Bastiaen Vries

Bastiaen Vries


Bastiaen Vries is a portrait painter living and working in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

During his studies at the Fashion Academy he was already familiar with drawing and he considered model drawing as one of the best disciplines.

During the last years he has been working in Germany as Head of Fashion Design, and he reignited his passion for painting and drawing, especially since the Corona outbreak. He loved working as fashion designer because he was dealing with colours, shapes, and materials on a daily basis.

Bastiaen was inspired by his great-grandfather who did oil paintings until he was in his late nineties. He remembers him painting landscapes and portraits when visiting him as a child. His mother inspired him with her drawings and paintings too. She was able to find the time to do it albeit she was busy with her work and raising two children.

Besides painting, he works with pleasure at the Marline Fritzius Foundation, where he coaches people afflicted with aphasia to paint, draw, and sculpt. Bastiaen admires how the participants, though troubled by a physical disability, make art, and express their creativity. It provides him a profound insight into how life could be; not always predictable, easy, and untroubled.




Painting portraits inspires me because human faces are so distinct, and there is a whole world to read in them: strength, pain, joy, love and much more.

I describe my style as ‘Human Realism’. Expressive portraits with a soul. I aim to catch the person’s soul and try to convey in the portrait both the strength and the vulnerability, capturing their 'being', and eternalizing the person. I want the viewer to perceive real people, real characters.

I prefer to work in oil paint on Belgium linen canvas. Like many of the 'old masters', I first apply a background in ochre, and set the contour with the pencil. Then I start the portrait in ‘imprimatura’ namely using earth tones, which will allow light falling onto the painting to reflect through the paint layers. Then I proceed applying colours, layer upon layer, with transparent paint strokes from dark to light to reach real expressions. My colour palette is very small and focused; I mix all colours into different values. I also use glazing as a technique to get even more depth in the work.

When the portrait comes to life something magical happens, something that gives me the feeling that the person in the painting is looking back at me; almost having a silent conversation with me. In that very moment I feel I have come to the essence.