Gathering Momentum – Photography, Paintings & Exhibitions

Despite the ‘radio silence’ since February, it’s been a busy few months.

 A lot of my focus has been on photography over the last months. Fascinating skies have held my attention and have made for some stunning shots.

Street art has also been a favourite subject and I captured a lot of sticker art in a recent trip to Amsterdam. Sadly I’m unable to attend the Amsterdam Street Art festival that’s currently underway (8-15 June 2010) – I’m sure this would be a  great source of inspiration. The London Police will be there, along with many others.

As always, light play is a subject I keep coming back to and I have taken a wide range of pictures, mainly from the city lights in Den Haag. Other favourites include macro shots of flora & fauna and abstracts inspired by glass and nature.

As there are so many photo’s it’s impossible to load these all onto this site, so I will shortly be loading up a selection from each subject area.

New paintings
Next to my photography I have also been busy painting. Below are the newest additions to my portfolio and one ‘work in progress’:

Exhibition IGZ, Zwolle
In April I was asked by the Inspectie voor de Gezondheidszorg to exhibit my artwork, both paintings and photographs, at their government building in Zwolle. It’s a private exhibition (an art loan – or ‘kunstuitleen‘ – if you like) of 30 pieces: 16 photos and 14 paintings. I’m really very privileged to have been invited to exhibit there. The exhibition runs from April right through to September, when I have also been asked to come and talk to the IGZ about my work, my style & my inspiration.

Exhibition Diageo, Amsterdam
A second private exhibition I’ll be exhibiting at is one I’m organising myself at Diageo in Amsterdam. Diageo is a premium drinks manufacturer and employs a large pool of international and talented people. The aim of the exhibition is to reveal the hidden talents of Diageo’s employees. The exhibition is planned to start in August and will run continuously, with participants’ content being rotated on a quarterly basis.

Other Exhibitions
Other exhibitions that have kept me busy since February have been ones I have visited and these have been so inspirational.

Running from 6 February till 13 June is ‘Kandinsky & Der Blaue Reiter’ at the Gemeente Museum in Den Haag. 1911 was a turning point in the art world and Expressionism gained momentum. The Munchen-based group of Expressionist artists included Wassily Kandinsky, Franz Marc, Gabriele Münter, Alexej von Jawlensky, August Macke, Marianne von Werefkin and Heinrich Campendonck. The colour, style and vibrancy of these works gave me much to think about. If you get a chance to go, go early in the day to beat the crowds, as it’s (quite rightly) a very popular exhibition.

Whether you manage to make it in time for the Kandinsky exhibition or not, don’t leave until you’ve explored the depths of the Gemeente Museum. In the far corner of the museum are some stunning works by Piet Mondriaan. Because the hall is situated so far away from the temporary exhibition it’s virtually empty of people – a shame for the people who’re missing out on these great artworks, but a real boon for those who leave the beaten path. The luxury of an empty hall filled with impressive, colourful paintings is not something one gets to enjoy very often.

The Mondriaan collection at the Gemeente Museum is the largest in the world and contains some of his best known pieces. Victory Boogie Woogie, while remaining a very original piece, has seen better days though and I thought it was looking a little grubby. On the other hand, ‘Molen bij zonlicht’, ‘De Rode Molen’, ‘Duinlanschap’ and ‘De Grijze Boom’ are simply awe-inspiring. I really recommend paying these a visit.

A recent weekend in Amsterdam enabled me to explore the Van Gogh museum and Foam Photographic museum at my leisure.

Even though the Van Gogh museum is being renovated and some of the most famous works aren’t currently on exhibit, there are still many, many of his best known pieces to drool over.

In the temporary exhibition in the newly extended part of the museum is a collection of paintings by Gaugin and a number of fellow artists of his day. During the Paris World Exhibition of 1889 they formed a rebellious group and offered an alternative exhibition in answer to the traditional works that could be seen at the Word Exhibition. Particularly interesting, I thought, were the paintings by Émile Schuffenecker.

At Foam I enjoyed the works of photographer Ari Marcopoulos the most. His work can be seen till 13 June 2010, so be quick! Marcopoulos has close links with the youth culture in the US and has taken many photo’s over the past three decades of the hip hop, skateboarding and snowboarding scenes. Due to his close contact with these groups his work shows an intimacy and honesty that any other photographer would simply never gain access to.

Lastly, on a more local note, I will be visiting the opening of an exhibition of work by Den Haag artist Jolanda van der Elst. Jolanda paints using various media and, although she has a preference for portraits, she is not limited to these and also paints still-life and landscapes. Aside from being able to meet like-minded people, the opening will also give me an opportunity to network with some of the local artists. A bit of PR is never a bad thing, I say! Jolanda’s work can be seen throughout the month of June at Gallerie Nootenboom in Nootdorp.

Dieuwke Swain
Fine Artist & Photographer


Good News Shared

At last the summer has arrived and we’re enjoying fine, sunny weather. What better way to celebrate this than spend the day indoors…. painting of course! I had promised to reveal which painting it was I had sold and now it is time to relieve the suspense.

On 16 May, Jenny became the proud owner of ‘Bird of Paradise’.

Jenny L - Proud new owner of Bird of Paradise
Jenny L – Proud new owner of Bird of Paradise

While of course I’m immensely pleased to have sold my first paining, there is also a tinge of sadness for me, as this was my favourite piece, and so it is difficult to part with it. I’m happy in the knowledge though that this painting will have a good home in China! Thanks Jenny.

Meanwhile, I have been busy this weekend with my first commission piece and have made a start with the background. I found a fabulous olive green paint in Delft on Saturday and this will be taking pride of place in this piece. I’m looking forward to getting started on the next stage.

In addition, I painted a new abstract piece called ‘The Waxing Wave’. Please check this out in my painting gallery. I keep returning to the wave style in my paintings and this time I have done this in a more literal sense. This painting was inspired by a small image in a Japanese/Chinese book I’ve been reading*. I’m thinking I may do a whole series in this theme in a variety of styles.

Dieuwke Swain
Fine Artist & Photographer

* ‘The Samurai’s Garden’ by Gail Tsukiyama (

Good News Squared

Last week – a week more like autumn than spring – I had two big, very pleasant surprises!

The first being that I received my first commission order (thanks Sonal!).

It’s for a large ‘waves-style’ abstract, similar to the ‘Bird of Paradise’ piece, in greens, browns, greys and cream – a departure from my usual primary colours and instead in favour of more natural tones. Definitely a challenge, but one I’m relishing! I’m now busy drawing up design ideas.

The second piece of good news is that I’ve sold my first painting…. Which? I hear you ask. Well, to keep you in suspense I’ll reveal all in my next blog…… stay tuned….

In the meantime, I’ve updated my Work in Progress page. Please take a look at how ‘The Four Elements’ is coming along.

Dieuwke Swain

DESigns – Fine Artist & Photographer

Making Progress

I have been busy updating my WordPress blog with all my paintings and you can now view my whole acrylic artwork portfolio. Just cick on a photo to see more details about each piece.

I’ve also started updating my photo portfolio, although this is proving a hard task. I have so many photo’s to choose from, deciding which to put on this site is very difficult. This is perhaps what the Dutch would call keuze stress – choice stress!

In addition, I have also added a sub-heading under my Acrylic artwork page entitled ‘Work in Progress’. Here you can follow the progress of my latest painting.

So I’m making progress on this site and I hope to have this fully uploaded very soon. Watch this space…..

Dieuwke Swain
Fine Artist & Photographer