Ellen Holleman is a painter, mixed-media visual artist and spatial designer based in the Netherlands. Curiosity about how people live and move about, and how this is affected or controlled by the urban environment is what drives her.
She trained as a spatial designer at the Utrecht School of the Arts (the Netherlands). After graduating, she took off to work in Mérida, Mexico, with the design team of Mexico Mágico, a new theme park that was being developed at the time. Later on, she joined the park’s muralists team on the building site in Cancún. There, she fell totally in love with painting. The transformative power of colours and the way they can be used to create an illusionary world fascinated her. When the park was shut down, she went back to the Netherlands and returned to her design career.
During the following 25+ years, she worked mainly as a spatial designer on urban planning projects. Besides her work as an urban design professional, she completed several applied art projects, worked as a cultural producer and initiated multiple grass roots urban projects. Painting always remained her personal creative outlet, but over the years, the urge to paint more frequently grew stronger and stronger. After an intense artist retreat in 2020, she decided to focus on building a professional painting practice, shifting her career from the urban design field towards the arts.
Since 2021, she has been working in a studio in Zaltbommel, where she participates in a local artists initiative. Holleman prefers to work with oil paints and traditional painting techniques, but also enjoys experimenting and using contemporary techniques, like digital collage and photography, as part of her creative process. The themes in her art are strongly affected by her work and experience as an urban design professional.
In 2021, one of her pieces was selected for a group show in the St. Maartens basilica in Zaltbommel, and she had her first solo exhibition at the cultural centre De Poorterij. In 2022, Holleman's works were featured in a number of exhibitions and shows, including an augmented reality pavilion with ArtInside Gallery and an online solo exhibition. Her works were also published in issue #5 of The Huts Magazine and were featured in Cista Art Gallery’s ‘Life as a Poem’ group exhibition. In September of that year, Holleman had her second solo exhibition at De Poorterij and participated in the 5th edition of the International Artes Exhibition in Turin, Italy, where she was awarded third prize in the figurative paintings section.
Painting, to me, is like magic. To visualize and recreate scenes using only shades and colours never ceases to amaze me. I see the world through a ‘paint filter’, always wondering how to translate the world I see around me onto canvas.
The people, places, and moments that make up the urban landscape are my greatest source of inspiration. My work is a reflection of my passion for exploring the world and capturing the complexity of the human experience. Each of my paintings is an invitation to step into the moment and experience it fully. I strive to bring the viewer into the scene, to make them feel like they are there, and to create a lasting impression.
In my work, I draw upon the techniques of the old Dutch Masters, known for their masterful use of light and color. By layering transparent colors over a white gesso base, I create a sense of depth and richness that brings my paintings to life. This traditional method, combined with my modern perspective, adds a timeless quality to my work and pays homage to the legacy of the Dutch Masters.