Thursday, July 22, 2010


After close to two weeks of painting here, we find ourselves venturing farther and farther away from home.  All in the quest for new subject matter.  

Today we walked over to Westerdok, an area to the northwest mixed with old and new houses.  I have painted here before and found some great subject matter, especially with all the white drawbridges and old riverboats.  

But first we did a painting at the end of Keizersgracht, there the large tour boats were doing a 90-degree turn and churning up the water in an interesting pattern.  Just as I sat down on a conveniently placed bench next to start painting, a Brazilian couple sat next to me.  They stayed the entire two hours it took me to finish off the painting; I’ve never had that happen before.  Most loose interest within a few minutes and move one, but to actually watch the entire process requires some stamina that most do not have. These two did! 

Rick, who had set up farther to my right, unfortunately was kicked away.  He had set up in a café’s territory.  Seems like that can be a big taboo.  The flower boxes on the railing indicated that.  Come lunch hour they were anxious to set up all the tables and chairs and not have to deal with a foreign artist in the middle.  He moved over to my bench, to do finish off the best he could with color notes.  The Brazilians relinquished their bench spot for Rich and ordered a coffee from the restaurant.  There they were able to pull their chairs up on the other side of me to continue the show.  He was using his camera to film a step-by-step development of the work. 

Rick had moved on to Westerdok and I stayed for maybe another half hour.  I then announced to the couple that the piece was done, or at least as much as could be done given the time and lighting constraints.  They took photos of the woman next to the painting.  Then one of me………my job was done here, it was time to move on!  I was feeling like a supper hero, actually keeping somebody’s attention for so long 

I headed off to Westerdok and found Rick painting next to a drawbridge.  I walked around a bit more until I landed on this location looking back at bridge that was at the entrance of a canal.  I set up and tried as best I could to capture the light from the moment.  One the horizon dark clouds were building up.  Within an hour the sky had changed from hazy blue to dark purple.  I figured it was time to pack things up, unless I wanted the deluge of nature.  It was five o’clock anyways and the light had changed rather extreme.


Being so far away from home, the public transportation always seems like a prudent idea.  There in lies the dilemma sometimes with an artist.  I take along an eight inch masonry board that I tape one 12x16 canvas to one side for the morning painting and then flip it over and tape another 12 x 16 to the other side for the afternoon. So at the end of the day I have two very wet oil paintings taped to a board that I need to carry in my hand and not hit against anybody or thing.  Public transportation at rush hour is generally not a good result, but nevertheless I was tired and had no intention of walking.  Tram number two from the central station had a line backed up several meters to get into, so Rick and I decided to try number 5.  There are three different trams we could take back to Prinsengracht.  All of which on a weekday at five in the evening become a zoo.  You couldn’t pick a busier time to take a tram back home than at five o’clock.  

We pushed ourselves into the over crowded car as best we could. I held the wet paintings high up in front of me, making a mental note not to touch some bodies black suit.  The problem was that everybody was nicely dressed after working all day and in walks an artist with thick oil paint on both sides of a Masonite board.  Trying to keep globs of wet paint off of people in a sardine packed compartment is a monumental event 

Generally if it scrapes an article of clothing, I’m not going to say anything!  What could I say anyways “Sorry Madam, but your dress is ruined, Cadmium red paint will never come out in the wash!”

 Then again I on the other hand don’t want to have two hours of my painting pressed against bank executives’ three-piece suit.  It’s a fight no matter how you look at it!

Richard Boyer

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