Suzan Visser-Offereins has been painting portraits of people for more than 30 years. She says that from the start at home in The Netherlands: “It was amazing how people opened up and told the story of who they were. Their faces lightened up when telling about their work and lives, their family, what they have loved so much.
“To me it is always a challenge and an honour to try to capture the being of that person.”
She painted many children’s portraits, portraits of directors, less able people, ballet dancers, and actors, but also she was honored with royal commissions, like the Prince and Crown Prince of Kuwait, the Dutch Royal Family and other ambassadors’ portraits. In 1998 Queen Beatrix invited her to the Huis ten Bosch palace in The Hague and sat for her. Suzan also fulfilled a large number of other royal and government commissions. In 2005 she was commissioned to paint the present King Willem-Alexander. The king invited her to his palace where he sat for her. Both royal invitations left a deep impression. Suzan was invited to show her work in several museums, palaces and art galleries and it found its way all over the world.
A decade ago Suzan and her family decided to move to the Isle of Harris where she still paints portraits in oil on linen from her home in Northton. But now inspired by island landscapes, she also tries to capture the mood and the light of the scenery.
She says: “Wildlife opens up a completely new challenge. In this work it is still possible to sit still and sketch puffins from only two metres away. They are not scared of man and are very curious birds.
“The unspoiled and empty white sandy beaches of Northton, Scarista and Luskentyre, such amazing spectacular sea and landscapes. Dark and moody skies opening up showing clear sharp light. Who does not want to paint and keep its beauty as a wonderful memory?
“Imagine, it is a beautiful day, a day to go fishing for mackerel, smoked and fresh on your plate within eight hours. Sailing out, you first spot seals bathing on the rocks, and you hear them ‘talking’ to each other. Gannets diving like spears in the water catching fish faster and better then humans, a pair of cormorants flying over. Later in the day, when the tide is low, an otter is swimming to the shore and you spot a golden eagle who is nesting on ‘our’ hill…
“Don’t think this is extraordinary…this is a normal day.”