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Krash course Krabbé

May 14, 2008

Seeing the Krabbé show set up an irresistible longing in me to get seriously down to my own image making. I made a few false starts of my own, then finally gave in and started making studies of his work. I realized that to jump-start myself out of my normal way of seeing and working, I needed to try something radically different.

Making exact copies of his watercolours I was able to see how he approaches colour and form. To get the same results, I had to change the way I apply washes, change my thinking around, and let go of all my
habits.

Copying one of his oils was harder. I used acrylics, and the Tuscan landscape had to be underpainted first with dark colours to offest the beautiful morningsun drenched palette he used. As he  says in the DVD from the show, a lot of his underpainting is detailed, realistic form, and he works on the painting constantly rubbing out detail and  simplifying until he gets the results he wants.

So copying just the end result is like skimming off the surface of a deep and complicated story. The painting, any painting, is a layer of stories. Spending time revealing the layers of one painting was more valuable than a year of painting courses. I learned where he used the brush and where he preferred the palette knife. I saw how some colours were mixed right on the painting. Sometimes I could sense what he might be thinking when he made certain choices. Of course copying all his serendipitous accidents in such a studied way, lost something, but still the learning experience was great.

What’s more, spending time inside his colours was an intimate way to get to know the art and artist.

And I realized that this way of getting truly inside his art is a way of finding a path to my own.  

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