Jos Coufreur's Spontaneous Realism

Updated: Jan 5, 2019

~Michelle Saleeba

A childhood disease saw Jos Coufreur unable to do sports, so his parents encouraged him to take up art. Jos credits them as having played a major role in influencing his art and subsequent career, only passing the baton of influence to his wife Hilly, also an artist, once they married.

Throughout his teenage years and twenties Jos described art as his hobby, until one day he decided to take the plunge from hobby to career. As for many professional artists it has been an up and down journey. But Jos has stayed the distance having been a full time artist for over 25 years. Discovering the spontaneous realism movement about six years ago has made a real difference to his art, which has developed in a vibrant new direction.


For most of his career Jos's art was traditional photorealism. Specialising in painting horse and dog portraits, his collectable works have been gallery regulars over the years. Still supplying several galleries Jos also takes commission work, saying "I just like to paint, paint, paint!"


Jos clearly has a love of colour and spontaneous, bold strokes. There is so much energy and enjoyment in the mark making and splattering of paint on his canvas. Using big brushes and a palette with lots of colour seemingly at random, his recent works make sense once you stand back from them and take a more expansive view point.

There are a number of artists who have inspired Jos over the years particularly Rien Poortvliet and Howard Terpning and Robert Hagan early on in his career. Unsurprisingly Jos now takes inspiration from other spontaneous realist artists such as Francoise Nielly, Voka, Jimi Law and Christian Hook.

As is evident from his joyful use of colour and bold strokes Jos has fun when he paints. He starts with black and white reference photos so the subject matter doesn’t distract him with colours, thereby interfering with his spontaneous colourist approach. Starting with two large palettes of paint, and utilising anywhere from 10 to 20 different colours, both warm and cool, Jos will either start by drawing directly on to the canvas, at other times going straight into painting. Having painted for so many years, mixing colours and understanding tonal values have become second nature for Jos, enhancing his ability to engage spontaneously with his subject.


Many creatives experience blocks or feelings of stuckness from time to time. Jos chooses to head out doors working en plein air to manage those times when inspiration isn't flowing. Being in nature renews his energy and enthusiasm. A technique he employs is to focus on a subject, trying to capture a landscape or street scene in under two hours. This time limited approach stimulates his artistic drive and energises Jos to get back to work in the studio. Where even the carpet resembles a work of art after many years of absorbing spills and splashes.


Jos says that for him creativity is going out there every day to create, no matter if you feel like it or not. Jos advises that engaging in making art on a daily basis will assist anyone to improve immensely in a short amount of time.

You can see more of Jos's colourful, vibrant artwork on his website, Insta and facebook, or contact him via email here.

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