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In the city he visits the studio of Willy Boers, who later founded the Vrij Beelden group. Willy, a craftsman, teaches Herman the technique of oil painting. A year later Herman van Valen rents his own studio at the Snoekjesgracht, in the heart of the city. Here he masters a number of different techniques, such as etching, dry-needle and lino-cut printing.

Early days: Herman portrays his wife Philomena

After the second world war Herman meets Constant, the famous painter who at that time belongs to "de Experimentelen". Constant helps Herman to find his own direction in art, his own world. Constant lets Herman stay in his house, while he visits his friend Jorn in Kopenhagen (Constant and Jorn later founded the Cobra movement.) Herman even gets permission to use Constant's materials. Big deal; Constant appears to have taken all the good colours with him on his trip...