Catching the moment

The other day I noticed a proper painter-with-easel out on the grass of the roundabout around the corner, standing amidst a groups of bright yellow narcissus, catching the late afternoon sun from the west. When I came back with my camera, he had left, nowhere to be seen.

Yesterday I passed a similar situation along the bicycle path: painter with easel, busy painting a scene in the sun. I turned around to check him out.

city painters

Painter at work – Louis Visser on the Middenweg in Amsterdam Watergraafsmeer

I stayed and watch him work for a while and asked a few questions. It turned out it was the same man, he painted at the roundabout as well. He can’t help himself but has to ‘catch the moment’. He goes out on his bike, with his case easel tied to the back, without really knowing what will be the subject or where he will be painting that day. Just touring really. Then, when the scene hits him, he sets up his portable studio and gets cracking.

This image took him one afternoon. Passing the (hidden) canal he was struck by the blossoming magnolia drenched in beautiful sunlight, a favor of spring, he calls it; the flowers and the light making it easy for him.

Still, I think it shows the passion and discipline of a true artist, to just go out there and do it, make the painting. Hundreds of bicycles and pedestrians passing by, him not taking notice, just keep going. His name is Louis Visser, and some of his earlier work is on show with the Kunsthuiskamer, a gallery specialized in modern city painters.

Clicking through the names of artists I came across some interesting paintings, all showing a good eye for light and a love for the city. I made a selection of everyday but brilliant moments in Amsterdam, preserved in oil and gouache, for all of us to witness.

city painters

Jeroen van der Velden – Het Blauwe theehuis – Tea bar in the middle of the Vondelpark

Some images are very precise and seem everyday snapshots, which I love! others show a more romantic impression, which made me think: I know the locations well, they are part of my history with Amsterdam, but seen through the eyes of the painter they appear very poetic, transformed almost, to lively Parisian quarters and rather eerie Hopper streets…

I wonder, the night paintings, are they made on the spot, or afterwards, from a photograph?

city painters

Frans Koppelaar – Westerdok by night

A few paintings show an interesting mix of space, time and media: works of art that show one particular moment in time, not necessarily the moment in which the subject is most attractive, but apparently a moment important enough to preserve it, and not by taking a picture with a camera, no, reproduce it in a time consuming way, i.e. paint it.

This painting of the central train station for example, is, erm, very contemporary if you would compare it to a postcard image of the area.

city painters

Frans Koppelaar – Bouwput CS – The ongoing works at the Central Station of Amsterdam

But! it makes my mind smile: We all know it looked like this for a decade, and thought it would stay this way. Also, it is always nice to look back at the mess you’ve gone through to get the perfect results. (The Before and After concept 😉

Recently I visited the Rijksmuseum, and here’s one of the impressive paintings from the collection, showing exactly that: The canals of Amsterdam under construction.

city painters

Gerrit Adriaensz Berckheyde painted the ‘Bocht van de Herengracht’ in 1671-1672

I l o v e this painting. Since I first saw it, it stayed with me. To me it is an image of possibility and positivity, of growth and construction, showing how the historic centre of Amsterdam is made by men, and had the clean look of suburbia too, once. {By the way, there were trees along the canal, even then. Berckheyde chose to leave them out.}

 

About Wilma Tichelaar

relentless hunter gatherer of soothing beauty, great and small
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