His etchings and paintings explore the secrets of nature

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LANGLEY – This time Rob Schouten himself is in the spotlight at the Rob Schouten Gallery & Sculpture Park.

The October show “Aquatint etchings and paintings” shows six aquatint etchings and five oil paintings by the gallery owner. His works investigate the mysteries of nature and expand the imagination.

“Because the gallery is doing so well, my time for painting has been greatly reduced,” says Rob Schouten, who gave the gallery its name. “I used to paint probably half a dozen paintings a year. I currently paint maybe twice a year. ”

As a self-taught painter and graphic artist, Schouten earned a bachelor’s degree in graphic design from the School for Graphic Arts in the Netherlands. After working in advertising for about a year, he moved to Seattle and became an artist.

This is only the second time that Schouten, 64, has his own exhibition at the Rob Schouten Gallery. His last exhibition took place in 2017.

“As a gallery owner, it is very important to Rob that all of our artists are well represented,” said gallery owner Victory Schouten. “It tends to shorten itself.”

His etchings were created around 1998 with the Island International Artists on the island of Guemes. With aquatint etching, the printing plate is blocked out step by step from a snow-white to a velvety black. It allows the artist to work with a wide range of gray scale to create an image.

“I’ve shown one or two in the gallery at the same time, but I’ve never shown all six at once,” said Rob Schouten. “We printed them in black and white, which I always preferred with them.”

His most recent paintings are executed in transparent oil glaze in the underpainting technique. Before painting, a layer of paint is applied to the canvas. It serves as a blueprint for the image and enables the artist to master light, value and contrast.

Schouten’s work is inspired by surrealists like MC Escher, Salvador Dalí and René Magritte as well as symbolists like Gustave Moreau, Odilon Redon and Gustav Klimt.

He is most proud of “Confluence”, an elaborate painting in oil on canvas. A radiant pattern of squares shows a mountain stream, the rocky banks of which are covered with tree trunks, ferns and moss. Outside the squares, Mount Shuksan is in the background and the Bildersee is in the foreground.

“I made a mask for the painting so I can show the picture in the gallery that is inside the squares,” he said. “It’s a very complicated picture, so it’s very difficult to see what exactly is going on with it.”

An aquatint etching and an oil painting, inspired by the San Juan Islands, are titled “Skylands”. When the mist rises from the water, the islands appear to float on the clouds – so he painted the islands like hot air balloons.

“You know what the islands look like up here, don’t you?” Sieg Schouten said. “These are just those perfect round things that you wouldn’t be surprised if they just took off.”

Schouten sold his paintings at Seattle’s Pike Place Market from 1980 to 1982, and when he moved to Whidbey Island in 1983, he showed his work in galleries such as the Kirsten Gallery in Seattle, the La Conner Gallery, and the Carolyn Hartness Gallery in Seattle. He worked in watercolor, but now he prefers oil.

Until November 1st, the gallery also features new artwork by 12 artists from the northwest – you’ll see fresh paintings, sculptures, glass and woodwork.

The artists are Robert Adamson, Anne Belov, Kathleen Frugé Brown, Carolyn Doe, Georgia Gerber, Dan and Joi LaChaussée, Steph Mader, Gerard Del Monte, Sharon Spencer, Don Wodjenski and Angèle Woolery. Each artist will show one or two works.

The owners Rob and Victory Schouten founded the gallery in 2008. Rob is the Artistic Director; Victory is the managing director. In 2016 they moved their operations from Greenbank to Langley and added a sculpture garden.

Victory Schouten said her favorite on the show was “After the Fall”. Inspired by the Wilbert Trail in South Whidbey State Park, the oil painting shows a fallen tree in the background and skunk cabbage in the foreground – the new opening in the canopy allows more light for new growth. Hidden in the roots of the tree is a Buddha.

“There is this peace that permeates,” she said. “A big tree that falls over is a destructive thing, but it still grows from it.”

Rob and Victory met because of his art. Victory was the Seattle Group Theater’s director of marketing in 1987.

The Seattle Group Theater, closed in 1998, presented artists from the Seattle area in the lobby of its playhouse. An artist’s works were for sale and hung in the lobby during a show.

When Victory’s well-known artist resigned for “Orphans,” Rob offered to step in. They married about a year later.

“It’s a window to what an interesting man he is,” said Victory Schouten, who was a fan from the start. “How thoughtful he is, how he stands out and takes care of him.”

Sara Bruestle: 425-339-3046; [email protected]; @sarabruestle.

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