Artist statement

Registration Netherlands Institute for Art History:

Pauline van de Ven (Houthem-St. Gerlach, 1956)
Autodidact painter and graphic artist, fiction writer
Graduated at University of Amsterdam
Digital vector painter. Started around 1998 with watercolor, linocut and monotype of etching ground on glass. Changed to digital painting on a Palm handheld in 2004, initially raster. Proceeded through a combination of raster-vector to vector around 2013. Lorenzo Award for digital painting at the 2015 Florence Biennale, several other awards. Author of 'Digital painting explained and illustrated, (2013-2019)', an online source of information on digital painting.

I am exploring the new medium of vector. My work develops in cycles from figurative to abstract and back to figurative. Hard lines, monochrome colors and perfect gradients limit the emotional palette of vector. ‘Ceci est un oeuf’ (2015, below) expresses my initial dislike. Still, I hold manual vector to be the only cooperation between the artist and the computer that offers a new language of form while leaving the artist in charge. On one side there is digital raster painting, where the artist is fully in charge but there is no difference with traditional painting. On the other, computer-generated painting offers renewal, but the computer takes the lead. Its perfect forms, regularity and repetitiveness, and the absence of the artist's personal brand of clumsiness feels to me emotionally void.

I proceeded with manual vector for the joy to experiment as well as for a practical reason: the enlargement software that came with the Brushes raster painting app was abruptly discontinued. Switching to vector relieved me from the
time consuming, noncreative work of enlarging my paintings by hand. To overcome my dislike of vector I searched for ways that could lend it some of the soft nuance and broader range of expression of raster. This seemed to work if I restricted color to black-and-white gradients, supplemented with one or two monochromes. Through these clair obscurs I became more or less comfortable with vector. Five large manual vectors - Waiting, Diner, Thoughts, Rainy day, Woman - conclude this development. 

Still looking for ways to soften and deepen manual vector, I recently started to use Mandelbrot and L-systems fractal forms as a background, and to combine manual vector with photo transformations. These were all raster or raster-vector combinations. Beside a discomfort with the lack of command in a computer-generated process,
and the re-introduction of the old enlargement problem, I now missed the simple clarity of pure vector that had troubled me so much in the past. This brought me back to manual vector. In 'Particles' I have placed clear, simple forms against soft backgrounds without feeling the need to restrict colors any longer. 


To promote understanding and straighten out some general misconceptions about digital painting I wrote ‘Digital Painting, explained and illustrated’ (2013-2019) which is now in the Public Domain and can be freely used at

Amsterdam, April 2019

Ceci est un oeuf’ (Manual vector painting with a raster shape, 2015)