I just have to paint. I can’t resist it. It is about searching and maybe finding something I wasn’t looking for,  the creative process is what matters most’.


Douwe Elias (Leeuwarden, 1952) pursued his education at the Minerva Academy in Groningen between 1974 and 1979. Studying arts was a logical step for Elias, who was confronted with art and paintings from a young age. At Minerva Academy Elias was taught by Matthijs Röling (1943) and Jouke Wouda (1928). They taught him how to use light and shadow in his compositions and how to use color in his work. Elias is a romantic painter as well as a realist. He does not strive to be a progressive artist, but instead he interprets reality in his own personal way. Atmosphere and drama are central elements in his paintings, which he uses to paint everyday situations from his surroundings.

In his paintings Elias tells a story where space and light form the main factors to create the right atmosphere. The painter often uses a theme, which he paints in series, this way he can approach the theme from different aspects. For example the series where Elias has painted disabled children. His father worked at a school with disabled children and the memories Elias had from this place inspired him to make these paintings. He was intrigued and moved by these children who deserved to be painted too.


Recently Elias paints many interiors of café’s or restaurants where old fashion grandeur and faded glory are his subject matter. This way he tries to paint the vulnerable and the trivial as well as possible. Elias directly paints onto the canvas, without making a drawing or a preliminary sketch. After applying a background color, he builds his composition in a few hours. Eventually he paints the image with a lot of oil in his oil paint to create extra depth and warmth to his colors.


In his impressionistic paintings he occasionally works out a detail and emphasizes that particular part in the painting. This way, the people in Elias’ paintings are clearly defined yet their faces remain a mystery. Every brushstroke is relevant; shadows and light fall determine the composition. Elias paints in many layers and applies glaze in between to create a beautiful deep color. Once a while he takes some distance in order for him not to lose the overview: ‘I literally take distance by sitting at the other end of my atelier with binoculars. This way you see certain details you wouldn’t have seen otherwise’.