Portrait of your dog or cat for charity

An archaeologist opens a thrift store and advertises a psychiatry professor who will paint a portrait of your dog. See the surprising reality at Van Woustraat 234.

“Happa!” is the name of the thrift shop that Hella de Kok opened at the end of last year. She is the soul of what one neighborhood website calls “a crazy thrift store.” Can you say about an archaeologist with things that still need to be excavated, not until a few hundred years from now. Seven volunteers stand by her side behind the bright yellow facade.

Thrift store Hop! in Van Woustraat.
Photo Simon Lenskens

Well, the circle of friends of Hella de Kok (33) belongs to emeritus professor of child psychiatry Frits Boer, who more than ten years after his retirement has given his life a completely different turn. As a result, in Hoppa!, between glasses, vases, toys and the rest, there is an appealing panel for the portraits that Boer is prepared to paint of your cute dog or cat. Also depicted are painted examples of a bona fide sheepdog with its tongue poised for action hanging out of its mouth and a red-nosed she-cat with large shiny pupils exuding appropriate suspicion. Eating the two.

The profit goes to the Food Bank

And now for the (two-step) surprise: Bello or Poepsie is in oil paint in a standard format of 20 x 20 centimeters (approx. a pavement tile) for only 35 euros. That’s the cost of the cloth on the stretcher and the rest is for Hoppa! which donates its entire profit to the Food Bank. Frits Boer does not want to earn a cent from that himself.

Photo Simon Lenskens

“I enjoy doing it so much,” he enthuses. He is now 77 and for a few years now he has gratefully taken painting lessons at the MK24 art education center on Mauritskade. As a boy he could draw well, and after school he hesitated between art education, literature or psychiatry.

It was the last, although those years of study were not without detours. In the 1960s, he had heard Frank Zappa, who was still unknown in Holland, in Los Angeles, write in this week, which led to a regular collaboration. Thus, the then medical student obliged a generation of concerns by entering this week and later Hello in his ‘Hello Doctor’ column to guide them through mazes of sex, drugs and rock & roll.

Frits Boer.
Photo Simon Lenskens

Don’t open your mouth about the days of Olofspoort, Bikkelacht, strid Baart, Stichting Jeugdsentiment with the standard work from 1967 Pudding and yesterday with teenage jokes: Frits Boer co-editor, cover by Gerard Reve, foreword by Bernlef. An era eagerly evoked by Boer, which characterizes his life as much as the themes Anxiety in children, brothers and sisters and the others, about which he has published as UvA professor of child and adolescent psychiatry.

After his retirement in 2009, he continued his profession for ten years with research, in committees, with advice, lessons, presentations.

“I thought that what I was still doing had to meet three criteria: it had to be related to my profession, I had to be able to learn from it myself, and it had to be socially relevant.”

They also drew, and since 2019 almost all of his attention has been focused on painting, his new passion. He quickly got better and better thanks to the greedily satisfied hours on MK24.

Paint portrait as a potato

“I have a teacher there who tells me: you have to paint a portrait like a potato. Don’t look at the mouth or the eyes separately, but look at the whole face, the shape, the light, the shadow – like looking at a potato.”


Okay; but how did he get to dogs and cats?

“I made portraits of my children and their children, and one of them had the dog. I then noticed that I could get that dog’s likeness together much faster than her portrait. It is very difficult to truly reproduce a face completely: it is in the smallest details. A smile turns into a fake smile through a minute stroke at the corner of the mouth, one eye must be exactly right. It listens very carefully. A dog or cat can be seen in about four hours, a portrait of a person takes two months!”


For friends and acquaintances, Frits Boer, now also film reviewer of Argusto depict the pets: he enjoyed, and the recipients were grateful to him.

“Look,” he says, “I don’t want to make paintings that end up in my attic. They have to hang out in people’s homes. And the more I made them, the better they got. From the painter’s magazine Palette I picked up a tip: you can make fine scratches in the paint with a small brush with a very short cut. Goes beautifully with that dog hair.”

He’s made about a dozen so far, all from pictures – because Humpie doesn’t last four hours posing.

Do you also hug?, was a question from Hoppa!. Why not?, was the answer.

“Well,” laughs the painter, “whatever they’ve got: cobras, cockatoos, kookaburras, stick insects – as long as the pictures are good.”

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