I came across this photo in my archives the other day. This is a small framed work of art that hung in my family's home when I was growing up. My dad brought it back from time he spent living in The Netherlands (along with several pairs of wooden shoes). As a kid, this portrait had an impact on me...the open-mouthed boy in the portrait looks at you so earnestly that you feel a connection. I spent a lot of time as a child staring back at him.
Years later, when I began to imagine a story of a boy trapped in the world behind the canvas, this is the image that kept popping into my head. Pim turned out to be a bit older when I wrote the book, but who knows? Perhaps this little Dutch fellow was the subconscious seed that brought that story to life.