Plein-air Painting

This summer I wanted to do some more painting outside and ‘on location’, also known as Plein-Air painting.

To learn more about landscapes I decided to paint many smaller (15x20cm) paintings, instead of larger paintings that take much longer to finish.

I set a time limit of maximum one hour for each painting. This way you really have to focus and work fast. There’s no time to fiddle with details and it helps to keep the painting loose.


From a small aluminum suitcase and a camera tripod I made a lightweight painting setup.

In the suitcase there’s enough room for everything I need; paint, brushes, a palette and a pile of canvasses that I cut to size and just tape to the inside lid.


Landscape-painting-#3-300714 willem-art

Mountainview in Oppdal, Norway
15×20 cm

Retro illustration

This weeks’s Illustration Friday theme is “retro”.

I really like illustrating in a retro style; starting with an inked pencil sketch, scanning and then adding a few flat color’s in Photoshop.


The inked drawing before colouring:

Portrait-on-easel-inked willem-art

Here’s another one I did recently, with a more modern vector finish:


Sketching in Denmark

We just came back from a long holiday in Denmark. The landscape was very inspiring. We went for many long walks along the beautiful coastline and I always had my sketchbook with me in my backpack.

I have made a lot of drawings that I hope I can turn into larger paintings someday.





A work in progress: portrait painting part I

WIP Portret Harold Speed book Willem Art 6

This is a portrait I’ve been working on today.  I hope to finish the painting tomorrow.

The painting is published in a book by Harold Speed in which he explains the stages of the portrait. I printed a photo of the finished painting and followed the instructions in the book. It was a great exercise, I really learned a lot.

I wanted to take lots of pictures of the work in progress , but I was so busy painting that I forgot to stop and pick up the camera.

WIP Portret Harold Speed book Willem Art 5

Here I painted the clothes in flat colours and did some more work on the nose, mouth and eyes.

WIP Portret Harold Speed book Willem Art 3

Adding a few lights to the hair and softening the edges.WIP Portret Harold Speed book Willem Art 2

Blocking in the background and local color of the hair and the planes of the head.

WIP Portret Harold Speed book Willem Art 1

A loose charcoal drawing, transferred to the canvas with help of a grid.

Harold Speed Oil Painting techniques bookThe book by Harold Speed, originally published in 1924.

Still life with peppers


Still life with peppers
oil on canvas paper
18 x 24 cm

This is a quick color study. It still amazes me how bright and colourful a ‘dull’ color like yellow ochre can appear against a greyed background.

For this sketch I used two earth colours: Venetian Red and Yellow ochre, together with black and white. Ivory black is a blue black, so mixed with yellow it makes green and mixed with red, purple.

The palette I used:


Dutch Landscape Painting


Dutch landscape
Oil on canvas
50×70 cm

December has been a very busy month and this commissioned painting had to be finished and dry(!), before Christmas.

Here’s how I started the under painting.


I liked the way the clouds turned out so I decided to keep them, instead of painting a second layer.

Portrait Sketch #12


Pencil on nostalgia paper

While I normally use Photoshop to crop and edit my drawings, this time I used the free Gimp 2.8 software to see if I could get similar results.

I had been looking for an easy way to apply a halftone effect to my drawings and Gimp has a filter called ‘newsprint’ that can do this. It’s hidden in the distorts menu ( Filters -> Distorts -> Newsprint).

After some trial and error, I ended up with the settings below.

Gimp plugin settings

Cell size is the most important parameter here. The line option in the spot function menu gave also interesting results.

The halftone effect was a little strong, so I duplicated the original layer and applied the plugin to this layer. Then I changed the layer mode to multiply and adjusted the opacity down to 55%.

Gimp Layers Window

Fine Art & illustration