Jan David Pasteur, Dutch watercolorist

Jan Pasteur was born in 1935 on the exotic island of Sumatra in the former Dutch East Indies, now Indonesia. As a child, he took to drawing easily, and when in 1946, aged 11, he came to the Netherlands, he took up oil painting. However, as the years went by, the young man discovered other matters of more immediate interest (family, work, etc.) and the paint box remained closed until a period of inspiration in 1963 and an exhibition in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad, in the West Indies, where he was working in trade and industry.

During WWII, he spent 2 1/2 years in Japanese concentration camps on Java, Indonesia. He was repatriated by troop carrier to the Netherlands in 1946. Because of the war, he spent only 2 years in primary school, then 5 years in the Lycée, and never graduated. He underwent Dutch Air Force Pilot training in 1954 and flew twin-jet Gloster Meteors. He obtained the British Commercial Pilot Licence in 1958, flew DC-4 cargo Skymasters to the Middle East from the UK, and met his future wife Diana in London.

Married in 1959, (flying is not suitable for marriage, they say…), he joined Curacao Trading Co. and lived and worked in The Dominican Republic, Curacao, Haiti and Trinidad. His final position was General Manager in the Eastern Caribbean. He has a son, John David, born in 1961, and a daughter, Joanna Marijke, born in 1964.

He returned to the Netherlands in 1970, joined Canon Europe as Manager, Calculator Products (even though he always had low marks in maths..!) for Europe and Africa. In 1974, he set up the Dutch subsidiary for distribution and maintenance of Canon Office Equipment, mainly copiers and faxes (450 people in 1987). After 13 years as President, he retired early in order to enjoy life and painting.

During a visit to Australia in 1988 he fell in love with the landscape and the paintings by Sir Hans Heysen. Back home he devoted himself fully to painting, especially watercolours. He is still fascinated by the struggle to master the three elements: water, paint and paper – each trying to do their own thing.

He is an admirer of such great watercolourists as James Fletcher-Watson, whose book The Magic of Watercolour inspired him from the start, and Robert A. Wade, whose workshop he attended in Belgium and who taught him to “see with the brain, feel with the eyes, and interpret with the heart.” Then there is that excellent tutor, Tony van Hasselt, whose Building Blocks of Painting are a ‘must’ and whose quote of Benjamin Franklin “failing to prepare is preparing to fail” is only too true, especially in watercolour! Tony van Hasselt’s workshops are a revelation.

Having learnt from these masters, Jan Pasteur has nevertheless developed his own style and ‘signature.’

He spends holidays mostly in Tarn, France, where paintings are selling well in the gallery ‘La Vieille Voûte’, at Cordes-sur-Ciel.

Visit his website at www.janpasteur.net.

Note: Jan David Pasteur is the descendant of Jean David Louys Pasteur, from Lausanne, Switzerland, who settled in The Hague, Netherlands, in 1728. See his family tree here.

Leave a Reply