Artist Eefje Van den Brande approaches the canvas with fluidity and freedom, taking inspiration from nature to explore the unity between all living things. Starting from a single ink blot, she lets her paintings evolve naturally; encouraging viewers to embrace their emotions, live freely and in harmony with nature.
In daring to embrace your emotions, your mindset determines how you deal with them.
Tell us about the meaning behind your vibrant paintings?
When I paint I always start from an ink blot that appears by chance. The stain is not always clear but it is still beautiful in itself. Its identity is emphasised throughout the painting process, because I work on this stain with water and oil paint.
I find it fascinating what I discover in the stain. This can be influenced by my past, present or future.
The stain has limitations that are clarified on the canvas. As a result, a new and strange creature comes to the foreground. When I paint I want to put the imperfection of the figure first. I reach for tangible elements from nature and intangible elements from my head. All the figures in my paintings are not perfect, but still they contain recognisable elements now and then. This sometimes gives a surrealistic effect in which emotion is evoked.
Emotion and colour create a connection in my work. Through dynamic brush strokes everything is connected with each other. The same dynamics can be seen in plants, branches, the waves in the water, the hairs on our heads, the feathers of a bird and so on. This movement between the layers fascinates me because it makes a connection. In this way, I make a direct reference to the unity of everything.
The painting speaks to me constantly; searching for the dynamic balance between the colours, brushstrokes, shapes and figures.
Where do you go to find inspiration?
I get my inspiration from walks in nature, from other artists, exhibitions, books and through images on the internet or magazines. The images are unconsciously stored in my head and arise spontaneously on the canvas when I see them again via an ink blot. I never know how the painting will turn out.
What messages and emotions do you hope to evoke within the viewer?
Through my works I want to make people more aware of themselves and everything around them. This can evoke certain emotions that are not always fun. But in daring to embrace your emotions, your mindset determines how you deal with them. Look for the right balance; just like nature is always looking for the right balance to have harmony between all life on earth.
I challenge myself and want to confront the unconscious, imperfect form.
Walk us through your creative process .. what are the different stages of your work? From initial concept to the execution of your idea.
About 25 years ago I started my journey to the present image but I didn’t know that at the time. Emotion, animals, people and nature were already a common thread in my work back then.
I made more than one-hundred drawings and paintings in which I was inspired by people and animals. At first I worked by observation, but after a while the real colours no longer fascinated me and I changed them for bright and dark colours. I started looking for the emotion behind the colour.
After many studies I let go of the recognisable image and wanted to experiment with stains in eco-line (coloured ink). Unconsciously, several creatures emerged from the stains. This often gave surprising results, giving free play to my imagination.
Then the shape of the given image returned. But this time the bodies of man and animal were taken apart in a playful and sometimes unpleasant way and put together again. Soft and powerful lines, recognisable and strange figures alternated to express feelings even more. This took several years.
Now I work again with the ink stain. The Rorschach test has given me more insight and works as a good source of inspiration. Now I don’t just start from the world around me, but work even more from my own inner world.
I challenge myself and want to confront the unconscious, imperfect form. Different feelings are evoked from the past, the present and the future.
Do you have any art rituals?
Not exactly. I start working when I feel that I want to put something on the canvas. I work alternately on the ground and on the easel. Ink stains dry on the ground and the treatment with oil paint is done on the easel. I always have music on which ranges from rock, classical, golden oldies to pop music. The music brings me into a certain trance in which the colours and brushstrokes on my canvas are influenced.
What are some of the challenges you typically face in your practise and how do you overcome these?
Ups and downs. When I feel unsuccessful and frustrated I let the work rest for a few days until it calls me again. It is a constant alternation between looking, feeling, working and resting. The acceptance of this process has taken many years. The painting and the inner voice ask me not to give up.
How does art and creativity affect your overall well-being? And how do you feel when you create?
Art makes me look differently at the things around me and within myself. It gives more freedom in my way of thinking and feeling. When I can’t find words art helps me to express my feelings.
When I paint I feel like a flower and a bird at the same time. I grow and feel free to do what I want.
I feel connected to myself and the painting.
Art means a world that is outside and inside the artist
What are your hopes and dreams as an artist?
As an artist I want to convey a positive message. When people look at my work I want them to be more open to their own feelings. If my art can help them in this, I am satisfied.
My expectation as an artist is to reach more people through art magazines, my website and exhibitions. A good collaboration with a gallery which I feel in line with could help me in this.
A big dream is to exhibit in major art cities such as Antwerp, Amsterdam, London, New York … a dream that many artists have.
Anything coming up that we can look out for?
In December 2021 I will exhibit in the cultural centre ‘de Warande’ in Turnhout (Belgium). I hope to meet a lot of people there.
And lastly, what does art mean for you?
For me, art means a world that is outside and inside the artist, expressing it in a creative way, which touches you as a spectator.
To view more of Eefje’s work: