World Fine Art Professionals and their Key-Pieces, 77 - Jille van der Veen
The first thing that strikes me me when I enter the house of Jille van der Veen, ‘The Hague Bob Ross’, is a ukulele. Jille: “I know so many songs, uncountable. He picks up the ukulele and sings one of the The Everly Brothers. ‘Never felt like this until I kissed ya. How did I exist until I kissed ya. Never had you on my mind.’
On the floor lies another ukulele, in a suitcase. “That’s a resonant ukulele, it has a tool oud noise to play at home here.” He takes the instrument out of the suitcase and strikes, indeed it resonates clearly. Van der Veen is a member of a real band, ‘The Resonators’. “With a duo we’ve had 80 to 100 concerts a year.” Now it is less, but Jille is an eager music player and singer.
He did so with the ‘Pander Band’ at the opening of the Pander Complex where he and his wife Helen, also an artist, live. “It’s a nice change to the painting. Music is action, painting is patience.”
Jille is an outstanding figure in the Hague art world. Sjaak Bral told about it in a column in the AD newspaper. “For those who don’t know Jille van der Veen: he is an absolute pacemaker in The Hague cultural life. He has the voice of Bob Ross. Soft, encouraging, but also with some force.”
Van der Veen talks about the developments at the Hague artists society Pulchri which have led to it being again a real artists’ society, “as it always has been”. “There needs to be more done for and by the art-loving members. It’s important that it’s cozy.”
I also wanted some clarification about the Bob Ross course Jille was about to start at Marcello’s Art Factory. How does it work? As explanation: Bob Ross is an American painter who creates with a few brushstrokes a perfectly simulated natural landscape. Ross is also a teacher in this.
Jille: “First: I do it as easy as possible, just like Bob Ross. From the outset people see the result in an easy way. For example, we begin to paint beautiful skies. And how to handle paint. How you do that on your palette. I developed a few tricks for this and sincere amateurs see immediate results.”
I believe right away that he is an entertainer when he gives his classes. “I then teach them that if you paint trees and plants, you must paint from dark to light. I think it’s important that you let people do things within their means and that it is still fun. Drawing is more difficult then painting, which comes later.”
“You must unlearn things. The average amateur tries to jump beyond his or her long pole. They have for instance a picture of their granddaughter and they want to create a beautiful portrait. That doesn’t come about immediately. It is better to start with someone you do not know. It needs not resemble the model, if the result looks well, it’s OK.”
“Let me say this: a well painted turd is better than a badly painted beauty queen. If they are done with their first work, I show them that it is a bit more difficult, only slightly. I let them see the context, that everything has to do with everything. Playfully. The students get three colors and black and white. It seems little, but eventually they benefit from it. They learn for example that the green of the edge of a forest will be less green by mixing in a little red. That red mutes the green.”
“Perspective I teach them quite simple.” Van der Veen grabs a sheet of A4 paper, draws a straight line through the middel with a pencil. “The upper part you can use for the air.”Then he pulls another line, exactly on the half of the lower part, and then one more time. Next he draws two diagonal lines from a home and a person who is slightly above the first line towards the corners. In this way you can fill in the space of each of the lines to get a broad perspective.
Vander Veen also teaches at the Classical Academy Groningen. “It was founded by teachers of Minerva, my former Academy. Two months in the fall and two months in the spring I give lessons there. I teach, as I call it, ‘technical school knowledge’. Things I was just talking about. For instance that you can make real lines splendidly when you hold a broad brush oblique. The student are already at a later age, on average 35 years.”
“And in the evening I hold audience for old friends in the café. Groningen is a young city with a vibrant nightlife. I’ve been there five years taxi driver. What you hear and experience! In the taxi I was an entertainer. No one was more aware of the evil plans of several rival clubs and individuals on the dark path than I.”
Van der Veen shows on the screen the many artworks that he and his wife have made over the years. Many murals, in schools, for individuals and parking garages. Also many beautiful (luxury) cars, sometimes painted at the request of the owner. For instance the former ‘Soldier of Orange’, Erik Hazelhoff Roelfzema. “That’s the advantage if you are an artist, you get into circles where you would otherwise never come in.”
When I leave the Pander Complex I see in het passage to the Brouwersgracht at left a big beautiful mural, a large bird with a cherry in its beak and a small bird between red cabbage leaves. And left two hollyhock vines. The authors names are there: Jille and Helen van der Veen.