artist in focus: joanneke carbaat


Joanneke Carbaat is an exciting new artist whose painting adventure started five years ago following a lifelong stop-start relationship with drawing and other creative outlets. Her vibrant paintings mainly focus on rich, characterful faces although she also paints lush flowers, landscapes and abstracts. Born in Rotterdam, Joanneke has spent most of the last 30 years in England, with time also spent in Germany and Spain


How do you describe your work?

My work is a collection of different approaches to portraiture. It is seldom the “perfect” face I try to capture, and often a reference is just the start of something. Sometimes the faces are recognisable, other times not so much


What would you say are your greatest influences?

I’m inspired by the faces and work I see on Instagram, and paintings spotted in books, which I love. Also artists who are so recognisable that you almost forget to see their work, such as Rembrandt, Vermeer, Van Gogh, Matisse. Then there are less famous artists, like the female early to mid-20th century painters who led incredible lives. Not just Frida Kahlo but also Leonara Carrington, Leonor Fini, Remedios Varo, Irma Stern, Amrita Sher-Gill. Sometimes it's their style that inspires me, other times I like to paint them as a tribute to their work

Who do you have in mind when you create your work?

I don’t normally have a particular person in mind when I’m creating, apart from when it’s a commission. Creating in a style that has proven to be popular doesn’t often work out. Each portrait follows its own path. Simple charcoals become paintings with many layers, or a sketch for a painting is better when left as a sketch. I sometimes make sketches of friends and family for practice and to post on social media as a little surprise


What makes your art different, special and irresistible?

People most often comment on what the subject of the portrait is thinking, why they look sad or deep in thought. I also like to portray women in traditional dress, not just as beautiful, I like them to look strong but also vulnerable. I always try to paint portraits that keep your interest for longer than a few moments

What do people say when they see your portfolio? How does your art make them feel?

This depends a lot on the work. The younger audience (age 20-30) like my more colourful art - gouache paintings of artists like Frida - as I think it fits in with their home décor and is more individual. The older audience are more drawn to the charcoal portraits and portraits of African/Indonesian/Bollywood subjects. I think they like the cultural aspect


When I did a series of very small floral paintings and some gouache poppy paintings, I think it was their brightness and joyfulness that people loved, and small flower paintings make easy gifts

What do you think motivates people to buy your art? How does it appeal to the heart?

Most of the work I have sold, either original or prints, has been to people I either know in real life or through social media. This includes a lot of students through my daughters. They have watched me grow as an artist and are happy to support me. I think that as a lot of my clients are well-travelled, portraits hinting towards Africa/Asia/Latin America appeal to them. I also have a lot of followers who are of mixed cultural/ethnic backgrounds. Seeing faces they recognise in some way makes them react. Dutch people react too, because I am Dutch