Category Archives: representational art

Imitation and Imagination 2, TRAC2018. News.


Imitation and Imagination 2, TRAC2018

Dürer, how to imitate complex figures

Dürer, A Draftsman Making a Perspective Drawing of a Woman.jpg

In May 2018 I gave a lecture, Imitation and Imagination, at TRAC2018 (The Representational Art Conference) in The Netherlands, together with Ernst van de Wetering, the world’s foremost authority on Rembrandt. His contribution was about Rembrandt and assessing quality. He compared works of Rembrandt with works of his pupils. His lecture  was  based  on:

A  CORPUS  OF  REMBRANDT  PAINTINGS  Volume  V  Chapter  IV  with  the  title:  On  quality:  Comparative  remarks  on  the  function  of  Rembrandt’s  pictorial  mind  (pp.  283  –  310).  Freely  accessible  in  The  Rembrandt  Database:

Rembrandt, Abraham's sacrifice and Unknown, Abraham's sacrifice

Rembrandt, Abraham’s sacrifice and
Unknown, Abraham’s sacrifice

My lecture was on naturalistic realism, the area of tension between imitation and imagination in the classical art, including the contemporary variant.
Naturalism is one of many expressions of representational art, one with a very high degree of imitation.
See for example a comment with regard to a pretty realistic painting, on facebook (28-10-2014):

Huysman. Street in Utrecht i

Gerard Huysman. Utrecht, street in backlight, oil on panel, 2013

“I can’t understand why an artist would work so hard to make a painting like this that is so much like a photo. That’s what cameras are for. I can see the artist’s skill, but not the soul.”


This prejudice is often heard. Because really: isn’t imitation getting in the way of imagination? Exactly! No soul, no artistic creativity. And that’s what this discussion is all about.
I will contest the opinion that naturalism lacks imagination.

Part 1 of the lecture is in my earlier blog (see archive, august 2017).
Part 2 of Imitation and Imagination is following now.

However, the criticism does fit in with my doubts about my own work. For years I was haunted by questions:
● Is naturalistic realism actually the same as copying?
● Is it a lower form of art? Boring?
● A lot of people enjoy this kind of work, but that doesn’t mean it is relevant art.
● Does it add something? After all, reality, the real world, is already there. You should do something to it, with it.
● Shouldn’t you put your personal feelings into your art?

drawing I don't know any more

I don’t know any more, pencil-eraser-paper

Good art, who judges?

Contemporary realism in the Netherlands has been flourishing for about thirty years now. This is exceptional in Europe. Nevertheless the official art institutions and the media mostly neglect its existence. After thirty years this is strange. The wider public is deprived of a cultural treasure.
Recently a journalist wrote in a prestigious Dutch newspaper that realism can be dangerous, in the context of great skill. Yes, virtuosity is a must, she writes, but the comment ‘It looks like a photo’ is not a compliment. ‘It looks like the real thing’ even less. The artist has to expose himself, otherwise his painting will be only an illustration, not more than a picture. She mentions Henk Helmantel, who said not to be in search for expressing his personal feelings.1 In her interpretation he is doomed to produce mere illustrations, far from high art.

Henk Helmantel. Stillife with Cheese and Eggs

Henk Helmantel. Stillife with Cheese and Eggs, oil on panel, 1987, Collection Museum MORE. Photo Art Revisited.

Nothing against personal feelings in art. It is a romantic concept and we have seen great romantic art. But there seems to be a consensus that the personality, the feelings of the artist are primordial, while other approaches are excluded or rejected.
Although it’s not quite the same, this reminds me of Giorgio Vasari who pointed out that besides imitation and invention, good art should possess style and maniera, a personal artistic elegant style.2 True, a style of one’s own will add something to the art.

Well, you could say that my development until now just seems to have taken the wrong direction. Some twenty years ago I made The painter and her model, see the picture on the left. On the right a recent work: Daphne. It went from a loose touch, free colors and free imagination to naturalism.
And naturalism is less focussed on style and handwriting.

Van de Riet, Drawing Model and Daphne

Gezien van de Riet. Left: Drawing her model, acryl/oil on linnen, 1996, and right: Daphne, oil on canvas, 2016

Yes, in my beginner’s years I experimented a lot and I often had a personal spontaneous handwriting. The works of that period will never be dubbed copies or photos. Why on earth did I choose a more naturalistic way of painting? It only complicated things!
The crazy thing was: I couldn’t help myself. More and more I wanted to celebrate the beauty I had seen, to make it my own.

Ancient Greeks

Could it be that the history of art had witnessed earlier discussions about this question? I started on a search.
The Ancient Greeks had a great appreciation of the naturalistic detail. Birds should see painted grapes as real and try to pick them. An anecdote about Apelles clearly illustrates their admiration for imitation. The horse he painted was so life-like, that it is said that the horse of Alexander the Great started whinnying spontaneously on seeing it.

The Greeks had clear views on imagination. The artist should have in mind the Platonic Idea, the perfect form, the supernatural beauty of the object he wanted to portray. This did not come about automatically, because models were only ordinary mortals. Even the most beautiful human body could have fat ankles. Well, in that case you would take somebody else’s ankles!
Idealizing thus, the artist would transcend pure imitation.
So there we have it: Imitation and Imagination…

Aphrodite and Alexander as Hunter.jpg

After Praxiteles. Aphrodite, and After Lysippus. Alexander as hunter, both 4th century BC

But suddenly I jumped up. I read about the sculptor Lysippus, who worked at Alexander’s court. He wanted to convey what he saw in a naturalistic manner! Not following the current rules for perfect beauty, developed by the old masters, but his own observation.
We don’t know much for sure about Lysippus. But the sculpture attributed to him, Alexander the hunter, clearly shows a naturalistic realism. Whoever made it, this artist was capable of far-reaching imitation.
I was happy about this Lysippus.

1) Roodnat, Joyce. “Met drift geschilderde ‘kleine onderwerpen’ “. NRC, 2018-02-28.
2) Vasari, Giorgio. Lives of the Artists. Volume 1. Introduction by George Bull. London, 1987. p. 19-20.
Imitation and Imagination will continue in the coming blogs.

Galería Artelibre ’20 years, in 20×20’

Galería Artelibre

Galería Artelibre

Galería Artelibre invited me to participate in its virtual gallery, in the category of Grandes Autores. This Spanish gallery has artists on its site like Anders Zorn, Natalie Holland, David Kassan.

Galería Artelibre Artistas del mes

Galería Artelibre Artistas del mes

It is promoting realism internationally, already for twenty years, and that is heart-warming, I think! A special exhibition will celebrate their twenty years anniversary, “20 years, in 20×20” (all works will be 20x20cm). It will travel through Spain, and also visit MEAM, Museo Europeo de Arte Moderno, in Barcelona. My work will be part of it!


Calendar, diary, cards

Art editor Bekking&Blitz has published art diaries and calendars for 2019. A work of mine figures between artists like Sorolla, Sargent, Kenne Grégoire.

Kunst weekalender en aganda's Bekking&Blitz

Kunst weekalender en aganda’s Bekking&Blitz

In Brugues I saw an art card of my work in the Groeningemuseum, but it was forbidden to take a photo of it. I explained that it was a work of mine, but no way. Still, I disobeyed and the officer kindly pretended not to see it.

Groeninge en Drents Museum cards and book Gezien van de Riet

Groeninge en Drents Museum cards and book

In the Drents Museum of Assen there was another art card, and my book. Stimulating! This helps the brand awareness. It’s the small things that count!

Translation NL-ES: Jeroen Strengers

TRAC2018, sweeping art movement

TRAC2018, The Representational Art Conference in Holland
Gezien van de Riet. With an article by Lorena Kloosterboer

TRAC2018, The Representational Art Conference, was in The Netherlands, for the first time in Europe!
Part of the event is the Classical Art exhibition, Zaailand, Frisian Gallery, Leeuwarden, may 1 – june 24. My ‘Dunes in the snow’ is there too.


Dunes with snow, alkyd and oil on panel, 150x100cm. Gezien van de Riet

Some impressions of TRAC2018:

Classical-Art-TRAC2018,The Representational Art Conference

Classical Art Exhibition, Gezien van de Riet, Ernst van de Wetering. Max Ginsburg lecturing. Allessandra Marrucchi, selected in Classical Art Competition

TRAC2018,The Representational Art Conference-Helmantel-demo-interpreter-Jeroen-Strengers. Henk Helmantel's demo

Henk Helmantel’s demo with interpreter Jeroen Strengers.

TRAC2018,The Representational Art Conference 2

Joke Frima, Lorena Kloosterboer, Gezien van de Riet, Gerard Huysman. After Esther Leuvenink’s tempera lesson.

TRAC2018,The Representational Art Conference Wagner-lecture-David-Molesky-lecture

Corinna Wagner’s lecture. David Molesky’s lecture

Ernst van de Wetering and myself presented joint lectures. Ernst van de Wetering on judging the quality of an artwork, comparing paintings with the same theme by Rembrandt and by his pupils.
The next Blog is about my lecture ‘Imitation and Imagination’.

Now a review on TRAC2018 by Lorena Kloosterboer for Poets and Artists: click on the link:
Her article, A movement is sweeping the art world, is translated into Dutch and Spanish by Jeroen Strengers on this blog.

Art history: A new chapter

By Gezien van de Riet
With a contribution by Joke Frima about the Da Vinci Initiative

FACE: Figurative Art Convention and Expo, together with
TRAC: The Representational Art Conference,
Miami, November, 8-11, 2017


FACE TRAC 2017 opening

Continuum, my dream
A movement! Classical tradition cast in a modern mould, high notes for craftmanship, thinking about what you make –content and form– about your contribution to culture. Becoming stronger together. Moored in official art history. That was my dream, ever since the early 80’s, when I seriously started out drawing and painting.
The classical tradition has known many currents, ever since the Greek Antiquity. Now, a contemporary one is being added to it. Daniel Graves, founder of the Florence Academy of Art, also speaks of a continuum, in stead of a tradition. What all these currents have in common is the representation of the visual reality. That requires a great deal of craftmanship; only think of painting the sky or space: paint is something else… bronze is not the same as flesh…
Beauty, including that of the awe-inspiring or dramatic sort, is also part of that continuum. Not just technique, not just content, but a mutual influencing of both was and is the goal. Art with a capital A, why not?

Max Ginsburg

Max Ginsburg: Bus stop

TRAC2014 in California
In 2014 I first glimpsed that that dream could become reality. I saw a message on Facebook about TRAC2014 in California, The Representational Art Conference, aimed at laying a theoretical foundation for the contemporary classical tradition. I had to go there! Words like ‘Renaissance’ and ‘movement’ floated thru an enchanted conference room with more than 300 enthusiasts. Some-one next to me burst into tears spontaneously. Finally out of the isolation that so many had experienced, finally a broad appreciation for the figurative, for realism! Internationally. At the time it was already called ‘the most important movement in today’s art world’. Would it last?
Back in Holland I passed on the message to as many interested people as possible. Read more in my earlier blog ‘TRAC2014. Movement!’ I longed for a TRAC in the Netherlands, in Europe.

Steven Assael

Steven Assael

TRAC2015 in California
The message resounded among several colleagues. But tickets and hotel didn’t come cheap. It was great that Tom Hageman, Director of the Classical Academy in Groningen, and artist Joke Frima could attend TRAC in 2015. I was supposed to give a lecture on true to nature realism, but unfortunately I fell ill.
It was a pity that in 2016 TRAC couldn’t continue in the same way. A critical moment.

FACE-TRAC-2017 in Miami
But now there’s FACE, the world’s first Figurative Art Convention & Expo! The dream of a movement has come true, the founders say. FACE aims at the corner stones of representational (or figurative, or realist) art. During the event you could participate in model drawing and painting, under the guidance of internationally famed artists, like Max Ginsburg, Steven Assael or Daniel Gerhartz, who also gave demonstrations. And there were lectures.
I had a strange feeling sometimes. On the one hand the focus was on endeavor for quality and vision in connexion with the past, the grand masters of the classical tradition – a strengthening of your own endeavor. On the other hand there was a view at the future: how to connect to a younger generation with a completely different cultural luggage; what does it mean for art that the future human being will be much more artificial, that the latest reproduction techniques make ‘slow art’ obsolete.

Max Ginsburg and Juliette Aristides

Demo painting portrait Max Ginsburg and drawing model Juliette Aristides

Daniel Gerhartz

Demo painting portrait Daniel Gerhartz

What was interesting: FACE invites TRAC to be part of this event. TRAC can continue to build at the theoretical foundation of representational art.
Again there were more than 300 participants, among those Joke Frima and myself from Holland, who now may carry the honorary title of ‘Founding Members’.
It is not just painters and sculptors who participate in the movement. Especially in the U.S. there are all kinds of initiatives of art lovers and art historians, aimed at spreading and deepening the classical tradition, basing it in society and institutions, spreading consciousness to a broader audience, because –let’s face it– artists themselves just don’t have the time for all that!
FACE will be a yearly event now.

Founding fathers: Eric Rhoads, Peter Trippi and Michael Pearce

Eric Rhoads, Peter Trippi, Michael Pearce

Eric Rhoads, Peter Trippi, Michael Pearce

Eric Rhoads with me and my book

Eric Rhoads with me and my book

Eric Rhoads, founder of FACE, CEO of art magazines like Fine Art Connoisseur, Plein Air magazines, yearly Plein Air Conventions & Expos, and more. FACE selects the best artists who also have the gift to encourage and inspire others thru their demonstrations and lessons. See also Fine Art Connoisseur of December 2017.

Peter Trippi, co-founder of FACE, editor-in-chief of Fine Art Connoisseur and co-curator of the Alma Tadema exhibition earlier this year in the Fries Museum in Leeuwarden, the Netherlands, and later in London and Vienna; curator of ‘The American Dream’ in the Drents Museum in Assen, the Netherlands, and more.

They started the magazine Fine Art Connoisseur in 2005. In 2011 they took the initiative for a movement. Some twenty-odd influential artist of world renown were invited to a secret meeting. Sadly enough it could not exceed the level of individual interests. Disappointed, Eric and Peter concluded that the time was not yet ripe.
Nonetheless, the idea trickled thru to:

Michael Pearce, painter and professor at the art faculty of the California Lutheran University. In 2012 he started TRAC, together with Michael Lynn Adams, who quit after 2015.
Pearce described the reason for producing the conference: “Until we did TRAC, there were literally no conferences at all about representational art – which is a strange absence, because there was then and is now a huge amount of representational art, and a very large community of people who are interested in representational art. It seemed like a big gap that needed filling.”

Themes at TRAC
Of the many themes touched upon by TRAC, I mention here: post-modernism and the contemporary classical tradition; the importance of beauty; neuro-esthetics; connexion to the younger generation; ethno-centrism in art critic; art education at school.


Our team had a fantastic time at the Figurative Art Convention & Expo and we can't wait until next year! Thank you to all of the faculty and attendees for making this possible. It was a memorable experience. 🙂 #FACE17

Geplaatst door Fine Art Connoisseur Magazine op Dinsdag 14 november 2017


The Da Vinci Initiative: Changing the Culture of Art Education
A report of the lecture by Amanda Theis, TRAC2017

Joke Frima

Amanda Theis tells us passionately about her work at the Da Vinci Initiative (DVI), that aims at skill-based education. DVI makes up educuation programmes and the idea is to share and use these in secondary schools. It is aimed at the U.S. school system.

Da Vinci Initiative

Da Vinci Initiative

DVI has a YouTube channel with 30 movies of 5 minutes.
Free to watch at:

egg cup 1

egg cup 1

egg cup 2

egg cup 2

A Bargue drawing

A Bargue drawing

In Amanda’s experience, most art and manual skills teachers believe that drawing, if it has to do with art, cannot be taught. She gathered this wide-spread idea during weekend refreshment courses and summer schools (compulsory for U.S. teachers).
The most important criticism on DVI’s view is that skill-based education kills creativity. But Amanda points out that skills are just tools at the servicie of creativity.
She believes it’s prudent not to talk about modernism during work shops and courses. After being exposed to skill-based education, people are able to draw their own conclusions. Many people actually are visually illiterate, and skill-based eduction opens a new dimension for them.

Drawing perspective from life (self made robots)

Drawing perspective from life (self made robots)

Self-portrait by Ray Wanda Totanes, 15 year old

Self-portrait by Ray Wanda Totanes, 15 year old










To parents of children who want to study this kind of art, and who may be concerned that there is no future in it, she says: “Skill-based education will not give you a degree, but it wil give you jobs.” Amanda herself has undergone training by Juliette Aristides in Seattle. These kind of ateliers don’t provide a teaching license in America. That can only be obtained at university. The problem is, that art faculties in universities don’t provide for skill-based education. Amanda would like to hear from the participants where she can refer children and young people to for a good atelier training.


TRAC2018 in Leeuwarden

TRAC2018 in Leeuwarden


TRAC2018 in the Netherlands, first country in Europe!
May 1-4, 2018, in Leeuwarden.
Follow also on internet and my blog.



Next blog will continue with ‘Imitatio et Inventio’.


Translation NL-EN by Jeroen Strengers

At great pains

“At great pains”
Museum Møhlmann invited me to participate in the exposition “Vee op stapel” (“Cattle in stock”). Great! I have always wanted to paint the horses and cows of the Pyrenees. They look gorgeous in that landscape. No litter there. Pure air, meadows ful of herbs. I love to walk there. The eye assumes its painter’s look as soon as these animals appear. Excitement surges at all kinds of painting opportunities. I run or steal about, clutching my camera, my eyes everywhere, except on the ground… Just a small hole, but I fell and sprained my ankle.

What are you doing here?

Nearby was a drinking trough, where I dipped in my painful foot. The cows gathered curiously and I somewhat feared their big bodies and large horns… They all stood around the other side of the trough, their eyes with their bigh lashes directed at me: “What are you doing here?”
How was I supposed to get back to base camp? My husband saw a jogger, far away. He took his emergency whistle and blew. The jogger ran on. After the third signal he turned. I waved my arms, signalling an emergency.
The man presented himself as an officer of the Guardia Civil. Well trained as he was, he said that, if necessary, he could carry me over the mountain streams we had to cross. Or should I stay back? No, I dragged myself on with my nordic walking sticks. Down in the village, the doctor reassured me. “If you were able to walk this far, it can’t be fractured.” X-rays weren’t available. Unfortunately, back home it turned out that my ankle was broken. Cow’s legs is what you need in the mountains!

Foal in the Pyrenees

Foal in the Pyrenees
No, this foal is neither a parade-horse nor a a wild one. Its legs are shorter than of its Dutch cousins. The young animal already has well developed muscles: running about among the rocks and ravines demands acrobatic skills. So far, I have not been able to ascertain what breed or race it is. The foal itself probably couldn’t care less. It will live its carefree life till it is fully grown. These horses are catlle, and are bred for their meat. No false romanticism here.

Mare with foal
For this image I would gladly suffer two broken ankles. Well, the suffering came anyway. Originally, the horses stood in the middle of the green, while I saw them before me in a spatious blue, a sort of horses’ paradise. Of course for the horses themselves that makes no sense at all, they prefer the green.
I photoshopped around: the blue could be the sky, but I preferred a mountain. A bluish mountain has to be far off: was my mountain not too high, and was there nothing between the horses and that far-off mountain top?

Mare with foal

While I was painting, the contours of the mountain changed continuously. Some mountains appeared, others went away. That’s rather nice work. Nicer than painting those manes, that’s not so exciting; it’s rather slow and tedious, especially where the hairs are entangled. In the past, I used to be less hung up on details, and the painting process was nice and quick. But the way to the end doesn’t have be smooth all the time, if the end result gives pleasure. There has to be room for the irregular, the non-schematic. The concrete is often in the details. When to stop detailing? When it grows rigid. But…

Upside down

The contours of the mountains: should they echo or contrast the forms of the horses? Maybe I should add some snowy mountain tops?
I turned the painting upside down to get insight into the composition, independently from its representation. All of a sudden I find there is too much green-yellow facing the blue. So I put in more rock, white rock painted with titanium white mixed with a litlle burnt sienna. That contrasts better with the blue.

The painting is still unfinished…

Galerie Petit

Sad news
Ton van Dijk, owner of Galerie Petit in Amsterdam, passed away in 2015. His widow Dobs followed him late 2016. The gallery is closed. I recently recovered my work in stock there.
How many good galleries for representational art are there left in Amsterdam? The can be counted on the fingers of one hand. That’s a shame, as one American art critic recently said, in the country that has seen a reflourishing of realism in our days.


My hobbyhorse. Gezien van de Riet

Galerie Staphorsius, which also shows some of my work, got a lot of attention from the Dutch press this time. Part of the exhibit is dedicated to Rein Stuurman, illustrator of the birds’ guide in the Netherlands. For six weeks now, visitor numbers have doubled to an average of forty a day.
Mounting my hobby horse, I repeat: if the media would pay more attention to realist art, it would be in a much better position. For that, you need to educate the art journalists, and for that, you need to better the academic curricula, etc. etc.

Translation Jeroen Strengers

Art Renewal Center and my hobby horse

The Art Renewal Center (ARC) has accepted me as ARC Associate Living Master™!

This message appeared on the ARC Salon Update:

Post van Art Renewal Center

Post van Art Renewal Center

Last year I was finalist in an Art Renewal Center competition (see blog August 2015). After that I was invited to apply to the ARC. If you are approved by four different juries you get your own gallery on the ARC website. Mine is:

The ARC’s recognition means a lot to me. It is a great honor to be part of this online museum. It shows old masters and present-day top artists like Jeremy Lipking, Jacob Collins, Max Ginsberg, and (active in the Netherlands)  Joke Frima and Urban Larsson.

Logo ARC

Logo ARC

Classical tradition
The ARC is one of the largest online museums that is a standard-bearer of the classical tradition. It encompasses thousands of pictures of art-works. There is a section of ‘living artists’, and an enormous section of ‘dead masters’. In this case I won’t mind ‘moving on’ when the time is there…
The ARC was founded in 2000 by Fred Ross, and also has a physical museum focussing mainly on 19th century art. Ross is a great admirer of the French Salon artists who were later largely forgotten, like Alma Tadema, who has an exhibition now in the Fries Museum .
Its aim is the renewal of the classical tradition. For that a broad range of activities has been developed: competitions, publications of books, articles and instruction materials, exhibitions, historical research, news letters and the building of a network.

Much value is set on education. The ARC features a long list of schools, academies and studios that they have granted approval to. For art student –already from 60 or so countries– there are yearly competitions in which scholarships can be won.

Studio Incaminati

International students. (Studio Incaminati)

Juliette Aristides: Secrets

Juliette Aristides: Secrets of Classical Painting

There is a link with the Da Vinci Initiative, that publishes schooling material for classical professional skills, aimed at students and teachers.

During the 20th century a handful of artists remained loyal to classical art. They passed on the technical know how to some dozens of followers. These in turn started their own academy or studio and now train hundreds of students. Right now there is exponential growth.
Because of this strategic choice for education thru books, videos and the internet the classical tradition is secured as far as the transfer of knowledge is concerned. That is for the first time in history.

World wide network
The ARC is projecting itself world wide and has a extensive network. Part of this is TRAC – The Representational Art Conference, a movement for the present-day classical tradition.

TRAC The Representational Art Conference

TRAC The Representational Art Conference

There is a co-operation with MEAM – Museu Europeo d’Art Modern in Barcelona (modern here means representational) and several classical academies such as the Florence Academy of Art, that has now opened an establishment in New York.
There are links to art magazines, such as Fine Art Connoisseur and Plein Air Magazine.

Fine Art Connoisseur

Fine Art Connoisseur

Winslow Homer in PleinAir Magazine

Winslow Homer in PleinAir Magazine

Davind Kassan in het MEAM

Davind Kassan in het MEAM






My hobby horse
I have always cherished a deep wish that a movement would come up to root present-day classical art indissolubly in society, to gain recognition on all terrains where this is lacking right now: in academic art history and philosophy, in (art) education, in the leading museums, media and public policies.


My hobbyhorse. Gezien van de Riet

In the Netherlands realism has proven its right to exist. It should be widely present in ‘official’ art history or national museums. It is unbelievable, but all this is blocked by a couple of philosophers, like Lyotard, who maintain that realism and beauty equal kitsch.
The taboo on realism in academic art history has hardly or not been broken. If I’m wrong, tell me.
It is strange that the media have been ignoring realism for more than thirty years – or as good as. The general public have hardly any knowledge of the wonderful works of art that have been produced. They have been kept away from culture full of beauty. It is striking that when a national newspaper does pay attention to a exhibition in a gallery, the number of visitors immediately jumps up, and so do the sales.

It is a miracle that in Holland so much has been accomplished against so many odds. More and more art galleries sprang up, plus a Realism Art Fair, plus two classical academies and a number of other schools, plus several private museums. Within Europe, realism in the Netherlands has probably progressed the most. But, partly because of the economic crisis, it has become more vulnerable. It is not rooted in leading institutions, so it can just seep away again, with only someone like Henk Helmantel as a footnote in art history.
“Everything comes and goes in waves – that’s history”, you can hear sometimes. Sure, but it’s not the wind that makes these waves. It’s people. That’s why it is so great so many people exert themselves for realism. That’s why it is great that the ARC exists.

Do you want to give my ARC gallery a ‘like’? You can! Please do, at:

Der Weg ist das Ziel

Der Weg ist das Ziel

Opinion poll:
Last summer, a tractor pulling a trailer drove up on a camping site in Spain. A farmer from Germany was on a pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela. In calligraphic letters he had painted on his trailer: “Der Weg ist das Ziel” (“The Road is the Aim”).
Does that motto also apply to art? Please give your reaction!

Translation Jeroen Strengers

Fact or fiction in the Beet-field

MUSEUM MØHLMANN  18th Independent Realists’ Exhibition
September 18 till December 18

Beet-field. version 1

Beet-field. version 1

I’ll tell something about my painting that is going to be part of this exhibition.
We were camping with a view over this beet-field. For the past few days I had constantly been peering at that wide space over those curly leaves. Now! Plein air! So many details? Yes but I love that, we shall see. A sketch in broad strokes. The leaves in the foreground, yes those have to be really detailed, in form and color. Quickly now, in two hours’ time the light has changed.


Detail. Light thru and on the leaves

Detail. Light thru and on the leaves

When the sunlight shines thru the leaf it turns yellow-green. Where the light falls on the leaf, the color is a cool white with a dash of green, or do I see pink there, or light blue?
In the mean time the middle and far areas and the sky are done as well. These can be more abstract, with sweeps, dots, anything. Time has run out, it is not finished.

There was enough on the panel to finish it at home. I also had photos for useful information. Furthermore there was my memory, the experience. That steers you. Together with your common sense. I strive for the illusion of ‘just like the real thing’, because that beet-field must remain.

landschap bietenveld

Beet-field. Definitive version















Some time ago somebody asked me if people sometimes say: “Wow, it’s just like a photo”. Answer: “They sure do”.
“What is your response to that?”
“Well, if they say: ‘it’s just like the real thing’ and they tell me why they like it, I am happy.

Photo's Beet-field

Photo’s Beet-field

If they say: ‘Why should work so hard if you can also make a photo?’, then I think to myself: you should look better. Maybe I say: It’s not so crazy if you think of a photo: a painting can look very ‘real’. But meanwhile it is all interwoven with my experience, and I hope to share that with the viewer. That’s the main thing.

Detail Beet-field

Detail Beet-field

I changed a lot, the horizon for example, and of course in reality there are no dots and sweeps. Those interventions should not stand out, because then the illusion of reality would be disturbed. There is a lot more to be said about it, but then my tale would be too long.”
I developed a lecture about this subject, and in the future I hope to publish parts of that in this blog. I took a dive in the history of art and to my amazement and joy I even found discussions among the ancient Greeks.



Diederik Kraaijpoel: a commemoration

Gezien van de Riet

Diederik Kraaijpoel Wotan's throne (Grand Canyon) inkt/potlood/acryl op papier 48,5x63cm

Diederik Kraaijpoel Wotan’s throne (Grand Canyon) ink/pencil/acryl on paper 48,5x63cm

Many people know Diederik Kraaijpoel, champion of a new realism in the Netherlands. In 1989 appeared his book De Nieuwe Salon (The New Salon), that humorously and effectively made a butt of the (post)modernist establishment.
Diederik was an exemplary teacher with a sharp eye, who looked further than his own painting style. He was a painter and draughtsman of impressive romantic landscapes, inspired by the American sublime such as Frederic Church, or by the German Caspar David Friedrich. He was the author of books that belong to the library of every self-respecting artist or art historian. He made true what he always stated: in the judgment of art it’s not about taste, but about insight. Insight in the working of image elements.

Diederik Kraaijpoel Aangroeisels (Sevilla) inkt/acryl op papier 25,5x33cm

Diederik Kraaijpoel   Growths (Sevilla)   ink/acryl on paper   25,5x33cm

In 1989 I worked as a sociologist in Bolivia and there I read De Nieuwe Salon. It was an exciting and funny read. Finally someone told us what was what. In the evenings I studied at the Fine Arts Academy in La Paz and there I tried in vain to explain the Dutch modernist aversion for realism, but people thought it too silly. In Bolivia every expression of art was considered worthwile as long as it had quality.

Gezien van de Riet Meertje in de Pyreneeen tempera/olie/paneel 23,5x30cm

Gezien van de Riet   Pond in the Pyrenees   tempera/oil/panel   23,5x30cm

Back in Holland I first met Diederik in the Amsterdam art gallery Vieleers, where he inaugurated an exhibition of Hermann Markard’s work. I immediately spotted a good piece for the Dutch art magazine Palet and I asked him to write it. I also told him about my Bolivian experience. He would later ironically proclaim that his books were read even in Bolivia… Some time after that he confided to me that he wondered at that time: “Who’s that little lady?” Typical.
I promised to show him some photographs of my Bolivian work, but I left my portfolio in the car. When Diederik asked me: “Where’s your portfolio? Or did you suffer from an attack of modesty?” – I had to show him.That was the beginning of a great time for me: once every while I took my work to Diederik’s workshop for a real master class. A friendship followed. I learned a lot, and quite different from the things I learned at the academy in Bolivia, for which I continue to have many warm feelings.

Bij Diederik thuis, 2008, L: Yolanda Kraaijpoel, M: Gezien van de Riet, R: Diederik Kraaijpoel

Visiting Diederik, 2008,  Yolanda Kraaijpoel, Gezien van de Riet, Diederik Kraaijpoel

A few years ago Diederik Kraaijpoel passed away and Kunstzaal Van Heijningen in The Hague offered me the opportunity for a co-exhibition. To commemorate him, I chose Kraaijpoel’s work to accompany mine. Two other friends of Diederik’s were invited to participate: Annet Hiltermann and Jan van Loon. Yet another friend of Diederik’s is inaugurating the exhibition: Tom Hageman, founding director of the Klassieke Academie in Groningen, in which Kraaijpoel was also involved.

Annet Hiltermann Lac des Seracs met moerasje (boven Aosta) acryl

Annet Hiltermann   Lac des Seracs near Aosta   acryl

The exhibition takes place at Kunstzaal Van Heijningen, one of the first art galleries specializing in realism. Leo van Heijningen is an art historian and also a graduate from the Koninklijke Academie van Beeldende Kunsten (Royal Academy of Art) in The Hague – a rare combination.

Leo van Heijningen on Diederik Kraaijpoel:
“Diederik Kraaijpoel as a painter is considered to be one of the godfathers of the Noordelijke Realisten (Northern Realists). As a teacher at the Groningen art academy Minerva he emphasized  the craftmanship aspect of painting and devoted a lot of attention to old and new painting techniques and working according to observation. Moreover Kraaijpoel published polemic observations on art, in which he showed himself to be an advocate of figurative art: De Nieuwe Salon from 1989 was his most sensational work. He was involved in an advisory capacity in the birth of Museum De Buitenplaats in Eelde and the foundation of the Klassieke Academie in Groningen. Diederik painted and drew after nature; his favorite subjects were animals, plants, trees and specially desolate landscapes. He himself commented: “But you know, a melody in a minor key is the most comforting.” In this exhibition you can see beside Kraaijpoel’s work also the work of three other artists who want to honor him as a former teacher, colleague or source of inspiration. All three of them have come to this art gallery thru Kraaijpoel’s mediation.”

Jan van Loon Stilte Olieverf op doek 80x80cm

Jan van Loon   Silence  Oil on canvas 80x80cm

A fine moment in the realm of the arts! Inauguration: Saturday, March 12, at 4.00 P.M.
The exhibition is from March 12 till April 3.
Kunstzaal van Heijningen, Noordeinde 152, The Hague, Holland
Open: Wednesdays to Sundays 12.00 – 5.30 PM
Phone: +31-70-3459053

TRAC2014. It’s moving!

Gezien van de Riet

“It seems like we’re back in the time of Impresssionists!” – a comment to be heard at The Representational Art Conference 2014, in March this year in Ventura, California. I participated in this heart warming and enriching event, the second of this kind, organized by the California Lutheran University. Michael Pearce and Michael Lynn Adams were the leading organizers. The theme was the significance of realist art today. Almost 350 participants –artists, philosophers, art teachers, art historians, publicists, gallery owners, and art collectors – participated in lectures, panel discussions and art demonstrations. They came from the US and Europe. It was already characterized as “the most important movement in the art world of today”.



michael lynn adams en michael pearce

Michael Lynn Adams en Michael Pearce


Brandon Kralik

The moment
Brandon Kralik, painter, writer (Huffington Post):
“We are only now getting a large body of well-trained painters who are young. This is the perfect time to start discussing content, meaning, and philosophy. TRAC2014 is precisely the forum for such discussions.”

Jeremy Lipkin was one of the artists giving a demonstration:

Jeremy Lipking fasen

Jeremy Lipking fasen

Here you could see what a photo doesn’t show:



he mixed one colour nuance after the other on his palette, and all of these colour touches next to each other joined perfectly, like an ininterrupted melody. A true master!

Peter Trippy, editor of ‘The Fine Art Connoisseur’, discussed strategy. The question is: how do we gain a space on different levels, like museums, the media, or art history. For too few people know of our existence. So co-operation is necessary. And, fellow artists: for the moment please stop talking about using photos, about loose or precise painting etc., because within five minutes you will be at each other’s throats and we won’t get anywhere with representational art! Think of the wider audience, that is not interested in splitting hairs over these matters. Conquer the audience!

peter trippi en teresa oaxaca

Peter Trippi and Teresa Oaxaca

A sample of the many discussion topics: What is the meaning of realist art?, What is kitsch?
Roger Scruton –known from the BBC documentary ‘Why Beauty Matters’– and Odd Nerdrum had a dialogue that earned them a standing ovation.
Everybody said goodbuy with great enthousiasm, because a TRAC2015 was already foreseen!

odd nerdrum, roger scruton

Odd Nerdrum and Roger Scruton

“I felt a sense of community that I have never experienced as a painter.”
“I am reminded that I am a part of a bigger movement with important work to do.”
“TRAC was very stimulating I loved the social part of it. That said if you had asked different people in attendance “Who is your model of a great representational artist?” things start to fall apart. I would say David Park, Kara Ross would say Bouguereau and Brandon Kralik would say Odd Nerdrum. There are some real differences underneath the excitement.”
“There are many, many of us, I’d venture to say a vast majority of TRACkers 14 who felt a total sense of community on the level never experienced before. A community of purpose. A community of vision. A community of worldview. A community of philosophy in ART and in life. A community of intent. A community of what we stand for and of what we can’t stand. All of which has very little to do with any particular ‘look’ (that be much too reductionist).”

Translated from Dutch by Jeroen Strengers

Video: Introduction to TRAC2014

Lecture ‘Imitatio et Inventio’
TRAC2015 is held from 1 till 5 november in California and I will give a lecture about true to nature realism.


Fine Art Connoisseur with White Abeles

Fine Art Connoisseur with White Abeles

My ‘White Abeles in the Dunes’ was finalist in the Art Renewal Centre’s (ARC) competition 2015 and is now published in Fine Art Connoisseur!
ARC is a museum for representational art and actively promotes it. So does Fine Art Connoisseur.