From the Studio of… Detlef Gotzens

We are happy to share this view into the life and studio of Canada-based German artist Detlef Gotzens

Detlef Gotzens in his studio. Check out his portfolio.

Favorite material to work with?
I work with any medium: acrylic, oil, watercolors, and also charcoal or other drawing mediums. Currently, I work predominantly with acrylic, but many times I start with acrylic and finish with oil.

What themes do you pursue?
I usually work in series that can be based on some representational image, like in my rational space paintings based on a landscape view. This is actually always the same view out of my studio window that I keep photographing all year round and at different times of the day. My intention is to use the landscape as a point of departure by adding other grid-like elements and also abstract sections to transform the image into a new visual space, if that makes any sense. But I also like to pursue Abstract Expressionism and let the process of painting take me on a journey that I don’t know where is going.

How many years as an artist?
Since a very young age, maybe around 10-12 years old. I was always drawn to images that were made by painting and started to copy pictures by drawing doodling all the time. My mother still has a box full of these. I was 15 when I became an apprentice in one of the oldest stained glass studios in Cologne. Since we executed projects for many well-known artists’ at the time, I was always exposed to art. My focus was, of course, more on the glass as an art form then. When I decided go back to school and study Glass Technology and Design, the training also included some formal art training and that brought me back to painting again. Since then, I have pursued both architectural art glass as well as a sculptural medium and painting equally until today.

Where is your studio?
It is in the countryside about 50 kilometers southwest of Montreal, very close to the New York state border.

Detlef’s painting studio

What was the best advice given to you as an artist?
“Learn how to be rejected, and don’t be discouraged. Believe in yourself and keep going!”

Art school or self-taught?

Where the painting takes place

Prefer to work with music or in silence?
I like working with music, from Classical to Blues and Jazz, depending on my mood!

What’s around the corner from your place?
Milk farmers and apple orchards.

Detlef’s glass painting studio

Where can we find you outside the studio?
I’m not very active besides going to a museum or gallery show; I practically live in my studio.

If you couldn’t be an artist, what would you do?

Day job?
Sometimes teaching, but mostly in my studio working every day.

Favorite contemporary artist?
Gerhard Richter.

If you could only have one piece of art in your life, what would it be?
One of Gerhard Richter’s abstract works from the 1980’s.

Who are your favorite writers?
I don’t think I have a favorite writer because I read many things. Currently I’m reading Christopher Hitchens, whom I find very interesting. I also like Colleen McCullough, like The Grass Crown and The First Man in Rome.

“Rational Space with Winter Sky, 2012″ ($11,000) was the Runner-Up in Saatchi Online’s Place & Spaces Showdown.

Do you ever use anything other than paint?
Glass, metal, stone, wood…

Is painting dead?

“White Bar in Fermented Abstraction, 2013″ ($1,300)

Favorite brush?
No, I have too many…

Palette knifes?
Yes, or anything else that will do the job…

Monet or Manet?

Working with glass, especially the way I do, is incredibly machine-reliant and tool intensive because glass is a very technical, complex medium.

“Sleeper in Fermented ABstraction, 2013″ ($950)

Ever get hurt on the job?

Outsourcing or handmade?

“Lost Venus, 2011″ ($4,000)

Is bigger better?

Koons or Hirst?

Click here to check out all the work in Detlef’s portfolio


  1. Aleksandra Bouquillon says:

    great work and great studio. congratulations !

  2. I love the way you think Detlef, very inspiring reading, I love the big scale also.
    Kind regards Kate

  3. Like your landscape – cloud formations and the abstract mix! Great work with layers and depth!
    Thanks for sharing,

  4. Anne Bevan says:

    Hello Detlef,
    You never know when something wonderful will turn up in your life. For me, today, it’s your work. (our answers would be surprisingly similar, except, I choose Hirst over Koons ;-)

    Best wishes from Asheville, NC

  5. Hi Anne,
    I appreciate your commet very much, you just made my Day as well!!



  6. Very good interview. The Studio looks pretty decent. I have done some staines glass works some years ago, it is a very beautiful medium that works with light and even textures. You paint well, it’s good to see your studio and your replies are simple and not ego loaded. Thanks

  7. Congratulations Detlef!

    I really like your rational space series and had noticed your winning painting even before it was declared a “winning” painting. :) Those geometrical lines are so delicate yet powerful in the way the break up the space.

    Enjoy the way you switch and blend mediums, style and content, something I am exploring myself lately and work inspires and allows.

    Happy to see a fellow Quebecer as well and wishing you much continued success, Detlef!


    • Thank’s Holly wish you much of the same, I like to explore many things in my work and don’t want to be labelled or restricted, that’s why I explore painting the Landscape as a departure point as well as Abstract work.



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  9. Hermit says:

    I can never imagine working in such large formats. It’s a complete universe away from what I do, but your work fits it so well. I hope you keep up the good work :)

  10. I remember you showing one of your painting in your studio 10 years ago and it was, in my appreciation, a jewel in a box. It’s looking like the box exploded and I can see how your talent, or talents, will be seen now more and more. I know also when people will meet you, they will appreciate more and more your art and your philosophy of life, of art in life.

    It’s a pleasure to see your paintings and your sculpture on the web and it’s a privelege to be able to see those in real, in galleries. I wish you another great stretch of success.

    Best Regards Mr. Gotzens.

  11. Margo Schopf says:

    Hello Detlef! Very interesting work. Especially like White Bar. Sleeper is also wonderful – the mix of abstraction and figurative works well.
    Your studio is a bright and cheerful space; I always think the studio reflects the artist’s mind/personality. Mine is a total, chaotic mess, but I wouldn’t have it any other way!

  12. joyce snyder says:

    Your work is so interesting and the fact of your commitment to art is evident in your creative expressions. Loved your studio and the variety of your art. Wonderful.

  13. jussray says:

    Beautiful Artwork very talented.

  14. Jerry Svoboda says:

    I have found it rather difficult to make living as an artist painter. Do you really make living as a full-time artist in Canada? I live in Calgary and it never was easy over here. I think that Europe or USA is better place to create art and live from that. I like your work.

    • Hey Jerry,
      i didn’t say that I make a good living..:-)!! it is and has always been a struggle, but I would never change for everything else. But you have to also work just as much on trying to market yourself, thanks to the internet you have a lot of options that can help but it’s never easy. I do have representation in Europe as well but that has just started only, hopefully it will get going.

      Wish you courage and good luck!!


  15. Nick Moran says:

    Really enjoyed your interview, love your studio, I dont think I would ever go home.!
    Beautiful and interesting work too, I also have an artisan backgroung (blacksmith) I sometimes think that this sort of background is a good solid place to start a career as an artist.

    Best wishes for the future.


  16. mariza carpes says:

    Dear Detlef,
    I really appreciate your work. Love the studio and your interview. It is good sometimes to think throught the mind of other fellow artist.
    Painting,(and drawing) I agree, will be here forever.
    Love the figure in “The Sleeper”.
    Hugs from Brazil!

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