The Artist

the artist on location In the Footsteps of Masters is the personal long term artistic goal of Gerrit Verstraete. That is, to be able to master the traditions, techniques and disciplines of the masters. By diligently walking in their creative footsteps he aims for a vision of creating footsteps of his own so that others may be encouraged one day to walk in them and thus preserve and advocate the valuable traditions of yesterday in order to create great art of today and tomorrow.  

Gerrit V.L.Verstraete AOCA, BFA, was born in 1945. He has been a professional artist for over 40 years. He began his fine art studies as a child in the Netherlands, his country of birth. At age five, he was introduced to formal art lessons by renowned Dutch artist, Stien Eelsingh ( 1903-1964 ), who was also co-founder of the arts group Het Palet at the Hopmanshuis in the medieval city of Zwolle. In 1958, the Verstraete family moved to Canada. After completing highschool in 1964, he enrolled at the Ontario College of Art & Design in the city of Toronto. Special mentors who influenced his work were: Canadian drawing masters Eric Freifeld, John Newman, Tom La Pierre, Richard Nevitt, Fred Hagen, John Alfsen and David Owen Campbell, and Renaissance drawing master, Michelangelo. He graduated with honours in 1968, and is an Associate of the Ontario College of Art & Design (AOCA). The journey, however, took an unusual course for the young artist. In 1968, he founded and owned a commercial design studio that soon grew into a nationally accredited advertising agency. For 15 years, his creativity appeared in print, on billboards, radio, television, in corporate design and “business theatre”. His work included many creative projects especially in the world of performing arts with some of Canada’s leading dance and theatre companies, including the National Ballet of Canada, National Arts Centre, Hamilton Philharmonic, Harbourfront Gallery, etc., as well as independent productions such as HAIR, Inuit Sculpture in Canada, and numerous “off Broadway” productions. Married and with a growing family that would soon count six children, he continued to attend evening drawing sessions at the college to keep his fine art skills sharp and work fresh. In 1993, he moved his family to Gabriola Island, British Columbia. There he built a large family home including a spacious studio. Today he spends full time drawing in his Masterpeace Fine Art Studio. Gerrit Verstraete is the founder of the Drawing Society of Canada. In 2001, he completed a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree  ( BFA ) from the Thompson Rivers University. At age 65, he went back to school to complete a Master of Arts in Communication and Technology at the University of Alberta. Currently, he is enrolled in a Doctoral program at St.Stephen’s College / University of Alberta. He is also a consulting member of the European Academy of Arts & Culture in the Netherlands. In 2003, the Drawing Society of Canada, under Gerrit Verstraete’s leadership, launched a Canadian first, namely the online, non-profit, educational Gallery of Canadian Drawing Masters and later added the Gallery of Canadian Figurative Masters. In 2005, he launched the online Canadian Academy of Drawing offering interested artists an online classical drawing course with personal critiques ( details at ). His work is exhibited in a number of galleries and is collected by individuals as well as corporations. His latest educational initiatives are Masterpeace Academy of Art and Spirituality online, and Masterpeace Publishers.