An Interview with Roos Schuring

Roos Schuring
Landscape Spring #16 Light on an Overcast Day, Purple Fields, 24x30 cm  

I'm completely enraptured with the plein air work of the Dutch painter Roos Schuring. She seems to revel in painting shifting light from changeable skies, having a passion for the ephemeral nature of a quickly changing landscape. Her sense of color and light is lucidly beautiful, yet there is also deep feeling and even a wild energy in her paintings.
Roos Schuring received a degree in graphic design from the School of Fine Arts in Utrecht. She won the Netherlands prestigious Rembrandt Painting Award in 2004, and has exhibited work in many galleries in Holland, Germany and Belgium. Roos lives in a village near Amsterdam.
You can find out more about Roos at her blog, her Facebook pageand her Daily Paintworks page.

TD: Roos, you’ve been posting plein air landscapes and seascapes to your blog since 2008. How long have you been painting? When did you first know you wanted to be a painter?

RS: I've known I wanted to be a painter ever since I was 7 years old. I've been rewarded for my drawings and paintings since I was little, so I knew I was good at it. Even then I was driven. Because crazily enough, even then I thought 'standing still is moving backwards'- in other words, I wanted to get better and better at it fast. I read painting and drawing books before going to sleep. I had ideas about paintings in my head all the time. I looked outside the car window to see what I loved most- the sky or the horizon in the Dutch landscape. I would look also while walking on the beach, and at home I would paint the beach. I still have a piece of wood with something painted on it that I made when I was very young, and it has great similarities to my current paintings.

I studied graphic design to have a real job, but I’ve never stopped painting. I did many large wall paintings first, in earning money for my paintworks, and after a while I began to paint on wood in oils. I did many big paintings, photorealistic. On holidays I would paint plein air. You could say I've been painting since I was 5, so that would be 33 years. But if I count just the years that I’ve earned money painting, it would be 20 years of painting. The last ten years I’ve committed myself to sole plein air painting. 

Dutch Flatland, 24x65 cm 

TD: Have you always painted outdoors? Were you trained in the art of plein air painting in school?

RS: I don't have a degree in painting. I guess you can say I was self-taught. I wish I had more time to read and view books about painting- of course I did that, and still do. The concept of becoming a full time plein air painter came after joining a summertime painter’s festival here in Holland. Every year I got better at it. Bringing just the needed equipment,  I gained more control in the synergy between surroundings and painting.

TD: You are known for braving the elements to paint in all kinds of weather. How cold does it have to be for you to think about skipping a painting session? Does the wind create problems?

RS: When the paint doesn't want to come out of the tube, in winter, it's probably too cold to continue, but how to resist beauty? I've been painting on those kinds of days. Then I premix my white with oil, to sustain the cold, for instance. I wear everything I can to stay warm, but the fingers are hard to keep warm. Sometimes I warm my fingers with hot water, or just sit 5 minutes in the car, drinking hot coffee. I have been swearing on terribly cold and windy days while painting, because it just isn't easy. Wanting to finish my painting keeps me going. Seeing beauty keeps me going and makes me crazy enough to 'brave' the tough or wet circumstances nature sometimes gives us.

Landscape Winter #6 Sunrise snow and willow, 24x30 cm

TD: You seem to love painting changeable skies and the effect they have on the landscape or sea. Do you ever feel a sense of panic that the light conditions are changing too quickly to capture?  Do you always finish your paintings in one session? How do you manage to paint figures and even horses on a beach, given that they probably don’t strike a pose for you?

RS: Nature changes and changes rapidly, but circumstances do reoccur in the same day. Like sheep or cows, they come, they go, but they also come back! They have a rhythm- eating the grass, walking. I painted the horses on the beach when they were passing by, quickly. In 5 strokes I could have a horse and person riding it in silhouette. These things take time to develop, perhaps. Fear of just trying to paint quickly can hold beginners back, to see a person, cow, horse, and in three strokes have a sense of it put down in paint. After that you can retouch,  add a bit of details, contrasts. Of course you could bring photos, but could you believe painting from a picture often is harder to do? It is for me, anyway. When you want to paint the essence of things, less is often more. And it's somehow easier to extract from seeing the subject right there, than it is from a photograph of it.

Seascape Autumn #11 Horses, 24x30 cm

Skies change, and luckily they do. The skies are the main thing I look at while driving, besides the road- the greatest show on earth. I take whatever strikes me most, and hopefully it lasts long enough to comprehend it and to have it nearly put down. The rest is up to the composing of the painting.

Painting can teach you something every day about your subject, or about materials, or painting in general. Sometimes I paint 5 different skies on top of each other- I paint while it is changing. Keeping the good one, or erasing the best one. You never know! 
I learned though, to not chase circumstances, and get frustrated. The changing is a given factor. It is exciting. And it’s great if all seems dull, and something changes it all into great. 

Seascape Autumn #23, 25x25 cm

TD: What do you think are the special challenges or pleasures of painting the Dutch landscape?

RS: I love the flatland and water, which are great for reflections. I love those. We are a painter’s country, famous for its paintings of skies and light. But I think one loves the nation he/she was born and raised in. I love our beaches. They calm me.

Landscape Willows and Snow Residue Reflections, 20x70 cm
Seascape Winter #22 Cloud, Sunny Cold Beach 24x30 cm

TD: Sometimes I find your colors amazingly subtle, and sometimes very bold. I’ve read that you like a somewhat limited palette. Can you explain how you limit your palette, and why? 

RS: I have used a limited palette according to Kevin McPhersons theory, which is just 5 colors. I have found that very helpful, but when at the painter’s supply store, I take the big overview of paints and choose what I lack. I find mixing it all ourselves takes a lot of time. Plein air I want to quickly start. I  bring a Tupperware of leftover paint that has colors in it that I mixed on previous painting sessions. That helps too, to quickly start. It also helps to foul up the palette- to mix and mix and mix. Mix with complementary colors, but also mix and see what happens, just intuitively. Avoid the use of 'pure' colors...and let happy accidents happen- mess around a bit!  There should be no "clean" use of a paint palette. This is very important I think. You can carry 100 tubes but be smart about them, to only use what you need. Cryptic!

There are a lot of theories about color and the color wheel. Practice makes perfect. Doing and doing, painting and painting, and learning from your 'mistakes', or findings will solve the color 'problem'.

TD: I’ve also read that you begin with acrylics, and then work in oils. Do you always do this, and why?

RS: I often use the acrylics in bulb time, and only for disagreeing colors- for example such as red tulips and emerald leaves of the tulips, seen in a certain light. It is maybe better, when working in oils, to work with cleaning spirit instead, in the beginning. It dries quickly, which is nice if you want a color underneath something. I also use turpentine for cleaning the brushes while working or to liquefy the paint.

Landscape spring #21 Bulbfields, 24x30 cm

TD: From the look of your work, painting seems like it is a complete pleasure for you. Is this true? Is there anything you dislike about being an artist?

RS: Yes I am happy to have found what I truly love to do: paint and make paintings, to study painting and to see works by other painters.  It is all a great joy, a fascinating search, and a lifelong study.

I sometimes don't like the time it takes to prepare for an exhibit or to pick up the paintings after the exhibit is over, because it costs valuable painting time.

TD: I’m impressed that in your work you remain focused on the big picture, and never seem to get sidetracked by unimportant details. Have your paintings evolved over time to be freer, more impressionistic?

RS: Panta rhei! = everything flows. You will never know exactly which direction the painting will take you. I follow my instinct and paint what I love. I study what I want to comprehend and see where that takes me.

Seascape Winter #29 Dense Fog at the Beach, 24x30 cm

TD: What painters do you turn to for inspiration?

RS: I very much like the work by a lot of painters from around 1830, when plein air painting took a lift off, until about 1920. For example, I like the 'School of Barbizon', but more so the 'Hague School', which is a  Dutch variation of this. Of course I like the works by a lot of the Impressionists, those painters had pure genius. Also there are a lot of Russian painters that are very accomplished in using color. But all painters from all over the world, from all ages can inspire me, when the work is good. Why different work is good is a somewhat personal thing.  It is good to keep track of one’s own fascinations and path. The grand source of inspiration is of course Nature itself. 

In the mornings while driving the kids to their school in another village, we cross through miles of Dutch farmland and nature. Then and there I'm examining the sky, the weather conditions of the day, looking at all this beauty, and deciding where to set up the easel and paint that day.

                               Landscape Spring #20 First Cows of Spring and Rain, 30x40 cm

TD: What keeps you busy besides painting?

RS: Painting is my passion, and also my job. I am therefore busy with all the things that need to get done, like in any other business- prospects, growth, and communication. These are the things I work on when I don't paint. There is also the family that needs attention. I have a very busy, rewarding life.

TD: Thanks so much Roos Schuring!

You can find out more about Roos at her blog, her Facebook pageand her Daily Paintworks page.


  1. I love the painting. I know that this painter has a good imagination and great hands in painting this one.

  2. You are an inspiring painter. For the first time, I set up my easel out in my lovely forested yard and started a painting of an old stump of a fir tree. It must have been a giant at one time- now weathered, wrinkled as we will all be someday. I had a great time, did not finish it. How long does it take you from set up to finish would you say? Love your work and so happy I found you on the internet. Patsy Heller

  3. I love her attitude and her work is devine! Watch out for youtube films of her working on the beach, she is one hardy individual!!!

  4. i love your painting very much ang want be your old student.

  5. Been all day looking at plein air painters on the net. Just discovered you and i love your work more than anything else i have seen today. Absolutely stunning brushwork!

  6. I love the freedom and yet detail of your work. Thank you for sharing.


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