Location: The Netherlands
Drawings in the flow of Romanticism
When I ran a gallery with my studio ( 2003 till 2007 ) on the Prinsencanal in Amsterdam, one of my frequent visitors was a journalist of an art magazine. Each time we discussed my drawings he commented that they were Romantic. At the time, I was not quite sure how to take this: was he being ironic or serious? Unconsciously, I took "Romantic" to mean "sentimental" – the gipsy girl with tearful eyes. Maybe the pastel technique itself evoked the Romantic period? The comments haven't left me, and I now realize that I have been drawing in the wake of Romanticism as an art movement. An important aspect of Romanticism that I strongly relate to and recognise in my work, beside the spiritual aspect, is the desire to be simply in touch with nature; to place the human figure in an authentic, botanical environment.
I started drawing at an early age. In my teens I followed private classes with a number of different artists. When I was seventeen ( 1977 ), I visited Italy for the first time, admiring the work of Renaissance artists where compositional form places the human individual centrally in a landscape. This creates a sense of peace that I like very much and see mirrored in my work. Beside the Japanese wash ink technique with masters like Toyo Sesshu and Hasegawa Tohaku, I have a great affinity with Dutch masters from the Golden Age as well as with later French artists like the pastelmaster Quentin de la Tour and the painter Gustave Moreau. When I look at their work I see a unity of composition, a harmonic environment enhanced by clothing, hairdressing and attributes. I strive for the same harmony and unity in my own work, using the creative freedom that is now available to artist
Washed ink with pastel on paper
I have specialized in transparent techniques such as washed ink, an old Chinese technique that later developed more in Japan, and diluted acrylic paint. The transparency that these techniques offer helps me see through the material world as through a layered structure.
The first layer of the work is a background of washed ink on paper. This allows organic forms to appear. Pastel involves manual application, direct contact with the material and the canvas. My fingers become paintbrushes that are in touch with the pastel layers. This part of the work must be done very carefully to make sure the depth of layers remains visible.
More information: www.ellengrael.nl