Friday, May 4, 2012

DPW Interviews: Mineke Reinders

From Mineke Reinders DPW gallery page:
Mineke Reinders was born and raised in the Netherlands, studied art at Texas A&M, has lived in Turkey and Germany, and resides in the U.S. She has painted in watercolor - sometimes combined with gouache - for the last 20 years. Mineke has exhibited in Europe, the US, and Turkey. Her works are in public and private collections in many countries.
Tell us a bit about how you first started painting.

I have drawn and painted for as long as I can remember, but was encouraged to choose a 'sensible' career path - in other words, not art. I liked to read too, so I became a librarian. I had a succession of jobs that weren't bad, but did nothing to satisfy my creative urges.

(click here to see original image)

In my free time, I knitted, sewed, grew plants on a balcony, and painted. I remember some pretty horrible oil paintings I did at that time. All Angst and no skill.

I gave that up for a while, until one day, I saw an ordinary scene in my town in Holland suddenly differently, as if transformed into something more intense, more vivid, almost magical. I did two collages based on that experience, having chucked my paints a few years before.

Not long after that, I had the good fortune to spend a semester in Florence, Italy. The experience of living abroad for the first time, and the overwhelming visual impact of Florence and its surroundings, made for many more such moments of intensified seeing and feeling. This is not something I can describe in words, it needs a paintbrush, and that is how I came to be a painter.

Did you have any stops and starts in your painting career?

No real stops, but I slowed the pace at various times, for example, after we bought our first house in Texas, and our current house in Illinois, which both needed some TLC, and during the years when my daughter was little.

What mediums and genres have you experimented with? Which ones have "stuck" and which ones have fallen away? Which ones are you looking forward to exploring?

I've tried a lot of mediums (oils, acrylics, pastels, watercolor, gouache, egg tempera, casein, monotype) but I always come back to watercolor and gouache. I love oils too, and hope to use them again at some point.

In terms of genre, I've always gravitated towards landscape, from the endless flat vistas of south Texas, where I was an art student, to the cities of Europe and Turkey. I don't think my genre will change much, as it continues to fascinate me, but I'm open to possibilities.

You are my songs
(click here to see original image)

Many of your pictures really capture a mood, as if there could really be a story there, especially in certain settings that some might consider quite "plain." Your thoughts on this?

Thank you. Mood, or the spirit of place, is the driving force behind most of my work, and I find it most often in humble settings, in overlooked places, in decay even. I feel that in those places, the past is alive alongside the present. At least, that is what I try to capture and convey.

The old city of Ankara, Turkey, which has inspired a lot of my work in recent years, is rapidly being modernized. When I lived there, in 2006, I sensed that there was an opportunity to capture something beautiful that would not survive much longer. That turned out to be true, as some of the places I painted are no longer there or have been modernized beyond recognition. I have exhibited those works in Ankara a few times, and it's been very gratifying to see how people there responded to them with great affection.

There are more days to see
(click here to see original image)

What does procrastination look like for you? What techniques work to ensure that you make time for your art?

When my daughter (now 13) procrastinates about her homework, it's because homework is boring. There are so many more interesting things to do! I am never bored with painting, so when I procrastinate, it's a matter of fear or frustration. After a few failed paintings, I can find distractions to avoid facing the blank sheet of paper.

I wouldn't recommend procrastination as a habit, but I think occasionally it's not so bad. It gives the brain a chance to process problems and come up with new ideas. Sometimes even in dreams or while waking up, suddenly there is the answer you couldn't find before.

How do you generally arrive at ideas for your paintings?

My ideas come from a lot of sources: memories, photos, sketches, music, imagination, studying the works of masters. I don't paint on location very much, because the places I like to paint are not near where I live. I use photos and sketches to take me back to the places I want to paint. I realize the limitations of this, but I want to paint the things that speak to me, even if they are far away. This does not mean copying photos, but instead using them to trigger memories and imagination.

Accidental beauty
(click here to see original image)

I also sometimes use photos taken by a dear friend in Turkey (with his permission, of course) of places I have not even visited in person, because they are as meaningful and familiar to me as if I had been there myself. I think this is going against the Zeitgeist a little, but I do believe there is a place for the imagination in art, in addition to direct observation of reality.

How do you keep art "fresh"? What techniques have helped you avoid burnout and keep your work vibrant and engaging?

I love to travel, discover new places and revisit old ones. That is a major source of renewal for me.

Besides that, I like to visit art museums and galleries, not just for inspiration, but to expose myself to different ways of making art. I look at a lot of art online, and really enjoy it and learn from it a lot, but there is a special charge you get from seeing great art up close and personal.

What do you feel you are learning about right now as an artist?

I am focused on composition and values right now. I've read a lot of books and articles about composition, but feel that they are generally too formulaic. I want to learn how to make my paintings more cohesive, without relying on simplified systems.

I also want to study the use of values, because I feel that it's essential - in representational painting - to conveying a sense of space. To look at a painting and feel that you could walk into it and be there is a kind of magic I would like to master. I feel that that can only be accomplished by knowing, understanding and applying values and perspective correctly.

It has taken me 20 years to even arrive at this realization, but perhaps I'm a slow learner.

Evening Light
(click here to see original image)

What makes you happiest about your art?

Difficult question! The feeling that a painting is going to work is exhilerating, looking at a painting that came out better than I thought is great too. Knowing that people relate to my paintings makes me feel happy and grateful.

But perhaps the best thing of all is knowing that the journey never ends. The more you learn, the more you know that you don't know, and that leaves the road open endlessly.

Thanks, Mineke!

© 2012 Jennifer Newcomb Marine

Jennifer Newcomb Marine is the Marketing and Community Manager of Daily Paintworks. She's an author and blogging and marketing coach.

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