Painters 2017

Sonja Brussen

“This trip is like a dream, I think I need to pinch myself that it’s real.” Sonja relished the opportunity to paint on Lamu. A professional plein air artist, Sonja is used to painting in the wintry conditions of her beloved Netherlands. “I have a great studio but I need to paint in nature and in particular I love the sea and the ever changing mood of the clouds,” Sonja says. “I have always been a painter – it’s a rhythm. I like to work in bold brush strokes.”

She became a familiar sight painting on the sea front alongside her husband and fellow participant, Ernst Dingemans. She admits she was in her element capturing the vast skies and seascapes. She instantly fell in love with the clarity and brightness of the light. However, the first painting she produced was a Lamu street scene that demonstrated her ease with perspective, love of colour and a light touch.

Like many of the other first time painters, Sonja was left with mixed impressions of Lamu. She says that the village excursions fitted in with her perception of Africa. Mtondoni, in particular struck a chord with her “it was so poor but yet the people were dancing in our honour.” However, she found there was a huge gulf in the lifestyle in Shela village: “I would call it ‘almost’ paradise but there is such a great discrepancy between the wealthy and the suffering of the local people.”

She admits that she doesn’t like to overthink what she is painting and it is mainly instinctive. She surprised herself on her trip to Maweni. She explains, “I did a painting of a caged donkey and a free donkey. I didn’t mean to, but later I saw the symbolism of the free and the unfree. I prefer empty landscapes and capturing the space but then I suddenly painted a donkey!”

Like many others, she enjoyed the camaraderie of the Painter’s Festival. “I love being immersed in the artistic community: the swapping of tips, tricks and the general stimulation.”

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