Friday, 4 October 2013

Impressionable Impressions: Rob Niezen

A sublime amalgamation of urban with rural, Rob Niezen's work touches us with charm and quaint appeal. Born and raised in urban Netherlands, Rob had the chance to move to the English countryside with his family while growing up. He finds both city and country life alluring, each in its own unique way. His current abode is in the Ontario countryside with occasional visits to the city of Toronto.

Cross Walk

Drawn to art by European comic art, and inspired by the graphic tradition prevalent in the Netherlands, Rob initially tried his hand at comics. 

"There's a strong graphic tradition in the Netherlands, starting with Rembrandt's etchings, with a lot of contemporary printmaking, where black is a dominant colour. I am sure that has influenced my work."

Comfort Zone

He joined Vrije Akademie, The Hague, for evening classes in drawing, composition and oil painting, later joining Vrije Akademie, Delft, to learn life drawing. He continued with evening classes at Art School of Peterborough learning how to paint portraits in oil, water colours and acrylics.  

Rob's style of painting is deeply influenced by Rembrandt's impressionism and treatment of light and darkness. He is also an admirer of the impressionist era. 

"I also identify with the impressionists and their successors in their search for light."

Blue George

Water and rain are Rob's accomplices. One of nature's biggest forces appears so tame and gentle in his work. For many, rain brings tranquility and peace to the soul, for Rob it brings an opportunity to produce a piece of work that others will marvel at for years to come.  

"On rainy nights, I go out and take photos in the streets looking for neon and other commercial lights reflecting in the wet asphalt. I collect piles of photos that way."

No Entry

The piles of photos turn into a pile of gold. It holds within it the potential of becoming a series of paintings that will are displayed on walls in places the likes of Ashburnham Ale House, Art Gallery of Peterborough, Gallery in the Attic, Peterborough Regional Health Centre, and head office Siemens, Canada.

CN Tower Sky Dome (Siemens Canada head office and 100th anniversary calendar)

"I then go through the photos sifting interesting pieces out. This is the starting point of my paintings. I start an initial sketch with pencil or crayon, just outlines of the larger areas. Usually, I start painting the black parts quickly as an under painting. Then the colours follow, and after that I go back and forth between the darks and the lights."

Rush Hour

As an artist, Rob identifies personal touches in his work. It isn't a conscious decision, but something that occurs naturally. The chosen image that will be translated into a painting will only grace the canvas if it strikes a chord with Rob. On the other hand, the painting could start out of sheer nothingness and develop into a stunning piece of art.

"It's like I want to say, 'Hey, look at that!.' My 'Night Spots' series is like that, I want to point something out for you to SEE. And sometimes there's no plan, and it's just play."


Rob practices art using a variety of media. His main passion is working with oil paints. The strength of the colours, the ability to mould the painting while the paint is still wet, and it's slow drying process appeal to him the most. He is also equally comfortable working in acrylics and water colours. He experiments in mixed media and once in a while gives print making a go as well.

Parallels III Free

Painting, like all other skilled work, required a fair bit of research in completing a project. Whether working on commissions or painting for personal pleasure, Rob conducts thorough research. Commissioned work requires going into great detail with the client to grasp the idea budding within the customer's mind. For personal work Rob takes more liberty and experiences more freedom.

Parallels IV Directions

"The initial sketches give the client an idea what the end result is going to look like. A sketch can help verify expectations. That last part is the big difference. Painting for your own preference can have similar steps but not necessarily. Research can be very focused or the opposite: an accumulation of bits and pieces collected over time. Or there is no research: you see; you do."

Parallels VI The Kiss

Aside from being an extremely talented fine artist, Rob also has a passion for music. Not only does he like to play it in his studio to accompany him while he works, but he was also part of a band called Los Chaos for fifteen years. Even though he no longer plays music with a band, Rob is focusing on relishing the day-to-day achievements he has attained in the world of fine arts.

"The first major juried show my work featured in made me feel I had come to an important mile stone, and the feeling of being exhibited nudged me on. It is uplifting when you get a positive response, whether that be from a juried show you have applied to, or when an outlet sells your first piece."

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