Rainer Andreesen in New York



An excerpt from MITT Magazine Issue Nº1

Growing up in a small fishing village off the coast of British Columbia, Rainer Andreesen knew catching fish wasn’t his calling. He soon found refuge in the arts. Graduating from art school in 1986 and not knowing how to turn his passion into a stable career, Rainer took work as a model and travelled the world, eventually settling in artist-mecca New York City. While he kept a sketchbook throughout his travels, it didn’t satisfy his love for painting portraiture. I met with Mr Andreesen in his Greenwich Village home to find out how the brush became his tool and why the male became his muse.

MITT: So tell me, when did you first pick up a paint brush?
Rainer Andreesen: I was about seven when I first started to paint and I just remember the feeling of being able to create anything I felt. I didn’t know what I could do with it but I knew it was my ticket to see the world beyond the small island where I grew up.

Can you tell me about some of your first paintings?
They were always portraits. I remember I became obsessed with the Marlboro Man images when I was around 16. There was something about his stance and his masculinity. I think that’s where my interest in painting men came from – the Marlboro Man was my first muse.

Is that what you seek in your subjects?
I’m looking for an air of confidence or a unique look, but I can be caught off guard by the inner beauty of anyone. It’s not necessarily about surface; it’s a little deeper than that. I need to have a connection with my subject. It’s hard to paint someone without one. 

Where do you usually like to work?
A few years ago my partner Victor and I bought a house in upstate New York as a getaway from the city and, over time, I converted the carriage house out back into a studio. It’s great to live in Manhattan with all its energy but then to have this retreat where I can let those experiences flow onto my paintings.

What else inspires you? Is there something you do to get the creative juices flowing?
Drink! Just kidding. The person I am painting provides inspiration, but music also plays a big part of it. It varies with each portrait, but anything from Pink Floyd to classical music. Sometimes I go through periods when I am having trouble with painting. Right now I’m working on three commissions for [actor] Kathy Bates. The first one I did was quite large and I literally cried when I finished it because it was such a great experience. It’s a really great painting – I love it. I’m going through a bit of a rebirth in enjoying commissions again.

I imagine it would be difficult?
Definitely. It’s always in the back of your mind, what they’re going to think, with every brush stroke.

What’s your end goal? What do you want to be known for?
My paintings! I feel like I’ll never have enough time to leave a legacy of what I want to paint, but I am sure that every artist feels that way.

Well, it seems to me that you already have some outstanding work. Would you mind walking me through some of your favourites?
I’d love to …

Continued in MITT magazine issue Nº1...