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Friday, November 18, 2011

Piet Lap - Interview 16.11.2011

Here is the interview with a marvelous Dutch painter Piet Lap, given to me by e-mail couples of days ago. It`s a material of a great value to me!

Piet Lap - watercolor artist

When did you fall in love with watercolor?
It was in my first year as a student at the Art-academy in Tilburg-holland. I already loved outdoor/ after-nature drawing but it was my inspiring teacher Bob Buys, who was chairman of the Dutch Watercolour
Society,who initiated us in the fascinating world of watercolour. Just sitting along a channel or on a junkyard, nothing else to bother, great fun!

Piet Lap. Dutch Landscape 1.

Do you consider watercolor a painting or graphic medium?
Watercolouring is, of course, painting; not just filling in colours in a drawing.

Do you wait for inspiration or you feel like painting every day?Inspiration is an often abused word, mostly as an excuse not to paint. Just start working, inspiration will eventually meet you in the process.

Piet Lap. South Harris Hedriges

What is the most inspiring theme or object for you?
I did a lot of still-lives over the past years, mostly using glass-panels and mirrors to create a small world full of uncertain boundaries, vague ideas of space, foreground and background. Nowadays my main objects are landscapes. You see, I like travelling. I am not sure wether this urge comes from the desire to go and paint somewhere, or, the other way round, painting is just an alibi to travel.I guess the truth lies somewhere in between. I can be fascinated by the colours of a Moroccan soukh, as well as the tragic carcasses of shipwrecks in a bay in Brittany, or the theatrical changing light over a Scottish Loch. There is a painting waiting for you in almost every landscape, if you can catch it on the right moment, with a surprising light and point of view and, above all,with the right state of mind.

Piet Lap. Benodet. Bretagne.

Do you finish your works on a spot sometimes or you prefer to paint them in studio?
I prefer working on the spot. I lose spontaneity in doing things over in my studio, though the technical circumstances are better there.

Piet Lap. Port Rhu Douarnenez Bretagne.

What is the importance of drawing when you paint with watercolors? Is it necessary to learn basic drawing first or one can become a watercolor master without it?
A difficult question. You can make great watercolours without any tracé of drawing-skills ( see: Emil Nolde), but if you don't have that skills in your luggage you will fail in a lot of subjects. For example: a ship lying in the water the way it does, is without a correct drawing seldom convincing. Another example: there are lots of watercolours ( see the internet) of streetscenes with people strolling around. Only few of them are convincing. Mostly people are reduced or degraded to a kind of 'aliens', just simple trunks with two pointed sticks under it. Horrible sight ! Seldom a credible interpretation but merely an illustration of unableness.

Piet Lap. Petra Jordanie 1.

Do you have any special theory about colors and mixes? What are your color preferencies?
If so, a satisfying answer takes too long.

Piet Lap. River Degli Schiavoni

What is the part of imagination in your work?
My work is an interpretation of reality, more than imgination.I never felt figuration a burden to shake off. On the contrary: I look upon working after observation as a source of elementary painters'pleasure: you see better and you see more.

Piet Lap. Stac Lee St. Kilda

I didn`t see many figurative objects in your painting. Is a human nature of no interest to you?
Though I painted people and portraits, you are quite right: they are underrepresented in my website.
Piet Lap. Cimetiere Des Bateaux

What is your approach to painting – do you spend some time to develop an idea or you start and finish in one breath? I mean do you paint spontaneously or work out the idea first?
I have no specific approach that I am aware of. It all depends on the subject you paint, on intuition, on your mood for an experimental approach and on the outdoor circumstances. Making a watercolour is like chess-playing: try to think about the two or three next steps you intend to make, eventually prepare a sufficient amount of some colours and in the meantime you will feel your adrenaline rising. That's a good sign. Don't  rigidly stick to your plan, ideas can change on your way, so be receptive. If you act, do it with speed and determination, all the way.

Piet Lap. Still Life 9.

What are your preference in colors (brands), brushes (size, shape, material), paper (quality, brand)?
About that gear: I use tubes( no blocks) of Winsor&Newton, Talens and Scheveningen( Dutch brands). I have 40 colours on my palette, far too much of course but half of them I seldom use( just in case...). Brushes: some expensive Kolinsky-marter brushes, some cheap flat brushes, but mostly Da Vinci Cosmotop-mix in all sizes, from 6 to 32. I tried all sorts of paper in my life but nowadays I stick to Arches-Torchon 300 ans 640grs for landscapes, Schoeller-Hammer Torchon for still-lives( you can torture this paper!)

Piet Lap. Still Life 16.

Did you have some artists who would influence you when you started painting with watercolor?
I can't recall it ,but I do remember the moment I held in my very hands,in the London Victoria&Albert-museum, the watercolours of R.P.Bonington (19th century), the Mozart under de British watercolourists(he also died very young). And there is that painting-devil and genius John Singer Sargent who will always remain a standard in the world of watercolour.

Piet Lap. Yorkshire Cliffs.

Would you select some country where in your opinion tradition of watercolor medium is the most supported and appreciated? Do you teach your approach in watercolor?
Some remarks on these questions: Studying the internet, especially the websites of American watercolourists, it becomes clear that there is quite a difference between what I would call their marketing-strategy and my approach. Lots of them have won Awards for some mysterious reason, are members of several Societies, sell glicee-prints & DVD's and, even the less-talented, give masterclasses thus spreading around some painting-tricks and create lots of epigones who try to copy the way the 'master' Works. I have to admit that, unfortunally, I have little marketing-talent. In my younger days,being a teacher at an Art-Academy, I gave a lot of 'masterclasses'. I think I have pulled my weight. You see, I am 68 now, still working on new projects. Time has become precious for me, so I try to avoid things that distract me from working and concentrating.

Piet Lap. River.

Could you accent something most important to master the watercolor?
You can't master it, watercolouring. You will always start 'tabula rasa',with a frightening empty sheet of paper.

Could you accent something most important to master the watercolor?
What keeps me going is the hope that some lucky day I will make a satisfying watercolour: nothing more, but also nothing less! And to all fellow-watercolourists I would say: Remember, our best work has
still to come, maybe tomorrow... or the day after. Wait and see..


  1. Great interview, I am an admirer of Piet Lap's work! Thanks!

  2. THanks for this interview ,,,as now I have learned about a new artist and his fabulous work!!

  3. This is a great interview. Thanks for sharing. Piet Lap's work is stunning and so atmospheric. Beautiful colours. Favourite bit is 'Inspiration is an often abused word, mostly as an excuse not to paint. Just start working, inspiration will eventually meet you in the process.' Could not be put better.

  4. What a fantastic show! Thank you

  5. Spasibo for introducing me to this artist!

  6. Bravo, Piet. Your responses show the same balance of thoughtfulness and spontaneity as your paintings. I seldom read another painters comments and agree with every word, but in this case it all makes beautiful sense.

  7. Wow-just noticed Tom Hoffmann commented-love your work!
    Excellent, refreshing interview from a unique talent. We're listening.

  8. Aunque ha pasado mucho tiempo de esta entrevista, cada vez que la leo mas me emociona que un artista como el , sea tan sencillo diciendo las cosas, con las que estoy completamente de acuerdo. Ya casi e hecho mia la frase de " Vivo con la ilusion de que, algun dia, puede ser mañana o pasado...... pintare algo de lo que me pueda sentir satisfecho " Que gran respuesta, como me siento reflejada, Y es verdad cada vez que estas ante una hoja en blanco es como si comenzarias de nuevo. Muchas gracias por acercarnos a PIET LAP con esta ESTUPENDA ENTREVISTA.