I have known Rob and his paintings since I moved to Whidbey Island 24 years ago, and have always respected his artistry and use of realistic detail in his work. Rob is a master craftsman in his paintings and we were very excited to hear that he was interested in being in the forgery show this year. He is working on an homage to Gustav Klimt, an Austrian painter born in 1862, who was well known for his decorative style of painting. Klimt’s best known work is The Kiss.
I’m guessing Rob will be up to the challenge of creating his homage to Klimt. Here is an example of Rob’s tour de force artistry in a recent major work, starting with several “in progress” images.
You can see that Rob does a very complete underpainting, which is then glazed with many layers of color. And finally, the finished painting:
Rob sent me this description of the process in making this painting:
Earth by Rob Schouten oil on canvas 30″ x 40″ $15,000
Here are some thoughts about this painting: She is Mother Earth who is sleeping beneath us, dreaming our dream, continuously giving rise to life. Her soul is in touch with the core of the planet, the building blocks of physical existence, whose fractal nature is expressed in the shape of the rock in her hand and the mountains behind her; mountains whose forms in geological time are fluid as blankets.
Even though the subject in this painting is mostly horizontal, the energy is very vertical because of the repeating upward pointing triangular forms in the composition. When I painted “Fire”, a vertical painting, it acquired a strong horizontal energy. It seems these elements both have a balance that way.
This is the second in the series of paintings of the elements. I started the series by doing a stream of consciousness writing of keywords about Earth, Water, Fire, Air and Space. Then I did five 12″ x 18″ rough pencil sketches in a similar stream of consciousness way. My intention was to portray each element through a woman deeply in communion with the element, a kind of muse or anima of the element.
Since each painting would focus on the figure I decided to use a technique that is better than any other in expressing the complexity of skin tones. This technique, commonly referred to as the Old Master Technique because of its 15th century Flemish origin, involves painting the entire painting first in Umber tones to establish forms and values and then subsequently painting layers of transparent color on top of the underpainting until the desired hue is achieved.
I wanted to learn this technique specifically to do this series.
In the creative process you often have to let go of preconceived sketches and ideas, they are the scaffolding that needs to be taken away once the art takes its shape. Thus immediately my idea of starting with Earth changed when the model informed me that if I knew her better I’d have her portray Fire. So also the idea of five vertical paintings changed when I started working on Earth and realized it had to be horizontal. I look forward to more surprises as the rest of the series unfold.
While this painting will not be in the show at Froggwell, you can see it at The Rob Schouten Gallery in Greenbank WA on Whidbey Island.
More next week on some of our other “forgers” in the show.