Two Worlds Align: Reinder Oldenburger On Music And Art

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Two Worlds Align: Reinder Oldenburger On Music And Art

Reinder Oldenburger painting

accessART is all about applied arts – paintings in acrylic, oil or watercolor and many more. The list is endless. Most often we meet specialists in either applied arts or for example performing arts. But recently, we got the chance to interview an artist who aligns these two different worlds. Mixing them to create something very distinct and wonderful. New York based Dutch artist Reinder Oldenburger talks to us about his two passions in life – music and art!

Reinder Oldenburger

Reinder Oldenburger in his studio

Where it all began

Reinder Oldenburger was born and raised in Fryslân, the Netherlands. By the age of 13 he had already discovered his interest in the world of the arts. He started playing the guitar, eventually moving to Amsterdam to study at the Conservatorium van Amsterdam. Painting however had not been a part of his childhood or early adult years. When did he start to paint and at what moment did music and art align? There was one event that turned out to be quite meaningful – a simple visit to one of his favorite museums in the world: the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam.

“I was 27 and reading about Vincent van Gogh and I learned that he began to draw and paint when he was 27 years old. I felt a strong connection to his story and even though I already had an interest in art and painting specifically and for a while I had thought I would paint one day, I could for the first time really see myself starting to paint and at that moment all the pieces of the puzzle came together. So I remember saying to my girlfriend ‘You know I’m a musician but actually I’m a painter too.’ And the next week I went out to buy a set of acrylic paints. And I’ve painted every day since.”

Besides playing music, Reinder Oldenburger now entered the world of applied arts. But he says himself that it didn’t feel like a big transition. Music and art are very much the same thing. It felt natural to paint. He tells us, “Painting allows me to have a clear mind and fully exist in a moment where there’s only me, the paint and the canvas.” He knew instantly that this was what he should be doing. And he still feels that way today.

“Painting allows me to have a clear mind and fully exist in a moment where there’s only me, the paint and the canvas”

Sources of inspiration

After hearing his story of that particular day at the museum, we ask Reinder about his thoughts on Van Gogh as an artist. He replies that, indeed, Van Gogh is a big inspiration to him. “Van Gogh is loved not only for his art but for his personality and his view on life. From the correspondence with his brother in endless letters, one can see that he was completely absorbed in his work. Not rarely would he paint an oil painting in only 45 minutes. But what Reinder admires about him most, is his perseverance. “I think that is a quality that every artist aspires to possess”. Even though his paintings were undesired during his lifetime and Vincent constantly doubted his work and abilities as an artist, he still pursued his work with the utmost diligence and determination.

“I think that perseverance is a quality that every artist apsires to possess”

As much as Reinder admires Van Gogh we ask him about his thoughts on Picasso. One of the quotes Reinder has on his website is by the famous Spanish artist. “Some artists paint the sun and it’s a yellow dot, other artists paint a yellow dot and it’s the sun.” – Picasso

“Whatever you do, whether you’re a painter, a sculptor, a fashion designer or an architect: Picasso produced such a large and diverse body of work, it’s hard not to be inspired and influenced by him. He was such an innovator, always introducing new styles and new techniques. Everyone followed his lead.”


We ask Reinder Oldenburger when and why he decided to move to New York. “It was not for art, not even for music… but for love. “I met a girl here in 2010. Me and a friend had a music video audition and she auditioned. Now she’s my wife.” Today he describes his relationship with the city as “love-hate”. On the one hand, New York is a unique place for artists, offering everything one could ask for – numerous music and art shows and some of the best museums in the world.

Especially the diversity is something Reinder values. “Everyone can be him- or herself in this city. But at the same time, the vast number of people is also something he dislikes about the city. The city is always buzzing and stimulating the senses which at times becomes too much to take.”

Reinder Oldenburger at work

Reinder Oldenburger at work

The process of making art


How would you describe your art to someone who has never seen it? We are curious to hear more about Reinder’s style and painting techniques. Simply looking at his artworks effects the viewer. There is a very distinct play of colors and figures that are clearly composed by the same hand. Reinder replies to this question with a long pause. He looks around his studio searching for the right words. “I would say my style is quite loose. It is very colorful for the most part. It is expressive and also playful. I’ve heard people say there’s a forceful quality to my art, in a way that it does not hang in a corner unnoticed”

“There is a forceful quality to my art. It does not hang in a corner unnoticed”

Has he always painted in that style? “My style continuously changes and develops”, he replies. He comments that he usually makes paintings in series. But it is not something that is predefined. He likes to let it evolve naturally without the burden of too much thought.

There is one aspect in his style however, he points out to us specifically. He feels a strong connection with the Netherlands and especially the Dutch artists. Their style is distinct in the way that it is very direct. He mentions examples as Frans Hals or Van Gogh and how there is a certain direct quality to their work. Also artists from the CoBrA movement (acronym for Copenhagen, Brussels, Amsterdam) of the 1940’s-1950’s strongly influence his work. This direct way of painting is surely linked with the Dutch culture and sets it apart from other nations. Reinder values direct communication and aspires with his artwork to directly speak to the viewer.


Reinder enjoys working with a wide array of materials and mediums. Even though at the moment he would consider oil to be his medium of choice, he continues to make many works in acrylic, watercolor or gouache, often mixing or switching back and forth between various mediums.


Typically Reinder starts to work without a preconceived idea and sketches rough lines with charcoal or pencil or applies bodies of color. “I will step back and study the abstract image in front of me. These are the cues to the composition that connect to form a focus.”

We ask Reinder if there is a specific reason why many of his works seem to involve figures or people. He replies that there may be multiple reasons for that. Firstly he considers it to be a direct influence of his environment. New York City, being crowded and a melting pot of so many different cultures, it seems natural that this would trigger him to paint people. Secondly by being human, he also feels this is natural to connect with.

“I will step back and study the abstract image in front of me. These are the cues to the composition that connect to form a focus”

In other instances, the process is more planned. Recently for instance, he wanted to paint an artist holding a palette. He finished the painting and then thought: an artist needs a muse. So he painted a seated woman to accompany the artist. The succession of ideas and a number of works in similar style is certainly no exception, but a recurring motive in Reinder’s work

We realize that Reinder Oldenburger’s way of creating art is very much about the present moment. As you can read on his website “My paintings are driven by the excitement of provoking curiosity. Making art is a hunt; I compose my canvas from the abstract.”

Reinder Oldenburger at work

Reinder Oldenburger at work

Putting the pieces together – music and art

Asking Reinder about his two passions in art opens up a real understanding of what art means to him. Whether he draws, paints or writes a song: they all seem to come from a single creative source.

Reinder has been part of numerous bands. Currently he is working on a project called “The Neptune Darlings“. “What does it sound like?”, we ask.  “We’ve been calling it “Erotic Geek Rock”. We sing and play guitars, synthesizers, bass, add harmonies… it’s hard to put into words.” One just has to listen.

Reinder Oldenburger tells us that making music is a very visual process, an insight he gained after he had started to paint. Through painting he better understands the role of visualization when composing or playing a song. In this sense composing a piece of music is very similar to creating a painting. “They both contain layers, colors, rhythm, balance and harmony”.

“In this sense composing a piece of music is very similar to creating a painting. They both contain layers, colors, rhythm, balance and harmony”

Talking about the similarities and differences of making music and art he makes some important points. Even though the source from where both come from may be the same, the creative process is different. Being an artist means working solitary. As a musician you are mostly interacting with other people.

For him personally there is also another aspect that distinguishes the process of creating music and art. Due to his musical education at the Conservatorium he feels he gained theoretical and practical knowledge that still benefits him today. In art, however, he is completely self-taught. As much as having knowledge makes you an expert in certain areas, he feels as if it sometimes holds him back in his creative outings. With painting there are no rules, no guidelines anybody has every taught him on how to do it ‘correctly’. It is purely him doing what feels right – a unique artistic expression pure in its existence!

What’s next for Reinder Oldenburger

We ask Reinder what his future goals are for his art. He tells us that he would like to work on a larger scale and design more elaborate compositions. Also further developing his drawing skills and exploring other mediums is of great interest to him. At some point he might even start to sculpt. However, the moment decides what the future will bring and here is no big masterplan. “As with anything, I believe most progression lies within the action itself.”

“As with anything, I beleive most progression lies within the action itself”

We hope you enjoyed reading about aligning two art worlds – music and art – and getting to know Reinder Oldenburger as much as we did. Visit his accessART profile or website to see more of his artworks. Great to have you on accessART, Reinder! Was a pleasure talking to you 🙂

Written by Fiona

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