For many years now I have been drawing moving/dancing models. For me this is a subject I never grow tired of. The movements of the muscles, which ones are relaxed and which ones tensed? How does this differ between dancers? How does the light reflect on them? All this allows me to see new landscapes time and again. I like to continue drawing the models until I understand the movements of the dancer. Hence I prefer to work for long periods at a time with one model.

What do I find important in my work?
For me, a good drawing or painting needs to have abstraction, architecture, movement, anatomy and emotion.

I try to simplify the dance to uncomplicated basic forms and shapes such as a circle or a cross. Abstracting this way helps to create a spatial drawing.

abstract circle shape        cross shape
Circle Shape                                                                   Cross Shape


Architecture and Connections
Architecture is about making connections between, for example, a hand and the head. I do this literally by drawing lines and very often these are still visible in my drawings. In the above drawings one can see this in the connection between hand and leg. Probably, in reality this connection was not present. Despiau made statues that are full of connecting lines. If one would hold a ruler next to his statues, each line is connected to another. For example, a shoulder-line will end exactly at the tip of the ear.


Just as the church tower is proportionate to the main church building, the head is proportionate to rest of the human body, and this is also true of the drawn dancer to my sheet of paper. I often use the Golden Mean formula to calculate proportions even though quite often we use these proportions subconsciously. If in doubt, however, as to whether the drawing or painting has too much background or moves too much to one side, I very often take a ruler and a calculator and will calculate the Golden Mean proportions.
In my drawings I exaggerate the abstraction and architecture in order to make a clear statement. This also means my drawings are not an exact representation of reality.


Movement and Arabesque
In drawing a moving model I try to find the “line of movement” or arabesque as quickly as possible. Very often this is the imaginary line that runs through the middle of the person; the line that would pull the dancer up by his/her head if they were a puppet. This line is the basis of all my drawings, and also of my paintings. This line indicates at an early stage what will happen to the rest of the drawing. Alberto Giacometti is a good example of an artist who has reduced its work to a near arabesque.


In my drawings I suggest movement by means of perspective, and primarily through fading of the lines. I try to make these lines as lively as possible, with many grey-tones and through the use of thin and thick lines. I try to avoid black as much as possible since it has the tendency to cause ‘holes’ in the perspective.
In my paintings I try to suggest movement and liveliness through the use of brushes, thick and thin lines, but also by using “clear” and “non-clear” colours. Also the sharpness and softness of the image can suggest movement.


The anatomy of a model in movement is more interesting than that of a motionless model because of the constant changes in the shape of the muscles. Each line (contour) of the leg of my model represents a collection of muscles. It makes a difference if a model stands on a leg in or whether that leg hovers above the floor. Tensed muscles are different in shape than relaxed muscles. Where the muscle is connected to a bone the line that represents this will be drawn darker to indicate the bone. In the example below the pelvis is drawn blacker than the upper leg muscles, while remaining one (contour) line.


Emotion and Character
In the past years I have been inspired by the emotions that dancers show while dancing.

emotion    character         

In my paintings I search more for the character of my model than their emotions. Since 1998 I have enjoyed painting portraits because through the head and facial expressions one is able to “connect” more quickly with the model and his/ her character.

Oil paint is a much “slower’ medium than drawing with Siberian charcoal. This is partly, but not only, due to the time it takes to dry. The result is that my portrait paintings have less movement than my drawings. In the past I used my oil paint more like watercolours which significantly reduces the time it takes to dry. This means that I am constantly searching for ways to paint dynamically.  
Now I am working more with “fatter” paint and different mediums to try to get more structure in the paint itself. This technique is inspired by the later works of Rembrandt and Titian.

oil painting     oil painting

Inspires Me and Why?

Käthe Kollwitz
I am inspired by the emotional and expressive drawings of Käthe Kollwitz. The drama in these drawings is beautiful and is created mainly by the use of dark and light.

kathe kollwitz      kathe kolwitz


Andrea del Sartro
The beautiful, quiet drawings of Andrea del Sartro, with their distinct shading, remain a wonderful inspiration for me. His knowledge of anatomy is clearly visible in the way he shades his drawings. It is amazing to observe how del Sartro can distinguish a round muscle from a hollow one, by using shading and hatching that follows the shape of the muscle.
andrea del sarto    andrea del sarto

Willem Dooijenwaard
Dooijenwaard lived in Bali and drew the local Balinese and their daily life without sentimentality or romanticism.

Willem Dooijenwaard   Willem Dooijenwaard


The trembling hands of the Jewish Bride of Rembrandt contain a feeling of mystery that both fascinates and delights me. To be able to paint such liveliness and tenderness in my own paintings remains a life-long aspiration.

Jewish Bride

Charles Despiau

Charles Despiau is a sculptor who connects the various parts of his sculptures through the use of line. For example, a shoulder-line will end exactly at the tip of the ear.



Because I have worked for a long time with dancers I have developed a great love of dance. In The Netherlands I worked mainly with modern dance, but I have also worked for long periods with traditional dances such as belly dance and Balinese dance. From 1999 onwards I worked in Sri Lanka, and this led to my appreciation of Kandy dance and Low Country dance. Kandy dance is full of “architecture”. For example, each hand has a relationship with a foot and everything follows geometrical patterns. Low Country dance has this as well but to a much lesser extent. However the dancers wear more beautiful costumes. I was given the opportunity to depict these dances as part of a project to paint and restore several murals in a Buddhist temple in Sri Lanka.

dance                dancer
Low Country dancers in Galle, Sri Lanka           Work in studio, Colombo, Sri Lanka

From 2005 onwards I worked in Hanoi, Vietnam with both modern and traditional dancers.

Thuy in studio in Hanoi,Vietnam

Since 2009 I have worked in Bali Indonesia with Balinese dance such as Legong, Baris and Barong, and also with contemporary Asian dance.

dayu   desi
Dayu dancing on modern classic music, in Bali, Indonesia         Desi dancing Legong in studio Bali

I am interested in the patterns of the dance, the expressions, but most of all I love to portray the real, inner emotion of the dancer (as opposed to external theatrical expression of the dance).

legong garuda    LEGONG DAYU
Legong dance, Garuda, Dayu Indah, in Bali

noel with dayu
Dayu Indah and Noella Roos in studio Sanur, Bali, Indonesia