Inside the Studio

Astrid Oudheusden

Favorite material to work with?
Above all, I love oil paint. The beauty of the colors is never met by any other paint, in my opinion. It has all the things united I find in other separate paints. Oil can be used thick, thin, glazed, opaque, and dry. I love the smell of the paint like a smoker loves the smell of the first lighted cigarette.

How many years as an artist?
As long as I can remember.

What themes do you pursue?
When I graduated, I finished a series of portraits. Not the realistic kind, more the soul-searching, behind-the-scenes kind. To this day I am fascinated by people. I tend to work in series, and at the moment I am working on two: “Office Stories” and “Nothing Personal.”

With “Office Stories,” I investigate people who work in offices. “Nothing Personal” places me in the rather difficult position of working on demand. I invite people to come up with a demand, which may vary from a painting for above the couch, to an artwork that brings back memories of living abroad.

Up until now, I have made paintings for six different houses/people. It is a demanding series, and it shows me I am working from a source inside myself (or outside, I think it is all connected) that cannot meet other demands, such as how the painting fits with the colors of a couch.

Prefer to work with music or in silence?
When painting, I prefer silence. For the other occupations in my studio, I listen to all kinds of music. Bach is my favorite. His music is so clear and mathematical, it brings silence.

What’s around the corner from your place?
Around the corner is the Westerpark.

If you could have one piece of art in your life, what would it be?
“The Dance” by Matisse (the one in the St. Petersburg Hermitage). I’ve seen it once and it made me cry.

Art school or self-taught?
Art school.

Who are your favorite writers?
Paul Auster, A. M. Homes, Philip Hensher, Iain Banks, Rupert Thomson, Tristan Egolf.

If you couldn’t be an artist, what would you do?
I honestly don’t know. I am perfectly suited in my personality and temperament for what I do. I suppose I could imagine a job working with animals or wildlife in some capacity – maybe becoming a bee keeper – that’s weird enough for me!

Day job?
Luckily I don’t have a day job. When I graduated I had to work as a receptionist and in a shop, but it didn’t end well. I am totally unfit for it.

Use anything other than paint?
Oh yes; I use pencils, crayons, ink, charcoal, acrylics, gouache and other things when working on paper. On canvas I mostly use oil paint.

Is painting dead?
Why would painting be dead? Because fashionable people tell us so? Because we can’t come up with anything original anymore? I am convinced there will always be painting as long as there are people.

Favorite brush?
Any brush will do as long as it is well made and doesn’t lose its hairs.

Palette knives?
I use palette knives for scraping my palette. In painting, I prefer my fingers to the knife.

Monet or Manet?