Roel van der Wal, artist and portraitist
After a short art training in Arnhem I took up a study in
English and eventually I became a teacher. I was a teacher for
fifteen years ant it has been a very
First I painted mainly as a counterpart to the daily
work. During that period I learned a lot about
painting by reading about it and by trial and error. Partly because of my
other hobbies, photography (black and white, developing myself),
making (bronze) statues and silver jewelery, I learned to look
make better compositions and
improved my ‘technical
Later, drawing and especially painting became more serious. I
have been painting for more than forty years now, in various
sizes, sometimes realistically, sometimes more
abstract. Experimenting and exploring boundaries. That excites
me and presents a challenge.
Water plays a prominent role in my work. In addition, I paint
portraits, landscapes and still lives. But always it involves
the play of light. The colored glistening of moving water,
beautiful shadows, a bright spot in someone’s eye against the
deeper dark of a pupil.
From Arnhem we moved to the north where I became
the principal of
‘The Technical School Leek’ and later, after merger and merger,
one of the directors of ‘rsg de Borgen’. Alice my wife, being a
Northern girl of origin, did not mind at all to go back to her roots.
I have been happy with her for over forty years now and we have
lovely daughters and three
fine grandchildren. They offer splendid
painting matter and for them their portraits are a nice memory
We live in Nietap and therefore I feel more and more like a
Northerner. A Northerner with a southern accent.
In terms of painting styles I
recognize myself in
Realism'. However, I never want to limit my work to one subject
or one style. I would not like a ring through the nose, there is
too much fun in painting and there is still so much to
discover. My own style is mainly in the way I try to paint my
own reality but it is also seen in my choice of subjects,
colors and certainly in my attention to detail.
Yet, I also have my preferences. Paintings of ships, particularly
those from Friesland, I like very much. That has something to do
with my heritage I suppose. Grandfather was a fisherman in Sneek
and on mother's side there were the boatmen on the Rhine. My
love for sailing is well known to my family and friends.
With portraits I started later. New skills take time. I
find portraits very rewarding.
The triangle eyebrows - chin is always put on the canvas first.
With precision. Thereafter, the actual painting can begin. The
eyes I paint in greater detail and in many colored layers so
that the whole canvas seems to be 'sharper' and the suggestion
of authenticity increases. In the end, a striking likeness is
important to me.
Larger sizes are no problem. The difference in the making is
mainly in the walking distance, and the size of the brush. :-)))
Sometimes I paint fine, sometimes with a light touch, sometimes
large. A canvas is given
as much time as needed. Very occasionally, it is little time but
mostly it isn’t. Unfortunately I have no say in that matter. It
is decided for me ‘by my own right hand’. Although I mostly work
in a more or less realistic way, I always look for ways to move
away just a little further from that reality and by doing so
create a newer world. Sometimes even more beautiful than the
On the one hand I want
in good craftsmanship, on the other
Purely abstract work is not in my genes. But moving from reality
to abstract is a logical development, a trend that is becoming
more and more common.
Making free work is fine, but
producing a canvas that meets
the wishes of another, gives me great satisfaction as well. It is
neither better nor less, it is only different.
I know a good number of definitions of 'Art'. They are all
equally valid. And all are appropriate for a proportionate part
of the public. There is no value judgment either. It's just
another way of looking at things, I imagine.
The favorite colors on my white palette plates are ultramarine
and cobalt phtaloblue, English red, and cadmium
And then there are the
natural earth colors of course. Burnt umber, raw sienna, ochre
and the like. I generally work in a six color system with an
My work room / studio is not big. The light is not always good
enough and I often work with daylight fluorescent tubes. Each
situation may provide both an advantage and a disadvantage. Due
to the minor color shifts that may arise, the work sometimes is
just a little more exciting and I make good use of
that. I prefer
to work alone. Radio on, nice music and time flies.
At exhibitions, etc. however, I like the company of other
artists, so that every visitor can find something to his or her
liking, and is presented an overview of several artists from the
area, in all their diversity.
This provides something extra for both the exhibitors and for
their guests. New ideas, impressions and more frequently a
After my departure from working life I have found a new ‘job’ in
That is how it feels anyway.
Fortunately, there is no financial pressure to produce. That
seems to me (too) difficult a task for a contemporary artist,
but life without painting is not imaginable to me any more.
If you are interested and want to see my work in real life it is
always possible, but unfortunately............ only by
'Painting' is a profession that does not reveal its secrets easily.
In fact you need to practice each day to eventually find the answers you are
You have to stay in touch with your painting in order to make a success of it.
Prolonged contact with the painting (look, watch and see) is a must, until it is
finished. Technique is important, but it is only a means of painting.
More important is the "extra" that I try to put into it.
I always try to see a bit further than our own reality. I usually do that
by moving away from reality as far as possible and then return, in parts, even
In my paintings I like to merge traditional craftsmanship
and contemporary styles.
If I am sometimes categorized
by people they put me in the region of
strive to work as good as possible by setting high standards, to myself and to
the material and
I will only be
content If the final work somehow moves the onlooker.