Rob Ijbema: The Art of Racing

If ever the proverb, “it’s the journey not the destination” applied to anyone- it’s Rob. He’s laid back and in the same breath enterprising. He applies a calm but productive approach to life as he does his art, moving from moment to moment, painting to painting.

Rob isn’t aspiring to a perfect result in either art or life, “Mistakes shape the character,” he explains, “If there are no mistakes then there’s no character.”

Originally from Amsterdam, Rob comes from a long line of “normal people” to use his words. Although he can trace his family tree back to 1414, there’s no sign of any artists in the family, nobody working in the motor industry and no champion cyclists; so what gives? Why is Rob an artist who paints all things car and cycling related? 

Monaco- For the love of cars

Growing up, Rob’s family didn’t have much money. “If you wanted something, you just made it yourself,” he explains. He loved cars and spent his time drawing them and making models. He laughingly says, “Most kids do that when they’re really young but I just never stopped.”

Driven by a want to show his Formula One heroes his models, he hitch-hiked form Holland to Monaco for the Grand Prix. To his great surprise, the drivers not only liked them, they wanted to buy them.

Rob sold his scratch model race cars to people on yachts in the harbour and at night he found refuge in the Monaco caves up in the surrounding mountains. From this adventurous beginning, Rob moved to the UK, home of Formula One and started making models professionally.

The Great Outdoors

Rob became a professional artist fifteen years ago.

“Everything I know about painting, I’ve learned from painting outside,” he reveals, “Mother nature is the best teacher.”

Rob does a lot of ‘plein air’ painting, meaning that he paints outdoors. Monet, a great advocate of plein air painting, has influenced his impressionistic style, feeding into his quick fire brushstrokes and colourful palette.

Rob confesses that his style is as much a result of necessity to just get a picture painted before darkness falls, “if you paint every blade of grass, you will never get it finished!”

A Word of Advice

When asked what advice Rob has for other artists he declares, “Follow your dreams… BUT” he warns, “you must do your homework, it doesn’t just come like that.”

Rob puts a lot of hours into his work as a painter. “You have to paint 100 paintings before you get anywhere,” he cautions, “but be really patient and don’t settle.”

Rob has certainly surpassed the 100 painting mark in his career. Prolific and instinctive, he has challenged himself to a paint a picture per day which he features on his blog ‘A Car a Day’.

Cycling and Books

Cycling is something Rob followed as a child, “When I was a kid, Holland was quite good cycling. They won a lot.” He then rediscovered cycling when he moved to the UK, inspiring a new thread of work for him as an artist.

Every year Rob paints each of the 21 day-long stages of the Tour de France in real time. He then produces a book, celebrating the highlights of this world renowned race. He has also produced a book of 100 Ferrari paintings and sketches.

You can find Rob’s collection of cars and cycling paintings on the Little Van Gogh catalogue.