Surreal painter Jo Willems was born in Langenboom, a small village in the south of The Netherlands in 1954. At the age of 16 he went to School for Housepainters in Boxtel, where he discovered his interest in colors and a passion for drawing and painting. He started to make paintings of pictures that came into his mind in his free time and discovered a hobby which after years became Joe´s most important work. Joe´s style was influenced by artists like Dali, Magritte and Willink. For the first few years he used ink and gouache and was painting on panels. Later Joe decided to use oil paint on canvas. Today we will talk to Joe a bit about his working process and stories hidden behind his paintings:
"I always prepare my own canvas. In the beginning I used the colors straight out of the tube but I didn’t always get the result I wanted. Because of that, I began to mix the colors myself on the basis of the three primary colors and white. Black is forbidden. I paint as detailed as possible and I don’t like it when strikes of a brush show on the painting. I want to create depth in my paintings as much as possible by using bright colors, playing with perspective and often showing a horizon. Through this depth in my paintings I want to say; look further than the horizon, broaden your field of vision, there is so much more than what you expect at first".
"My paintings tell a story. All the places and pictures shown in my works are real to me. I’m touched by something I see or hear, but it also has to do with my fantasies and thoughts. I think for me painting is a way to focus on myself and sort my feelings out. Sometimes a meaning becomes clear to me only afterwards. No heavily loaded scenes, no profound messages but often for others recognizable pictures that move them. Symbols I use in my paintings are roses (love), eggs (fertility), feathers (freedom) and spheres (cycle of life). When I start a painting, I roughly have a “story” in my mind but gradually I add or change something until I’m satisfied that the picture is complete. I always work on one painting at a time and I’m only satisfied when I think it’s perfect. At exhibitions I hear that the bright colors I use, have a positive effect on people and that they have their own interpretation of a painting, according to their personality and experiences. The title of the painting appears to be a good key. I hope that people ‘feel’ my paintings and that they are ‘touched’ by them. For me painting is a passion, a ‘must’, a wonderful way to express myself. My paintings are an extension of my inner self. When I’m painting I feel that the painting and I are one. I love to create images of places which don’t exist, but at the same time are recognizable".