Category Archives: inspiration

A visit to The Zorn Museum

Anders Zorn (1860-1920) is one of Sweden’s most accomplished artists and one of my favourite painters. He was a master at not overworking the painting and make the work seem effortless.

Anders Zorn’s hometown, the small village of Mora is also where the museum is located, about a three-hour’s drive from where I live in Norway.

Zorn-House

The day at the museum started with a guided tour of the house where Zorn lived with his wife Emma. It soon became clear they were a very wealthy family. Already in 1914 they had electricity and a wired communication system in every room of the house. They also had a telephone (number 4), central heating and one of the first refrigerators that was imported from America.

The guide told us that Zorn from the beginning wasn’t afraid to charge high prizes for his portraits. Many celebrities and royalties came to visit and stay at the house. He was certainly not living up to the starving artist myth!

It was not allowed to take pictures in the house. If you visit the museum it’s definitely worthwhile to take the tour. It gives a very good impression of the artist and how they lived and worked at that time.

Zorn-Museum

The museum next to the house displays the largest collection of Zorn’s work. Although he is best known as a painter, he was also a master wood-carver and sculptor. I was amazed by how many of his watercolors, such as The Grandmother , almost looked like oil paintings.

Zorn-Grandmother

To stand in front of a large Zorn painting is an amazing experience. Up close, the painting looks fast and effortlessly painted. The bold brushstrokes seem fuzzy and random, but from a few steps back the picture becomes sharp and vivid.

The visit to the museum was a great opportunity to study Zorn’s work and I took many photos.

Zorn-selfportrait

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Zorn-Portrait-detail

My Workplace

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I’m lucky to have a dedicated workplace in the garden. It has been a long time dream and last year I finally had the time to transform the old gardenshed into a painting studio. It’s about 25m2 and fully insulated. A small gas heater heats up the room quickly in the winter.

Working from home can get a bit lonely now and then, but there are many advantages as well. Today was the first day of snow, there came about 15 cm, and on such days I don’t miss the commuting to work. While I was painting a small deer came walking by the window.

The painting studio doubles as a music studio. I teach guitar on tuesday evenings and write songs here. There’s even enough space for rehearsals with the band.

I like to have a organized workplace without too many distractions. It’s not always as tidy as on the photo’s, but everytime I start a new project I have to get rid of all the old stuff first.

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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.

Sketching-in-Denmark-4

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Sketching-in-Denmark-1

Sketchbook Page

Sketchbook-page-Willem-art

I have a little 10x15cm Muji notebook that I carry with me. They’re not as high quality as for example Moleskines, but I kind of like the slightly yellow paper in the Muji. I only use the right hand pages.

They’re also cheap. I buy them in bulk and I’m not afraid to fill up the books fast with all kinds of ideas, as I was with the more expensive Moleskines.

This is a page I made today during my lunch break.

The guy in the lower drawing could have been me, craving for a large dutch ‘Patatje met’: thick cut fries with lots of mayonnaise! It doesn’t quite taste the same at Mc Donalds…

Why I’m still using a typewriter

People always smile when they see an old-fashioned typewriter on my desk. It’s a portable Olivetti Lettera 22 in excellent condition. I bought it for about 15 dollars at an antique market, ordered a box of ribbons from eBay and I have written many, many pages since.

I do use a computer for editing and layout, but for first drafts and getting thoughts down on paper, nothing beats the good old typewriter. Maybe handwriting – many writers still prefer  writing longhand – but I can’t stand my own handwriting.

Some advantages of writing on a typewriter:
  • No distractions (the most important one).
  • The feeling of creating something tangible.
  • Editing and adding notes with a pencil.
  • Separating the drafting stage from editing stage.
  • Composing a line before committing it to the page.
  • I feel like I’m ‘working’, it’s more physical.
  • The smell of typewriter oil.
  • The result doesn’t disappear in zeros and ones somewhere on a disk.
  • No power cord or batteries to keep charged.
  • No glare when sitting outside.
And the one that I like best: “Look, what I’m typing appears immediately on the paper! No need to print…or sync notes, find cables, pair blue tooth or refill printers with low toner…”

A step back in time can be a step forward in productivity.
1953 Buick Special

Finding Inspiration

1953 Buick Special rmwillustration

While I usually don’t wait for inspiration to come before I start drawing or painting, there’s often a clear  “aha” moment somewhere in the process. 

When I create something -it can be song, a painting, a story- there has to be an idea, some kind of spark to get started.

Inspiration can come while I’m alone or in a room full of people. It can be anything really. Something somebody said,  a look or pose, the branches of a tree, an abstract pattern.

When I’m lost for ideas, taking an “artistic break” from working always helps -especially when I’ve been struggling to get it right.

I like walking around the neighborhood with a camera, or driving around at night with a pile of CD’s on the passengers seat (that’s my old 1953 Buick there on the picture).

A break put things in perspective, I get a distance from the work and suddenly I know which direction to take. 

Maaiende Boer, 1885, Peasant Reaping Corn, Van Gogh

Van Gogh Drawings

Maaiende Boer, 1885, Peasant Reaping Corn, Van GoghArenlezende Boerin, 1885, Woman Gleaning, Van Gogh
I found these two prints of van Gogh drawings in an used&antique store. I spotted them the moment I walked in the door. The drawings are professionally framed by O.M. Knudsen in Oslo.
On the back there are labels that say in Dutch and English:
Arenlezende Boerin, 1885, Woman Gleaning
Maaiende Boer, 1885, Peasant Reaping Corn

Moo Minicards

Moo is an online printing service that makes it very easy to create unique business cards, postcards and more. I decided to order the minicards to promote my portfolio.

On the front I had designed a simple black and white logo with my shop address. I uploaded a few of my original drawings and paintings to go on the back.

The cards arrived in a nice box. I’m very satisfied with the ordering process and print quality. I’ll be soon ordering some postcards!