A 15 minute workshop from Kees van Aalst

How would you tackle this Kees?
I asked Kees because I painted the locks in IJmuiden,
and I was not happy about the end result!
And I liked to know how Kees would solve this problem!!

Kees looked and said, yes … there’s just too much to see!
You should leave more to the viewer.
He grabbed a piece of paper, cartridge paper and his palette.
With a few pencil strokes he put down the main lines, for the painting.
On his palette he mixed three colours with water.
So … her a bit blue, red through it, a little red here leave a few white pieces,
so and so.
All this with 3 cm wide and hard spalter from Da Vinci.
And here’s some Burnt Sienna, and now let it dry.
I do not recognized my boat and my steel factory, I did not see it?
What does he try to show me now?
I looked now and then to my watercolour, which was lying flat on the kitchen table!
Kees went on, now I put dark colours on top of the boat, and the cranes so and so,
Tjak and tjak he says, and I saw the crane arise.
And my boat appeared from the red stain he did made before!
Not that I had carefully detailed my watercolor, but his crane with 5 brushstrokes,
appeared to be more credible than my brushed copy!
Then the steel factory needs some stronger lines.
A few lines and there was my factory!

Hmmm, and so on, Kees said,
As if I could paint like this further.
The painting is not finished yet, but you can see where it goes.
It is not the truth that made it a watercolour,
But it is painted with a artist eye!

I still have to learn a lot, but you get a other perspective on painting!

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  1. jack

    The way of painting of Kees is totaly different than the way that we think about how we will do it. We must lose every detail and thats not easy for a right thinking painter.

  2. genevieve langford

    Only been painting nearly 2 years, practicing and practicing strokes as if they were music scales and then I let loose and don’t think of technique and go for it,
    the hand painting just what is in your inner feeling – so fleeting a feeling that I prefer to do it at speed, not thinking, but feeling. If i do that lots of times it works. THAT,I feel is where the practice also should be. Also I have found that you need to know your subject very well, even if it ends up being an impression. Now I understand the value of sketching and sketching, and also tone which initially I thought were a waste of time. This is what I think, but I am no expert. All I know is that these paintings have truck a chord within me.
    ,I will think up of something different, no doubt. Basically finding my way. In the meantime, these paintings have a struck a chord in me.

    • Hello genevieve langford, Its hard to say something about this.
      Indeed practice and practice again. But a good thing is, you don’t need the most expensive papers or brushes, better invest in good paint that flows! A lot of paintwork I make is on plain sketchbook paper, it makes wonderful textures. One thing is really important, know how wet your brush is, and how much pigment you adding in a wet wash. go for shapes in stead of details, and try not to use more then three colors. They always say cadmium yellow, ultramarine blue, alizarine crimson as the primary colors. but use in stead raw sienna as yellow and indian red as red, and you can use Ultramarine blue in this too! use B&W photos, make up your own colours, try two tone paintings, burnt sienna and winsor blue, or burnt sienna and ultramarine blue, or raw sienna and cobalt violet.

      Thanks for your friendly comments, nice that I struck a chord!
      Regards Edo

  3. I came upon this page. I miss my mentor (teacher) who is dead for many years. He knew
    immediately what was amiss…too “busy”, too much detail, a value problem…like Kees!
    Sal Cascio was an illustrator for GE and well known as a water colorist. He, too, like Kees
    could make a car with about 3 brush strokes.
    Today I spent 40 minutes trying to do a Siamese
    cat with 12 ink strokes! People who can combine
    selective vision with great facility and skill are rare treasures. When they help as a colleague
    and friend they are a treasure.

    • Hello Betty,

      Thanks for making time to write a few lines!
      Really appreciate it!
      Kees is very good in see how things can be less.
      Just with a few brushstrokes, he create a landscape.

      For cats we have the 85 year old Sonja Dwinger in Holland.
      Well she draws and paints.
      She directly paints in watercolor, without sketching.
      Cats, Elephants, apes and all other animals she paints in one wash!

      I did look on your website, and I must say, your paintings look
      very fresh and vibrant! I did like it a lot!

      Regards Edo

      • Betty Pieper

        Long ago (2 years) I commented here and now I just come back, Edo.
        Thank you for looking at my one website and your nice remark.
        And thank you for sending me the link to the beautiful cat by the
        85 year old artist. I am now 75 and hope to paint so well or at least so long!
        Betty Pieper (Elzbieta Zemaitis)

  4. Fantastic experience Edo! Great example of simplifying the problem and making strong statement. Kees is very experienced artist and I bet his workshop was worth it.

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