Douwe Elias

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‘I have to paint. I can’t resist it. It is about searching and maybe finding something else, 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 darkness 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 for renovation, 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 and argued that they deserved to be painted too.

Recently Elias paints many interiors of café’s or restaurants where old fashion grandeur and faded glory are centrally staged. This way he tries to paint the vulnerable and the trivial as great as possible. Elias directly paints onto the canvas, without making a drawing or sketch to start. After applying a background, 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 by putting a lot of emphasis on it. This way, the people in Elias’ paintings are clearly illustrated yet their faces remain a mystery. Every line has a function; shadows and light fall determine the composition. Elias paints in many layers and applies glaze in between to create a beautiful 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 vernaculars. This way you see certain details you wouldn’t have seen otherwise’.




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Douwe Elias

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