Painters 2013

Dorien van Dieme

“Nothing is normal for me in Lamu,” Dorien van Diemen comments. The light, colours, people, houses are very different from her life in rural Scotland, where she lives with her family or in Amsterdam where she was born. The differences, she concedes, make painting in Lamu a challenge. A challenge that is also ideological in her mind. “We are painting in a place where people can’t afford to purchase a painting or even have a place to put one,” she comments. Yet, these tangible experiences with things different have inspired and expanded her visual repertoire.

Donning a wide-brim sunhat, Dorien sets up her easel in Lamu’s busy market place. She engrosses herself in the activities around her: women selling chickens, donkeys laden with market goods and the busy to and fro of people. Her painting, propped on easel, draws a group of curious onlookers. She smiles at the gathered children then deftly shifts her concentration back to painting. Her eyes hone in on her canvas.  She stands back to gauge the accuracy of her picture. She tests it by measures she contrives using her fingers and brush to form angles along a line of sight. Her hands move with concentrated precision and the movements remind me of graceful Tai Chi poses, a signature of her painting style. “When painting, I feel closer to what I see and what is going on,“ Dorien remarks. It is her way of bringing the experience closer and creating a vivid memory of Lamu.

Dorien van Diemen was born in 1969. She studied graphic design to become an illustrator but later became interested in painting and went back to school for studies in fine arts. She has a knack for painting people at work, an interest that grew out of a desire to document her parents working at their printing press before retirement. She has also painted people at work in a diamond factory and the circus. More recently she has turned her hand to portraits.

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