By Esther van der Sluis
Esther is a Plein Air painter. It means working outside in all kinds of weather. ‘For me, Plein air painting means ‘catching’ the atmosphere of a moment in paint. When it has been snowing and I actually stand outside in a freezing icy landscape, the contribution of the cold is crucial; it is cold. I am freezing and everywhere around me, I experience the cold. The specific colors in the thin air, the water is slow and even the sounds are silent…’
‘During wintertimes when fingers almost freeze to the palette knife and oilpaint on the palette seems putty. Because all the senses are contributing to that specific moment the work is developing it’s own ‘soul’.
Van der Sluis wants to carry out the deeply felt atmosphere of a certain moment in all its facets. All senses contribute to translating that image into paint on the linnen. Even an odor, for example that of a rough pine on a sizzling hot summer’s day, is part of that total experience and thus also essential translates: that place, that atmosphere, or that emotion.
Cutting the onion
Obviously there must be a direct click with the landscape. As with many things in life, when you look a bit longer, more and more details are revealed. As a painter it’s like cutting an onion; layer by layer. Every moment painting, there’s a new element that you discover while observing the landscape. Van der Sluis is investigating, experiencing the atmosphere of the moment with all senses.
Besides actually standing outside in all kinds of weather with an easel, palette knife and paint, she is working with the ‘Alla Prima’ technique (meaning wet-in-wet technique). This painting technique requires a lot of skill because you have to work directly, quickly and intuitively, thus constantly being forced being flexible.
Working outside has it’s limitations. The situation is changeable from the moment you set up your easel. The position of the sun, rain showers, rising morning mist, etc. everything comes along. An additional reason to work quickly. Because of the circumstances you have to work quickly because of the
constant weather change is very attractive. There is no time for doubt so you retain a certain spontaneity. After the outdoor phase I let the work mature and take a short distance from the work. Small adjustments sometimes still take
place in the studio. What Van der Sluis never will remove is ’the soul’ of what she wanted to convey’, that is the ultimate challenge. How to keep this visible and tangible.