Last Saturday I came across the outer edge of the Waalsdorpervlakte. By chance I was walking down a small footpath next to the International Criminal Court at The Hague, Nethelands. Suddenly there it was, the motif I was anxiously searching for that day. It was a beautiful tree in bloom and it was set off agains a clear crystal blue sky. I came back from the Nieuwe Scheveningse Bosjes where I only found motifs in weak Spring yellow-green. However, this tree was mesmerizing. I just took some pictures because it was a cold day and I almost froze my hands off.
Each year at the 4th of May we commemorate the dead at Dodenherdenkingsdag (Remembrance of the Dead). The place to be is at the Waalsdorpervlakte (Waalsdorp Plain) in the south of Meyendel. It was the very spot where many members of the resistance where shot in the dunes. Now, artists usually find themselves on the outer skirts of society. Therefor I am not your regular participant attending to these commemorations. Instead, I decided to make this pastel drawing to honour the dead and to celebrate life. After all, what a contrast I found: a tragic spot in the past showing so much beauty in the present.
With regard to artistry: I tried to find a way to capture the strong light on the beach grass in the front. That should give me enough contrast to the tonal shadings in the tree. The most difficult part was to create enough depth in both yellow blossoms as well as branches inside. The latter I wanted to set off against lighter ones on the other side of the tree. This way I created a feel of three dimensionality. The blue in the sky I rendered reddish blue in the top and greenish blue at the bottom. I think this creates enough vibrancy due to the fact that these varieties play out their complementary mojo against eachother. It is a trick I pulled before such as in Meyendel – 21-02-15.
Saturday and this beautiful tree still were inprinted on my retinae. Obviously this pastel came out in an urgent whim, almost in one session. I wanted to depict Spring so badly and it is what we all long for such a long time. In fact it’s more a feeling of freedom after this ghastly pandemic keeping us indoors for a such long time. Could it be that people in Spring 1945 had the same feeling? A salient detail is that, when I took photos of this tree, I heared shots in de background. There is a shooting range close by. It always gives me the shivers walking on these plains. Ghosts from the past know why.
Pastel drawing on Canson Mi-Teintes Touch paper (50 x 65 x 0.1 cm)
Artist: Corné Akkers
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