En Plein Air

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En Plein air.

You paint, or perhaps not, and you would want to paint outside. Never done it before but somehow you feel the calling. So you gather your newly bought field easel, your paint brushes and smaller tubes of paint because you prepared yourself well and don’t want to carry extra load, and head of to a local spot of beauty to paint. The weather is awesome, the birds are singing, butterflies are playing around and you feel good. You prepare your mini pallet, have a quick drink of water and are ready to start. Then it hits you, you never done this before. How do you start? You have so many years of experience, you know your stuff, but somehow, sitting here with the warm breeze around your neck, you get stuck.
Recognize this? Trust me, you are not the first, or the only one, or the last one to discover that painting outside is quite different from painting in your studio.

In this article I hope to explain a bit of why this is happening (you will see that it is rather expected) but more on how you can get the best out of painting outside.

A bit of history.
Painting outside, or En Plein Air as the French started calling it, is not as old as you might expect. It was all thanks to two things. First of all the invention of oil paint. Although the use of oil paint was generally considered to start during the 15th century by the Dutch painters, it was much earlier that oil was used to make a paint. Several cave paintings have been found with pigments concealed in walnut oil. Also during the medieval period, monks were using linseed oil for their book paintings.
Second was the invention of a carrier for oil paint, which was done by the American painter John Goffe Rand in 1841. He used pig bladder combined with glass syringes to transport oil paint. Due to his invention, a whole new area of painting arose. It is believed that Pierre-Auguste Renoir who said, “Without tubes of paint, there would have been no Impressionism.”
Tube display museum
Makes sense. Impressionist painters became known for their colorful, wild and, as the movement got its name, very impressionistic in approach. Many impressionist are recalled for saying that the main goal of painting this way was to set a true impression of that specific moment of the day. Using only that time that you could witness the splendor of what you were seeing and trying to catch this with paint on canvas.

Any of you, who have experienced the joy of sitting outside and feel the challenge of catching that specific light, the ever-changing colors, the temperature, and trying to put this within a given time on your canvas, will recognize this.

But what makes it so different from working in a studio? The most obvious is, of course, the fact that you’re not inside but outside working. Although expected, the influences of being outside, the wind, the sun, the noises and naturally the occasional rain, can have a major effect on how you sit there trying to paint. Being in your studio is very different. You are able to adjust pretty much everything to make your working space as pleasant and as constructive to your work, as possible. Try this with that hard to reach rocky spot behind a big tree next to a riverbank.
And yet, more and more painters, when discovering the magic of painting outside, get seriously hooked to it.
To work outside, it is best to leave any expectations you have on what to expect, what it will be or what you plan to paint, at home. Why? Because it always will be different.
Once you found a nice spot, accepted all the bugs flying around and ending up in your paint, and mastered to decide what you want to paint, you soon discover the agony of changing light. Trust me, even on a beautiful sunny day with a clear blue sky without a breeze, you will found yourself in an ever changing light-scape. The painting you start will never be the same as the scenery appears to you at the end of your capturing moment.

Some practical advices.
Now a day the art supply business seem to know exactly what you need to reach your goal as an artist. If it was only that simple. Absolutely, some wonderful gadgets out there can make your painting-outside-experience much more do-able and pleasant. But don’t make the mistake, and I’m sure you will or already did, to think that expensive, state of the art equipment will ensure great painting. Sorry. It will be much more likely to know that it will be your experience, your persistence and endurance that will ensure some beautiful results.
Nevertheless, some equipment are inevitable to work outside.
To start you will need an easel. And even the need for it is debatable. These days you can buy a lightweight aluminum easel that is easy to carry. Also small easels from wood are nice and you have the famous box-easels that combines an easel with your paint box. Handy but a bit heavier.
Then the decision is whether you want to stand or sit. For me, standing is great but sitting is greater. I get easy tired in my legs, which makes it uncomfortable to paint. Therefore, a foldable chair is handy.
Take enough rags or pieces of cloth. I noticed, considering you will have to clean your brushes at home, that it’s so handy to have lots or rags to clean, cover and clean some more while you out in the fields.
Another thing to take in consideration is where you going to paint on and how you’re planning to transport it. Near my hometown, there is a group plein air painters (they go every week no matter the weather) whom ingeniously use a system with which they slide several panels in a box. How nifty is that. However, I really advice you to make a system that will work for you to transport you work. I myself came up with a sort of cover for the painting. I always work on linen. I tape the canvas on a fixed size board and have another board, from which the sides are made higher, that is than used as a cover on the painting. That immediately brings us to another practical tip: the size of your painting.
If you’re planning to go by car and know that you’re going to stay close to your car, the size of your painting is pretty much the size your car can handle. However, if you consider to have a nice stroll before finding a good spot that will embrace every fiber of your being to yell at you that you have to paint this, you might want to think twice before taking up a 1 by 1 meter canvas. So, in general, small sized panels or canvas are easy to carry, easy to work with and easier to handle. Because, let’s not forget, the idea of ‘en plein air’ is to make and finish a painting on the spot.
So much for practical tips.

Now some technical tips and suggestions.
If you ever took the time to examine the impressionist works, you soon will notice that there is a specific use of colors. In fact, certain colors are in a lot of cases not used.
If you walk through the countryside and glans over the trees, the nearby bushes, the hills in the distance and the far away village skyline, as an experienced plein air painter, you will immediately distinguish the different pallet of colors. However, as a typical studio painter you might find yourself wondering how those impressionists came to those, sometimes extreme, choice of colors. To understand this, you have to understand the following. Before the 19th century, during the classical approach in painting, it was general knowledge to paint the exact, or so we thought, color of the object as to emphasize a most convincing resemblance to reality as possible. Due to the fact that till than almost every artist was working in a studio, and natural outdoor daylight was not much available, it is not surprising to see, indeed, almost only colors that we can recognize within our marge of acknowledgeable colors. However, and this was very well understood by the impressionists, when outside, colors seem to change in any given circumstances. Not only by the change of light but also by the influences of atmosphere, distances and humidity. In addition, you will see if you take some time to sit outdoor looking at a fast landscape, that colors are, indeed, vibrating, and, more important, not as conform as one might think. The impressionist understood this by dividing colors again in warm and cold colors. By using this knowledge in a practical use you immediately understand why they used so much blue and green for shadows (cold) and bright yellow, orange and red for the more sunny and bright parts (warm) in the painting.

If you take this knowledge with you the next time you embark yourself on an adventure to go out and paint outside, and I encourage you to do so and I encourage you even more to, before you start your painting process, to take some time to just sit and absorb what you see. Go beyond the expected colors, beyond what you know you see and beyond what you think, you see. Just observe and take it in.

Painting outside, ‘en plein air’ is indeed an adventure. A meeting between you and what you observe, you and what you think is outside you. However, if you let go of these pre-programmed believes and just observe as a child, you will see that colors are indeed more than meets the eye.

Feeling inspired? I hope you go out there and start painting what you see. Let me know.
Also, if in the neighborhood, you can join with one of the plein air workshops I will be given this summer.
More information (in Dutch though) can be found here: www.schidercursusarnhem.nl

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FINDING YOURSELF, LETTING GO AND TAKING CONTROL.

Finding one’s self has become one of the most recalled things to do over the years.
A number on your bucket list. A thing you have to do.

Whether you took that conclusion yourself or you were inspired to do this by a spiritual movement or teacher, maybe even by the circumstances at work. It seems that where ever you go this topic is spoken of one way or another.

But at the same time we want to have security and are often confronted with the difficulties of letting go of all that we love and is giving us a sense of security. We want to have a life according to certain standards in which we feel safe, secure and have enjoyable and pleasant experiences. Can these two things be combined in harmony?

It is true that there is something compelling in the quest of finding the truth about who and what you are. By knowing who you are and even by knowing what you are, you most likely will know your purpose for this chosen life. And having a sense of purpose is seen as an enormous gift. Another number on your bucket list.
But what is your motivation for wanting to know who or what you are? Is it the need for security? Or is it unexplainable inner call that is telling you to go and find yourself? And is purpose in life a fixed thing or does it change while being practised? Does it all even matter?

An important, let’s call it ingredient, that will come your way on this road of exploring who you are, is the necessity for letting go and to go with the flow.
Why is this so relevant?
Something I noticed over the years when being in contact with people who seem to be in peace, to a certain level, with whom they are and seem to have a clear vision of their purpose in life, is that these people are most of the time open to change. They don’t hold on to a certain idea of how things should be but more flow and act on what is relevant for that moment. This can be interpreted in little moments but as well in relatively longer periods of time. For example, with jobs and undertakings.
It shows us that nothing is fixed. Nothing is written out, secure or certain. We crave for safety, security and certainty and are often in total loss when we are confronted with anything out of our control.
Let’s look at this for a moment: control. We use this word easy enough to imply that whatever went out of control is out of our control.
But are we supposed to be in control? Control over what?
This is a very important question. And the answer might be seen as a contradiction but it isn’t.
Ask yourself why you think you need to control. what would be the answer?
Is it because you feel that certain events happen ‘to’ you instead of ‘by’ you? Or because we are conditioned with the idea that bad or unpleasant things are always out of our intention because nobody wants things to happen that make them unhappy?
Or is it the idea that if you create control as much as possible over situations that you might at least have a bit of influence on how thing go as to give yourself the idea that you protect you and your surrounding from bad things to happen.
These questions aren’t easy to answer and will differ from one person to another. But to create some sort of desired change in this we need to accept one important thing:

Focussing on things that we do not want to happen will empower those things in happening.
What does this mean in short? It means that we are responsible for all that happens within our personal experience. All attention we give to events we want to avoid will eventually take us to an experience in which that what is being avoided will be expressed according to an appropriate need. Just as the attention we give to events we do want to happen will take us to a matching experience.

And this is where you do need to take control!
Not to protect yourself from what you don’t want but to create what you desire. That is basically the only control you will need to take. And you will soon discover that this kind of control isn’t as stressful, tiresome or demanding as the previous kind of control.
The flipside of this coin is to just go with the flow. This is deliberately choosing to live your life unconsciously. Going with the flow is a recommended thing to do but it is sometimes misplaced by putting yourself in the role of a victim of circumstances. Going with the flow is definitely not that. Going with the flow means that you consciously take full responsibility for your thoughts and actions and accept all consequences coming from your thoughts and actions.
We can call this consciously and deliberately taking control over your life in which you consciously and deliberately create your own reality.

How is this related to finding yourself?
Something more pressing here is to try to answer this question:
Who is it that you’re trying to find? Probably you will answer by saying that you hope to find yourself. Of course. But who or what is that? Really, try to focus on this question, who is it that you are trying to find?
Don’t get me wrong, I do encourage you to start this quest in finding yourself. But I would like to start by rephrasing the intention; start being who you are.
Finding yourself implies that you either lost yourself or never where yourself. Gosh, do you feel the anxiety and desperateness in this statement? Please read this article I wrote some time ago about acceptance.

Just as going with the flow is an important ‘ingredient’ for giving yourself the space to be who you want to be, so is acceptance. Don’t start your quest by first listing all the things in yourself that you are not cool with and then find an equivalent to replace it. Just skip this step and jump immediately to the process of taking yourself, seeing yourself and accepting yourself just and fully as you are! Now at this very moment.
Finding yourself is illusive! It will be a start of a never ending quest in which you eventually will discover that you really already are who you have been trying to find.
Being who you are, on the other hand, is an absolute must to fulfil this life that you chose to live.
The common mistake made, or better to say confusion, is to think that you first have to know who you are (by finding yourself) before you can be who you are. Wrong!
You do not even have to know who you are to actually be! In some cases, especially taken from a Buddhist perspective, it is considered as a great obstacle to wanting to know who you are. Being is not knowing! Knowing is not being! Understanding who or what you are, on the other hand, is coming from the heart and is dipped in loving intentions. This understanding comes from intellect and heart working together. Knowledge and love hand in hand. Love for yourself in all its imperfect perfection and insecure security!
‘to be or not to be’ van William Shakespeare, although coming from a different perspective does says it all. To be fully alive, to accept, to love and to fully give yourself the liberty to be who you want to be. Or, not to be and live your life according to assumptions, expectations and unconscious circumstances in which you feel you are the ball that is played by something else then yourself. In other words, not alive but dead.

We, as energetic nun-corporal beings, are complete. Directly connected to the source, which for some is god or the universe, we are indeed complete. But as corporal human beings we chose for a life of great contradictions and sometimes almost diabolic circumstances in which we develop an immense strong craving for security. We must learn to develop and master the harmonic use of our heart with our intellect. Both are still and often divided and seen as two opposites. But nothing could be further from the truth, they are both yours and neither one of them is to be denied in its existence. Use them naturally and intuitively.

The influences of HSP and Introvert.

 

During the last few month something interesting took place. Since more than 6 month I was experiencing some difficulties while practicing the part-time job  I have working with children.

It started with a confrontation that I should be more interactive with my co-workers. According to what was said I was working too much on my own little island. I wasn’t sure what to do with this feedback. My first consideration was to figger out a way to set things right and I started to force myself to be more interactive and do what was expected from me. The result was that I felt insecure en unnatural in my behavior. So I kind of dropped it and went back to my nice little island.

As you probably can guess there was another knocking on my beautiful wooden door as soon as there was an opportunity to do so. Again I was confronted with the fact that I lacked the skill of interacting and seek others opinion about the choices and decisions I made.

It left me angry and misunderstood.
Why couldn’t they understand my view on this matter?
Why couldn’t they trust that I had everything under control?

It remained a question until I run into an article about being an introvert in a working situation written by Susan Biali.

It was as if I was reading a story about me. So much of what was written I could relate to and recognized. So I started to become more familiar with the concept introversion and high sensitive people (HSP). Here it was mentioned that most people who seem to have the characteristics of an introvert are commonly also highly sensitive people. Perhaps one could say that when someone is born with a high sensitivity in a surrounding that is mainly focused on extroversion are easy to develop an introspective character to coop with their high sensitivity in an extroversive  society.

The more I read about it, the more I started to recognize the characteristic parts of an introvert in myself.
But an interesting thing happened though, although by receiving this knowledge I was able to create some peace and rest about these specific characteristics I created over the years. It really helps sometimes to find some sort of understanding and recognition in your own behavior especially when yours is being questioned by your surrounding.
But at the same time I wanted to ensure that this new information would not become an established order within my creation. That is to say that this knowledge about introversion should not become my excuse for my behavior.

Character doesn’t make the person. The person is the form in which the energy is shaped because the energy itself is shapeless. Character is formed by choice. Choices that are made before the actual manifestation as a person and during the life as that person.

But let’s go back to the topic on introversion in a working place.

I think I’m not far off by saying that most working places are still unaware of the full potentials of their employees. Although more and more people, and therefore companies, are becoming aware of subtle changes that are accuring around and in themselves, it is still accurate to say that most companies are afraid to make a leap into an environment that might seem to be uncontrollable.  The safest thing to do is indeed hold on to what one knows and in this case is a working environment that is based on extroversion. The one who speaks first, the one who speaks the most or the loudest will be heard, the one who speaks afterwards, thinks before speaking or doesn’t want to speak at all is easily overlooked.
But being save doesn’t always work. And as well; this being save can be interpreted in different ways.
One thing that should not be a choice for safety is to decide to deny your natural character to fulfill the expectations of your surrounding, in this case the working place. A company might want you to adjust to their current believe that everyone should have the same working skills as being assertive and aggressive when it comes to giving opinions and making decisions. And although everyone, extrovert or introvert, could, till a certain level, do this it requires an enormous unnatural effort from someone who is born with the characteristics of an introvert.

The unfortunate thing is that in most working places it isn’t realized and valued that the possibilities and opportunities they receive when acknowledging the introversion of people, they are missing an enormous value of knowledge and working force that can be obtained by these people who are considered to be introvert.
But let us not forget: It is not your surrounding that needs to adjust to your characteristics. It is and will always be you who needs to make the choices that will lead you to the happiness and fulfilling life that you are aiming for.
it is what I have been trying to say now for some time. It is not about getting everybody on the same line. It is about letting everybody have the unconditional freedom to be what they need to be. And this is and can only be considered and decided by the person in question.
This is what I try to say in the previous post: “NOW” and “STOP LOOKING“.

It is funny and beautiful at the same time to see how those little fragments and possibilities of knowledge and insight always seem to fall into place when you need them to know.

If you like to know more about introversion and extroversion? Here are some interesting links:
https://www.csuchico.edu/eap/docs/empathia-advisor2014-04-IntrovertsExtroverts_and_the_Workplace.pdf

http://career-advice.monster.com/in-the-office/workplace-issues/understand-workplace-introverts/article.aspx

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Food. Nutrition or Energy.

More and more we come to be aware of the sensitivity of food and how we respond to it. Tests are done and many conclusions are made.

But an important aspect seem to be ignored or left out which I would like to address here.

Food is not just a physiological product that has nutritional benefits. All the information about food, its nutritious value, vitamins and minerals and so on, is just a small part of the whole aspect of food and actually much less important than you think.
Unfortunately this is what is focused on due to the food industry, marketing and mostly in the health and fitness world. You are taught and are being convinced what is best to eat to get the desired result.
But there are important elements being left out in this.

Food is for most energy. We are for most energy. Energy responds to energy. Chinese and old western medicine are well known with the benefits of each food and its energetic origin or signature.
The nutritious value of food is only present because of the energetic signature or better said; its source energy. Not the other way around.

Now what happens if your personal energy, which is directly connected to your metabolism, is out of focus, is not how it should be. Then the connection to any kind of food you eat can’t be made.

Due to a poor emotional ventilation your metabolic system isn’t able to digest whatever food you are taking. You can, and probably tried, as many diets as you can endure but nothing will seem to work for you.
Having stress at work, or working for something you don’t believe in, has a major effect on how your body takes the food that is given. Whatever food you eat has its own personal energy. On itself this is no problem unless the receiving vessel (which is your body) itself is energetic in dis-balance. Than the vessel, won’t be able to digest the food properly. The energy from this food will be stored and not used. Energy that will be manifested as body weight that we have to carry with us because we do not know what else to do with it. This is because we don’t recognize the essence of this energy only because we do not see our own essence.
In a way you can say that you need to be the essence of your existence; a vessel that is always receiving and giving. It’s a never ending flow of energy. Once it becomes static it loses the ability to transform other energies that it receives.

So to maximize your metabolism it becomes rather important to look at your life. How is your personal and emotional garden? Are you happy? Do you feel you experience a stressful life? Are you easy with different circumstances? Do you accept yourself?
There is no right answers for these questions. Only your own personal way. Nobody is the same except that we all have a vessel of flowing energy. But each one of us has different personality.

And when you come down to the point that you are answering to your heart and your personal and emotional gardens are flowing and growing with the seasons, you will see and know that you automatically adjust your food to it.

So, don’t worry too much about what you should or shouldn’t eat. Take care of your life and your body will tell you what it needs. Trust me, the fact that you will start to hear it already is a sign that you are listening to your heart.