Stefan Bleekrode’s paintings and drawings.
Most of my paintings can best be described as snapshots of things I’ve seen when travelling or just going through my everyday routine, small bits of beauty in familiar settings. Often they come in through the backdoor, and after a while I turn these ideas, combined with a good bit of my own imagination into fully worked out paintings. The fascination for a particular idea that compels me to undertake the task of composing these compositions is entirely subject to the emotional value and scenery of the initial idea. Most of my paintings are set in the everyday (sub)urban settings of North America (particularly the North East) and London. Not only do I feel attracted to the (urban) landscape or the particular 19th century architecture, conveying a mood of lost glory and teetering on the brink of decay, above all it’s the clear crisp quality of the light adding an almost surreal and cinematographic dimension to these parts. Light is the one single thing many of my paintings revolve about. In the absence of daylight I greatly rejoice as well in working out the intricate patterns of artificial light in deserted streets at night.
Initially, when I began to paint I focussed mainly on the superficial, cutesy (post) impressionist landscapes of Monet and Van Gogh. I felt like painting more than just poppy’s and imaginary Provencal landscapes. This quickly led to an unworkable situation in which, thanks to the suggestion of friends, I discovered the art of Edward Hopper and American art in general. The art of Edward Hopper provided me with a solid point of reference I could fall back on in developing my own style. I kept on working in oils until 2006, when a visit to the great Andrew Wyeth retrospective in Philadelphia also provided me with the media suitable to my temperament as an artist, watercolour and tempera. I still greatly admire American artists such as Wyeth, Church, Bellows and Birchfield and in particular Winslow Homer. British artists I relate to are Turner, Grimshaw and Constable. Because of the apparent absence of a Continental European influence on the development of my art, I feel more comfortable placing it in a Anglo/American context. This also explains the distinctly American or British appearance of both architecture and subjects.
Although I started to paint only eight years ago, and being fully self-taught, I’ve been drawing already since the age of ten, creating my own imaginary cities on paper, as a substitute for the passion of travelling that has been with me all my life.
These drawings were done in pencil. At home, I put the villages and cities I’d seen on holidays in these drawings. Over the years, I’ve enhanced my technical abilities and increased the amount of detail in my city drawings or cityscapes as I call them. Nowadays, I create my own world class cities comparable to Paris or London, in the latter I also find most of the inspiration for my paintings.
Although both sides of my work appear as the sheer opposites of each other, there are definitely some connections, the love for light and shadows, architecture, a nearly geometric composition and the absence of movement.
Currently I prefer to use ink for my drawings and watercolour or egg tempera for my paintings. I find both mediums fitting for the moods and colours I want to put into my pictures. The downside however of egg tempera remains its vulnerability but the subtleties of its colours are simply unattainable in any other medium.
I mainly work in the Netherlands but I often travel to various places in Europe and occasionally to the United States in search of inspiration.