Painters 2017

Piet Groenendijk

One of the Lamu Painter Festival ‘regulars’ (this was his fifth visit to Lamu), Piet has only recently taken up painting as a full time occupation. Despite a desire to be an artist from the age of 19, he followed his brother’s practical advice and became a doctor. However, during his years of practicing medicine, he continued to paint when he could.
Inspired by the 19th Century painters, Piet admires the lyricism of Corot in particular. He tries to incorporate the same poetic approach in his own work. “I find my mood influences my work – when I’m happy the piece doesn’t come together as well as when I am in a melancholy mood.” He candidly admits that it has been a struggle to capture the poetic atmosphere in his Lamu paintings. “It is much easier to paint the Dutch landscape as I have such a deep connection there.”

Piet has travelled extensively but had little interest in Africa until he was invited on the first Lamu Painter’s Festival. It was a revelation to him and he was overwhelmed by the experience and the kindness and spontaneity of the locals in particular. This stay, he focused on capturing this spirit in his paintings. Abandoning the comfort of painting empty landscapes, he filled his paintings with people. Fascinated by the colourful clothing, he confesses that replicating skin colour was a challenge. It also leads to problems with composition but overall “I am satisfied with what I have made.”

Lamu Square was one of his favourite places as it was always full of movement and people. He enjoyed painting with the other artists and was always curious to see the different interpretations of the same scene. The ‘salon’ atmosphere of Baitil Aman, discussing and critiquing each other’s work was a fruitful and enjoyable experience and he learnt a lot of technical tips. He says that he is painting much lighter as a result.

His lasting experience of Lamu will be the people. “They have little money but they laugh a lot – in Holland they have money but don’t laugh!”

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