Mirthe Blussé, visual artist

Mirthe Blussé's work is all about colour. With vivid brushstrokes and splatters, or fine lines and little marks, she makes abstract work, often reflecting on nature, poetry or music. Mirthe works in Amsterdam and in Barcelona.
Mirthe Blussé, visual artist
Mirthe Blussé, visual artist
Tell me about your studio(s)
In Barcelona, I share a space with five other creatives. We all do different things but it feels like one big family. The feedback from my studio colleagues is important to me. They can see the progress that I make and they comment on it directly, and vice versa - I need this kind of openness. Also, seeing the work and the workflow of others - yet very different from my own - is so stimulating. But I couldn’t be around people all the time. I enjoy that hour in the morning before everybody else arrives in the studio. I enjoy it because I know that eventually, my colleagues will come.
In Amsterdam, it is the total opposite: I work from a quiet attic. There, I can lock myself up and focus more on the concept, on poetry and on music.
I make different work when I am in Amsterdam than when I am in Barcelona. My colour palette is completely different. Nevertheless, these two spaces, they work for me!

Why Barcelona?
I have always loved that city. The way of life, the beautiful weather, being outside…. A few years ago, I felt the need to explore a new playground and to be totally open again. I applied for an artist in residence program at Untitled Gallery BCN, which turned out to be a perfect way to arrive in Barcelona and to have some first starting points in the art world. By now, I really feel at home there. Barcelona has lively streets, nobody seems to be in a rush. And the sun is shining every day - can you imagine the impact on my colours?!
Mirthe Blussé, visual artist
Mirthe Blussé, visual artist
Can you describe your work?
My work is abstract. Minimal. With colourful bold brushstrokes or delicate lines, I seek for a rhythm and a stillness. My work is very intuitive, yet I try to compose it in order to bring it down to its essence.
Often it is a reflection on life, on nature or music. Last summer, for instance, I hiked along the North coast of Spain. The pureness of that landscape inspired me to make even more minimal work. I tried to capture it in a series of paintings using just a few brushstrokes and a very modest colour palette.

What is your process?
My starting point is often an experience or an emotion that I want to reflect on. I start out choosing the colours I want to use. That preparation of the colour palette can take up some days. Mixing, mixing, mixing, try-outs, mixing again… Most of the time I try to bring my palette down to just a few colours. That may look simple but I have very exact thoughts about it. Through the colours, I try to communicate a specific mood. So for me, that preparation is everything. Once I have that as a base, I rely on my spontaneity and enjoy maximum freedom while creating.

Your material?
Gouache when I’m painting. Waterbased block inks when I’m monoprinting. Gouache has a beautiful colour intensity. Something I’ve always been looking for. Aquarelle, for example, doesn’t have that same colour power. It is too watery for me. Also, gouache is very tactile, which I love. It flows and dilutes in a beautiful, natural way. Acrylic seems too ‘plastic’ to me. I would like to try oil paint one day, but I am afraid that I wouldn’t be able to produce with the same speed and directness. Also, I am so familiar with gouache by now that I know exactly how to work with it. And still, it keeps surprising me!
I keep a studio journal where I document the details of the materials I use: the colours, their mixtures, names and numbers, the effects of mixing different materials, try-outs etc. And of course the mistakes. That’s the thrill of it!

Do you make sketches?
Yes, I do. In the morning I like to loosen up by working on paper. I make collages by playing around with shapes and colour combinations. When I’m painting, I start out on papers the same size as the canvasses that I’m gonna work on. I’ve tried to create immediately on canvas but it seldom turned out well. My work is risky because I work very intuitively, so often things go wrong. That’s okay for me. I’ve gotten used to painting my canvases all over and start again. I really don’t mind, I prefer to keep on working this spontaneous and direct.
Mirthe Blussé, visual artist
Mirthe Blussé, visual artist
Mirthe Blussé, visual artist
I make different work when I am in Amsterdam
than when I am in Barcelona. 
Mirthe Blussé, visual artist
Mirthe Blussé, visual artist
Have you always been working as an artist?
I graduated from The Royal Academy in The Hague in Applied Arts. Next to design and illustration, I have always created art. In the beginning, I wasn’t sure if I could ever work as a fulltime artist. But at a certain point, I just went for it – and I am happy ever since.
Occasionally I work on collaborations. Recently my artwork was applied on surfboards for example, and I collaborated with a few fashion brands. As long as they want me for my own ‘signature’, I love it! Collabs can give me new inspiration, and from there a new line of work, which is great!

What' is your motivation?
‘Work hard, be nice to people'. This has brought me so many good things in life. I believe the world goes round because you grant people things and vice versa because you are inspired by each other.
Also, I am super disciplined. I have such a passion for what I do. I never need to force myself to work. For me creating is the nicest thing there is.

Do you have an agent?
I used to have one but at the moment I prefer to do it myself. And I have a very dedicated gallery that represents my art. They bring me in contact with people who might be interested in my work or show it to interior architects etc… That means a lot to me!
But it also happens that I receive an email from someone on the other side of the world who just loves my art and wants to buy a piece - just like that! It's amazing how close-by everything has become. This works well for me, too. Nevertheless, I believe that in order to buy a work of art nothing compares to seeing the work in reality and meeting the artist.

Can you support yourself by your art?
I need very little to be happy, so I lead a sober life. Everything I have can fit into a few suitcases. In exchange for it, I am free. And I enjoy doing what I love the most. What else do I need?! Lately, I have the feeling that I am where I belong - and that feels so good.
Mirthe Blussé, visual artist
Mirthe Blussé, visual artist
Mirthe Blussé, visual artist
I never need to force myself to work.
For me creating is the nicest thing there is. 
Do you run out of inspiration sometimes?
I am always full of inspiration. And I have plenty of energy! But the work is also very physical. You’re constantly creating, messing things up, repairing, moving your materials around, framing, stretching canvasses, preparing and cleaning your tools afterwards. So I taught myself to take small breaks and go for a little walk. Like this, I end up having a super nice day and I can still work really hard. In order to create, I need to close myself off. But during my walks, I like to talk to people, see what’s going on in the neighbourhood... then I realise that I don’t miss out on too much, and go back to work.

What is your daily routine when you are in Barcelona?
I am a morning person. I spend the first hour slowly: having breakfast, looking outside, listening to the birds, reflecting on what I’m gonna work on. It’s my favourite hour of the day. Then I bike or walk to the studio, have coffee there, prepare my tools and materials and get started. I use to work until around 7 or 8 in the evening. The weekends I keep free for other stuff and new impressions.

Which artists inspire you?
At the moment I am inspired by the work of Etel Adnan. She is a painter, a writer and a poet. She made very basic, intimate paintings.
And Eugène Brands. His colours!
Joan Miró, of course. His way of looking at life, caring for the simple things.
Karel Appel: rawness mixed with no-nonsense!

Favourite museums?
Insel Hombroich, Hamburger Bahnhof, Stedelijk, Fundació Joan Miró, Palais de Tokyo, Huis Marseille.

What’s next?
At the moment I’m working on two solo exhibitions in Barcelona. The first is in May, in a very unique, intimate setting, and the other one in December, in a huge industrial space. It’s gonna be a challenge, but I’m super excited!
Also, I’m doing some new collaborations: one in ceramics and one in silkscreen printing.
For the rest, I hope to stay inspired and in good health, to enjoy life and to keep on working. Keeping the fire alive, enjoying the process, and pushing it a little further every day!
Mirthe Blussé, visual artist
Mirthe Blussé, visual artist
You can find Mirthe's work here.
Follow her on Instagram or Facebook.
Interview: Julia Kaiser
Photography: Mingle Collective
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