Meet the artist: Athmer

In the section “Meet the artist” we portrait a talented artist who uses Old Holland colours.

When did you first start painting? Were you born with a paint palette in hand, or did your interest in art develop over time?

I loved to paint when I was in primary school in The Hague. Then followed a lot of life: secondary school in Staffordshire England, qualified as a scientist at the University of Amsterdam, learned how to direct theatre and worked in theatre and television for about twenty years. And then I accidentally rediscovered drawing and painting in 2014. Since then I’ve been painting more or less full time. I also do a bit of screen writing.

Pieter Athmer at work

Was there a moment when you decided to follow your path as an artist?

On the 13th of January 1990, at about 7 pm (really).

How can you describe your own style?

I can’t.

Do you have a personal favorite piece? Can you think of a piece that was particularly fun to work on?

My portrait of Gerardjan Rijnders, which is on permanent display in the Municipal Theatre in Amsterdam (International Theater Amsterdam). Making it in retrospect feels like it exploded onto the canvas – without having a clue I mysteriously knew exactly what I was doing. Largely thanks to the subject; a great artist himself whom I love and admire.

Gerardjan Rijnders by Athmer, oil on canvas 90 x 120

Where do you derive your inspiration from?  Do you have a painting, which inspires you?

I want to paint most of the people I look at. Almost every tree, too, but I don’t get round to painting nature. I have inspiration like the ocean has water. My favourite painter for the past couple of years has been Alice Neel; her portraits make me understand why I paint.

Which artist of the past would you most like to meet?

Vincent, because he has felt like a close friend since I first read his letters as a student. (We’re already on first name basis.)

Donny by Athmer, oil on canvas 100 x 100 (Cell portraits series made in a former prison in Amsterdam)

What is your favorite art gallery / museum and why?

I love going out to see art, it is like getting a shot of oxygen. I don’t have a favourite place – I love almost every museum I visit.

What was the last exhibition you went to?

In the Picture in the Van Gogh museum. Wonderful.

Which artist materials do you use and why?

I asked the artist who taught me basic oil painting technique what the best paint is and he told me Old Holland. So I started off using Old Holland, and I’ve stuck to it. Tried a few other brands on the way and didn’t like them. I paint on oil prepared linen. It feels better than the universally prepared stuff and it smells good.

Old Holland tubes by Athmer, oil on canvas 18 x 13

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