Niek van der Plas paints impressionist scenes of Holland’s beaches and dunes, bulb fields, city scenes in Amsterdam and Maastricht, and other typically Dutch vistas such as the harbours of Old Dutch towns. Figures are often central in the work of this painter, who was born in 1954 and who is notable for his use of light colours. Nicolaas (Niek) van der Plas was born in Leiden on 12 July 1954. He grew up as the oldest son in a family of four children in Katwijk, a fishing village where the sea and dunes are prominent in the landscape.
Niek’s father was a house painter and decorator by profession, but his early working years were spent at sea as a fisherman. Art was one of several hobbies enjoyed by Van der Plas senior. Growing up in an environment of craftspeople prompted Niek to take a vocational course at secondary school. Like his father, the future artist trained as a painter and decorator, and his brother followed suit a year later. Encouraged by his father, Niek began to draw when he was only five or six years old. His particular talent became apparent when he won the first prize in a drawing competition at De Efteling, a theme park. The jury included Anton Pieck, Dutch painter and graphic artist.
In 1966 – when Niek was twelve years old, the Katwijk painter was nominated for a place at a Famous Artists School in the USA. In 1967 the Dutch artist Rienk Belder wrote to Niek’s father to say: “I can see a strong inclination to fantasy in the work of your son, and a natural talent for working with a variety of materials.” But Niek van der Plas was not destined to receive professional training as an artist. As a self-taught artist he intended to perfect his own technique, and was influenced strongly by his own responses to his surroundings. He can therefore be described as an autodidactic painter.
Among the earlier impressions absorbed by Niek, which he remembers with great pleasure, were the visits with his father to the Mesdag Museum in The Hague, where they both admired the Panorama Mesdag. This magnificent painting, which features real sand in the foreground, made an overwhelming impression on the boy. It reminded him of wandering through the dunes near his home in Katwijk, where he often played as a child.
The influence of The Hague School has always been evident in the work of Niek van der Plas, so too the environment where he grew up of the sea, the beach and the dunes.
From AskArt Archives