Tanja Möderscheim is a Dutch fine artist based in London who paints in oils using classical style and techniques common in 17th Century Holland. We caught up with Tanja to find out more about her company: Dutch Oils Art and the inspiration about the brand.

How did it all start? 

Whilst I used to draw and was creative as a child I only started oil painting in earnest whilst studying for my PhD degree. I needed something that relieved stress and brought me back to basics, something that allowed me to create and make beautiful things. That was in 2004, and it was really ‘me-time’. It still is and I feel very privileged to have found this, especially now it is my full-time job as well.
When I started painting, it soon became an obsession and through 16 years of practising, looking at art in museums, reading and researching, I have arrived at my current painting practice, approach, themes and values.
Due to increasing sales over the past four or so years, having arrived at my own niche, story and brand, and importantly also due to the wish to be ‘there’ for my two young sons and work for myself, I left my career in 2018 and have been a full-time artist since. I have not looked back!

The story behind the name…

As a Dutch expat abroad, I love painting Dutch themes as it keeps me in touch with my roots. A lifelong interest in heritage, tradition and history marries beautifully with oil-painting Dutch heritage: tulips, Delft Blue tableware. When searching for a name that would express this and be my brand, Dutch Oils Art was an easy choice.

Where are you based?

My studio is in Isleworth, near Richmond (west London). It looks out over my garden, which ends at the little River Crane. Coffee breaks and ‘painting thinking time’ are taken on the terrace by the water.

What inspires you?

Beauty and light inspire me enormously. I want to create things of beauty, and for me light plays such an important part in this. I especially love the ‘strijklicht’ as we call it in Holland, light that touches and almost caresses forms; imagine for example the way the cracks in a Delft Blue bowl catch the light, or how light filters through a flamed petal of a Dutch tulip dating back to 1595. Beauty and light tie in with my love of tradition and heritage: things that have gone before and the identity that comes with this. 17th Century Dutch flower and still life painters knew how to portray this, and this has led me to using the same techniques and even their painting palette.

What is your creation process?

Using the same classical oil painting technique and pigments as 17th Dutch painters, I start with a tinted ground layer on which I sketch and then paint the composition in monochrome colours. This is called the ‘dead’ layer.
Once this is dry, I paint several layers of pigments and glazes. This technique is not only useful for practical reasons (for example separating the tonal steps from the colour steps) but also creates a certain ‘glow’ in the painting. Often a design or composition ‘brews’ in my head for weeks or even years. I’m foremost a tonal painter: I love the drama and mood you can create using the interplay of light and dark. This has become my signature.

What makes you, your brand or products unique?

As a Dutch fine artist abroad wanting to stay in touch with my roots, I’m proud to use the same style, techniques and pigments as painters in 17th Century Holland. Together with ensuring I use only the finest materials, this allows me to carefully craft genuine Dutch, elegant and refined paintings.

What makes you, your brand or products unique?

As a Dutch fine artist abroad wanting to stay in touch with my roots, I’m proud to use the same style, techniques and pigments as painters in 17th Century Holland. Together with ensuring I use only the finest materials, this allows me to carefully craft genuine Dutch, elegant and refined paintings.

What is your biggest achievement?

I feel that my biggest achievement has been unfolding over the past year and this year – producing paintings which more and more people find beautiful and which they feel is a genuine addition to their homes, or a perfect gift for loved ones. With beauty so much needed in these times, I’m delighted that my paintings are able to provide this.

What is your best-selling product/line?

My small as well as big oil paintings. Limited edition prints and art cards also popular.

What do you love about Country Living Fairs?

I love having a chat with visitors about my paintings and how I can help them treat themselves, family or friends. Most people seem to want to treat themselves to a painting! I also really enjoy being given recipes for the fruit I paint, for example how to cook quince fruit.

Your three top tips for crafters and makers…

Make what you love – your passion will show in your work and people will notice that. There is something magical about joy and discovering that.

Any advice for fledgling businesses…

Find what you love making and then make this your niche and own it. You’ll arrive at your own genuine story, which makes everything fit together. This is a journey that needs to be taken and arriving at your story is well worth waiting for. Breathe and live it.

Find out more here: dutchoils.com

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