Thursday, 26 May 2016

 Scapegoat, etc. 

The scapegoat
40 x 30 cm
Acrylic on Canvas

In the afterglow of painting Kensei's portrait, I couldn't get myself to concentrate on either of the two candy paintings I was working on. So I decided to approach this still life as if it was a portrait, using some of the techniques I 'discovered' while working on Kensei - layering warmer and cooler tones together to create some depth, and leaving the horns quite rough. I went through about 7 varieties for the background before this one (too blue, too light, too muddy, too tupperware) and I'm really glad this one worked, since the canvas is fairly saturated with paint now..
I really struggle to make time to experiment, since I need to make sellable things (blasphemy, I know) but money does make the world go 'round, or in our case, keeps our bellies full. So I think it worked out quite well to do something which allowed me to stretch a little, but not enough to give me the panics.

Scapegoat, detail

Scapegoat, detail

And I'm really happy with how serene he turned out. He sits in my studio, awaiting great things, along with a bunch of other randoms.

In other news, I'll be part of another of Alex Hamilton's Studio group shows, starting next week, called Hoepelpoep, sending off some new works to him tomorrow - I think I'm beginning to like this whole exhibiting thing!

ALSO - and I haven't told anyone about this, so shhhhh - I just did an interview with Christelle Webb-Joubert for RSG (a local afrikaans radio station) which should air next Tuesday, or the week after, will give you guys a heads up when I know! Yay me! 

That's all, happy thursday!

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

 Post Mash-Up Exhibition 

With: Katharine Meeding, Hennie Meyer, Mark Chapman, Sarah Pratt, JP MeyerAndre du Toit, Samuel Allerton, Ilse Nieman,  Grace Kotze, Theo Paul Forster Michele Davidson, and probably more people whose names I didn't spot in the 20-ish fb posts I just scanned through :)

This was such a fun show, and really such an interesting (eclectic?) bunch of artists thrown together! I don't much like group shows, I never know how to look approachable, or mingle with strangers, or whether I'm allowed to glower at anyone who walks past my work without a second glance. BUT if the recent shows I've been in are any indication, they can be sort of great. Also, Alex's shows have Margaritas. So there's that.

Creating work, trying new things, taking time to learn and things like shows are radically different experiences depending on recent sales. If you're broke, you can't afford to take time to learn and experiment, and you can't be relaxed at a show if there aren't red stickers next to your work. It's so sad that it's like that, we're apparently supposed to create freely and never think about disgusting money. But blind faith in terms of financial success probably comes easier to the naive and the unintelligent. I would know, I was very young when I decided to be an artist! :P 

Luckily I can be very stubborn, and that's gotten me this far, and I have spent too many late nights, broken dates, lost friends, unwanted arguments about my irresponsibility, utter joy at creating a lovely thing, satisfaction to have struggled and overcome, detours to paint shops, not listening to conversations because the light on someones face is beautiful and I wonder how I would capture that, frustration upon frustration, and meeting goals I never even knew I had.. if I give up all that was for nothing. A timely paycheck brings only so much peace.

Tuesday, 5 April 2016

 The Mash-up Exhibition 

So as you know I follow a bunch of Artists on facebook, and it's a great way to learn from them, everything from technical application to how to run business. And having a timeline that's chock-and-block with new paintings, drawings, ideas, philosophies, WIP's and even just encouragement is very inspiring.

So I became fb friends with Alex Hamilton a while ago, can't remember where I saw his work or name, and he ended up managing 16 art exhibitions at the Woordfees - and how incredible to view the whole experience through his facebook page! 
And then I saw him sharing info about the up-coming Mash-up exhibition, and I always wonder how people get in on these things. You don't know the right people, you don't get invited to participate.. but how do you meet the right people? (especially if you're something of a recluse!) 
But I let that go by. And I saw Alex sharing that Ilse Nieman brought in some beautiful works for the show - she runs the Framed Feather, where I buy my canvasses and have done the little framing I've done - and seeing someone I kind of know taking part just pushed me to try! So I mailed him! 
And he was open to seeing my work (thankfully us artists are curious above all), and I dropped off my paintings yesterday at his studio for the show! Which just goes to show how easy these things can be if you just make a move towards your goal. And not only is the show very exciting, but meeting Alex and the other artists there, seeing his studio space - which is a collectors dream, full of not just art, but sculptures, figurines, every little vintage/kitch collectable you can think of.. The kind of space you can spend days and not see everything, and every second object would make a wonderful painting. 
That's gonna keep me inspired for days.

I'll be showing the Foiled duo - one of which is featured in that top image, and the 'Toffee apples in various stages of undress' duo as well. 
Which are four paintings that I'm so proud of, I've literally kept them at home, waiting for an opportunity as cool as them. I realise that makes me sound like I think my work is pretty friggin special, but you know what, some of them are. If you work as hard as you can, and push your abilities for a couple of weeks to produce a precious thing, I think it's okay to be proud of that. 

Anyways, thought I'd share :) 

The Alex Hamilton studio -

Friday, 19 February 2016

 The good Dog. 
My very first painted pet portrait.

Kensei, detail

I made a drawing of Madiba for Hugh in 2014, and ever since he's been telling me that I'm going to do another of his dog, Kensei. Late last year I noticed that he started referring to the 'painting' I was going to make of Kensei, and tried to convince him otherwise, but to no avail.
You see the prospect of painting fur is fantastically terrifying. I don't have much experience with portraiture, I'm not 100% comfortable there yet, even though I love love love it. Also details are MUCH easier in pencil! And dogs are made of details. And like love and friendship and moist noses and sunshine.. but I digress.

Since facebook became the place you share less-than-motivational posters of minions and videos of puppies, I had started following more and more artists from around the world. (and unfollowing people I went to high school with, but would not stop to chat with in a surprise grocery store encounter) And I have been inspired daily by unbelievable techniques, so many examples of greatness. And it's hard to not let SOME of that seep into your brain :P

I was most inspired recently by these two painters: 
David Kassan - have a look and 
Jennifer Balkan - look! 
David for his gradual building up of layer on layer of colour, and Jennifer for her pastel tones and strokes. Now you will no doubt see nothing of their work in Kensei, because I can't be them, they are masters. I was simply mindful of their work. And that made such a difference in this portrait! 

Have some In Progress shots: (looks like he's wearing a tie!)

Found the shape then:

And the completed painting: 

Kensei  |  60 x 45.5 cm  |  Acrylic on Canvas
I'm so very proud of this painting. The kind of proud that's frowned upon. People sometimes forget that pride isn't always a sin; I mean satisfied, fulfilled, rewarded, delighted.

Because I got to try a new thing. I layered tones with fur-like strokes, instead of trying for individual hairs. I got layers of blues and oranges in without making it look like a child coloured it in. I left the left side loose - I usually don't have the guts to do that. For the most part I used a mix of Windsor Blue and Burnt Umber instead of black. In sunlight the part around my signature that runs up to his ear, and details in his folds and around his eye is Violet. And I did something I learned from Heather Horton blogs, I was a mindful painter. Think twice, apply brush once. In so doing I finished this painting in a week and a half, which just about halves my usual time.
Also: experimenting and learning is super invigorating. I actively enjoyed every second of this. I had daily moments where I'd catch myself thinking 'I shouldn't be enjoying this so much'. 
I had so much fun, that yesterday when I only had to darken a fold and then I'd be finished, I ended up working for 5 more hours. I had to force myself to stop. 

Having completed my 2015 commissions in January, this is strictly speaking my first painting of 2016. What a wonderful start.

Special thanks to Hugh for not allowing be to draw this. I would've missed out on so much.
Here's a look at his Madiba in case you were too lazy to click on the linky:

Detail from Hugh's Madiba | 525 x 380 mm
Pencil on 160 gsm paper

 Nadia se Oranjes 
Yep, Another Orange Gerbera

Nadia is a collector. I can count on her to contact me about twice year with a couple of photos, and the text in the email saying 'What do you think?' And we take it from there.

In November '15 she emailed me a lovely Hibiscus, and I replied with an image of the painting of an orange Gerbera I had made for my cousin. Apparently completely blocking out the emotional carnage of making a complete painting in one colour, and painting 3000 water droplets.. She loved the idea, and I sent her some of the reference photos I had taken for the previous commission - too many to decide it seemed, and they couldn't - so I sent them my favourite three (orange, red and yellow), not at all thinking of painting it, just looking at composition. And they picked the orange one. Naturally. 

So it's coincidentally the exact same flower as the previous commission (very photogenic flower this), but with different lighting and focus point. Interesting challenge.
To make matters worse, I was in the middle of talks with the Popsons burger people, and it didn't look to me like they were going to go for my quote, so I was keen to get Nadia's commission ASAP. 
And they both agreed to their respective commissions a day apart, with the same deadline - end of Dec '15 - the one time of year my husband is on holiday. And it's only Christmas and New Years, and the time to catch up with family and friends.. and rest? Nope.
But I have a couple of years to go before I say no to  work.

This is the previous commission for Linda: 

100 x 70 cm  |  Acrylic on Canvas
And here's Nadia's:

90 x 70 cm  |  Acrylic on Canvas
Pretty cool to see them side by side! (so to speak :)

I struggle to find a favourite between the two, they are so different. I do prefer the dramatic lighting of Nadia's, but vibrance is HARD to do realistically, and there are technical things in Linda's, tiny little details they'll only notice later on, and I like that kind of depth. Both are great show pieces.

You will appreciate that I bought two bunches of Gerberas to photograph, to make sure I'd get something usable. Funny that I'd end up painting just the one flower! 
These photos were taken in my kitchen, best lighting at the time, and sprayed with a little water bottle-thingy that I use to dye my hair. There's some pointless trivia for ya.
Another: This was painted during the heat wave. It was bonkers. You want to mix enough of a given tone to put it on every petal and in every drop of water, and the paint dries before you can say 'It's so hot my brain is melting'. I'd usually start early and work till about 3 pm, at which time the 'studio' turns oven, the brush keeps sweating out of my hand, and my legs are so sweaty I'm slipping off my chair. It was not easy!

For brownie points, Cat being a gargoyle in front of the WIP - after he drank some of my ice water. 

Li'l Popson

Time to breathe! I'm gonna run through the last paintings I worked on.

This is li'l Popson. My second commission for the US of A.
I was contacted on behance by a company looking for a 'photo realistic hamburger'. That's already tricky, since I don't consider my work to be photo realistic, but there are those who do. (These days it's not about what the word means, but what the speaker thinks it does) Turned out they were looking for something in the direction of a Tjalf Sparnaay. Which I will never be. But it's hard to resist a chance to test your skills like that. 


90 x 60  |  Acrylic on Canvas  |  December '15/January '16
I picked the best photo I could find from their reference pics, but there were things that were tricky to see. I had to improvise a little, using random google images of burgers. Which is strange, I never work from different photos. And as you probably know, I've never-ever done a background like this. Nice challenge.
The hardest part of the whole process was photographing my painting, progress and complete. I had made a deal with the company that my payment would be in three installments, 1/3 deposit upfront, 1/3 upon receiving a high res image of the completed painting (since they really actually wanted it to use on the website as a design element) and the last third upon receiving the painting. Of course it's always a little tricky photographing paintings, because the colour changes in every type of lighting, and you have to be true to the painting. Colour wasn't the slightest issue though, it was the dreaded glare!
The Reeves Mars Black - which I looove - is glossy. I rather like using glossy and matte paints together, I think it adds a some depth. My camera thinks its the spawn of satan though.
Long story short, at least a week of my very tight deadline was spent taking pictures of this painting at different times, various angles in and around the house. Sorting the photographs, cropping, emailing, and taking more. Friggin' mission. But it paid off. :D

On an angle

Also I got to do the whole exporting a painting thing. That's always happened through galleries before, so it was super nerve wracking. but it went smoothly. And I learned A LOT. So that's cool for future commissions. Regrettably the client ended up receiving the painting the week after the burger-joint opened, due to shipping times mostly, super anti-climatic. 
I like the painting though. Yum.

Thursday, 7 January 2016

It has begun.

So I thought you might enjoy this find. 

In 1996 South Africa took part in the Olympics for the first time after last participating in 1960, because Apartheid was finally abolished. And everyone was super excited. 
I was an awkward 12 year old in Newton Park Primary school in PE. My first real boyfriend had just broken up with me - a VERY big deal - and I had just gotten my first truly horrid haircut - a chinese bob, which on me was an afro that started above my ears. Not my favourite memory. 
Every single kid in every (compulsory) art class made an entry for the Olympics competition. Mine was a coloured pencil drawing of an action shot - a bunch of South African athletes holding up the trophy and celebrating. I don't have an actual image of the drawing, but I imagine it wasn't terribly good, as I drew from imagination, and I've always sucked at that. But my work was chosen (as were hundreds of others), and I would be flown to Johannesburg for a weekend and have the privilege of flying in our Olympic plane. (woot)

I sound snide now, but it was a big deal. My first time flying, a weekend all expenses trip away with my mom and about 8 others from my school. We got bunches of olympic merch (too short but very colourful tracksuit and beanie is what I remember best) We got to stay in a Formula 1 hotel - the kind where the bathroom is so small, its a wetroom by necessity - I'm fairly sure we met the athletes (but that wouldn't have been a priority, never cared much for celebs) and the highlight, and flying in Ndizani, the plane with a name. I very specifically remember that the settings in Ndizani were still being tweaked, most of the kids on the hour flight (joyride?) got sick to their stomachs. Air pressure trouble I guess.

In grade 6 my and my best friends first ever drawings in art class were featured in our school newspaper, because they were the best in class. Awkward HB drawings of our left hands. And I realised for the first time that I'm sort of good at this drawing thing. 

And then this Olympic competition happened. 
Starting high school, the only thing I was completely sure of, was that I would take art as a subject. These were the first things that set me on this path. 

Your reward for scrolling through all that: cattax! This was Cat Stevens during last week's heat wave. A bad time to be very very fluffy.