Kees van Aalst

Overgenomen van het Blog

Kees van Aalst is a Dutch Watercolormaster.
Watching Kees van Aalst paint, is watching a skilled artist paint.
It looks so easy when you see it, but when you try it, you end up with a painting that looks like your little brother have made! Why is that?

40 years experience for a start, and he made this style of painting completely his own, its like a handwriting, you can try to copy this style, and you will succeed with something that looks like his, but you will miss the finesse and power in the more then resolute brushstrokes.

All his painting career he makes “Less is More” a fact, and makes even less, more less!
Suggestion and abstraction of scenes and objects are the main drive he will put in his paintings. Not only he use watercolor, but also Bister (made from Walnut shells) and diluted watercolor pigment, brought on the paper with a sharpened matchstick is part of his technique.
Large washes in the start, with fresh colors, usually with no more then three pigments.
Before he paints the subject, he choose what mood he wants in the watercolor.
And then he choose his colors.
In the workshops I followed, Kees made 6 or more examples what colors you can choose, and even just as much pencil thumbnails for contrast and tone. They are not complete paintings, but just quick notes for color and you can just discover the subject.
Kees always teach, you must not paint a boat, but people have to look at your art and say “hey that looks like a boat!”

The first wash was light and Kees kept a few whites on the paper, he saw a industrial scene in it, so his second wash he made the industry coming a bit more forward.
If you see mountains after your first wash, paint the mountains, its your imagine, and your art!

After that he will refine a second wash, with the same pigments, only stronger, and after drying he finish with detailed marks, these marks are not just put down randomly, but make the viewer look, where Kees want him to look. I know for a start that these last details are the though ones, you have absolute no clue where to put them. After practicing and lots of failures I start to know how. (a bit).

But for Kees its like writing his name down, Tjak Tjak he says often, and there it is! Small dots of pigment, stripes wide and narrow, brushed down with a rigger or matchstick all in the right place.
Don’t make the mistake it looks easy, but it isn’t! All dots and stripes are highly visible, so a wrong one will stand out big!


These latest demos were published in the Dutch art magazine “Palet”
The above is sort of a Italian Piazza, the yellow glow, and purple haze makes you think of the Mediterranean. With a sharp matchstick Kees made some marks to give the idea from houses and a pillar in the middle. Then some accents in a cool color to give shadow-sides and variation on the buildings and all ready again! Less is More is so true here!


A small demo Kees made on one of his workshops.All was done in 10 minutes or less.


Don’t paint pictures, paint tones, shadows and moods. Paint to paint, not to make the best painting ever, but paint to enjoy yourself!


Edo Hannema


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