Landscape painting- brief history

Here  I want to take a brief look at the history, or rather a lineage, of landscape painters chronologically, without going to much into detail or biography of the artists, to gain a better understanding of the development of the genre.

ALBRECH DURER (1471-1528)

Albrecht Durer was a painter and printmaker of the German Renaissance. He is found to be the first painter to paint Landscape as a subject.


I find it quite fascinating how contemporary these watercolor landscapes from the 15 th century look. I like that the houses in the foreground are left in pencil and the unfinished style of the top left painting.

 Albrecht Durer was one of the Northern European artists that had the most contact to the Italian Renaissance artists. He was corresponding with Leonardo da Vinci and Raphael and visited Italy twice as well. Influenced by this, he was the first Northern European artist to introduce nudes and perspective drawing into his work.


He got famous already in his twenties for his incredibly detailed and high quality woodcut prints and elevated this medium to become its own art form.


He also painted many simple motives from nature in watercolor , like this one- Young Hare,  still on of the most reproduced motives in the world:


Another of his most well known works today  is “Praying hands”, a pen and ink drawing, also still one of the most reproduced motives of art history:


These watercolours were revolutionary in the choice of simple subjects- a piece of turf and simple field flowers :


CLAUDE LORRAIN (1604/5- 1682)

Claudie Lorrain although originated from Lorraine, later part of France,  was mainly living and painting in Italy. He is a painter of the Baroque era, where landscape was a major subject, but very idealized and staged. He often included small figures in his paintings, also to elevate the subject to the more prestigious history or mythos painting, but they were never his main focus or strength as a painter. He was the first known artist to include the sun as the source of light in the painting itself. He often sketched at dawn or dusk, and many of his sketches are still available today as well.

These paintings are perfect for studying foreground/ middleground and background. They are layered and built up like a carefully framed stage with clear although dark foreground and then successively smaller,less sharp and detailed objects receding into a lighter background, giving a great sense of depth.


The German Romantic painter Caspar David Friedrich’s works do not have that surrounding carefully arranged frame. The landscapes seem to continue beyond the frames of the painting endlessly, we just see a small piece. Here too, if there is a human figure, it is very small and often alone. The nature is dominant and often with an overwhelming, powerful and sometimes fear inducing grandeur. The painter was a very religious man and here God manifests through nature, this is a look of awe to nature. The lonely monk or lonely tree is very small. Caspar David Friedrich often painted edges- the edge of a cliff, of a forest, the edge of light of the day.


Wwwbcedu. 2016. Wwwbcedu. [Online]. [2 December 2016]. Available from:

 William Turner ( 1775 –  1851)

William Turner was a British Romanticist painter , contemporary to Caspar David Friedrich. He painted in oil, but also many watercolor works. Here too nature is shown as grand and awe inspiring. Especially in the later works, colours are claiming a life and meaning of their own, the mood of the painting becomes more important than a precise rendition. This is a precursor to the Impressionist movement emerging.

Nationalgalleryorguk. 2016. Nationalgalleryorguk. [Online]. [2 December 2016]. Available from:

James Abbott McNeill WHISTLER (1834 –  1903)

The American born but Britain based artist Whistler is known for portraits and etchings as well, but what interests me most for this chapter about landscape are his “Nocturne” paintings, or  “moonlights” as he also called them- landscape paintings in a misty nighttime. He painted the first three of these night time landscape paintings during a trip to Chile, but then developed the theme in London and Venice during the next ten years, always in a misty blue and green palette.

It is interesting to see the unsharp lack of details the night light allows. The top right painting is a firework and is paint flicked on the canvas. There is a lot of atmosphere in these paintings. A new idea to develop for this chapter- landscape in the night.

Jamesabbottmcneillwhistlerorg. 2016. Jamesabbottmcneillwhistlerorg. [Online]. [27 November 2016].


CLAUDE MONET (1840-1926)

Claude Monet was one of the founders of the Impressionist movement. Here landscape painting is focused on the light, on the changing of the seasons and moods of the landscape, giving an impression, a feeling rather than a precise description.

I grew up in Paris and remember visiting Monet’s house and gardens in Giverny that are now a museum and being very impressed by the paintings . They are so easy to love, with the beauty of the motives, and the incredible light. For me a good reminder not to get too hang up on details and focus on the mood of drawings instead.


PAUL CEZANNE (1839-1906)

I already took a closer look at the French Post- Impressionist artist Paul Cezanne for the last chapter on still life, but it is worth mentioning him here again in a lineage of influential landscape painters. He painted his home region of Provence in every light , season and mood. He painted an incredible amount of paintings of the mountain Mont St Victoire alone. His analytical approach to painting , building up the image with patches of color and light, paved the way for modern art, greatly influencing Picasso and Braque , the Cubist movement. Picasso is famously known to have said about Cezanne, that “he is the father of us all”

Author: james voorhies. 2016. The Met’s Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. [Online]. [2 December 2016]. Available from:

L.S LOWRY (1887-1976)

The British artist Laurence Stephen Lowry painted mainly industrial or urban landscapes as well as some seascapes and fantasy landscapes. He grew up in an industrial area where factory chimneys were a part of the landscape. Here too, the human figures are not detailed, they appear almost as stickfigures at times and although there are often a lot of figures, the surrounding landscape is always the dominating feature.

Tateorguk. 2016. Tate. [Online]. [27 November 2016]. Available from:

So this became a very short overview from what is called the beginning of landscape painting as a genre, with Albrecht Duerer, with a glimpse of Baroque with Claude Lorrain, Romanticism in Germany with Caspar David Friedrich and in England with William Turner. Colour and form slowly take over as we move into the Impressionist movement with Claude Monet and Post- Impressionism with Paul Cezanne to arrive at industrial landscapes with L.S Lowry. I will continue looking at contemporary landscape painting in a separate post.






MAAT Lisbon

Today I visited the new Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology that opened just last month in Lisbon. It is housed in a new massive impressive shipformed building as well as  in the old brick building beside it, that used to be the main electricity factory of Lisbon. These two buildings have very different atmospheres and now showed a total of six very different exhibitions to celebrate the opening of this new museum.



The huge new building housed only one of the 6 exhibitions- “PYNCHON PARK” by Dominique Gonzalez- Foerster. On display was one single big fenced in area with rubber Pilates balls, that the spectators can move around and play with.


“Pynchon Park is the first site specific intervention specially conscieved for the Museum of Art Architecture and Technology’s new building. Focusing on the duality of Utopia/ Dystopia artist Dominique Gonzalez Foerster created a fictional environment that with nearly 1000 square meters, occupies MAAT’s oval gallery in it’s entirety.”

“Pynchon Park is proposed as a setting for an alien species to observe human behaviour in the best possible conditions”

“Pynchon Park ” appears as a new piece in which the artist brings together several media- sculpture, sound, light, performance- with classical literary references and dystopian ideas from the realm of science fiction.”

Text from the wall panels surrounding the installation and repeated in the exhibition catalogue.

So I understand that this is an internationally acclaimed artist that has previously done massive installations in Tate Modern, London and elsewhere. And yes, I can maybe get the hint at the duality of some kind of fun park, but then being fenced in as in a refugee camp. But I must confess that this type of conceptual art is something I still don’t understand. I still want something visually appealing or intriguing or in some ways triggering . After all the media hype from the opening- placing Lisbon on the map of ART and CULTURE and making it an international art DESTINATION- well this just felt like a huge disappointment. Hopefully further studies will make me more sensitive and open to this type of conceptual art…



Rui Calcada Bastos photographs and films abandoned objects and through them records his own trajectory through the world.

“The work of RCB compels us to approach the world as a reality that is close to us, but that remains mysterious and unexpected. The territory of otherness and difference is always strange, it is that very strangeness that attracts and repels following rhythms that are impossible to establish, but are determined by the insatiable desire to circumscribe and conquer it. ” (Hm?)

This was the exhibition that I found most interesting today. There were some very simple beautiful huge format photographs of abandoned or disappeared objects, like here the nail in the wall where a rosary has hung so long that it has left a shadow in the paint, or a simple crack in a white wall, or a concrete border.

These photographs were bigger than me, and left a trace of melancholy and wonder.

I also found really interesting this whole wall made up of a city map, that upon closer inspection was a collage of places from several cities, like Lisbon, Berlin, Paris, Stockholm, Riga… There were loudspeakers installed in the map with a continuos sound of walking steps.




Charles and Ray Eames are among the most famous designers of the 20th Century, and it was beautiful to see an overview of their work here, featuring their input in design of objects, furniture, architecture, graphic design as well as new models for education.

The exhibition was made up mainly of many photographs and short films, and some  furniture and objects. Here are some pieces in bent plywood, a revolutionary idea at the time.


I was most attracted to a wall with the covers of the magazine Art and Architecture from the years 1942-47. Ray Eames designed a total of 26 covers. I found the collages and juxtaposition of images and scribbles inspiring.

A whole other room was dedicated to the Eames collaboration with the Indian Government to create new models of education and a Design Institute in Ahmedabad, India. A sentence from the Bhagavad Gita , that the Eames resonated with : “you have the right to work, but for the works sake only, you have no rights to the fruits of work. Desire for the fruits of work must never be the motive for working ” Process is everything! A very good reminder for me too – the process is everything 🙂


Eduardo Batardas exhibition featured 30 paintings with 646 text fragments that represented a selection of T- shirt fronts.

“The artist uses a combination of painting and text that have always coalesced in his work throughout his fifty- year career. The artist uses their combination to hold the viewer’s attention, making it clear that art is time-demanding as it is a permanent challenge to the viewer’s knowledge and information. His complex pantings work as statements against ignorance and stupidity.”

Well after this introduction, it is obviously embarrassing to write that here again was an exhibition I did not get…Neither the visual all, nor the text fragments were in any way really speaking to me.


I am currently really attracted to text, paintings or drawings with text and the art of scribbling. But this was just not a work that I felt moved by.


The last part of the museum features an exhibition about the old electric works that were originally here, with many old machines and interactive devices to teach kids about electricity.

I was already prepared to quicken my pace out of here, as this was not what I would want to spend my precious Saturday on, when I unexpectedly found myself so attracted to the surfaces, shapes and patterns of the old machines , that I ended up staying here the longest and took many many photographs .

Contemporary landscape

When starting on the exercises for this part of the course, I realized how very clicheed my view of landscape art is. It seems like any other subject gives more space to creativity and experimentation. Here I will research some artists with the aim to challenge that idea.


I already wrote about Georgia O’Keeffe for Part 1, but drawing clouds, I want to take a closer look at her series “Sky above Clouds” from 1962-65, inspired by her looking at clouds from an airplane.8222_3885747

Articedu. 2016. Articedu. [Online]. [14 October 2016]. Available from:

This painting is monumental in size and I can imagine the effect it would have to see it real. But even looking at it on the screen gives me a sense of expansion and infinity, also of enthusiasm. There is something childlike happy and hopeful in these gentle colours and simple forms fading to the pink horizon.It gives me the feeling of lightness and fluffy feelings even if there is nothing fluffy about these clear shapes.


The Latvian – American artist Vija Celmins has a very different approach. Her drawings of the sky or ocean are in grey with meticulous detail, reminding me of photographs.

Tateorguk. 2016. Tate. [Online]. [14 October 2016]. Available from:

None of her drawings have an horizon. I would have called her works realistic, but reading about it and watching various videos where she explains her work, I realize the meticulous detail leads the viewer to another reality.

“The intention is to make a fat, full form. Between the paper surface and the volume of all those things like memory and actual three-dimensional space, and how we experience the world, is where the chance to build the form comes. It looks like a narrow space from the outside, but once you get in there and start to work it gets bigger … I’ve found a way of building the space, letting in light, keeping the image close to the surface, moving the eye along, with small strokes that keep their integrity. ”
(Quoted in Drawing as Thinking, [pp.1-2].)



I could not believe that these drawings are with chalk on blackboard- it is magnificent! What an idea! I am amazed by the variety of tone she manages to draw and how realistic it looks.

Here the mountain range is reduced to its geometrical shape, but there is still enough detail and variety of tone to make it look almost like a black and white photograph. I would love to see this in real.

Dramatic clouds on a chalkboard:



Here I like how Tacita Dean has divided the subject in many smaller portions, the frames adding  an element of composition.  Again a fascinating play of tones and shapes with so many layers and depth.

Mariangoodmancom. 2016. Marian Goodman Gallery Website. [Online]. [9 November 2016]. Available from:


Wayne Ashton is an Australian contemporary writer and artist. I came across his landscape drawings while looking for something more scribbled and less realistic.

Some of these drawings remind me of the exercises in expressing an emotion at the beginning of this course. I like this combination of “careless” scribble and storytelling. I am still not at the point of being able to accept a drawing like this from myself, as I feel I have to learn to draw “right”, but I keep looking for more lightness and spontaneity and feel attracted to this.

His “Pinski series” is a series of paintings about a traveling dog.

It is like a storybook for adults in paintings. I would see this rather as huge illustrations I believe, but I still like the happy colors and fantasy surroundings. The Black and white drawings are what I find more interesting though.


I was more familiar with Gerhard Richters abstract work, but he has also painted incredible more realistic works with the Alps, water and clouds .

These abstract paintings carry the title “Wald”,  forest:

I am not sure that these paintings evoke a forest for me, I would rather feel some city chaos, with billboards and rain and some blurred vision through a window or carwindow, but they certainly draw in my attention and awaken my curiosity to look deeper and further into them.

These works from the series “Alps” are very much more realistic in comparison.

Very different this graphite sketch on canvas mountain


In contrast these older ink prints from the series “Elbe”, the river, are abstract paperworks, evoking the dull and grey flow of the river through an industrial landscape.

Gerhard-richtercom. 2016. Gerhard-richtercom. [Online]. [21 November 2016]. Available from:

It is quite amazing to see how Gerhard Richter has explored so many media and various ways of painting. He says that everything he does is unconscious, he doesn’t plan a subject matter beforehand and does not know what it means. It is the work of others to find the right words to describe it afterwards.


Nicolas Herbert is a British abstract landscape artist, that I have seen mentioned in many of my co students blogs. He mainly paints the Chiltern Hills in mixed media.


Although I have never visited the Chiltern Hills, it feels like I can feel this dreamlike soft but somewhat mysterious landscape through these paintings and I definitely like the mood.


Lars Möllers approach to landscape is in fact very much in line with the landscapes I imagined -not very surprising: realistically rendered beaches, waves, stones. But although not so thrilling, I still find myself attracted to the incredibly tactile and physical way he paints water. It is very much alive and not boring at all.

Alphabetade. 2016. Lars Möller. [Online]. [21 November 2016]. Available from:


Geroge Shaw paints a suburbian landscape , in Humbrol enamel on MDF. The views are of ordinary everyday suburbian subjects but interestingly cropped, leaving a curiosity for what is just outside the picture frame. There is an intriguing story in the paintings, with human presence just there outside the border of the painting, a feeling that something is just about to happen, or that it just did.


This potential story is even clearer in Shaws new series “My back to Nature”, with a cloth, or some paint or broken twigs in the woods surrounding a city. There is a dark tone in the paintings, but also something so familiar.



Seeing George Shaws work really opened up some new ideas for landscape drawing for me. It inspires me to take a new look at my immediate surroundings here, instead of searching for more pure nature for the landscape assignment.

Images from George Shaws facebook page


Simon Hopkinson explores his urban landscape around Bristol, often painting underground tunnels with graffiti. His style is brighter, less realistic too.

“I think that unpopular features like concrete and decay are often beautiful, despite representing modern malaise”.

In some of the paintings there is a person, mostly walking away from the spectator, or a car or the light shining, showing that a person is around. The atmosphere here is not so gloomy, you can feel the beauty in the concrete and in the unassuming features of the buildings. Again these paintings open up new ideas for landscape drawing.

Simonhopkinsonartcouk. 2016. Simon Hopkinson Art. [Online]. [21 November 2016]. Available from:

I realize my research has brought me mainly to the UK and also to Germany (see separate blog post about German lanscape art as well), so now I will broaden the geography somewhat.


Matthew Metzger is a young American artist painting clouds and sea. There is a huge leap from the suburbian landscapes we were just looking at to these perfect idealized clouds- both is landscape and both is beautiful, but if I could paint one thing it would be the beauty in everyday concrete. This research is right now helping me to clarify the unsatisfaction I have been feeling while drawing idyllic cork and olivetrees 🙂

“Matthew Metzger is an artist, designer and furniture maker. In his most recent series of paintings he mixes his own paints using natural materials such as limestone, marble, slate, iron, titanium, clays and minerals combined with oils and egg, transforming them into sensorial, abstract images of light, atmosphere and landscape. This combination of natural materials with the ethereality of a soft atmosphere presents a tension between materiality and illusion”

Metzgerfineartscom. 2016. Metzgerfineartscom. [Online]. [21 November 2016]. Available from:


Michael Ward is an American artist painting the ordinary in his southern California surroundings.

“I am most interested in depicting what Alan Watts called the mystery of the ordinary; the workaday world we live in without seeing until we are forced to focus upon it, as in a painting.”


These paintings seem so realistic, they almost look like photographs, but they are painted from a series of photographs and often don’t quite fit- it is still a fantasy landscape made up of small pieces of realism.

Tmichaelwardcom. 2016. Tmichaelwardcom. [Online]. [21 November 2016]. Available from:


Robert Bubels is  Polish artist painting his often snowy surroundings, again searching for the beauty in the every day encounter,  like  a snap shot of persons he cares for. (

I really like the somewhat awkward poses of the persons. The often strong diagonal lines and directions in the landscapes add dynamic and movement.


John Rydberg is a Swedish artist painting suburban landscapes as well, but with a dark humor and naive approach.


The title of this painting is ” the cleaning ladies”.

There is something “off” with the geometry here, and also a gloomy slightly threatening atmosphere, despite the celebratory flags.

Johnrydbergse. 2016. Johnrydbergse. [Online]. [21 November 2016]. Available from:


I discovered the young South Corean artist Gyunghwa Roh through Saatchi Galleries website, and found her work very different from most other artists represented. She paints her dreams, often landscapes, in a “drawing” style.

It has something of illustrations for a children’s book, but then there is some dark  atmosphere to the work. (pictures from the artists Facebookaccount)


The Indian artist Samiran Sarkar has a long list of exhibitions and international awards , but I found many of his works very simple and kitchy- postcard beautiful pretty flowers and sunsets. Some of the paintings have a deeper quality to them though, and I especially like his city scapes that are less prone to being overly “pretty”.

Fineartamericacom. 2016. Fine Art America. [Online]. [22 November 2016]. Available from:


The Russian artis Marat Cherni draws with gouache on vintage bookpages that he collages together. His style seems urban, street art inspired, it is a different way of scribbling. The drawings sometimes have a sticker or print character. I loved his old books backgrounds and want to explore more drawing on old newspapers, maps, books.

Saatchiartcom. 2016. Saatchi Art. [Online]. [22 November 2016]. Available from:

This research has given me the chance to find a lot of new artists that I enjoyed exploring, and find many great inspiring ideas of how to continue with this chapter. It has also defined more clearly how I do NOT want to explore landscape. I have already started on a too boring, traditional,realistic path and find all the more experimental approaches more interesting. Also my idea of “landscape” was definitely connected to pure nature, trees and clouds, but now includes suburbian and city scapes. I feel drawn to look for some concrete and graffitti with some cracks where plants emerge, rather than stunning fields and trees 🙂



Art In Marrakech

My week in Marrakech was focused on meetings and tasks around the COP22, so there was not much time really exploring the Moroccan art scene. I still encountered some art works  in the International Art and Culture Pavillion of the COP22 itself though, that I will share here.

All the works were related to Climate change , as this is the topic of the whole conference, and conveyed a rather gloomy ,scary atmosphere. I liked the layering and use of letters in this abstract landscape  by Moroccan artist Abderrahmanne Ouardane. I have been sketching on newspapers lately, and was attracted to this much more elaborate way of using different layers of text and scraps of newspapers with paint. I really like the beauty of the Arabic script as well, although I don’t understand the language.


I liked the combination of traditional patterns with a very modern look of this painting by Aicha Aherdane, also from Morocco:


It is like a swirl of the traditional henna art that has taken a rather spiky threatening metamorphosis.


I was touched by  this portrait by Oussama Mahassine, Morocco, using various techniques from the Pop art era, lettering, print, the dots, letters standing out from the surface of the canvas. I really like the mood of the painting with the connection between the woman’s expression and the storks nestling on her head.


This Globe called “Immigration” by Moroccan artist Mohammed Zouzaf  has something very simple and childlike, reminding me of an Easter egg, but it also reminds me of the various different patterns of different African regions and cultures, of arbitrarily drawn lines across the globe and I found it joyful and funny in the midst of many gloomy exhibits,

some of which were just too litteral – like this sculpture “Carbon Foot Print” by Swiss/ Syrian artist Houda Terjuman:


Or this exploded mannekin in combat boots on a pile of charcoal by El Mehdi Mofid:img_0298


There were quite a few artists working in colourful cartoon like versions, with words like “Danger”, “Pollution” etc, like this painting by Soleimane Konate, Ivory Coast:


Maybe these can be useful rather as illustrations for an unaware public.


I found this huge colourful painting by Farah Chaoui taking another step to a more personal expression, although she too used words as land and water in French and English as well the map of Africa , like many others.



This was a weird and rather unpleasing sculpture of blue plastic tubes by Nissrine Seffar, France/Morocco, that definitely produced a reaction in me and both clearly and emotionally tied in to themes like water shortage, draughts, floods and climate change.

The cultural pavilion also featured a string of concerts and performances that were a beautiful break from the far too stiff and corporate other parts of the Conference:


All over Marrakech, there were public works tying in to the Conference and the theme of Climate Change. Solar panels lined the freshly paved highway and the roofs of the Mosques, there was a new public garden in the centre of town with sculptures made of recycled materials.


This is “Labyrinth” made of compressed plastic bottles by artist Soukaina Aziz El Idsrissi. I found it rather shapeless and unharmonious, a little like a container port in the middle of town, although I appreciate the message and awareness it can create.

This globe made out of bicycle wheels was a more pleasing optimistic sculpture by Rachid Assiraj:


And I really had to chuckle at this cascade of aluminium nipples by Mohamed Mourabiti, in a country where every sight of a nipple is carefully hidden under layers of clothing and scarves in any weather:




Totally unrelated to the conference, I stumbled upon the BcK Gallery currently exhibiting the Malaysian “scribble artist” Vince Low.

Although I didn’t find the subjects creative, as they are for the most part copying famous photographs of famous people, I was very fascinated by the technique.

It is all wildly scribbled in ink with an incredible dynamic and movement . I found it very inspiring and will try sketching with this scribble technique now.


Although I didn’t have a chance to see his work live while in Marrakech, I will take a look at the paintings by Moroccan artist Abdelaziz Lkhattaf here, as he is one of the most internationally well known contemporary Moroccan artists, and paints a very contemporary , almost abstract form of landscape.

I can definitely see the shapes and colours of Morocco here, the dust, the sand and the very square shapes of the settlements and at the same time a gentle dreamlike imaginary world.


These make me think of the cloud paintings by Georgia O Keeffe. For me a reminder to approach the landscape subject with more innocence and spontaneity 🙂



German contemporary landscape

Researching contemporary lanscape has brought me to discover a whole new range of artists that I had not heard about before, but whose art I find really inspiring.

I am in Germany right now, so I start by exploring what is happening in German contemporary landscape art.


I am fascinated by Gisela Krohn’s huge format oil paintings of trees. I have just been busy drawing trees in a rather boring way, and seeing how she explores the subject in an explosion of life and colour definitely opens up new paths.

The paintings are like a close up of a part of the forest that is continuing over the edges of the canvas. I love the play of light with the depth that adds, and how such a quiet still scene comes alive with dynamism and movement through vibrant colours. I also find that  although beautiful, it is not overly sweet or romantic, there is a wide range of emotions here.

Gisela Krohn mainly paints trees and forest, but some water and waterfalls too recently. They remind me more of an impressionist approach and I feel less touched than by the tree paintings.


Giselakrohnde. 2016. Giselakrohnde. [Online]. [5 November 2016]. Available from:


I was not immediately charmed by the landscape paintings by Hans Jorg Holubitschka. They seem rather straightforward and kitschy, with light blue sky and rivers and green grass. But then I read and realized that they are fantasy landscapes, montages between several places at once and playing with our preconceived ideas about how a landscape should look. There is this strong feeling of deja-vu, of already having seen that precise landscape on a postcard, but then that falls apart upon closer inspection.

This is not a way I would like to draw, but I like the idea of the fantasy landscape and will play with that for the landscape exercises.

Galeriewittenbrinkde. 2016. Galeriewittenbrinkde. [Online]. [5 November 2016]. Available from:


Kim Reuter’s drawings and paintings are maybe not strictly lansdcapes-most often they contain persons or signs of persons like bicycles or a boat, and in many works these are the main subjects rather than the landscape. Her current exhibition that will be traveling through many German towns over the next months is called “Quiet time”, and that is really the feeling I get from her beautiful art work- quiet, peace, harmony. There is a simplicity in the scenes, in the colours and in the stories she tells that is very quietly beautiful.

From discovering this artist I carry with me the idea to incorporate humans and more storytelling in the landscape drawings.

Kimreuterde. 2016. Kimreuterde. [Online]. [5 November 2016]. Available from:


Peter Thol extends the concept of landscape to urban landscapes as well, and sometimes to details like a red roof. I like that surprising choice of subject most of all, a random crossing with cars, a roof that attracts your attention. I also really liked discovering his still life paintings with objects placed plainly on a neutral background, like blouses on hangers, cutlery or here, a red paperbag closely cropped. His more traditional landscape paintings are very calm and beautiful , but I find them less interesting.

Copyright by peter thol. 2016. Petertholde. [Online]. [7 November 2016]. Available from:

Ellen Strasser

Ellen Strasser is a German painter currently sharing her time between Munich and her studio in the beautiful Italian countryside of Castelnuovo di Porto by Rome, where I am lucky enough to visit her for a couple of days now.

We were close friends while studying in Munich, Germany, and although we don’t meet very often we have remained very good friends all these years. Ellen studied painting while I studied Photography . I used to love spending time in her studio with the smells of oil paints, and the longing back to that studio has been with me for these last 25 years and probably finally got me to start this course!

She has an amazing studio space flooded by light- with some pictures of us 25 years ago 🙂

She is working both with large oil paintings and smaller paper works that are collages which are a combination of drawn elements and found items.

I have always just loved her art!

One thing that I am very inspired by is the joy and spontaneity with which Ellen approaches the painting. She starts with abstract shapes and colours and then keeps turning the canvas around looking for shapes that become meaningful.

Today we were turning this big canvas in all directions, with some pink plantlike background growth and bright yellow dragonflies/ fairies/ blossoms appearing.


The grey black painting to the right was one of her favorites painted in Germany, but in the transport to Italy, the plastic wrapping damaged the canvas. Ellen saw this as a happy accident and emphasized every dot caused by the wrapping, till it changed the painting to some more print like art work:


These two paintings are not finished yet. The blue and pink one is a collage on canvas, the orange one is one of the very rare figurative paintings Ellen is doing. Mostly she works in rather abstract paintings with some recognizable shapes appearing, angels, birds, flapping wings, but the shapes or subject matters are never clearly defined.

There is always something dreamlike or romantic in the paintings, but then some other element will add something slightly disturbing- the shape of the head is not quite human,  a cage on the throat of the bird, the pink flowers morphing into something threatening, flesh eating  perhaps. Besides the simply beautiful colours , these contrasts are what attracts me to her paintings. There is always an in-between, an unsettling sense of unfinished or not yet understood , that attracts me.

In her collages, Ellen uses both some personal drawings and some cut out images from magazines that she sometimes paints over. It was useful for me to see how lightly she deals with ready made images and draws all kind of different separate elements and then just sees if they fit, like a puzzle.

I am just so happy to be here these few precious days. Besides it being wonderful to connect to a dear friend, I feel so inspired by her art and her way of working !




Francis Bacon. Invisible rooms

This weekend, I visited the exhibition “Francis Bacon. Invisible rooms” in Staatsgalerie Stuttgart, Germany. Francis Bacon is such a well known artist, that his paintings lingered vaguely somewhere in my memory, but it was the first time that I really looked into his work.

The exhibition contained a large number of huge paintings and some smaller drawings .

I find this rather difficult to write, as Francis Bacon is such a respected artist, but I have a really hard time appreciating his art. I find much of it rather repulsive, but then not repulsive enough to really make me feel. There is a dark undertone to all the mutilated views of humans and flesh, despair and fear in the screams, the open mouths of anguish, the faces that drip away in a wash. And somewhere I can see the genius in there. I  do not only appreciate art that is all beauty and fairytales, I want it to make me feel dark feelings too. But there is something in this esthetic that passes me by, I can not appreciate it.

I did find interesting the way Francis Bacon divides the picture plane with squares, or various geometrical forms, cages and the way he thereby places the subject in the room. This is something to experiment with.


He also paints many works in triptychs, which I really liked and will experiment with as well- remembering to draw in little series.

A picture of the artists studio:


There were several pictures of the studios through the exhibition, all extremely chaotic. This chaos helped Francis Bacon see parts of reality more clearly.

I enjoyed the small drawings and sketches on various scrap papers or letters or in books and have already started sketching more on random papers- this seems to be a recurring theme right now.

Accompanying the exhibition was a 55 min movie with an interview of the artist, that left me just as untouched. I will be curious to go back to this artist a little later in my studies and check if some new understanding has emerged.