Biography- english

Erik van Ommen

I was born in 1956 and raised in Zwolle, a small town in the East of Holland. I started painting birds when I was 8 years old and became a keen birdwatcher at the age of 12. In 1975 I moved to Groningen, where I graduated at the Academy of Fine Arts in 1983. After two years of civil duty in a hospital I started painting and drawing birds professionaly. Buying a telescope and meeting John Busby made me a convinced an dedicated fieldworker. Nowadays I try to work in the field one day a week.

Fieldsketching for me is necessairy, without that I will not have the feeling knowing the bird. In the field I can look at its behaviour, its jizz and design. Light and texture are nowadys very important for me. Because of the fieldsketches I understand the bird and its environment the best and that makes studiowork easier and hopefully better. I try to use photographs as less as possible.

In 2000 I could, due to an exchange program, travel to Japan. There I studied the delicate Sumi-e technique. Since than my sketches are made with ink and brush. In 2016 I painted 1683 inkdrawings in the field. A selection will be printed in an 782 pages thick book called “All Birds” to honour the 70th anniversary of a famous Dutch writer.

Eight years ago my wife and I bought an old vicary in the North of Holland with a large studio and gallery – Atelier Brink 2 -, open to the public three months a year. We changed the garden into a refugee for birds. Hawfinch and kingfisher are often there, storks are sleeping on its nest. It is a perfect place to work on my oils, watercolours, etchings, sumi-e, lino- and woodcuts.

I have  published 24 books in Holland, one in Japan, one in Germany and one in Georgia. The books are inspired by sketches I made in several countries. The world is my studio, I always say. Since 2000 he has been painting, drawing and writing the following books:
1. De bijeneters van Harkstede - 2000.
About a pair of bee-eaters breeding near his house.
2. De dwergganzen van Anjum – 2002.
About the lesser-white fronted geese in Holland and Sweden.
3. The kiekendieven van het Oldambt – 2004.
About the Montagu’s harrier in Holland and its migration to West-Africa.
4. De zwaluwen van Singraven – 2006.
About a barn swallow breeding in Holland and migrating to Namibia in the south of Africa.
5. De kluten van Breebaart – 2008
About an avocet in Holland, migrating to Portugal
6. De ijsvogels van de Hunze – 2010
About a kingfisher in the north of Holland.
7. Mijn pastorietuin – 2008
About the wildlife in his garden
8. Het Waddenatelier – 2013
about the Dutch and African tidal flats
9. Mijn Reigerparadijs – 2016
about the European herons and drawing birds

In 2013 my book De Waddenatelier was published. At the same time I published an i-book The African Waddenatelier with sketches, drawings and video’s about his stay on an island in Holland and his trip to Mauretanie. It goes with a large exhibition of 100 works in the famous Slot Zeist. The whole project (exhibition, book, i-book and video presntation) was done to celebrate my 30-th anniversary of being a professional artist.

In my latest two books I have added qr-codes of video’s I have made of the techniques I practice. At the moment I use them for a serie articles “How to draw birds”, published in the magazine of the Dutch Soceity of Protection of Birds.
In 2015 I was the founder of “Het bevlogen oog” (the enchanted eye),  an annual prize for he best birdartist in Holland.
In the same year I was asked to make the offical logo of the Dutch National bird, the blacktailed godwit.
In 2016 my leaflet with 10 stamps, called “Griend – birds of the waddensea”, was released by the Dutch Post.
I have given gives workshops on “drawing birds” all over Europe and was involved in the organisation of the Art Marquee at the Birdfair in Holland.
I am one of the founders of the Artist for Nature Foundation.

In winter 2016 I made a small painting with leafgold and oil. I donated it to the Society of Protection of Birds in order to raise money for the endangered spoonbilled sandpiper. Helping to protect nature and birds is, besides making art, very important for me: “Art and nature are inseparable for me. As an artist I see it as a my task to preserve of what inspires me”.

For all my books and projects I am working together with Dutch nature-organisations like Birdlife Holland.
I have exhibited my paintings and drawings in museums and galleries in many countries.