Interview

In Interview

with Dr. Friederike Weimar

The process of painting

What does your everyday work entail?

After having breakfast with my family, I enjoy doing some exercise – swimming or yoga – and then I’m usually here at the studio between half past nine and ten. At some point during the afternoon I take a break, when I’ll cook a little something with my husband. And after that, I work again until about six or eight.

And here at the studio your fridge is filled with eggs…

Yes indeed, I need them for the colour, the egg tempera, which is what I paint with.

You mix the colours yourself – that sounds complicated.

Oh no, not at all. I’d be happy to show you how I mix the colours: I break a whole egg in a glass, beat it some. Then I add some resin previously dissolved in turpentine and also add some linseed oil. The consistency is best when the mixture is now allowed to chill for a while. I mix the colours on these plate palettes. The painting material sticks to the paintbrush so well that I can dip the brush directly in the colour pots without any of it remaining in them. And that’s how I’m then able to mix and add shading to all the colours.

How fast does the paint dry?

It hard-dries within six to eight weeks, but the surface dries quickly, so continuing work on the picture is no problem. But I actually like working on paint that is still wet, so that the paint doesn’t cover it, but blends into the colour beneath. Hence this technology that the old masters followed, which sees the bottom colours filtering through to the upper layers.

And when you’ve made a mistake?

I quickly notice when something’s not right. By no later than a week I go over it again. For instance the sky there, there was this cloud ceiling. It seemed like too much for me – so I changed it.

When do you sign your pictures?

At some point during the act of painting, I scratch my signature in the wet paint.

There are often children in your pictures, why?

I believe that nearly all children or teenagers have had dreams about how their life might look like later in life and have either achieved them step by step or forgotten about them. With each year in your life, you settle down a bit more. When we go back and remember moments in our life when we’ve felt certain feelings and taken certain decisions, we can go back and decide again as adults. In my view, looking back has also always had a healing effect. So it’s not so much one’s own children or grandchildren that I mean, though it could be them, too, but more oneself. Observing a scampering child can bring up the feeling of back then, the feeling of abandon when you were a kid yourself. And now you can go on living this feeling of freedom for yourself.

Your pictures always convey positive feelings, the landscapes, too, and even the pictures showing large street crossings, not just the works that show children. This also has to do with the bright light that literally fills your pictures. The very bright light does not seem to simply be caused by the sun, but also brings up associations of a spiritual light source. Are you religious?

I do in fact see a part of my purpose in being a mediator between my notion and perception of what divinity means for me and where I find this divinity here on earth: in light, in the sprawling of nature, in children’s expression, in people coming together, also in the freedom of the sea and the sky, the themes that I’m working on at present.

So you want to train the observer’s eye? To call our attention to good feelings and loving memories?

It’s feasible that when you’re at a meeting, one you really don’t feel like being at, you happen to look at this picture or remember this picture. And if you then look closely at it, the discussions may well run a lot better than if you simply allow yourself to be influenced by the negative statements made by the people you’re talking to. So it’s indeed feasible that the pictures influence the observer quite directly and concretely. It’s this view towards the positive that I’d like to bring about.