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Updated: Feb 8, 2023

A chat with neighbours, a surprisingly warm collaboration, a friendship, a very special assignment.

Sometimes you run into someone and you immediately feel like "hey, how nice it would be to speak to each other for a bit longer". Arjo and Irene live close to us yet for years our gazes have only crossed.

One day it came to a chat. And so, unexpectedly, one thing led to another!

Both are passionate musicians. With singing and piano, they provide live music at special events. Irene also gives singing lessons.

In preparation for the opening of my solo exhibition in 2022, the idea arose to join forces and combine images with music. Arjo performed touching musical intermezzos to support the introduction during the opening.

At the end of our collaboration, Arjo asked me if I wanted to portray them.

Wow, how exciting, but of course I wanted to!

Concept creation

Making music brings comfort. Arjo and Irene have been through a lot both apart and together, which makes their music touchingly charged. They really stand in their power when they make music which is wonderful to experience.

This story is what I wanted to capture in their portraits: Together they strengthen each other but separately they still have their own personalities.

Sadness lies at the surface with Arjo. I feel that when we really look at each other. I thought we really should see that and so I let him look at the viewer, straight in the eyes.

Irene has 'a long breath' and looks powerfully in front of her.

Side by side, their gazes work dynamically on the viewer. By turns, you look at him and then at her. Her radiant and nourishing energy mingles with Arjo's incisive and empathetic sensitivity.

Working out

From analysis of hundreds of photos from a photo session, the concept proposal emerged and was submitted to them. Together, we decided to use 2 photos as a reference for painting their portraits.

Below are the first drawings and underpaintings on the canvas where I used a grid. The underpainting is set up with burnt sienna.

At about 80% of the process, see the images below, I go through the proportions and details in the features again. Gradually, important 'anchor points' shift, disrupting the resemblance or causing the expression I want to achieve to disappear.

For instance, Irene's glasses were a bit too high and one of Arjo's eyes could be more to the right.

Contrasting elements such as Arjo's white collar and Irene's necklace were used to direct the eye to and through the portraits.

Less prominent elements are visual 'eye candy' for a closer look. For example, the light in the dent in the fabric at the level of the button attachment and the reflection of the skin in the white collar. I can really look forward to working out such details where light plays a leading role.

The unveiling

An unveiling is exciting and intimate but I always look forward to it and like to take my time. Here's an impression of the setting.

For me, it is also always a moment of saying goodbye. Fortunately, the works are nearby and I can see them on their walls every now and then.

You can follow Arjo and Irene through Ais Muziekatelier, the company from which they offer their services.

"The process was full of warm attention and commitment. The experience made me look at myself differently: more amazed, mild and loving!"

Dankbaar voor deze mooie quote van Arjo.


Are you interested in a portrait or know someone who might be interested? Share my work or feel free to contact me directly by phone.

+31 (0) 6 21 85 91 32.


Read more about my approach and the quality I aim for by clicking on one of the other blogs below.

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