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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 rewarding experience.
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 better, make better compositions and
I improved my ‘technical insight’.. 

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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.
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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 two
lovely daughters and three fine grandchildren. They offer splendid painting matter and for them their portraits are a nice memory ‘for later’.
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
the "Northern 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.
, 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 original.
On the one hand I want
to create
paintings in good craftsmanship, on the other hand I always  try to cross boundaries.
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.

 P Opa Otten met Nils.jpg
The favorite colo
rs on my white palette plates are ultramarine and cobalt phtaloblue, English red, and cadmium quinacridonerose.
And then there are  the natural earth colors of course. Bur
nt umber, raw sienna, ochre and the like. I generally work in a six color system with an occasional outing.
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 different view.
After my departure from working life I have found a new ‘job’ in painting.
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 appointment.


'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 looking for.

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 completely.
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 the realists.
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.


































































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