Cary Jurriaans Follows in the Steps of her Family of Painters from the Netherlands

Posted in Feature, More Stories, Visual Art

Whidbey Life Magazine Contributor
April 16, 2014

In a lively conversation Cary Jurriaans shared her strong opinions about art: “Artists are made, not born,” she said.

This is the mantra of the Gage Academy in Seattle, where she got a lot of her training. She has observed, “Some people are born with talent; however, they never develop it. Successful artists work hard on improving and learning more. Before someone can be successful as a representational painter, they need to work at developing their skills in drawing.”

"Hommage to Morandi," oil on linen  (photo courtesy of the artist)

“Hommage to Morandi,” oil on linen (photo courtesy of the artist)

Jurriaans was born and raised in the Netherlands and grew up among some of the most beautiful art in the world. She comes from a family of painters; most notably, her aunt was the Parisian painter Mena Loopuyt (1902-1991) and she is also a direct descendant of Johan Joeke Gabriel van Wicheren (1808-1897), a Frisian portrait painter. Her work shows the influence of the Dutch Gold Age that included many of the great masters who were painting food and everyday things.

“I paint from life, never from photos,” Jurriaans said. “I have always been interested in seeing beauty in the ordinary: things around the house, such as kitchen utensils and food…the essence of our life in the kitchen…where a family gathers and talks.” Jurriaans added, “I do take a reference photo of the set-up so when food rots I can replace it.”

"Fromages Bleu," oil  (photo courtesy of the artist)

“Fromages Bleu,” oil (photo courtesy of the artist)

Jurriaans said she finds painting very nurturing and healing for her. “Still life is a peaceful and quiet subject matter; it calms me down, and I get into a meditative mode where time is totally forgotten.”

Her art is described as “Classical Realism.” She knew she needed to develop her technical skills before she could let her imagination take over. “I learned to draw at the Florence Academy of Art in Italy and I did classes and workshops at the Gage Academy in Seattle. With the workshops we put on at Whidbey Island Fine Arts Studio (WIFAS), I am still learning.”

She said that Picasso, Monet, Manet, Degas, Van Gogh and most of the Impressionists were all excellent draftsmen before developing their own special style later.

New materials also led to this new style of art. “The invention of modern pigments led to more experimentation for artists with color, this led to the boom in Impressionism.”

"From our Tree," oil on linen   (photo courtesy of the artist)

“From our Tree,” oil on linen (photo courtesy of the artist)

Jurriaans and her husband, Sieb, moved to the United States 42 years ago. She was quick to note that she couldn’t be living her current lifestyle as an artist and teacher without the continual support of her husband. After moving all over the country for Sieb’s business, they settled in Seattle with their children and eventually moved to Whidbey. Jurriaans said she and Sieb are in love with Langley.

Cary Jurriaans originally created her Fine Art Studio in Fall City, but today the studio is flourishing on Whidbey Island. The Whidbey Island Fine Art Studio offers a range of drawing and painting classes including still life, figure and landscape. The classes and workshops are small and provide opportunities for artists to develop their skills in an intimate and supportive setting.

Her work has been exhibited in numerous juried shows in the area, including the PONCHO Invitational, and her paintings are in private collections in the United States and Europe. She is currently a member of Evergreen Artist Association, Oil Painters of America and Puget Sound Group of Northwest Painters. She is the first female member invited to join this historic group of artists that was established in 1928.

Jurriaans is one of our artists in this month’s Virtual Gallery. To see other examples of  her work, visit her personal website, And to see what’s happening at Whidbey Island Fine Arts Studio, go to

Carolyn Tamler was a marketing research and community involvement consultant in the Seattle Area for many years before moving to Whidbey Island, where she has become known as a writer who enjoys telling the stories about the many businesses and entrepreneurs on the island.

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