I am Rene Fijten, an architect living in The Netherlands.
Married with Gertie, my loving wife, and two children Rianne and Mart.
I have been drawing all my life: it is probably why I became an architect in the first place. But architects hardly draw these days, they spend their time behind computer screens. That’s why I restarted drawing and watercolour a few years ago.
At first I would make little sketches for the real BIG oil paintings that I had decided to make; but in reality I lost interest after I had finished that sketch.
Then one evening, on a business trip in Prague, I saw this guy sitting on the bank of the Moldau, a sketchbook on his lap, sketching the Karlsbrücke. And it hit me: that’s what I want to do as well!
As I was in some foreign country every other week, I decided to make at least one sketch of something local on every trip. At first it took effort, but after a while it became compulsory; I would rise an hour early before breakfast to go out and make a little impression of what I saw.
After a while I started posting the sketches on a blog, and I gradually found a group of sketchers around me who did the same.
In 2009 Gabi Campineiro from Seattle started an initiative called “Urban Sketchers”, and invited me to join the group. The interest for Urban sketching exploded and even resulted in a book, which features 2 of my New York sketches. Sold 50.000 books, translated in at least 4 languages, and I found the book on bookshelves in Paris, London and Los Angeles.
In the meantime I realised that I was good at drawing buildings and cars, but not people. They looked horrible. I also wanted to broaden the horizon, and use other materials than ink and watercolour. So I embarked on a portrait and modelclass given by the artist Annemiek Jongen.
I soon found out I that I had always been a draughtsman, not a painter, and it cost me a few years of trying and training to be able to do both properly.
Then a few years ago I also started to work with stained glass. Less art, more working with your hands.
Now I have stacks of sketchbooks, paintings and stained glass objects. Books have been published with my drawings in/on them. There have been group exhibitions and I was asked to give lectures on drawing or to collaborate on international sketching projects. Four times a year I organize sketchcrawls, and when abroad I try to meet other Urban sketchers.
It became a hobby which got a bit out of control.
But who cares, in the end it will keep me out of the shrinks office.