Erna van Lith

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Erna van Lith


Erna van Lith is a contemporary realistic portrait painter who lives and works in Hedel, the Netherlands. “My best portraits emerge when I stop (over)thinking and just let my brush react to what I see and feel in my model”.


People have always fascinated Erna. It is not just their looks that appear in so many shapes and forms. Her aim is to get to know her models, hear their voices, learn what their lifes look like, what drives and interests them, and then slowly let all of that form an image in her head. What lies beneath is what makes people unique and eternally fascinating. She has developed the skills and experience to translate that image onto the canvas.


Even as a young child Erna has always “drawn faces”, it was her favourite thing to do. 

To broaden her view she decided to study art and graduated as an art historian from Nijmegen University. Besides a thorough knowledge of art it taught her to see, essential for any artist. What do you really see versus what do you expect to see? Or: what do you want your audience to see?


Roughly 15 years ago Erna began to seriously look for mentors and teachers to help her sharpen her skills and find her way in the art makers’ world. She first found them close to home in Atelier ‘t Fort and in Henk Groenendaal and his group of students. They still paint together on a weekly basis. 

In addition Erna attended workshops further away, in Groningen the Netherlands, Florence Italy and NYC USA. Some of her teachers are, in random order, Cesar Santos, Svetlana Tatarskova, Gregory Mortenson.


Erna’s artwork has been shown to an ever broader public in roughly the same pace. Her first exhibition was in the village where she grew up in. Since then she has been a finalist for the Dutch Portrait Price twice in a row. She has been on national TV in a show called “Sterren op het doek” (Stars on canvas) where she was invited to make a portrait of Adriaan van Dis, a Dutch writer, journalist and TV host.


* This statement has been provided directly by the artist in association to their 16th International ARC Salon entries. This content has not been edited for typos or grammatical errors and has not been vetted for accuracy.