Monday, 13 November 2017

October Meeting - Beth Lowe

Our speaker at our meeting on 31 October was CAS member Beth Lowe.

Beth was born in Grahamstown and growing up on a farm inspired a great love for the outdoors. Her granny was one of her biggest supporters from an early age and encouraged her to paint and draw. She was also the one who made her fall in love with oils as she gave Beth her first paint set at age 9 or 10.

Beth studied Fine Arts at Stellenbosch, taught art at Timour Hall Primary and then moved on to teach at the Art, Ballet, Drama and Music School in Johannesburg after getting married and moving there.  Motherhood gave her the opportunity to teach art from home for many years.

While living in Knysna for 8 years she was involved in the local art scene and exhibited at the Strydom Gallery in George. When moving to Kommetjie she took a break from painting for about 10 years, and put brush to canvas again when she joined SASA in 2007.

In 2011/2012 Beth took an en Plein Air workshop with Judy Carducci and she realised that this was to be her focus area in art. Beth's first solo exhibition was in 2012 after choosing to pursue plein air painting as her main creative outlet.

Beth's presentation was full of grace, humour interspersed with the incredible wisdom of Dr Seuss.  She emphasised the challenges of plein air painting, and how to work around them and discover parts of your art persona that only en Plein Air can bring out.

With her portable studio, sun hat, linen shirt and apron, Beth cuts a familiar figure all over the Western Cape landscapes.  

Her toolkit includes a simple view-finder and red Perspex, the former to make focusing on your subjects easier and the latter to help define values more carefully. She emphasised how quickly the light changes en plein air (roughly every 20 minutes!) and how vital it is to block out the shadows early on and to draw the light source's direction lines to help remind you of the original painting you wanted to do.

Beth emphasised the importance of drawing, saying that it is the ability to make a 3D world into a 2D one and that there is a loop in which the better you see, the better you draw, the better you paint, the better you see etc.  To practise her drawing skills she keeps a sketchbook and pencils close by at all times.

She sees art as a way of capturing memories, preferring this to just taking vacation photos.
Beth loves challenging herself as an artist and inspired the crowd to play outside their comfort zones.

Paint with limited palettes; paint on differently shaped canvasses; make mistakes as this is how we learn, and do not get caught up in flattening brush stroked and scrumbling as we know the viewer loves some mystery and doesn't need all the details after all.
She also encouraged artists into the unpredictable nature of Plein Air and gave tips on how to even paint in the rain.

Beth's natural teaching ability came through and we walked away with some fantastic gems to not only use in our art, but also in our daily lives.

She showed us that our individual style is something to value as it is, in her words, as unique as our handwriting.  It relates to how you choose what to paint and how to paint it.  Appreciate it, grow it, learn from other artists, but do not yearn to be like them.

As a wise man once said: “Today you are you, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is youer than you.”

Words by Lizzie Kruger

Saturday, 14 October 2017

September Meeting and Art Challenge

Christopher Reid was the demonstrator at our September meeting and showed us how he paints a portrait in pastels.

Christopher carries his immense knowledge of art with a casual confidence and believes that knowledge shared is beauty gained. He believes that art is a form of communication and that by embracing it in as many mediums as possible, in your studio and en Plein Air, one can speak beauty in its many intricate forms.

Christopher Reid and his model for the evening, Belinda du Randt

His love for pastel work came through loud and clear in his portrait demonstration. A self-proclaimed adult finger-painter, he showed us how to get into this medium, fingers first. 
He encouraged the audience to poke at his art knowledge whilst he transformed a blank canvas into an almost complete portrait of his live model. He talked about different versions of pastels, suggested uses for each and how pastels are made i.e. binding mediums, pigments and fillers like chalk, and how this affects quality and use of the pastels. Christopher talked about using fixing medium on pastels, linking it to trying to fix a top layer of sand and taking away from the medium's ability to capture light particles in between the pastel dust.
Christopher believes in quick solutions to simple problems, and thus McGuivered together an adjustable easel from old tripods and a serving tray to solve the little issues that take away from focusing on making art. 
Condensing his pastel stash into a single box makes getting out the door to Mother Nature, his main muse, so much easier. He strongly believes knowing your tools in and out makes you a better artist, and to make what you need if you can't find it on the shelf.  

Christopher's array of pastels

He has an obvious appreciation for the science of art. He spoke about the influence of light (natural or controlled) on your eye, your model and eventually your canvas. 
He debunked generally accepted art rules by digging into their origins and thus their usability. 

He reinforced the basic skill of drawing and getting perspective and proportions correct to avoid frustrating the viewers' eyes.
He gave us tips on how to determine mid-ranges by putting down your lightest lights and darkest darks first. 
He also taught out how to carve out details instead of filling in shapes only. 
With a soft hand, a curious mind and a natural manner of imparting knowledge, Christopher drew us into his respectful dance with art and beauty.

The finished portrait

Special thanks to our lovely member, Belinda Du Randt who sat as a model for Christopher.

September Art Challenge “Spring”

Karin Davel

Penny Steynor
Selwyn Griffiths

Klaus Schilling
Angela Stannard
Anne Stepto

Carrie Lam
Elizabeth Lamprecht
Karin Davel

Monday, 4 September 2017

Westlake Exhibition September - October 2017

The four artists exhibiting at Westlake for the months of September and October are Lynette Petersen, Klaus Schilling, Karin Davel and Melanie Meyer. These artists' work will be on show from the 4th Sept - 7th Nov.

Lynette Peterson with her art.

Klaus Schilling with his lovely watercolour portraits at Westlake Golf Club.

Studies in Blue by Melanie Meyer. (Linda Gotlieb couldn't make it at last minute, so Melanie and Karin shared the space).

Karin Davel - still-life in oil.
Melanie Meyer's vibrant colour studies makes a strong statement at Westlake.

Saturday, 2 September 2017

August Meeting: AGM and Competition

There was a big crowd at our August meeting, the second in our new venue, the Alphen Centre.

Members arranged the works they had brought for the competition along one of the walls for
everyone to look at.

Voting slips and pens were distributed and members wrote down the 5 works they liked best.

Chairman Linda Gotlieb opened the Annual General Meeting. In her report she spoke about the events of the past year, and it has certainly been a good year for CAS. Linda also thanked the all the committee members by name, and thanked others who helped CAS during the year. Then Treasurer Melanie Meyer reported on the financial status of the Society. She asked if any member would be able to audit CAS's books. When it came to the election of office bearers, all the committee members from the previous year were willing to stand again and were duly re-elected.

While the competition votes were being counted, Wyn Rossouw entertained us with an art quiz.

Then came the announcement of the competition winners.
In first place was Liz Pearson with her painting of people dancing on the banks of the Seine.

Second place went to Karin Davel for her work consisting of sketches arranged concertina-style.

Third prize went to Lyn Northam for her painting.

Beth Lowe won the fourth place.

And fifth prize went to Christopher Reid.

In sixth place was Wyn Rossouw.

 Anita Gildenhuys came seventh.

 Linda Howe-Ely eighth.

 Mandy Herdien ninth.

 and Louis Terry tenth.

Friday, 4 August 2017

July Meeting and Art Challenge

We had the pleasure of hosting Donna McKellar at our July meeting, the first in our new venue, the Alphen Hall.
Before the main event, Di Metcalf from Artsauce came to talk to us about the Sketchpack Project which Artsauce arranges every year in August. Members were able to buy the little 30 page folded sketchpacks so that they could do a drawing every day. 

Sketchpacks waiting to be bought.

Chairman Linda Gotlieb introduced Donna McKellar, a Cape Town based artist known for her detailed landscapes. Donna studied graphic design and spent her first few years designing packaging, logos etc. She discovered her love for our unique countryside and walked wholeheartedly into her art persona, making for a 22-year career as a professional artist. Her art features in galleries both local and international, with clientèle just as diverse. 

Donna McKellar
Donna is working on a huge landscape commission and by means of slides, she showed us the progress of the painting from start to near finish. (She has not yet completed the work, but will send us a photo when she does). 

Donna started with a red underpainting, done in acrylic so that it dries quickly. She told us that this gives the work a warm feel, and she tries to leave bits of red showing through in the finished work. She then draws in the basic elements with a large brush.

Donna likes to start with the features of the landscape furthest from the viewer: the distant mountains. As she showed us the various stages, Donna gave little tips and tricks she has picked up over the years as she walked us through her process.

Donna explained in detail how she achieves the texture of a dirt road by using brushstrokes going in the direction of the tracks.

Donna's approach to life and art is one of gratitude. She appreciates that each painting she creates teaches her through the little challenges she faces to make the picture come to life as she sees it. She sees painting as a blessing that should be embraced and that each art piece presents a beautiful journey for artists to find their unique voices.

Members looking at the works Donna brought to the meeting.

Donna's Tips:

Use red underpainting to start with a warm base for your African landscapes.

Play with transparent layers to build depth and distance into you artwork. Blue glazes creates distance. Keep the glazes as thin as possible and layer, layer, layer!

Work from a photograph, but trust your intuition to create a scene that evokes emotion. Add in elements that will accomplish that end result, even if that means redoing a whole sky to show off your focus points.

Use crackle medium to create cracks in walls, wooden fences etc

Paint trees from dark to light and knock back your colour with glaze

Use large split brushes to create wonderful textured grasses, tire tracks on roads etc. They also make great tools to splatter paint to create rocks on the roads! Use your hands as a tool to create a rust-drip, run your finger through wet paint. 

Nature is organic and thus random, so play with techniques that introduce randomisation into your work. Split, ruined brushes, your fingertips, paint splatters and different textured brushes should be embraced.

Create focus areas in your painting by having looser edges and greater details where you want the viewer's eyes to go.

You will be your own worst critic, but embrace this as quality control. You can then only send out work that you are happy with.

Take photos of your work as it progresses so that you can quality control along the way

Use sunlight soap to wash your brushes! Donna cleans her glass palette with water and sunlight liquid as well.

Use the best paints and brushes you can afford. Use the cheaper stuff for underpainting. Even the best talent is undermined by lower quality paints and brushes.

We all enjoyed the spaciousness of the Alphen Hall.

The theme for the July meeting challenge was 'bare'.
Here are the works which were on display:

Bonnie Auret
Kirsten Slater

Karin Davel
Ann Stepto
Christopher Reid
Angela Stannard

Friday, 30 June 2017

June Meeting and Art Challenge

Karin Davel was the speaker/demonstrator at our June meeting and the subject was monoprinting. Karin has been in Cape Town for about two years and artist and is recognisable by her colourful outfits and sketchbook, which she is never without. 
She studied a fine arts degree at the University of Pretoria and has taught art in schools and art studios. She ran a gallery and a guesthouse in KwaZulu Natal before moving to Cape Town with her husband At, who was on hand to video the demo for us.

The room was filled with quiet excitement as Karen set up her playspace for her demo on quick sketching and monoprinting. It soon became clear that Karin's approach to art is to have fun with it, take it as it comes and to let oneself grow as opportunities present themselves.

Karin and one of her works.

She always carries a sketchbook with her to make quick drawings for painting ideas. She reminded us that even in a day that has no time dedicated to art, in the periods we spend waiting (in doctors rooms, in church, whilst picking up the kids from school etc), we can let our artist free.
Karin taught us the various benefits of quick sketching just before she challenged a room of nervous artists to do a 1 minute blind drawing:
  • It captures your feeling or interpretation of the item or person being drawn; thus we are always making original pieces as we develop our own art personas. This moves us away from just copying shapes and towards feeling our art. With limited time, we focus more on the energy or story we are looking at.
  • It teaches us to jump in, that rough drawing is okay and to roll with unpredictability as our subject matter moves as humans tend to do.
  • The more we rough sketch, the thicker our skin becomes when we are criticised, as we spend less energy defending/justifying our interpretation than the technical correctness of a piece. We can then simply say that you interpreted it differently and that is okay.
  • It helps us practise our hand-eye coordination frequently, which is one of an artist's most valued tools.
One of Karin's sketches
Karin's demonstration on monoprinting showed us how to lay down our rough sketches onto canvas as the beginning of a painting. She explained how to use acrylics and oil paints in monoprinting, and the benefits of both. Acrylics dry quickly and leave a harsher mark. Oils are used for smoother lines and to add in shadows. She also showed us how to reuse one sketch multiple times in playing with the negatives and the back of the monoprint page i.e. the stuff we would normally throw away.

On the left is a monoprint, on the right the sketch.

She showed us how to add different levels of energy into paintings with various mark directions and intensity. With a page from a magazine, she demonstrated how cheap tools (like cotton wool and turpentine) can make fantastic backgrounds. She challenged us to feel our art by sketching to music and not a specific object in front of us. She showed us how to play with 4 pencils, 2 in each hand, and how our dominant hands make different marks to our non-dominant one and the value of each.

This work has a colour background 

Like a busy, busy hummingbird, she flitted between ideas and thoughts for two hours, giving titbits of advice and insights, making fantastic jokes and making it clear that for her, art is about unadulterated fun and going with the flow.

Proteas with monoprint and stitching

We were left somewhat exhausted on her behalf, but incredibly inspired.

Members asking Karin questions


There was a good response this month, here are all the works brought to the meeting.

Sue Paulsen
Ian Jay

Wyn Rossouw
Philip Cohen

Pauline Fine

Elizabeth Lamprecht

Philip Cohen

Angela Stannard
Linda Howe-Ely

Carrie Lam

Karin Davel