Archive for the 'How Not To Paint' Category

The Cinderella Syndrome

Aug 15, 2009 in How Not To Paint

On her blog someone makes mention of the Cinderella Syndrome, which goes as follows:

As long as artists believe in the myth of the superheroes (gallery people – MJ) as judge and jury, they will not have domain of the universal house. The mythical dealer would prefer to be indemnified of even the greatest work, no matter how talented this person is, even if they prove to be the new Leonardo, precisely because of this fantastical responsibility

Leonardo with no gallery, no money and (most importantly) no influential connections and no proof of any kind of extensive marketing or promotions apropos for the exclusive NYC market – such cannot exist. This does not need debate: it is common sense! You cannot travel to the moon on a bicycle.

I don’t know about the bike but the condition for an exhibition is that the artist pays the gallery $3000 per exhibition, the gallery taking 50% of the sales revenues. I’d like to see Cinderella go to the ball with $3000 in order to dance with the prince.

The exclusive art market, huh? On the same blog the lady laments about the art market being about money only, with only a small number of galleries actually making any money on art. "The great art works of our time will never be seen!!!!!"

Perhaps because our superheroes would rather be indemnified? Or am I being sarcastic?

In any case, her hubby is a financial big shot (mortgages) so their gallery has "upfront financing".

What I learned is that most galleries in fact operate in the margins themselves. They have their gallery at a hot venue and their upfront financing, but no art and no sales. Oops!

Oh yeah, I have a new painting at

The Nineties

May 17, 2009 in Abstract Art, How Not To Paint, New Paintings

I can’t crank out a new painting every 15 days, so when I don’t have a new one available, I put an old painting online, beginning with the ones I’m confident about. So now I have to resort to my less fortunate creations, although, if I really think a painting looks like ****, I dispose of it.
The Nineties just makes the cut. The painting, that is. The decade was perceived by me (for what it’s worth) as fake, conceited and marked by unholy alliances and other silliness. People were referring to the divinification (I don’t know if that’s real English) of man.
Cool, huh?
The “painting” is a collage, painted on with acrylics. You can see a larger version of it if you click on it.
Never mind about the text in German, which was taken from a Bach piece, I think it was the St. Matthew’s Passion.

Message from the stars

Apr 12, 2009 in How Not To Paint

On April 02 2009 8:36:00, Galactic Time, I received the following message from operative Elganan:


Dear Marten,

The ballotage commission has looked at your submission.

In the attachment and letter.

Kind regards,

Elganan Jelsma



****** Hilversum





Marten Jansen

Lothariuslaan 82


Date : 2 april 2009

Concerns: ballotage Gooise Art Circle

Dear Marten,

On behalf of the board of the Gooise Art Circle I regret to have to inform you that the decision regarding your membership has been negative.

The rejection is based on one or more of the following grounds:

X The information sent shows insufficient professionality and/or professional education.

O The information sent shows no active cultural enterprise.

X The ballotage commission thinks the information sent is promising, but the quality does not yet fit the criteria at this moment.

O In your sector we are not allowing new memberships at the moment.

We wish you good luck on the development of your professional practice.

We advise you to contact us again in a year and join us at one of our Art cafes, society meetings or art happenings.


Elganan Jelsma, Barbara Houwers and Herman van Doorn

The board of the Gooise Art Circle.


Couple of things, here:

X  Because I’m not a doctor I didn’t know I had a professional practice.

O  I thought ballotage was something for Freemasons or English field hockey clubs.

These people have a very different perception of art than I do.  🙂

New painting

Feb 02, 2009 in Abstract Art, How Not To Paint, New Paintings

Female Portrait, contemporary art by Marten Jansen
Answer Me, abstract painting by Marten Jansen

Yesterday I added a painting made in 1997 (the one on the left) and also an update to the painting seen in the How Not To Paint A Masterpiece thread. I posted this painting on my homepage last year, but then made some changes – the current version is final.

When I made the painting on the left, in 1997, I still thought that on a finished painting every square millimeter should be covered with paint, while on the painting on the right you can see that much of the canvas is left bare. “Less is more”, in my latest style of painting, but I’ll never be a minimalist. Conceptual complexity is not a goal in itself, but necessary to achieve my artistic goals.

How NOT to paint a masterpiece, part II

May 27, 2008 in How Not To Paint

How NOT to paint a masterpiece, part III told you I like oil bar. The additional marks you see in the pic where added yesterday. More than before, the lower part of the painting is now involved, so the composition as a whole is now more balanced.

In fact, using oil bar can be a rather heavyhanded technique, due to the wild gestural motion that it allows. 

This has probably contributed to my art being perceived by some as “urban art” and even a link with grafitti is made, the latter being a far stretch, if you ask me.

With “urban art” I can somewhat sympathize, because one “leitmotiv” in my art is modern life and it’s pollutedness, as well as it’s allure. This is not confined to the city, but it is exemplified by it.

That’s also why I don’t mind making a mess with charcoal, while drawing, because it adds to the dirt and pollution that I try to balance with aesthetics.

How NOT to paint a masterpiece

May 25, 2008 in How Not To Paint

Abstract art portraitIn order to lure you to this blog I will try to describe how I paint by taking pictures of a painting in internediate stages of the painting process.

In the image on the left you can see a charcoal drawing and some paint – clearly this is the very beginning of the painting.

I spent four straight hours on the drawing, trying to capture the sensitivity and feminity of the eyes, something I didn’t succeed in. Either the effect will show up during the painting process, or else it’s something I’ll still have to learn. Note I only use contours for the drawing and that the drawing is by no means an exact portrait. It’s my intention to render the psychological qualities of the model, rather than the physical…AND…in order to obtain the desired expressive and communicative effects, one has to deviate from reality, which leads to distortions that are artistically motivated. In other words: if you’d superimpose the drawing onto the original, you’d that the contours don’t coincide.

Because the model had her head tilted backwards, the head looks compressed vertically, an effect I exaggerated.

When I was nearing the end of the drawing I realized that the original image had a provocative quality and then when I added the ear-decoration it showed up in the drawing. Maybe a woman understands the connection, I don’t.

You can see I have done some painting: I started with the yellow below the eye, which was a mixture of oil paint with acrylic texture gel. Yes, they mix! You get a putty-like substance when you mix the two 1 to 1. If you add more oil paint, then the substance will become hard to process (I’m using a palette knife to apply the mixture). This stuff is quick to dry, so work fast or prepare little.

Why not just add acrylic paint to the gel? Because the result will look thin, compared to oil paint, especially if you use a large sized surface. On large surfaces you need the “body” and quality of oil paint. I’m using the texture gel because pure, undiluted oil paint produces a very different, less attractive effect and because the acrylic medium is quick drying, so that the expressive, sharp edges produces by the knife will be retainted.

I think I first started to mix oils with acrylics in Polish Girl (

When it dries the mixture is not as strong as pure oils or acrylics, but unless the painting has to be able to pass an MIT stress test, there’s no problem.

Furthermore, I did some stuff with “oil bar”, which is a trade name for “oil stick”, the general word for it. An oil stick is a piece of solid oil paint that liquifies when pressure is applied to the tip. This means you can use the stick as you would use pastels, with the difference that the stick produces rather high quality oil paint and can be well used on large sized surfaces. For me the oil stick is an indispensible expressive tool, because it allows me to draw freely with oil paint, leading to gestural effects you can’t achieve with a brush or knife. I use all three (brush, knife, stick) because each has it’s own rhythm, so a painting won’t easily become monotonous.

The yellow line on the left is oil bar and so is the blue line, bottom-right and I contoured the hair in the top-left with oil bar. The rest is oil paint applied with a brush. These are all pure colors (straight from the tube), except the knife-applied area under the eye, which is cadmium yellow blended with a touch of yellow ocre.  

I hope I will “see” you again when I post an updated version of the painting. Until then….

happy painting!