Feb 102008

Jiddje Straatsma is a Dutch painter and graphic designer who works in a wide range of genres, including landscape, still life and portraits, and publishes his work on the Internet on this website and this blog. Jiddje is outspoken about his hard work ethic and demanding self criticism; I would like to bring to your attention how his paintings oscillate between realism and impressionism, different pieces careening towards either style, in a way reflecting this struggle. In traditional terms his artwork offers soft impressionism, considerably tamed, or “civilized” by realist figuration — reflecting some of John Singer Sargent‘s ambitions. Similarly to the American master, one can identify in Jiddje’s work a search towards a unique personal adaptation of the two trends, seeking an individual original coalescence. That is not an easy task even without considering the competition, and Jiddje holds his own.




The stylistic duality is traceable in probably every aspect of the artist’s output. Impressionistic brushwork is fast, at times impetuous and intense, while the more realistic pieces disclose painstaking precision. Light may cascade in shafts, drowning objects in luminosity, or gingerly tinge the exposed areas. These features, while spreading across the artist’s oeuvre, generate particular interest when colliding in a single painting, such as the still life you see below. The left side of the scene is suffused with light that tints the palette, which gradually darkens as the light weakens — rendering the right side as more realistic (in the generic meaning of the term).


still-life-with-nectarines and pitcher


On a psychological level, the painting combines vibrant optimism with cautious realism; we witness the of the two, which translates into a harmonious coexistence. Indeed, I think that harmony, event hunt for it characterizes many of Jiddje’s paintings. In a freer associative play the whole body (literally) of work may also be seen as a dichotomous organism. Blood supply would hence represent harmony, which travels from the heart, the impressionistic streak, to the mind, the realist balance, constantly mediating between the two. The said optimism and realism, as you may already have guessed, are the humours of this “body.”




I think the artist’s choice of palette — usually lusterless, restrained and quietly intense — manifests national qualities, drawing from one of the most glorious of European painterly traditions. The pitcher in particular reminds me of that in Vermeer’s The Kitchen Maid; though of a different color, the milk pouring out of it is of a hue close to that of contemporary rendering. The glowing blues in some of the backgrounds display a van Goghian flavor. The artist may be quoting the masterpieces, positioning his art in a broad artistic and historic context.

  2 Responses to “Jiddje Straatsma”

  1. Dear Elijah,
    Thanks for this article that you wrote about my art. It makes me feel very proud!

    You are right that my paintings oscillate between realism and impressionism. The reason for that is very simple. Many hours I travel on the internet, studying paintings. I like the two different styles. When I see paintings of Steve Smulka or Steve Mills (one of the best, I think!) I like to try things like they do. You’ve never seen something like that from me, because it failed. On my blog I posted a lolly, but I think it is not good enough. I tried realism many times, but I think it is too early to do this really right. So I end up most of the times to try on the impressionism. I like the “freedom” of the style of impressionism. Trying with a minimum of brush strokes to get a maximum result. You can see that in my landscapes more than in my still lives, I believe. Landscapes are more a comfort zone to me. I feel confident with landscapes. But I want to do more disciplines than that. So there are a few portraits, that are really fun to do, and there will be more in the near future, and still lives. About the still lives, I try to do the still lives in a way that I’d like to see the still lives. Maybe it has something to do with my other profession: graphic design. That means: close ups. Just a piece of the scenery. A problem I am facing are the edges. The edges of the attributes are too sharp. They must recede more. I am working on that. I am learning from other artists (thanks Roseta!) I hope it gets better the next paintings.
    But I hope the wetter gets that good that I can do some landscapes. I really want to do more landscapes. In the impressionistic way. I feel no need to do it in realism. The landscapes I produce are the ones that I saw with my own eyes. I’ve been there. I live there. Friesland, Holland. I learned to see in a certain way at landscapes. And I am seeing beauty all around that I wish to paint. And here also: I am trying to do close ups in a way. No total scenery. I am studying the colors I want to use, but I feel I’m getting better and better. I am influenced by a number of artists, so I think I’m not having a really style of my own. Here is a lot of work to get that right. The only way to get it right is simple: paint. And articles like these makes me going on.


  2. Jiddje, you are welcome and thanks for sharing your favorites — Steve Smulka and Steve Mills are new artists to me, and I will fill this gap as soon as I can (if you have some links to add, that would be great).
    I have been following your art for almost six months, and, in my humble opinion, you have improved immensely.

    I know this may sound strange, because you are actually the guy who paints, but i see some realistic traits in your landscapes as well. I think it’s the light more than anything, at least the light I am accustomed to seeing in the work of Monet and Sisley. Heh, this is just my opinion, however :)


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