convincing. it is clear that everything is carefully thought out and executed, just like in the `primavera', with amazing eye for detail and yet never forgetting the larger picture.

it turns out that reynolds is a scientist, who worked for ESA before turning professional writer. no wonder then that his descriptions of space and science are so rich. still, no author really captures me if the characters remain too `flat'. in this respect also i find reynolds' books fascinating. the humanity of the (human(oid)) characters is ever present, and rings true.

doesn't it tell us something though, that the word for `imagination' is ... `imagination'? in other words: creating images? a writer creates images in our minds. art and imagination are seldom far apart.

perhaps no coincidence then, that reynolds imagines art-rich africa to be so important in the scheme of things to come. in `blue remembered earth', one of the protagonists (sunday akinya) is a future artist. not only are reynolds' descriptions of her works intriguing, he also manages to capture something of the struggle that each true artist faces, in any time. simply an engrossing and wonderful novel, thank you alastair!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

(four seasons:) botticelli's primavera

primavera by botticelli
sandro botticelli, primavera (`spring', painted around 1482)

still on the topic of the four seasons...i recently read marina fiorato's novel the botticelli secret. as a novel, it didn't really touch me. but reading such `historical' works always helps me to understand a bit about long ago times. there were some strange historical mistakes in the book, but overall i could enjoy it enough nonetheless. (eg. in 1482 the protagonist refers to the statue of david by michelangelo...which was created around 1501-1504... that sort of thing).

the idea that botticelli's primavera depicts some sort of political plot strikes me as far-fetched but is actually a serious academic idea, it seems. i find the regular interpretation (that it is an elaborate allegory on the fertility of life) more convincing. it doesn't really matter to me, the novel helped me to look at the painting once more in great detail, which is a joy. the enormous diversity of plants used is amazing, for instance. and even though i remain ambiguous about any deeper meanings, the painting itself remains alluring in a to me undefinable way. i did not really learn much about botticelli from the book though, contrary to what i had hoped.

four seasons: autumn again

four seasons: autumn leaves~ frank waaldijk
autumn leaves (own work, 2013, digital, click on the image for enlargement)

well it is autumn, actually, so i thought i'd put up one of the many many pictures i take year round of nature and what strikes me. photography is such a different medium than painting, yet it serves me very well to look through my camera and record images. one day i hope to integrate these two media more.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

(finishing old work) four seasons: autumn

four seasons: autumn ~ frank waaldijk
autumn (own work, 1996-2012, 40 x 55 cm, click on the image for enlargement)

see previous post...i remain a bit ambiguous about these cardboard panels. i like them for some reasons, but the photographic representation lacks convincing qualities i believe.

i think colours can convey many many things, and i like this type of experiment. however, i have diluted the experiment somewhat by going for non-seasonal colour effects during reworking.

finishing old work 4: winter (four seasons)

four seasons: winter ~ frank waaldijk
winter (own work, 1996-2012, 40 x 55 cm, click on the image for enlargement)

i painted a four-seasons series, as a johannes-itten-like experiment, in 1996, working with diluted oils. i like this type of painting, actually my first real painting (1982) had a landscape background also made of rectangles.

so last year i decided to restore this series, refining the colours in three of the four (the summer panel i still like as it is), using diluted acrylics.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

art & spirituality 4: mare de déu amb el nen dormint

mare de déu amb el nen dormint ~ frank waaldijk
mare de déu amb el nen dormint (own work, 2009-2013, 50 x 40 x 60 cm, click on the image for enlargement)

`mother of god with the sleeping child' would be a too literal translation of the catalan title, see this previous post on some background of mare de déu.

you will notice that this sculpture is very different from the earlier statuette `sketch' that i made. the statuette has an active and playful jesus, joyfully interacting with maria. here, jesus is sleeping and maria seems in compassionate contemplation of ... the human condition, if i may interpret for you.

yet there are also great similarities between the two sculptures. the painting technique, and the ideas behind it for instance. in the painting, as in the form, i was looking for non-classical emotive expression.

detail 1 of mare de déu amb el nen dormint ~ frank waaldijk
detail of mare de déu amb el nen dormint (click on the image for enlargement)

detail 2 of mare de déu amb el nen dormint ~ frank waaldijk
detail of mare de déu amb el nen dormint (click on the image for enlargement)

detail 4 of mare de déu amb el nen dormint ~ frank waaldijk
detail of mare de déu amb el nen dormint (click on the image for enlargement)

again, in this madonna sculpture mother and child are not of the same skin colour. in my own small way, as a mostly humble artist, i try to comment on issues/conditions in society that i would like to see improved. one of those issues is the to me absurd one of racism. we are all human, we are one mankind. i have tried to put that feeling in this sculpture, as well as in its smaller predecessor madonna statuette (where i reversed the colours of mother and child).

about the painting: it was a long and arduous task. to achieve lustre and depth, many semi-transparent layers are needed. each layer requires a deft application, to maintain the same fluidity of the paint which is quick-drying. yet there are difficult nooks and crannies in this sculpture, where the brush can hardly reach. with my rsi this was really taxing. more taxing however was to achieve a harmonious balance of colours, with the spiritual atmosphere that i wanted.

some more pictures to give a more complete view (although photos really do not capture the serenity of this work):

side view 1 of mare de déu amb el nen dormint ~ frank waaldijk
side view of mare de déu amb el nen dormint (click on the image for enlargement)

side view 2 of mare de déu amb el nen dormint ~ frank waaldijk
side view of mare de déu amb el nen dormint (click on the image for enlargement)

detail 3 of mare de déu amb el nen dormint ~ frank waaldijk
detail of mare de déu amb el nen dormint (click on the image for enlargement)

side view 3 of mare de déu amb el nen dormint ~ frank waaldijk
side view of mare de déu amb el nen dormint (click on the image for enlargement)

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

art & spirituality 3: vortex of life

vortex of life ~ frank waaldijk
vortex of life (own work, 2013, 21 x 30 cm, click on the image for enlargement)

as an artist, i try to create images that reflect on life, on society, existence, i don't know. life, existence, the universe, they are a complete mystery to me. and many others, i presume. still, we try to create some meaning, some order in our lives. even, preferably, security and control over our situation.

but in my perception, we are so tiny and insignificant, and our real influence on events is often negligible. we are simply swept along, with some luckier than others. is it any wonder that we cling to each other, and to religion?

detail of vortex of life ~ frank waaldijk
detail of vortex of life (own work, 2013, 21 x 30 cm, click on the image for enlargement)

Monday, October 14, 2013

art & spirituality 2: mare de déu amb el nen sostenint una poma (cont.)

[continued from the previous post, which you should read first]

so as promised a bit more about the sculpture itself. its form arrived in 45 minutes, and i wanted spontaneity all the way. the final painting i took up 2 years later than the preliminary painting (itself 2 years later than the clay form). in the painting, as in the form, i was looking for non-classical emotive expression.

detail 0 of mare de déu amb el nen sostenint una poma
detail of mare de déu amb el nen sostenint una poma (click on the image for enlargement)

detail 1 of mare de déu amb el nen sostenint una poma
detail of mare de déu amb el nen sostenint una poma (click on the image for enlargement)

detail 2 of mare de déu amb el nen sostenint una poma
detail of mare de déu amb el nen sostenint una poma (click on the image for enlargement)

you may have noticed that mother and child are not of the same skin colour. in my own small way, as a mostly humble artist, i try to comment on issues/conditions in society that i would like to see improved. one of those issues is the to me absurd one of racism. we are all human, we are one mankind. i have tried to put that feeling in this statuette, as well as in its larger successor madonna statue (where i reversed the colours of mother and child).

the apple (`poma' in catalan) in traditional iconography stands for the original sin, or so i gather. jesus accepting the apple is taken as jesus accepting mankind's sins as well as his fate regarding this (the cross, to wash away these sins). here it should be taken as nothing but joy of life, or if you wish to be philospohical: the joy of the fruit of knowledge.

illustrating the traditional apple iconography, behold below the beautiful middle panel of the portinari triptych by hans memling (1430-1494, ironically the best reference on wikipedia is the catalan hans memling page!):

hans memling, virgin and child, portinari triptych
hans memling, mary and jesus (middle panel of portinari triptych, click on the image for enlargement)

let me end this post with a rear view of the statuette:

rear view of mare de déu amb el nen sostenint una poma
rear view of mare de déu amb el nen sostenint una poma (click on the image for enlargement)

Saturday, October 12, 2013

art & spirituality: mare de déu amb el nen sostenint una poma

mare de déu amb el nen sostenint una poma
mare de déu amb el nen sostenint una poma (own work, 20 x 20 x 30 cm, 2009-2013)

mare de déu means `mother of god' in catalan, and refers to maria as mother of jesus (see also roman catholic mariology). avid readers of this blog may recall my earlier posts on mary and jesus, and the wonderful `mare de déu' romanic/gothic sculptures to be found in catalunya, especially in some barcelona museums like the museu frederic marès and the museu nacional d'art de catalunya.

in hindsight, i probably only posted some images of these sculptures (as illustration of the wonders of anonymous artists), and did not sing their praise as extensively as i should have. let me correct that omission now: i find many of these polychrome madonna sculptures from the 12th-16th century to be absolutely marvelous, especially the ones made in catalonia.

what i find so marvelous is their individuality, their lack of superficial symmetrical-face-beauty, their playfulness, seriousness, compassion...expression i suppose. and of course the dedication with which they were crafted and painted. together, this achieves for me a level of spirituality which really captivates me.

mare de déu amb el nen ~ palera
mare de déu amb el nen (from palera parish, anonymous catalan artist, beginning 15th century, now in museu d'art de girona)

anyway, my first sketches to create such a sculpture myself (!) date from 1996. they were intended for a wooden sculpture, but i never found the time and energy to start such this assiduous undertaking. take a look at this wonderful video from the getty museum on spanish polychrome sculpture to get an idea what i'm talking about!

well. i do not mention very often that i am usually in poor health, but this is a major reason for me not to undertake everything that i would want. i have found a way around though, because i have been making polychrome clay sculptures for many years now. a few years back i decided to make a fair-sized polychrome clay `mare de déu'.

but first i made a quick sketch in clay (45 minutes). i liked the sketch so much that i decided to paint it as well. the first unfinished version i lent to a dear friend on his sickbed, which lasted almost 2 years. after his death, i turned to finishing the polychrome. the result you see above. i will write more about the sculpture itself in the next post.

[to be continued]

Thursday, October 10, 2013

frida kahlo & recognition as an artist

Frida Kahlo, Self-portrait with Thorn Necklace and Hummingbird
frida kahlo, self-portrait with thorn necklace and hummingbird

a few days ago, i spoke a good friend. and she said she admired my persistence in my artistic endeavour. because, she said, she would find it very hard to keep up the necessary motivation in similar circumstances.

to summarize: her perception is that i'm not getting so much recognition as an artist. and for her personally, the lack of such recognition would be a good reason to chuck it all in.

a double-edged compliment if ever i saw one :-) ! lucky for me, i have a different perception of recognition. as i wrote many times before, i'm not so impressed with the 'upper echelons' of contemporary art. that world is so much driven by fashion, money, competition, name dropping, and `entartainment', that real artistic merit often becomes irrelevant.

recognition for me comes in the many many people who have expressed to me personally that they were touched by one or more of my works. and also in the numerous fellow artists who have expressed their wonder at my themes and techniques. but it also comes from what my friend called aptly my inner compass. for me, i'm very content to be at a stage where things have been coming together for many years. for the first decade of my artist life, i was often frustrated by my lack of sufficient capability to create what i wanted to create. especially when painting, since drawing and sculpting mostly came reasonably naturally.

now, instead of frustration i'm often amazed at what comes out of the creative process. of course, on a different level i still lack all sorts of capabilities. but the difference is that this lack does not hinder me in creating works that evocate what i want them to. and that often amazes me, especially since a large part of this is beyond my conscious control. anyway, the gist is: i have enough inner compass to see that what i am doing has more quality than i could have hoped for twenty years ago...and that alone is enough recognition for me.

what in heavens' name does this have to do with frida kahlo, you wonder. well, you may not be aware that she garnered relatively little recognition during her lifetime. she was often seen primarily as the wife of the then-acclaimed artist diego rivera.

also this week, i borrowed a book from the library on 20th century latin-american art, wishing to expand my horizons a bit. only to find that frida's works were the only ones to really impress me. especially (but not only) her self-portraits are simply astonishing. [i restrict myself to showing only the above painting from wikipedia, since they are all copyrighted, and hope that its use is covered by the same fair-use policy as wikipedia's].

so, to sum it up for this post: recognition during one's lifetime is a happy circumstance for an artist. but let us be thankful that many artists have other considerations to create art as well.

Monday, October 7, 2013

finishing/restoring old work 2 (academy days): our lady of the stars and the planets

our lady of the stars and the planets ~ frank waaldijk
our lady of the stars and the planets (own work, 1986-2014, 50 x 57 cm, click on the image for an enlargement)

i started this painting somewhere in 1986, when i just started out with acrylics. i was forced to start using acrylics since i had developed a serious allergy against all oil-based paints and their associated fumes already then. this in turn was largely due to my non-stop painting which for years took part in the same room where i slept (me being a poor student).

the painting was a complete experiment, in materials as well as form, and it didn't work out satisfactorily. but the result was intriguing and hung on my wall for well over a year until i finally gave up on trying to improve it. its merits were a certain freedom of expression, but its limitations were severe and i didn't have a clue how to proceed. i always kept it, hoping to one day find inspiration for a reworking.

this reworking took place the last few weeks. once again i had to cross certain unknown lands to get here. i decided to clarify some facial structures, and to simplify the background. then, using some painted cardboard parts that i had removed from the painting earlier, i cut out some stars. used palettes i tried in many combinations, to create planets. and i added seashells to our lady's clothing. i collected those shells last year, during endless walks by the seaside between st. maartenszee and bergen. (i will come back to those shells in a future post, but let me say already here that i picked just one sort, because i thought it would work very well in paintings. the surface of these shells is simply amazing.) of course, planets, stars and seashells refer to the traditional role of maria as stella maris (star of the sea), a guiding light for seafarers.

as in almost all my works, i find a great difficulty in achieving `the' fitting expression. most often it needs to be a mixture between some (soft) sadness, some contemplation, some compassion and some (small) smile as well. [postscript 2014: changed the expression once again, and added some hair make the painting more unambiguously uplifting]

the religious connotation is largely the same as in the `notre dame des anges' series, but i wanted some surprise and childlike qualities in the painting. i'm not sure how well i have achieved these qualities, but i do have a strong sense that it is finished now, and should be taken as it is, with all its history and possible shortcomings. [and it probably has a strong `outsider art' feeling for many viewers. i have decided to not hold back this side of my art, especially when restoring/finishing older work].

madonna and child ~ filippo lippi
filippo lippi, madonna and child (mid 15th century)

filippo lippi was the teacher of sandro botticelli, his influence on his pupil is clear to see. the star on maria in the above painting refers to her role as stella maris.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

more dance drawings

dance of the earth and sky xi ~ frank waaldijk
dance of the earth and sky xii (own work, 2013, 21 x 30 cm, click on the image for an enlargement)

dance of the earth and sky vi ~ frank waaldijk
dance of the earth and sky vi (own work, 1990, 33 x 48 cm, click on the image for an enlargement)

dance of the earth and sky iii ~ frank waaldijk
dance of the earth and sky iii (own work, 1989, 23 x 32 cm, click on the image for an enlargement)

saturday night dancing i ~ frank waaldijk
saturday night dancing i (own work, 2003, 21 x 30 cm, click on the image for an enlargement)

dancing with the animals ~ frank waaldijk
dancing with the animals (own work, 2008, 10 x 15 cm, click on the image for an enlargement)

strange dance ~ frank waaldijk
strange dance (own work, 2008, 10 x 15 cm, click on the image for an enlargement)

dancing with nymphs ~ frank waaldijk
dancing with nymphs (own work, 2004, 21 x 30 cm, click on the image for an enlargement)

she sends her flamingos (finishing not so old work 2)

(when i get depressed) she sends her flamingos ~ frank waaldijk
(when i get depressed) she sends her flamingos (own work, 2008-2013, 21 x 30 cm, click on the image for an enlargement)

i have a fair number of unfinished drawings awaiting their turn for another attempt by me to bring them to a suitable conclusion. they lie around my studio in various places, and i look at them from time to time. there is no rhyme or reason to which one will grab my eye, at a certain point in time. but perhaps there is one pattern: some themes need time to settle. this differs from theme to theme.

as i have been writing about this here on this blog: at least one big challenge left for me is to explore human relations, and la condition humaine. as i grow older i find i'm even more disenchanted with superficial esthetics. poignancy, relevancy to real life, i'm looking for those.

one serious question is whether to cater to the general public's taste... i do not wish to create images just for myself, but if one wishes for poignancy, relevancy and non-superficiality, then it is a fair guess that the general public's taste will need time to catch up. at least as much time as i do, when creating the works. or perhaps of course my art is all rubbish :-)

just so you know where i'm coming from...

Thursday, September 19, 2013

finishing (not so old) work

grief and comfort v ~ frank waaldijk
grief and comfort (own work, 2012-2013, 34 x 50 cm, click on the image for an enlargement)

sometimes, a work takes more stages before it is finished than i expected. this is mostly the case when i'm really experimenting with style. one inner debate which almost always takes place is simplicity vs. subtility/sophistication. and a very related question: how much imperfection is called for in this work?

so after starting this drawing in the beginning of 2012, i thought it finished at the end of last year. but i always study finished works for some time in my studio, before storing them, and its imperfections kept consistently nagging at me. i know that imperfection has its own quality and necessity, but when it keeps nagging me i usually feel that i have to improve on the work. i this case i chose to work more on detail, colour and expression. effectively this changed the entire drawing. the three pictures of details below should show you the expressivity of hands, faces and last but certainly not least: the expressivity of abstract elements.

grief and comfort v hands~ frank waaldijk
hands in grief and comfort, detail i (click on the image for an enlargement)

grief and comfort v faces~ frank waaldijk
faces in grief and comfort, detail ii (click on the image for an enlargement)

grief and comfort v abstract detail ~ frank waaldijk
abstract elements in grief and comfort, detail iii (click on the image for an enlargement)

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

finishing/restoring old work: pre-academy days

gambler ~ frank waaldijk
gambler (own work, 1982-2013, 64 x 91 cm, click on the image for an enlargement)

the original painting `the gambler in the city' (see below) was made in 1982, when i was still in high school. i had just returned from a one-year exchange program in minnetonka, minnesota (1981-1982). before starting in minnetonka high school i had already decided that i wanted to become an artist. therefore i took all sorts of classes that weren't available in my dutch high school (vwo science), like oil painting, lettering and calligraphy, photography, film. since the classroom for oil painting was open all day, i spent about two hours a day in there, for a year, taught by my wonderful teacher richard cunningham. he, being impressed with my work and dedication, pushed me to apply for an art academy grant in the united states, but i wished to go home.

at home in the netherlands i didn't have a studio, and nowhere the necessary finances to use oil paint. i just was drawing all day and making sculptures, and then i decided to use cheaper outdoor paint for painting. in the painting you can see that i was already then fascinated by ways of depicting faces in a non-standard manner. picasso was a great inspiration for me, although i never became a real cubist.

but i was never really satisfied with the painting, the left-hand side was unconvincing and the colours weren't really what i wanted. however, for being 17, i was still happy with having painted such a face at all, and to develop my skills in any way possible. then a dear friend of mine took a liking to the painting, and for more than 25 years it stood or hung somewhere in his apartment. this was largely a boon, since some other works from that period have been lost over time, but the downside was that i never got around to really finishing it. a few years ago he returned it, saying he had lost his enchantment, partly due to its state of deterioration. this was not hard to understand. the painting had lost its lustre, the paint had faded and accumulated dirt/dust, and in my eyes it never was a very good painting to begin with, except for the face.

the gambler in the city~ frank waaldijk
the gambler in the city (own work (now lost due to reworking), 1982, 64 x 91 cm, click on the image for an enlargement).

so i told my friend: `i will restore the painting, but it will become very different. i will restore the lustre, but i also have to improve everything, from composition to colour etc., yet at the same time i want to retain its basic quality, if possible.' for the past 3 years i have been slowly working on a remake, the finished result which you see above. i found it hard to retain the buildings, their integration was already a problem when i started the painting. so i decided to simplify, and portray a gambler amidst another major addiction: alcohol.

all in all it was a painstaking process. nowadays i usually paint very differently, and i finally decided to blend the two styles, but this is not so easy as one might think. the result however gives me joy: i feel i have finally finished the original painting in the way it deserved to be finished.

[ps: by the way, my canon refuses to capture the colours of `gambler' anywhere close to accurately. it remains frustrating how badly affordable technology manages to handle colours. not only cameras, but computer screens as well. and many many people don't even notice. isn't that an artist i'm always trying to achieve colour depth, colour life, colour tensions, colour harmonies. but who really notices? i like to think that some of my efforts go a long way with some people. it is probably too optimistic to expect that many people would notice.]

Monday, September 16, 2013

restoring old work: some examples

eva ~ frank waaldijk
eve (own work, 1986, 40 x 50 cm, click on the image for an enlargement)

this painting was made with a variety of paints, some pieces of tape and candle wax. i restored the bright red (which had deteriorated) and cleaned the rest. i especially like the expression and experimentation in this work. eva is the dutch name for eve.

horses, trees ~ frank waaldijk
horses, trees (own work, 1985, 25 x 47 cm, click on the image for an enlargement)

this work was made with thick gouache on cardboard, partly pressed straight out of the plastic container. in drying, the heavy cracking of the gouache leads to entire pieces falling off the cardboard. also the colours were somewhat faded. i reglued everything by varnishing with acrylic medium, which also restores some of the colour.

untitled ~ frank waaldijk
untitled (own work, 1989, 10 x 19 cm, click on the image for an enlargement)

this work was made on plasterboard, with ink and toothpaste. the paper had discoloured, and the ink had faded. the toothpaste, like the gouache above, threatened to fall off. i restored the original colour somewhat by painting, and replenished some ink, and finished with an acrylic varnish. then i mounted the result on a clear acrylic plate, as a frame which shows the plasterboard as well.

Friday, September 13, 2013

finishing and/or restoring old work: boon & bane

smokester ~ frank waaldijk
smokester (own work, 1989-2013, 23 x 31 cm, acrylic and mixed media on paper, click on the image for an enlargement)

finishing and/or restoring old works to me is both boon and bane. the boon of finishing old work lies partly in discovering that i have reached new levels of artistry, which enable me to find solutions where previously i got stuck. the boon of restoring old work partly lies in discovering that i still appreciate many older works, often also for their directness and unconventionality. some of them were made with not-so-durable materials, leading to fading colours or browning paper. and then it is a real pleasure to see these works restored.

the bane however is not small either. the finishing of old work is especially time-consuming, restoring old work is less so but still costs time and focus which i could also spend on developing truly new avenues.

and i really need to explore new avenues. this i will elucidate also in posts to come. (to be continued)

ps: in this old work you can find my signature initials `faw' on the front. nowadays i usually sign my work on the back side, still using `faw'. the reason for this is that i mostly find the signature to be a disturbing element. in this work `smokester' i managed to blend the signature in with the tablecloth pattern, which goes to show that i was having trouble with signing on the front already then. the work was made using quite an amount of toothpaste, which i used to buy in quantity and then squeeze directly from the tube onto canvas or paper.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Recuerdos de Tenerife (paintings series of the Canary Islands)

recuerdos de tenerife ~ painting by frank waaldijk
recuerdos de tenerife (own work, 2013, 60 x 80 cm, acrylic and mixed media on canvas, click on the image for an enlargement)

The Canary Islands continue to inspire me. Last February we visited Tenerife, and with a feeling of nostalgia I painted the above. Yes, the title borrows of course from the incomparable guitar piece `Recuerdos de la Alhambra' composed by Francisco Tárrega.

Another motivating factor was my wish to paint the beauty of `simple' foliage. I'm always enthralled by plants, and can look at them for hours and hours. An artist is truly insignificant when it comes to creating beauty, for nature is the true master, I feel.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

outsiderness & photoshop experiments

my drawing "outsider" is being used in various places on the internet, by people wishing to illustrate the feeling of outsiderness. all without asking permission [copyrights apply], but mostly with appropriate reference to this blog, which i insist on since it is hard enough to garner some recognition as an artist. however, to see people using my drawings to bring across some emotion is a special form of recognition, which i greatly appreciate. i have been considering for some time now to release a body of work to wikimedia commons, so that people can use my drawings more freely. but i have not yet studied the consequences in enough detail.

the theme of outsiderness keeps intriguing me [you can click on the label "outsiderness" below this post to see other posts on this theme].

self-portrait in outsider forest~ frank waaldijk
self-portrait in outsider forest (own work, 2012-2013, 21 x 21 cm, digital, click on the image for an enlargement)

i'm experimenting, in many ways. the combination of photoshop with `ordinary' drawing fascinates me, but seldom leaves me satisfied. but things are progressing, slowly. i'm extremely hampered by rsi (repetitive strain injury), which has been plaguing me for the past 12 years. the reason also why my blogging activity is limited.

night encounter ~ frank waaldijk
night encounter (ongoing own work, 2007-2012, 21 x 22 cm, digital, click on the image for an enlargement)

finally then, i designed another record sleeve for my friend and fellow artist ralf kwaaknijd, who is also an active musician.

ralfk goes astral ~ frank waaldijk
ralfk goes astral (2012, 35 x 35cm, digital, click on the image for an enlargement)

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

new year's wish to all

new year's wish 2013 ~ frank waaldijk

(click on the image for an enlargement)