It was inevitable that the ocean became the main focus of my painting. I started diving, and over the years, the ocean became part of my soul. I am forever fascinated by the seemingly limitless variety and ultimate complexity of the sea creatures I encounter and never cease to be intrigued by the beauty of the colors and the many shapes—everything from soft and ethereal, to stark and threatening. Nature, once again, is perfection, and it is a true challenge to try and depict that.
— Liduine Bekman
Bekman said, “I was always fascinated by nature and its beauty. In my family, museum and gallery visits were common, and my family taught me to really see things through careful observation.” The ocean was very much part of Bekman’s childhood. Growing up in the Netherlands, a country she said that over the centuries was partially built out of the ocean, Bekman lived within walking distance of the sea. She said that she “witnessed the North Sea in all its beauty, fury and bounty.”
Bekman went to art school and studied all the fine art disciplines from various drawing media to painting—first oils, then acrylic paints. She came to study watercolour in an effort to “loosen up” and work more spontaneously. Bekman said that the unpredictability of watercolour forced her to work less tightly controlled. “Initially, I found watercolour a difficult medium for this precise reason, but perseverance made me fall in love with it. I do like the medium because it often has a mind of its own and makes decisions for you.”
Bekman said that she loves the fluidity of the medium and uses a lot of water in her initial washes. She said that large brushes also help in keeping the medium fluid while she builds up a painting with a series of layers.
“I like my work to look fluid, especially because of the subject matter I paint. In my work, the ocean and watercolour become perfect partners,” she said.
As for her source of inspiration, Bekman said that it comes from first-hand observation of the creatures in the sea. She had a love of nature right from the start since she was a child, she said. Bekman often wanted her father to “stop the car” so that she could get a better look at flowers, animals and buildings. “He almost always willingly obliged,” she said.
Throughout her entire life, Bekman lived close to the ocean—first, along the coast of the Netherlands, then by the Gulf of Mexico before a move took her to the coast of Florida with a return once again to the Netherlands shoreline where she currently makes her home.
Bekman combines deliberate planning with the spontaneity of watercolour to create her epic underwater scenes.
“Before I start a new painting or series of paintings, I have a clear idea in my mind, not only what my particular subject matter is going to be, but in which manner I wish to portray it. In other words, my painting is largely worked out in my mind before I start. I then do a minimalist sketch on the watercolour paper itself before laying in the initial very wet washes where I basically let the paint do the thinking for me.”
Bekman said that since she already has a clear picture of what the end result of the painting will be, more or less, she can easily reserve her lighter areas and whites to work on later in the creative process. Bekman works the painting further with many layers of paint. She said that she never uses paint straight out of the tube. Rather, she prefers to always mix her colours on her palette before applying them to a painting, she said.
Even before she started scuba diving, Bekman was painting sealife as subject matter. She said that she did lots of snorkelling when the opportunities arose, but her desire “to see life down there closer up, to actually feel one with the world underwater” led her to take up diving.
“Diving has only increased my curiosity about the creatures in the ocean,” she said. “The complexity of their anatomy, the wonderful colors, being part of an entire new world will make me continue to dive for as long as life will let me. Every time I go down, nothing is the same, and every time I surface, I cannot wait to get to work and let this wonderful world inspire my next piece of art.”
For more information or to order original artwork and prints directly from the artist, please visit www.liduinebekman.com ■