During the long history of painting, many landscapes have been created within the four walls of an artist's studio.
For me it is essential to absorb the landscape in the field, in the open air.
My large pasteldrawings are done : "sur le motif" as Cézanne said.
Then I can give expression to the flowing energies which I sense around me:
The light which streams over the landscape creating unity on the visual whole world before my eyes.
I want to allow my crayons to flow over the paper in the same way as the light flows over the landscape.
With a great gesture, forming the image of what I see and feel before and around me.
Later in the studio the pasteldrawing gives birth to an oil painting.
Then there is the painting itself. The colours are my words and I want to speak as clearly as possible,
so vivid colors I use.
In my oil piantings I want to convey the excitement of the moment when I was drawing my pastels from nature.
This in a handwriting full of energy.
Dans la longue histoire de la peinture, nombre de paysages sont nés entre les quatre murs d'un atelier.
Pour moi cependant, c'est en plein air que je m'imprgne du paysage.
Mes grands dessins aux pastels sont pris "sur le motif" en plein nature.
J'y représente le flux energétique dans lequel je me trouve: la lumière qui s'écoule par flots sur le paysage que j'ai sous les yeux
et à l'image de laquelle je laisse "couler"la crai sur le papier dans une grande expression gestuelle.
Plus tard à l'atelier le pastel donne naissance à une peinture à l'huile:
Là je veux raconter de la peinture elle-même. les couleurs ont alors valeur de "mots" et je souhaite m'exprimer de la manière a plus intelligible possible. C'est pourqua j'utilise des couleurs vives.
L'exitation suscitée par l'instant du dessin dans la nature, je désire la rendre dans ma peinture fait à l'atelier.
Une écriture manuelle pleine d'énergie.
I should not speak too long, my work should not submerge in a flood of words. It seems so clear to me, the story that I have to tell is so simple: anybody can see that I love nature, that I like to smear paint and that , as to me, colours are never strong enough. Yet I hope you will not stop dead at the surface of the representation. I claim the pretention of wanting and being able to tell you just something more than the mere story of that blue sky, that mountain ridge, that tree or that cottage. I want to tell you also about the art of painting itself and, being a painter, I do so with paint, with colour.
Loudly and clearly I want to speak, so I use clear colours. Physics taught us that all colour has been obtained from only a few basic colours: those colours are my words, with them I want to evoke all shades. The Yellow, red and blue, the violet, green and orange, with that vocabulary I tell you about my experiences when drawing with nature around me.
In my studio I used to paint in a rational, cool manner. In nature I discovered by drawing with pastels, that this profession has more to do with emotions than I was originally prepared to admit. I feel happy whenever I am drawing and apparently that feeling is “readable” for the observer.
Someone asked me whether my own happiness is a valid criterion, and whether the history of art is interested in that. The question frightened me, it did indeed “put me on another leg” but it did not make me lose my balance. I think it legitimate in painting to try and find what makes me happy. Thus I stay as close to myself as possible. And telling a personal story is a reason indeed to suppose that I can saddle the world with more of my work. I couldn’t act differently, really, and I go on. Each painting makes me like it more to paint another one.
Each painting evokes, in a stronger way, the memories of what nature made me feel, but also of what I experienced in looking at many painters before me. They too, told about what fascinated them. The questions they asked themselves with the brush in their hand, when confronted with nature, are questions that, to my mind, have to be replied to over and over again. This will never come to an end.
I’ve read for example the following words bt Cézanne:
“When painting I get an increasing insight into nature, but the realization of what I come beware of is always very hard. I cannot reach that intensity that presents itself to my senses
And do not possess that splendid richness of colours that inspires nature. Art should not imitate nature but has its own laws as a synthesis of nature and spirit. Art is a harmony parallel to nature. Nature cannot be copied, only be represented. The artist must catch the essential thing: nature behind nature. Nature is found rather underneath than at the surface. The colours are the surface expression of that underlying depth. What should be expressed is the amalgamation of nature here ( and he points the painting) and nature in here.” ( and he points is forehead).
My pastel drawings are made during long walks and cycling tours, always at the location itself. Sitting on the ground by the low light of sunrise or sunset , sometimes also at the middle of the day. Huge violent skies, there is the origin of our looking and seeing, even of our being itself!
The best drawings were made at moments when I was nearly enchanted by nature.
The Dutch painter Weissenbruch ( 1824-1903) said it this way:
“If I’m not struck by nature I don’t feel like it …I wait for the enchanting moment at which nature assumes the image of eternity and light and shade, colour and tone, lines and shapes have been united to one harmonious beauty.”
So nature enchants me and in exchange I describe it in some personal manner. The light, especially the heavy light of Provence must help me doing so. Without it I feel a human giant with two left hands, who disturbs the frail balance of nature with his unwieldy feed.
Back in my studio I prefer the process of painting itself to tell its own tale. While drawing in the landscape I made a choice already as to light, composition, colour, rhythm etc. While painting those questions have already been answered. The canvas is right in front of my nose, I hardly step backward. Although the work looks as if it has been flung on to the canvas in one surge of expression. It has actually been built up thoughtfully, constructed, colour beside colour, one touch beside the next one. The manifest pleasure to cover the canvas with a brush full of thick oil-paint. To what extent will one colour be allowed to mix with another? But also how independently should it remain standing next to the other? Meanwhile I mustn’t forget the delight of drawing , the foundation on which the painting is built. Making colour stream everything tying together by the story of the light that streams over the landscape.
Quite naïvely I want to tell that story. A purposeful affected naivety, since I am too conscious of the fact that on my way to the South I pass numerous nuclear power plants and that inside that mountain-ridge , clad in violet light, the atomic weapons of the French “Force de Frappe” are stocked. It is my defence against that misery to conceive the reality of nature only as a visual happening.
Finally I sit down and survey what I brought about on the canvas. I consciously perform the act of painting but at the same time I have a feeling that painting befalls me.
Frans van Veen.