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The making of “Onder Zee” for the "Bloem" exhibition

“Onder Zee” (Under Sea) is a tribute to the similarly named poem by the poet J.C. Bloem and was part of the exhibition in honour of this poet. This exhibition was held in 2017 in the city Alphen aan den Rijn in the Netherlands. 

Part of the assignment that leads to the painting onder zee was to make an art piece that was inspired by the work of the poet J.C Bloem. For me working according to a fixed theme is a challenge. You can read about my first ever experience working with a fixed theme in the blog about the groene hart kunstwedstrijd.

The first step in the process of making this painting was reading J.C. Bloem’s poems in search of a poem that fired up my imagination. When I read the poem “Onder Zee” I imagined a wondrous underwater world. An observer standing on the seabed. Slowly but surely, his gaze following the dark soil with green forest where sunlight barely penetrates, upwards where the brightening water is inhabited by wondrous creatures.

Following my intuition is the main guiding principle for my work. None of the other poems gave me such a clear picture. The choice fell on “Onder Zee”. After some brainstorming on this poem, I knew I wanted to create some sort of underwater world. The next step was the construction of the wooden panel. I found the forms for the panel by sketching loosely what came to mind. You can see a photo of the yet unpainted wood panel below.

After sawing, sanding and adding a couple ground layers of gesso it was time to paint the background. I decided to divide the panel into several sections. On the bottom of the panel, I wanted to create a seabed.  Above the seabed, I started painting the water using dark blue on the bottom and slowly but surely paint lighter shades of blue towards the top.

The exact colours were not conceived in advance but are discovered during the mixing process. I used one of my favourite tools,  sponges to paint the background. Sponges create all kinds of shapes while painting. In these shapes, I see all kinds of creatures emerging. Creatures that I will create during a later phase. Below you can see a photo of just the background.

I wanted to create a seabed with coral and plant on the bottom of this painting. For the corals and plants I first looked at reference material, then I drew them with acrylic markers. This ended the part of the process with the most pre-planned elements.

I was using my regular workflow for the remainder of this painting, letting my intuition guide the way. The rest of the creatures were created using my trusty acrylic markers. You can see a photo of the finished painting below. I hope that the painting “onder zee” will stimulate your imagination as much as it did mine.

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