Name: Lorena Kloosterboer, I’m a Dutch-Argentine artist (born in the Netherlands, 1962)
Where do you live:
I live in a renovated warehouse (dating from 1892) in Antwerp, Belgium.
- Painting fine realism
- Author of “Painting in Acrylics – the Indispensable Guide”
- Several public bronze statues located in Wassenaar, the Netherlands
Currently working on:
Still lifes in which I seek to capture the fascinating interactions between colors, light, shadows, textures and reflections, and unite them in visual poetry. My compositions are infused with symbolic meaning, allowing me freedom of expression. I continue developing and refining my detailed painting techniques using acrylics. A current still life series that is proving quite fruitful, entitled Tempus ad Requiem, focuses on birds perching on ceramic or glass objects.
When did you realize that you were going to work in this area? Tell us how it all started.
I’ve painted since childhood, but my first career choice was fashion design. Through a twist of life’s circumstances, I ended up attending classical art school in Buenos Aires, Argentina, instead. Due to the sociopolitical situation at the time (military dictatorship in the early 1980s), I encountered quite a bit of xenophobic and misogynist attitudes from both fellow students as well as teachers. These unexpected stumbling blocks fueled my determination to become the best art student, to stand up and fight the persistent bullying and sabotage of my artwork. Overcoming these setbacks and even thriving under these difficult circumstances by receiving high grades, winning several important awards, and selling artwork made me realize Art would always play a central role in my life. My art has come to define me as a person.
How would you describe your creativity?
The way I’d describe my creativity is like falling in love. I see beauty everywhere — in nature, in objects, in words and music, in the human form, in moments… I seek to capture the splendor of what attracts me with meticulous craftsmanship. Through my art I attempt to transmit emotions, to ultimately start a silent dialogue between my artwork and the viewer.
How and when did you start to work in a serious manner?
I’ve been serious about my artwork since attending art school, but feel that my skills have increased significantly in the past decade — both regarding content as well as on a technical level. I’ve come to the point where I feel I’m truly tapping into my best, most proficient inner-artist. This doesn’t mean I’m always satisfied with my results; I continue to learn and push myself relentlessly.
What do you do at the moment?
I paint still lifes, going back and forth between series, commissions, and new ideas. I enjoy participating in juried and invitational exhibitions in art galleries and museums. I love connecting with collectors and art enthusiasts on a personal level. It’s exhilarating when my artwork finds a new home where it is loved.
What is the most important thing in a studio for you?
The short answer is “creative comfort”. The long answer is ample space, good lighting, plenty of storage room, and good quality equipment and fixtures. I love high ceilings and large windows.
What is the nicest compliment you’ve received for your creative work, and from whom?
Each time someone tells me they admire my work I’m thrilled, and each time a piece sells I feel it’s an acknowledgment of my creative efforts. However, I received the best compliment a few years ago. During my first solo exhibition in 1991 a friend fell in love with a large painting (a self-portrait) but couldn’t afford it at the time. It never sold and was kept in storage, until 20 years later, when he inquired about it and bought it for its original price. Realizing that someone fell in love with my work and continued thinking about it for decades, is to me, the nicest compliment!
What does a regular day look like for you?
Every day is different, but in general I wake up late (I’m not a morning person), and handle some deskwork first (such as writing/answering emails and letters, reading news, scrolling through Facebook looking at art, making phone calls, keeping track of my calendar events, appointments, and/or making lists). Then I may spend a few hours making thumbnail sketches, setting up compositions, taking photographs, changing and improving digital photos on my computer, updating my website, reading, or doing research. I regularly interrupt this type of studio work with household chores (laundry, grocery shopping, and cooking), as well as doing preparatory work, such as gessoing and sanding my supports.
Then, mid-afternoon I have my daily 15 minute Skype call with my best friend who lives in another time zone, while she drinks her morning coffee with me. Mid to late afternoon my energy starts increasing, that’s when I start painting. While I paint I often listen to an audio book, music, an online lecture or documentary. I usually paint between four to six hours, more so if I’m in the zone or have a deadline. Night time is when I feel most alive, inspired, and energized. I break for a late dinner, often going back to painting afterwards unless I have dinner guests. I go to sleep between 2 and 5 a.m. unless I pull an all-nighter.
Tell us about your dream project.
Every time I start a new painting, it starts as a dream project. I fall in love with a new composition, I want it to continue to excite me, invite me to paint it. This is why I only take commissions when the collector gives me virtual carte blanche, as I don’t want my work to become forcibly attached to others’ ideas. Sometimes, halfway through the painting process the piece disappoints me, then I resolutely axe it and start something new. I aim for paintings that flow, that motivate me from beginning to end, and make me feel happy, satisfied, and proud once finished.
Who is your professional role model/inspiration?
I’m inspired by many artists, dead and alive, who create(d) beautiful, striking, or interesting work infused with craftsmanship and palpable skill. Not only artists inspire me though; energetic innovators in many fields stimulate and encourage me — people who use their brainpower, have ground-breaking ideas, and can communicate their thoughts effectively. The list is very long and continues to grow.
How would you describe your work style?
My work has been described as fine realism, photorealism, symbolic realism, hyperrealism… Labels are important to briefly describe a style during a conversation, yet don’t really define the end result unless one looks at my work — and then the label depends more on the viewer than on my own narrative. My aim is to paint graceful realism that looks nearly photographic from a distance, yet shows my hand when viewed up close, without noticeable brush strokes. At the nose-to-canvas distance I want the viewer to notice the multitude of abstract information my work contains. My subject matter has come to lead a life of its own, and I feel my paintings (in regards to both content and style) often choose me instead of the other way around. Following my instincts allows me to paint slow and not stress about producing, but focus on what is right for me.
What inspires you?
Beauty, kindness, empathy, intelligence, knowledge.
What do you fear most?
Which is the one thing you can’t live without?
What is a happy life to you?
The one I’m leading right now! It has a balanced flow of creative work, enhanced by travel and interesting social interactions.
A book that has made the most impression in your life?
All the books I have read have in some way or other contributed to who I am today, but if I have to choose just one then it is Alice in Wonderland and its sequel Through the Looking-Glass, by Lewis Carroll.
Of course, being invited to write my own book about acrylic painting and having it published worldwide has made a huge impact on my life, both on a professional as well as personal level.
What is your favorite film?
My top three favorite movies are Antonia’s Line (1995), Contact (1997), and The Golden Compass (2007).
Who would you like to invite for a dinner and why?
As I have many artist and art-world friends whom I talk to on a regular basis, I would invite people who are knowledgeable in non-artistic areas, such as Sir David Attenborough, Richard Dawkins, Fabiola Gianotti, Lawrence M. Krauss, Vilayanur S. Ramachandran, Temple Grandin, Neil deGrasse Tyson, and Steven Pinker — for their fascinating scientific knowledge. And Stephen Fry for his elegant eloquence and wit.
If you could choose one place only to live, where would that be and why?
I’ve lived in a number of different countries (the Netherlands, Belgium, Argentina, the US) and traveled extensively. I haven’t found the ideal location yet, and I’m not sure I ever will or that it even exists. My ideal would be to live in a cosmopolitan city with an excellent infrastructure, in a region with a moderate climate, that has easy access to the arts, culture, friends, and an international airport. I can live anywhere as long as I have a comfortable studio!
How do you like to spoil yourself?
I love buying and trying out new art supplies, and I love traveling (exploring new places, visiting museums, looking at art, trying new food).
What is luxury for you?
Solitude. A quiet studio, time to create. Flow.
A recommendation for those who think about becoming an artist?
My best advice to anyone starting out as an artist is to be profoundly conscious of what kind of success you want to have. Everybody defines success in a different light; success can mean sales, exhibitions, financial security, high technical skill, popularity or fame, gallery representation, winning awards, getting published, etc. These are all different goals to be reached by different paths, but they are not the same and hardly ever go hand in hand. It is important to realize this in order not to lose focus or be sidetracked by offhand comments from those who do not understand your goals. There’s a huge difference in the daily effort of the artist who, for example, craves recognition through fame, or the artist who works for an independent income, or the one who seeks to create fresh innovative artwork.