‘What I need most of all is colour, always, always!’
- Claude Monet
I wasn’t always a painter, although I always had an artistic streak. While painting came to me later in life, my painting journey started more than thirty years ago, even though I didn’t realise it then.
I vividly remember my first journey, in 1989 - still the pre-digital era, through the monumental landscape of the Great African Rift Valley, when in the distance I suddenly spotted a tiny bright red spot standing out on the vast, empty savanna. And it seemed to move. A red figure was striding alone across the barren expanse of the sunburnt yellow grass plains. My heart leapt. The figure looked so vulnerable, yet so determined. Coming closer I became aware of a tall, slender black man, a red cloth swung loosely around his body, which was handsomely adorned with colourful jewelry. He was a Maasai, the first nomadic tribesman I encountered in the untamed Kenyan wilderness. I was awed and humbled and deeply moved by the experience. It was a defining moment that became etched in my memory. The experience of being in a primordial world, in a grand space, meeting someone from an ancient culture entirely different from my own was overwhelming and very exciting. My fascination for the East African landscape, and the nomads wandering in it, was born.
In my spare time I began to drive to remote areas, ‘off the map’, where the nomads were. I developed a true passion for them – their colourful beauty, authenticity, tenacity, and sheer otherness. Here they were, still living as they always had, largely unscathed by the so-called modern world, from which I came and which was raging all around them. I started to expressed my fascination through photography - painting the people with the lens and the beautiful African light. Traveling through the African landscape I built a collection of photo portraits of the men and women of the different nomadic tribes of East-Africa that were rapidly vanishing. It was only much later, after I returned to the Netherlands, that I realised that the experience of the small red figure alone in that immense space, of meeting and photographing these colourful people, combined with the beautiful earthen hues of the landscape, was the seed that sparked my painting journey.
Once back in the Netherlands someone introduced me to intuitive painting. What a life changing revelation that was: always new, adventurous, surprising, and so much fun – liberating! Many years later, after I had to abandon my career due to health issues, I decided to commit myself to painting. That was in 2019. I set myself to a program of study, consisting of serious course work, lots of reading, and studying other people’s art. I set up a studio at home, established an art practice, and connected with the art community at home and abroad. It immediately felt, and continues to feel, good!