Artist Patricia Van Lubeck- From Amsterdam to Maitland
Patricia Van Lubeck grew up in Amsterdam at a time where painting wasn’t an option for a career. She went through high school without taking a single art lesson then progressed to an office job once she graduated. Her job as a bookkeeper satisfied her for awhile and ensured that she would have a stable source of income.
During her mid-twenties though, her outlook began to change. “I started falling asleep at my desk every afternoon. It wasn’t that I hated my job, but I felt like I needed to do something else and my husband Frank convinced me to find something that I like”.
Patricia had loved drawing as a child so she decided that she would try to teach herself to be an artist. “I borrowed books from the library to learn about techniques and made the decision to become an artist”. Soon enough, Patricia found herself stockpiling painting supplies and began to create.
Cementing herself as an artist
Some of her first work included painting a series of art cars. The first car she painted was using the camouflage technique used by allied forces during WWI. “I had seen an exhibition of war ships painted this way and it made me wonder if I could do that on a car”. The project took Patricia two weeks and 200 metres of masking tape to turn her green car into a black and white masterpiece. The image of this car is on display at the Tate museum in London.
Patricia had also begun to create work for exhibitions. “I had my first exhibition and even though I only sold a couple of paintings, I still wanted to pursue it. We moved to another house which had a good area that I could use as a gallery”, Patricia says. This made it convenient for Patricia to showcase her work without the pressures of securing an exhibition at a gallery. She only had about 20 paintings of her own so eventually she commissioned other artists to display their work as well. “Doing gallery work for other artists took up a lot of time so it stopped me from doing my own art for a bit”.
Patricia and Frank moved to the Bay of Plenty in New Zealand in the mid-2000s. The art scene was a bit harder for Patricia to crack over there. “New Zealand liked a lot of ‘New Zealand art’ which is very inward looking like painting their landscape for example. It had to have a Kiwiana aspect where mine doesn’t”. Patricia also says that there were a limited number of galleries in New Zealand unless you were willing to travel to the large cities like Auckland or Wellington.
She and Frank decided to move to Australia in late 2017 after a decade in NZ because they had begun to miss living in the city and Australia had the ideal climate. They decided to settle in Maitland. There, they found the perfect building to become both their home and a place for Patricia to show her work.
From day one, they felt welcomed by the locals. “We quickly came to see that Maitland has so much to offer year-round: festivals, markets, workshops and a close art community”. It didn’t take long for Studio Amsterdam to take off and for the community to become aware of Patricia’s art. She was commissioned to create a mural for the Bourke Street Link in Maitland which is a stylised version of her painting The Brave One.
Patricia describes her style as neo-surrealism; something she says is quite a unique style to her. She describes it as: artwork with amazing detail that is visually dynamic, with realistic elements and above all an alienating atmosphere. “Surrealism is the most talkative way of painting."
Patricia’s chosen medium is oil painting, which she has used from her earliest days of painting. “All the famous Dutch painters used oil so that’s why I decided to use them. The thing with oil though, is that, because there are a lot of layers, each layer needs to dry for a few weeks. Once it’s finished it has to sit for a year before you can varnish it”.
Inspiration is the starting point for all creatives. For Patricia, she keeps a book where she can write down all the ideas she has for a painting which are usually based around real-life. “When I finish a painting and want to start a new one; I go through that book and pick something out. Inspiration is only a small part of painting because a small idea always becomes something bigger”. In a series of notes listed on her Facebook, Patricia writes that the conceptual stage of her art is often more about elimination than inspiration. “The initial idea appears… from there it’s primarily a matter of bringing the idea back to the essential. This means I’m usually throwing away 90%”. The result is neo-surrealism paintings that tell a story with an aspect of reality.
Patricia doesn’t necessarily feel inspired by other painters or artists nor does she feel influenced by their work either. She says that some of her earlier paintings could be viewed as having a similar style to Dutch painters Carel Willink and Pyke Koch. “I experimented a bit but eventually found my own style, so I feel that my work isn’t really inspired by anyone now. It’s good to have our own style as an artist and stand out from all the others”.
In her gallery, Patricia has a series of paintings that feature trees of different forms. She says that these are all about individualism and have names such as The Brave One, The Same One and The Inaccessible One.
Taiwan and Artastique
Patricia has exhibited work in Taiwan which has been successful. One day, she as invited was invited to an art fair by a gallery in Taiwan. “They wanted me to display my work at an air fair in Taipei, which is something I hadn’t really thought about doing”. The response was positive so she wants to try and exhibit there every three years.
More recently, Patricia has created the initiative known as ‘Artastique’. It is an art exhibition and festival that brings together many different artists and businesses in High Street Maitland. For 10 days in March, businesses team up with artists to display their work in shop windows for the public to viewing. The inspiration came from a similar event held in the Dutch town Bergen. 2019 was the first year of this event and had 40 businesses participating which is expected to grow in 2020. To find out more about this event, visit www.artastique.com.
At present, Patricia will continue creating her artwork for both Studio Amsterdam and international exhibits. To keep up-to-date with her work, follow Patricia on Facebook.