Last month I have been experimenting with new botanical abstracts. They really feel like some sort of art family all together. A diverse art family consisting of oil paintings, wooden sculptures and also some lino prints very soon. Most exciting aspect of them? I made them from a completely carefree state of mind.
BOTANICAL ABSTRACTS: OIL PAINTINGS
My botanical abstracts are four oil on canvas paintings of 40 x 50 cm. Their background colour compositions are derivatives from blue, yellow, green and red. With notable grey tones in all the colours. On top of these grey-ish colours I painted four different botanical abstacts in dark brown and dark yellow. The brush strokes are quick. You can see the swift energy of the gestures in the end result.
And it is exactly that swift energy that I was only being able to add because I was working from a completely carefree state of mind. How did I reach such a state of mind? It was a combination of different factors:
Factor 1: I over-painted old work for these. I don’t know why, but by over-painting old work I always feel very relaxed and confident. Maybe it’s because of the absence of a white canvas staring back at you? Demanding great art?
Factor 2: I didn’t have a clear plan with these at all. I just started fantasising about the colour combinations and colour compositions. It wasn’t very worked out before I started. I just went with my gut and it all felt very low profile.
Factor 3: The botanical abstracts themselves I painted with ‘left over’ paints from my large Applecross panorama. Painting with left overs always makes me feel very ‘la la la’ and ‘let’s just see what happens’.
Just before I painted the shapes of the botanical abstracts I had been painting all morning. Working on my large Applecross panorama. So I was in the zone, so to speak. I was really enjoying it and I felt confident about finishing those other paintings. And so I just did.
Like I said: there’s more where this came from. Wooden sculptures for instance! After finishing my paintings I suddenly found myself fantasising about wooden sculptures. I had been wanting to try out fretwork for a while and I made sure I had everything I needed. Fretsaw, wood, different kinds of saws, polishing paper. The only thing I felt insecure about were my fret sawing skills. So I asked Bob to teach me and after one hour of sawing it seemed like fret sawing isn’t nearly as hard as I expected it to be! Bob even dared to say that I am something of a fretwork prodigy. Who would’ve thought!
I am working on four different wooden sculptures. One to go with each of the paintings. I recreated the botanical forms in 3D and painted them in non-grey blue, red, green and yellow. Along with a medium that provides a ceramic/pearl effect.
BOTANICAL ABSTRACTS LINO PRINTS IN THE MAKING
While I was working on the first wooden sculpture I couldn’t help myself… I was already dreaming about also adding lino prints to this family! I’ve always wanted to master the art of lino printing and cutting. But, just as with fretwork, I wasn’t very good at it at school. But after my uplifting experience in that part I thought: well, maybe I shouldn’t doubt my lino cutting skills as much! Shortly after I ordered a starting kit and I am waiting for it to arrive as we speak. Once it’s here and I’ll have something to show for it you’ll be the first to know!
The last couple of weeks I have been working on my first large panorama painting. And I have made time lapse art videos of the painting process. In this post I have put them all together chronologically. So you can watch me paint autumn in Applecross. And see how it is all coming together. Scroll down to watch the time lapse videos. Read on if you want to know more about my love affair with Applecross. Or check out this blog post about all my new painting ideas first.
MY LOVE AFFAIR WITH APPLECROSS
I am painting a view from the Applecross cafe looking from inside into the autumn walled garden. The Applecross walled garden is by far my favourite place on earth. Especially in autumn. This painting brings back memories of our North Coast 500 road trip back in the autumn of 2017. We travelled 500 miles in 7 days. We saw some of the most magnificent views the Highlands have to offer. And on the 5th day we stumbled upon the hidden gem in Applecross. A walled garden. Adorned by creepers in red and yellow, trees with ripe red apples and with a cafe with an inside grape. Its vines all over the ceiling. On top of that there was a crackling fire adding smells of hot wood. And I had the best brie-bacon-raspberry jam sandwich of my life. If that doesn’t sound like paradise than I don’t know what will…
PAINTING AUTUMN IN APPLECROSS
So, I am painting autumn in Applecross. Because this year we weren’t able to visit our beloved Highlands. But as an artist there is always more than one path to a destination. So I decided to just paint the place I was longing for.
The stage it is in now: I have painted the autumn garden, but still need to add the arbour. Next step is to add the interior of the cafe and of course the inside grape hanging from the ceiling. You can follow my love affair on Instagram as well:
After that the only thing left to do is to make myself a cup of coffee and something resembling that delicious sandwich and pretending I am at the other side of the North Sea. Happy autumn!
Lately I have been feeling the pressure of finding or creating my signature style as an artist. In this blog I want to elaborate on this: is it really vital to find or pursue your signature style? What are the pros and cons of a signature style? And, in case you come to the conclusion that it is vital: how do you find it?
A SIGNATURE STYLE AS AN ARTIST: IS IT VITAL?
If you’re an artist or pursue any form of creative profession these days, online marketing is vital. Or so does everyone keep telling me. It’s the one thing Martha May Ronson, Navigating the art world by Delphian Gallery and Donald Miller (StoryBrand) have in common. Something about being a brand. Or creating a brand around yourself and your work. And how vital it is to have a brand if you want to become something like remotely successful in your line of work.
Something in me feels tiresome about having to build a brand around me and my work. Or frustrated. While at the same time I’m also very much intrigued about that whole branding idea. I mean, I didn’t call myself The Fran for nothing, right?! But I still can’t get my head around it: do I want it or do I not want it? And if I don’t want to, what’s the reason? Because it better be a very good one if you believe Ronson, Delphian and Miller…
THE PROS OF HAVING A SIGNATURE STYLE
So let’s start with appointing the pros of having a signature style:
You and your work are being recognised by viewers and that’s how your own work becomes your best affiliate
People know and become convinced about why they should be buying your work
You automatically attract the right people (that is: if your brand suits you!)
You will become trustworthy as an artist and as a business: you prove you deliver quality works within a recognisable range over a longer period of time, people dig that!
Artistically you have a sort of base ball park from where you start. I guess that could make things easier when it comes to finding new ideas or exploring new subjects? (I cannot know this for sure, for I feel that I haven’t found my signature style yet.)
As an artist it makes it easier to connect with suitable galleries, shows, events, etcetera. Because you will know immediately whether or not it’s a match.
THE CONS OF HAVING A SIGNATURE STYLE
Then there’s the cons of having a signature style. I don’t know about you, but I feel very strongly about these. Most of them are questions, because I’d really like your input on these!
How is it possible to keep experimenting and exploring new ideas if you have to stick to your signature style?
I myself find the work of artists who have found their signature style often very repetitive and boring. But I don’t know whether that’s a good thing? It could also mean that I am just not the intended viewer/buyer and that everything is sorting itself out?
For me it feels very intangible: when do you have a signature style? What is required to call it that? Is just working with oil enough to appoint ‘oil’ as your signature? Or does it require something about the subjects or your approach as well?
You can’t switch once you’ve found it? Again: question mark.
Let’s leave the list for what it is. Because I’d like to elaborate my doubts with an example. In her free masterclass on how to sell your art online Ronson talks about Banksy. About how he has build a very recognisable brand around him and his work. You immediately recognise his work as his. You know his values (political satire, transience) and his style (street art, black and white drawings). And when I heard Ronson talking about Banksy it really hit me: it works! I appreciate this Banksy brand as a viewer and as an art lover. But if I were in his shoes as an artist I would probably feel very restricted and confined. Or would I?
IT ALL COMES DOWN TO ONE QUESTION
Writing and thinking about this I now feel there’s just one very clear question I have to ask myself. What is my goal? If my goal is to make money with my art I think it is very clear that I should be working on becoming a brand. If my goal is to experiment until I die than maybe becoming a brand is less important.
The thing I am super curious about is how to combine the two! Would it be possible to ‘start’ a brand around me and my work in which I feel comfortable. And to keep experimenting on the side? How would that work? And does that mean that I can’t share those experiments within my own brand? I think that if I come up with a solution for this ‘problem’ I’d have the best of both worlds. To have a profitable art business together with a challenging and inviting artistic journey for me as an artist. To combine a recognisable brand AND the opportunity to keep experimenting.
HOW TO FIND YOUR SIGNATURE STYLE
Let’s just say we’ve solved the brand versus experimenting problem and that we want nothing more than to find our signature style. How would we go about it? And although I may not be so sure about whether or not I want a signature style, I really do think I cracked the code on this one:
EXPERIMENT! It’s really that simple. Just lock yourself in your studio and try everything. Follow your gut. Make the things you want to make. Explore themes, subjects, mediums, surfaces, approaches and skills.
Focus on what you like to do and the results that you love. So once you’ve found something you REALLY like doing, keep doing that, because that is a clear sign. The same goes for end results. Don’t be bothered with what others think about your end results. Be your own critic: if you like what you make, than you should pursue that. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t make progress or try out new ways of looking at things, but that goes without saying.
Create A LOT of work. Focus on productivity. Make as many artworks as you can for about one or two years. Try not to overthink it during those years. Then after that period of time look back on it. Can you see reoccurring themes, colours, approaches or maybe find a common denominator? Ask the opinion of your peers, your fellow artists, your friends, people from outside of the art world. What do they see?
If you have gathered feedback then you can try to capture all of that into three or four words. Those words can be abstract or more concrete, it’s your choice. Put them together in a way that works for you and create your own art brand around it.
MY SIGNATURE STYLE?
Let’s say I would do this. And after asking feedback I would find out people love my ink drawings more than any of my other work. My ink drawings have been called striking, vibrant and bold. Then I could choose striking, bold and ink drawings as my signature style.
Same goes for if people would love my mixed media collages above anything else. They have been called colourful, sophisticated and striking. So now I know I could choose to pursue a signature style in collages as well. But would that mean that I should focus on making collages only?
Maybe I could also choose to forgo the specific medium and focus on ‘striking’. A word I’ve heard twice now. So it must mean something right! Right?
Enough food for thought. To be continued…
HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT IT?
I am very curious about how you feel about developing a signature style. Do you think it’s positive to pursue it? Or do you think it will just show itself after you put enough time and effort into your art? I’d love to hear from you in the comments.
Currently I am in the retreating phase of one of my creative waves. That means I am contemplating my work, its themes, the things I am exploring and why. And just now I realised that I have been operating on a scale of authenticity and connection. And that maybe now the time has come for me to step out of that scale.
A scale of authenticity and connection?
What do I mean with a scale of authenticity and connection when it comes to my art practice? I feel like I am constantly balancing the authenticity of my work with how it will or won’t connect with others. Let me give you an example. When I come up with something to make I also immediately think about how others will react to it. And whether it may be defining me as something or someone to other people. As a result depending on how I feel I will choose to compromise the authenticity of my work. Or I will choose to push through with a sort of devil-may-care attitude.
I now feel that this doesn’t suit me no more. Neither ways: no pushing and no compromising or self-censuring my creativity.
My understanding of this scale within my work up until now
For the first time in my life I am being totally okay with being in this retreating phase. Contemplating, silent, processing. Being okay with it took it to a whole different level of contemplating. I started looking at my artistic practice and the way how I connect with my own work.
I now understand that I have been connecting with my work the same way as I have learned to bond with people as a child: co-dependently.
What is codependency?
Codependency is an unsafe attachment style adopted by children who cannot bond with their parents/caregivers in a healthy, loving way. Codependency makes you want to manipulate other’s opinions of you for your own good (your own sense of being loved). Rather than developing a sense of authentic self love and self respect. In essence: you need others to love you in order to be able to love yourself. And you will do anything to ensure they will. Even compromising yourself.
This of course is a recipe for disaster when it comes to developing a strong sense of self. And of self-expression. Because codependency leaves you in a place of constant worry. Worry about how others are perceiving you and whether they will still love you tomorrow.
The art of letting go
Now that I am healing from all kinds of unconstructive patterns I am able to discover those patterns in my artistic practice as well. Suggesting that my art exists on a scale of authenticity and connection is in a way deeply codependent. At the same time I understand that as an artist you’re not operating on an island. And that most of us actually do create art to feel connected. Whether it is with nature, with our inner world and/or with the souls of others). I now understand as well that the purpose of connection can never be the cause of compromising your authenticity. Because only from creating through that strong sense of authentic expression you will experience true connection.
Choose authenticity and connection will follow
So, from now on I will be practicing the art of letting go. Making art because I feel it wants to be made through me and subsequently letting it go. Allowing it to have its own journey once it’s out of my hands. Meeting and connecting with like minded souls, whoever that may be.
I will be winking at them from a distance, wishing them well while creating new art.
Because of COVID we have all experienced the difficulties that now come with cultural activities that used to be carefree. Like visiting an art gallery or your favourite museum of modern art.
For me art is about enjoying beauty. To find yourself surprised at its wit, energy or originality. To ensure you can keep enjoying this as carefree as possible I came up with my Art Memberships.
YOU DON’T HAVE TO WORRY ABOUT ANYTHING!
As an Art Member you don’t have to worry about anything, you will just find a new original artwork in your mailbox every new season. Starting from only €97 a year!
Start your own art collection and make yourself feel good.
ART MEMBERSHIP RECAP:
As an Art Member you will:
Enjoy a full year of soul soothing art
Don’t have to worry about COVID regulations
Start your own art collection within the safety of your own home
Collect only the art that you really love
Surprise yourself with new art every season
Feel inspired by my art the whole year round
Find comfort in my art, whenever you need it.
So, do yourself a favour and become an Art Member today. I am super excited about this offer and I hope to hear from you soon. I can’t wait to hear about your art preferences in terms of size, themes and colour schemes. Just click the button below and sign up. I promise it will make you feel GOOD!
And if I didn’t convince you still, browse through my portfolio to check out the awesomeness you could be collecting during your membership!
This week I’ve been busy with redecorating my studio wall. I discovered that I needed another studio scenery. New work asks for new inspiration. And what better inspiration than your own art?
FORMER STUDIO WALL
My studio wall used to be quite clean. I wanted to showcase some larger works on it and so I did. Last month I started with some new works on paper (and with some I mean like 30 at once) so my studio floor was packed with art. I always love laying out my works in progress on the floor. But it becomes something else when you have to jump around your studio trying not to step on anything…
So I needed something to put all my works in progress on display. To watch them, get inspired, get new ideas for the foregrounds, maybe experiment a little bit with them in my head. And that’s when I thought of using that empty wall as a pin board!
STUDIO WALL AS PIN BOARD
This is my studio wall at the moment: an XXL pin board! I love it! It is super useful and it helps me organise my ideas and inspirations. The wall is so large it could easily feature all my current works in progress AND more. So I’ve also pinned my most recent oil pastel drawings and colour studies onto it.
With redecorating often comes something else which I like to call studio serendipity. It’s something that happens between you and your art that you couldn’t have thought of otherwise. Or that probably wouldn’t have happened hadn’t you changed the status quo.
In this case it’s this collection of seven colourful base layers. I pinned them on my studio wall and I suddenly realised I could combine them into one super large panorama painting. How exciting! Who would’ve thought! Not sure what to do with them yet. So stay tuned!
CORONA PROOF STUDIO VISITS
If you’d like to visit my studio to see all my available art you are more than welcome for a corona proof studio visit. Also, if you have you eyes set on a particular piece but you want to experience it in real life first, you’re more than welcome.
Autumn has really kicked in here in The Netherlands and that’s always the moment I get all these new art ideas to experiment with! In the short video below I tell you about them and I show you all my new sketches:
CURRENTLY WORKING ON: COLOUR STUDIES
I am currently working on my extra small colour studies in oil pastel. I started them because I really liked experimenting with this new medium. And because I wanted to try out different colour schemes in a low profile way. By cutting up old oil paintings on paper I created A5 sized ‘primed’ oil pastel paper to work on. My approach is to make four different colour studies of one composition. The compositions I’ve made are inspired by my trip to Morocco in 2016 and the film The Best Exotic Marigold hotel.
Another idea behind these extra small colour studies was that I could find out what colours I use all the time and what colours I use rarely. The reason I wanted to find out was because I knew I want to switch to more expensive oil pastels in the future. And by finding out what colours suit me I can buy them more mindfully.
But while I was working on these small studies new art ideas crept into my mind. I wanted to work on larger works again! Let me tell you: that’s the best feeling ever!
NEW ART IDEAS: SHETLAND PAINTINGS
The first new art idea came to me while watching Shetland, the BBC television series about D.I. Jimmy Perez on Shetland. I was totally enthralled by it (‘by him’ should be a statement a little closer to the truth, but hey, I am running an art business here, not an online dating website…). The seascapes, rock formations, island views from the sea. All those views were just breathtakingly beautiful.
And even though I am not a very big fan of great landscape or seascape paintings (…. work being the exception) I wanted nothing more than to paint them. So I started sketching while watching and I came up with a couple of ideas.
You can see the sketches in the video!
NEW ART IDEAS: ‘COSY CORNERS’
This idea actually isn’t as new as the other ones. I have been dreaming of painting ‘cosy corners’ since the worldwide pandemic. Maybe because we were forced to stay home, maybe because I wanted to show my love for those places in my own home. Sitting next to a window, underneath a large plant, watching the weather and the trees outside is my kind of happiness.
But back in March I didn’t think it original enough. I am always influenced by Henri Matisse, but this idea felt like straight from his mind or something. But it’s September now and the idea is still creeping back into my head every week. So I decided to surrender. Cosy corners, here I come!
NEW ART IDEAS: KITCHEN CORNERS WITH FOOD
Another idea, closely linked to those cosy corners is my wish to paint a series of kitchen corners with food. I have always had a fetish for food (I once had a food blog for about 3 years). I really love good food photography. So when I started scrolling through the old pictures I took for my food blog I was like: this is a goldmine!
So this is also definitely happening: a series of kitchen corners with cabinets, kitchen tables, jars with marmalade, home made lemonade and piles of pancakes! Can’t wait to paint these!
AND NOW WHAT?
It’s been a while since I had this many ideas for new paintings! So I got a little bit confused about how to act… Bob said: just go with the flow. Work on all those ideas at once and let the work guide you. There is no deadline, there are no expectations. Just immerse yourself and enjoy it. Good advice. To be continued!
Last week I recorded an art talk about my XXL Fruits. You can watch it below or check out my YouTube Channel. Part 1 is about the Fruits in space. Part 2 is about the Fruits on earth. I hope you enjoy watching them!
As you know I post my art on Instagram (@art.bythefran) but sometimes I feel like the context is missing. Like: what was my inspiration for the whole series and how did the artworks changed while I was painting them. Very often I start out with an idea and as I go along it changes into something different. You don’t see that when you just see end results. So that’s why I have started recording these short videos. To guide you through my artistic process and show you my art in real life, with me for scale haha!
THE INTENTIONS OF MY ART TALK
My intention is to keep recording these Art Talk-videos with every new series op paintings I finish. There’s so much going on behind the scenes in my art studio and I think it’s a shame not to tell you about it and show it to you. It really is about the process of making art. With all its unpredictability and serendipity.
WHAT IT IS NOT
It’s not my intention to ‘explain’ my art or to put some sort of deep meaning into it during my art talk. I leave that up to the viewer, up to you. I strongly believe explaining art is killing it. Information is key but forced meaning means the death of it. I create art because it gives me freedom. I don’t want to force the viewers look in some direction. On the contrary! I would love you to come up with your own way of looking at it. Your way of viewing it within your personal or cultural art history.
What would you say if I told you art can change your life for the better?
If you had told me this let’s say 10 years ago I would have frowned and probably made fun of you. Because I grew up in a family where art and creativity were merely small accessories to life. Not something to bother yourself with on a daily basis.
On top of that I had a really weird aunt who took me to the most boring museums you can ever think of as a child. So in stead of taking us to the pool during a heat wave, she dragged us through an open air museum. Leaving me and my sister wondering about whatever we did wrong to deserve that…
Long story short: me and art, it wasn’t a love at first sight.
But art didn’t give up on me. And one sunny day in spring 2010 it changed my life. Just like that.
THE DAY ART CHANGED MY LIFE
I visited the ‘From Matisse to Malevich’ exhibition at the Amsterdam Hermitage. It showed the developments in modern art from 1900-1930.
I saw Red Room by Matisse, I saw Woman in a Black Hat by Van Dongen, I saw Spring by Rouault.
And then there was Picasso.
Nothing more, nothing less.
Just Picasso, his women, and me. Experiencing the true soul elevating power of art.
There was no future, no past, only the artwork in the present. It connected me to the soul of art and the power of perspective. It was an invitation to look beyond, to be beyond.
That was it. That day art changed my life. My heart knew that day what my mind needed another 10 years to figure out: art is my purpose.
ART CAN CHANGE YOUR LIFE AS WELL
Art can also change your life. If you let it, it can capture you in the present moment. Letting all the worries about the past and the stress about the future disappear in an instant.
Art can connect you to the power of beauty and to your immense creative potential. And by doing so art will make you capable of not only making a difference in your own life but also on the grand scale of things.
I have always been in awe of ceramic artists and their ceramic art. I’m in love with clay and it’s characteristics. The tension between earth and air. That it’s so powerful but once baked it can break. Anyway, enough of all those philosophical considerations: I just love ceramics! So naturally I wanted to try it out.
CERAMIC ART JOURNEY
I started my ceramic art journey at Gert de Mulder. I learned the different ways of working with clay: rolling, pressing, boxing, sculpting. And I learned different ways of decorating my work: engobe, transfers, glazing.
CERAMIC ART TO GO WITH MY PAINTINGS
During my first ceramic classes I wanted to make ceramic art that could complement my paintings. So I decided to make some large shells with pearls and seaweed inside them. To go with my coral oil paintings.
I also chose to make a large plate and decorate it with Majorelle shapes. To go with my Majorelle canvasses.
I wanted the shells to represent the opening and closure of a mussel. So I made three. One is completely closed. One is opening up. And one is completely open. The glaze on the outside is glossy. On the inside it has a matte finish. To show the influence on the sea on the shells.
The pearls and seaweed pieces are optional. I haven’t been able to decorate them yet.
This year I have been experimenting with throwing clay. I’ve been attending classes at De Pottenbakster in Tilburg (highly recommended!) and at Babel in Den Bosch. I am hoping to extend my skills with throwing clay next year. Because of COVID-19 many classes were canceled this year.
Next time I will show you my first results of throwing clay. For now I’m very curious about what you think of the shells. Would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.