In this series of blogs in trying to give the viewer some insight into how a body of work, around one subject, is created. How do I start a project? What kind of research is needed? What steps can you take towards a series of paintings? I’m not saying that my approach is perfect, I’d say its one of my weakest points probably. But therefore even more interesting to share, hoping on some feedback or tips from the audience.
My work must be two-sided
These are the most recent sketches from my series about Bolsonaro and deforestation. I’m trying to depict recent struggles in the Amazon rainforest. While the Paris Agreement remains ignored by the ‘fresh’ Brazilian president, vast stretches of land are being clear-cut.
Even though the issue concerns me greatly, I try to depict these issues with neutrality. There is money to make and jobs are opening up, there’s no denying that. So instead of showing some kind of terrible tragedy, I try to show the other side. The view of the loggers and entrepreneurs.
Even though I’m trying to make the loggers’ projects seem positive, my personal opinion seeps through every work. There is a danger looming over the works. The works are colorful but almost like a poisonous frog, they are colors of warning.
The love for construction workers
I love drawing construction machines and uniformed men. They become a kind of tribe, with certain rituals and a specific appearance. For some reason, construction workers fascinated me for years. Because I bike around Amsterdam at night very often I see them working on projects by night. They build our world, what we see, how we move around. To me, the construction worker has become a symbol of ‘progress’. But it’s a form of progress I personally don’t support in this case.
In earlier sketches, I used a lot of men in suits as ‘authority’. They looked like the designers of our world, which I think is mostly true. But I think the usage of suits is a bit dull in most cases. Kind of a cliché. I like working with the ‘little man’, The people who have to do the dirty work and are right there on the spot.
Trying to own the subject
By sketching you start to get to know your subjects. I’m starting to fall in love with the pictures I use. The paintings I used to make were directly drawn from pictures. It’s a quick way to work. But by making many sketches I have the feeling I’m starting to own the subject way more. I know how a Caterpillar should look. My dreams are about helmets and reflective striped jackets.
Sketching allows you to make the right choices early on. But for me, more importantly, to make the right mistakes. The mistakes make sure you go beyond your own ideas and plans and elevate your work to something unexpected.