Painting outdoors with his father in Holland, Henk Pander from an early age was proficient in watercolor, a medium popular among Dutch artists because of its capacity to render the evanescent quality of sunlight glinting off water, dunes, and the picturesque architecture of farms and villages. For a time Pander was the youngest member of the Dutch watercolor group founded by the noted Kees Verwey of Haarlem, whose bravura watercolors of flowers were an inspiration to Pander.
When painting watercolors, the whiteness of the paper is a given, the white translating as light in the completed work. A deftly executed watercolor is luminous and aglow. Lightness of touch, sureness of gesture, are essentials in this practice. The medium itself–of the moment, of right now–discourages reworking and revision. The accomplished watercolorist works quickly, confidently, and knows when to stop. Henk Pander is the master of all this.
His watercolors span the entire range of his oeuvre in all media. Studies for theater sets, figures, portraits, still life, landscapes, cityscapes, high-tech astronomy installations–all are subjects that Pander explores in watercolor.
Although he sometimes uses watercolor to paint still life arrangements and other subjects in the studio, watercolor as a plein air medium allows him to paint far beyond the confines of the studio. It is watercolor that goes along on Pander’s road trips to remote locales, while oil painting stays home. Watercolor is the “right there” medium for documenting firsthand the dramatic terrain, abandoned airplanes, and humming telescopes that he encounters on his painting trips.
Pander understands plein air watercolor painting as a mode of on-site “witnessing.” Driving his van and pulling a small house trailer, he arrives at a location, sets up his painting table, gets out his board with the pre-stretched paper attached, and paints the scene then and there. His watercolors sometimes serve as studies for larger oil paintings but always stand on their own as self-sufficient works of art. Together with oil paintings on linen and large format ink drawings, watercolors comprise one of the three major components of Pander’s production.