Category Archives: Paintings

National romanticism and my contemporary mood

How do we choose what we pick up and get influenced by in this huge flow of information and impressions? In my watercolour paintings during the first half of 2018 I see a flavour of national romanticism. Is it a response to the current political mood in Sweden of rising nationalism and callousness? It has not been possible to ignore when who is a proper swede and who is not is debated in a language reminiscent of the 1930’s.

But why has that given me a taste for classic nostalgia instead of something moving forward towards a bright future? It might be a lack of faith in that bright future and perhaps that is what national romanticism really conveys. We all know everything changes so just let us cling to what we know for just a moment longer.

My inspiration comes from Anders Zorn but also contemporary Swedish painters like Nick Alm and Benjamin Björklund which I think have a sinister mood very much in tune with mine.

With new flavours comes new recepies. I used to struggle a lot with watercolours  but now I am enjoying this medium more and more. Three very different painters made me question the way I paint. I stumbled upon a video on how to use white gouache as a base which makes it easier to lift off mistakes. Here George Pratt in action.

Then I watched this video of Sienkiewicz which really took away all my preconceptions I had that a watercolour needed to be meticulously planned and perfectly executed not allowing any spontaneity.

After this I took another look at Zorn. I do not know of any other artist who can paint so many hues of white. His watercolours seem to have a broader range of hues and tones than his oils.

After all that inspiration I have dared applying paint then adding water again and lifting of paint with a sponge. Repeatedly. Good watercolour paper can take a lot of beating. One has to get to know which pigments stain more than the others . Being scared of making mistakes is a terrible inhibitor of creative flow.

 

 

 

 

 

 

2018

“Kamp om vit strumpa”

Distance

Title “Distance” 2018
Oilpainting and pastel on MDF board. 47×60 cm.

Landscapes are totally redesigned to our needs and still we feel out of place.

I did a sketch in oilpastels and the lines are visible through the paint. It is very liberating to sketch with oilpastels. Then I just thin it with turpentine so I won’t have issues with the paint on top.

Just A Day At The Beach

So many horrible incidences have happened in such a short time that one’s own ordinary everyday life feels surreal. Like a thin layer of varnish over chaos.

I brought a sketchpad and an ink pen with me to the beach. Back home I used the black and white sketches of my daughter digging in the sand to do a watercolour. But instead of blue I remembered a tube of chinese orange goauche I bought when I lived in Jordan almost 20 years ago. Then the sky and sea turned gradually more red. The white sand became dark and sticky mud. My daughter digging tirelessly unaware of the fires burning around her.

This is to remember Nice, Munich and Kabul. A failed coup in Turkey that might give Erdogan the hands he needs to pull the rug under the Turkish democracy. May we still all come out of this year with the capability of instilling hope in each other and not be swallowed by a tide of ugly nationalism and hatred.

 

My Best Watercolour This Year Or Even Ever

One way to get my daughter to pose is just sitting accidentally opposite her when she is drawing or painting.

I wanted to paint a watercolour focusing in improving my use of contrast and reds for flesh tones. First I sketched in cadmium yellow to get the proportions. A flat brush is used for background and hair then adding strokes with a round brush in her hair.

 

img_20160327_204649.jpg

Orange Is Always Right

I was not happy with my latest finished oil portrait except for the elbow. The face just didn’t have the same light and as a portrait it was bad, bad ,bad. I sometimes part the painting in four parts and check if there is something interesting for the eye in each part. It failed that test as well.

In my world adding orange will make most thing better. So I did just that and repainted the face as well and made her ear smaller.  

 

orange painting

Capital, Sapiens And Debt

I read three books during 2015 that really made a difference in my inner world. I had never had any interest in the subject of economics before but Piketty’s Capital changed that. The book made the subject relevant and accessable to me.

The realization that the prosperous years after the war was an anomaly historically in Europe and that we are relapsing into the pre-war society of upstairs and downstairs felt disheartening to say the least. Piketty’s remedy of taxing the top one percent looks distant when listening to politicians in Sweden and elswhere. (Could Corbyn be an exeption?) The swedish left doesn’t seem to have read the book even. Until we can stop fortunes to be hidden away in tax havens a tax on capital will be of little use. The most important point made in the book though is the threat these fortunes are to democracy.

It also becomes clear that making information available to every one on this planet is essential for democracy.

 

So feeling a bit down contemplating human greed I wanted to understand Sapiens better. We have an exeptional ability to organize ourselves using memes. Most of our world is just memes we have made up: religions, money and nations. The author of “Sapiens” states that memes are based on emotions and can not always be proven right objectively. We can harbour conflicting memes at the same time.

Does this mean that there is no objective moral truth? And what makes one meme win over the other? If we can’t evaluate the meme objectively it is just a fight meme against meme. Could cannibalism win in the future? It has in the past.

What is Utopia? A world without memes?  “No hell below us
Above us only sky” Back to basics. It seems like this is what some of us dream about.
Sapiens did not make me happier. We are an ecological disaster outside Africa.

 

After that I needed comforting and what could be more comforting than diving into ancient history? I always had a weak spot for Sumerians and other ancient civilizations, as if our roots could give us clues to who we are and what we should become.

Debt turned out to be such a stimulating read with so many layers. It covers the history of money but also religions. It explains our relationsships in society. Marriage, slavery and a different way of understanding communism. Anthropology is not a collection of exotic masks and shrunken heads in a museum. It might be the most exiting science when coupled with economics and history. Here might be a tool to find a humane way of organizing society that actually has scientific backing. I think I will have to reread it soon. And forget about barter. Currency came first.

Book titles listed below.

For absolutely no obvious reason more than that it is in my power; a painting of mine to end the post. (I think I need to work a bit more on the face. Elbow is fine)

Happy new year!

wpid-img_20151122_154112.jpg

Links to the articles on wikipaedia about the books:

 Thomas Piketty: Capital in the Twenty First Century

Yuval Harari: Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind

David Graeber: Debt: The First 5000 Years, Melville 2011. (someone should do a wikipage!)