As a child I liked catching bees and other insects with a glass jar, looking at them and them letting them go again.
I loved playing in the garden, I spent many hours there.
My father was a horticulturist, growing vegetables in his greenhouses and on his fields.
I spent a lot of time there too, helping taking care of the vegetables, searching for salamanders in the greenhouses, watching pheasants and hares in the fields, etc.
As a child, I also loved drawing and colouring. My mother, a teacher, knew that proper pencils were needed to help me and my siblings develop our creative skills. So from day one, we had good pencil brands to draw and colour with: Caran d'Ache and Bruynzeel.
During my childhood, Rien Poortvliet, a famous Dutch wildlife artist became very popular with his books full of paintings and drawings.
You may know him from his books about gnomes.
Rien Poortvliet not only painted childrens stories. He loved drawing and painting about ordinary life, hunting and nature. He made these paintings accessible to millions of people by selling books with these paintings.
I spent many hours looking through his books, I still do.
I have four of his books at home, most of them with drawings and paintings from nature.
I love watching Rien's work, especially on a cold and rainy day in fall. His paintings make me long for a walk in nature. Now that I'm writing this article I can't wait to go to the woods!
There is little wilderness in The Netherlands. Actually, true wilderness is basically non- existent because the last 1000 years every piece of The Netherlands has been touched by humans.
But we do have woods, moors, some small hills and of course the sea. The Wadden, an area in the North Sea, is on the Unesco list of protected wilderness. But I happen to prefer the woods.
Where I live, 20 km from Rotterdam, there are only some very small forests which have been planted recently. When it comes to nature, the area I live in is quite poor...I love mammals but except for polecats, hares, rabbits, and other small rodents there is nothing interesting to find. I would love to see a fox or roe deer near our home. But it looks like that is not going to happen.
There is a large area of woods in The Netherlands called The Veluwe. It is one of the few places where red deer and wild boar live.
I love hiking there, watching the deer, wild boar, and other animals like foxes, marten, and many birds. It is about 120 km from where I live so I cannot go there as many times as I would like to.
The sudden encounters with animals always take my breath away. And in the experience of meeting the animals in the woods I find a strong connection with Rien Poortvliet because, in my opinion, Rien Poortvliet didn't just paint the animals, he painted the experience of suddenly meeting these beautiful creatures.
I sometimes take pictures of the animals I encounter but the pictures never show the excitement of that moment. Rien Poortvliet did manage to paint the awesomeness of it.
I once tried to copy one of Poortvliet's paintings, just for fun and to learn from it. Poortvliet's style and technique are far beyond my skills so now I just watch his paintings in awe and enjoy them so much!
None of Rien's original paintings are for sale. You can only buy reproductions.
Many of his original paintings are in the Rien Poortvliet Museum. The website of the museum is only in Dutch.