Autumn '18

Clouds over the sea


Study in colorful greys

Lieuwe Kingma: Clouds Over the Sea V, 2015, acrylic / oil on canvas, 39.4 x 39.4 inches (100 x 100 cm)


If you have ever taken the ferry to one of the Frisian Islands off the north coast of The Netherlands, or sailed or hiked there (at low tide), you probably still remember the impact of the enormous space surrounding you.  The low horizon and the big sky full of clouds can make you feel tiny amidst the elements. The light filters through the clouds and reflects on the water, creating countless shades of colorful greys -especially when there are rain showers.


Once a year I visit this area in order to absorb the sensations of space and light, feed my visual memory and reflect. I wait for a cloudy day - preferably one with rain showers – because then the shifting light is at its most beautiful. When I’ve had my fill, I quickly return to the studio to turn these sensations into paint on a canvas or panel.


This has lead to a series titled Clouds over the Sea, which will be part of the new collection I will be showing for the first time during my upcoming private exhibition in our home in November 2015.


Lieuwe Kingma: Clouds Over the Sea I, 2015, acrylic / oil on panel, 19.7 x 19.7 inches (50 x 50 cm)




This landscape, with its horizontal bands of water and land, big sky filled with various cloud shapes and countless hues of colorful greys, is where realism meets abstraction.


This fact particularly strikes me as a painter.  In a moment you can absorb more impressions than you can paint in a lifetime. But what I can paint is a ‘frozen’ image: a recording of my interpretation of a moment, based upon memory and fantasy. I choose to not to work from photos.  As a painter I can leave elements out, or place them elsewhere when it fits better in the composition as a whole. I find it easier to paint when I don’t have the subject in front of me, as I am not distracted by details.




For this series I used a limited pallet of colors: Ivory Black, Titan White, Sky Blue, Van Dyck Brown and Ochre. I mix the colors on the pallet with a pallet knife in order to create a variety of grey hues.  Then I apply the paint on a prepared panel with a pallet knife, sometimes thickly and other times transparently thin, so that the color of the wooden panel shows through and becomes a part of the composition.


Lieuwe Kingma: Clouds Over the Sea IV, 2015, acrylic / oil on panel, 19.7 x 19.7 inches (50 x 50 cm)


In the above picture I used the so called wet-in-wet painting method.  Allow me to explain. Usually paintings are created layer-by-layer, with the artist letting each layer dry for a few days before going further.  In contrast, the wet-in-wet method entails adding layers while the paint is still wet, sometimes in one-and -the-same session.


Painting using the wet-in-wet method is all or nothing. It requires the artist to not be afraid of failure. Frankly, my choice of approach depends on the topic and the mood I am in at the moment. This ‘daring’ way of painting encourages more freshness of style, and a dynamic brush stroke that suits the moving clouds in a windy sky.




First and foremost, nature itself is the source of inspiration. However, I must confess that my way of looking at landscapes is influenced by how other landscape artists have interpreted landscapes through the centuries.


In the 17th- century there was already a strong tradition in Dutch landscape painting.  Artists usually worked in their studio, making use of sketches made on location, fantasy or inspiration from other artists’ work. Some artists were specialists in clouds, others in trees, etc.  There were certain guidelines that artists made use of when creating a landscape painting. For example:


  • To create an illusion of space:  Assume a high view point, low horizon and high sky
  • To suggest great distances:  Include several horizontal planes between the under side of the painting and the furthest horizon and include people, animals, etc. of variable sizes, smaller when further away
  • To suggest depth:  Place trees in the foreground that overlap the background
  • To suggest depth:  Add winding roads and rivers that go on and on before disappearing over the horizon
  • To create a feeling of dramatic space:  Show light falling on the nearby, middle and furthest pieces of land

Two excellent examples of successful use of these guidelines can be seen in
paintings by Jacob van Ruisdael and Philips Koninck. [1]


I am also quite attracted to the work of 19th- century British artist Constable.  He is famous for his landscapes with clouds, which he painted in a dynamic and spontaneous way.


Two examples of my early clouds studies inspired by Constable, made in 1983, oil on paper


Of course we cannot forget the late 19th - century French Impressionists such as Boudin and Sisley. These artists painted outside in order to capture the light of the moment. Their works are full of light, color and joy.


A number of late 19th and early 20th- century Dutch impressionistic painters who followed in the Dutch landscape tradition were members of the so called Hague School. They were true masters of the grey tones. Here are few examples: Mauve, Gabriël  and Weissenbruch.




With all this information and with the inspiration of the moment - checking out clouds and shades of grey all the time - I made this latest series of Clouds over the Sea.


You are cordially invited to come and see this new series at my home in Hilversum during the private exhibition on 14,15 and 21,22 November.


© Lieuwe Kingma, Hilversum, The Netherlands, September 2015


Lieuwe Kingma: Strand 47, 2015, acryl / olieverf op doek, 80 x 100 cm


[1]  Source: Beeldenstorm 2: Close-ups van kunst uit Nederlandse musea, Volume 2 Henk van Os, Amsterdam University Press, 1998 - 190 pages.


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