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
--------

JUNE ART CHALLENGE - WARMTH

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

-----------------------------------------




Thursday, 8 June 2017

May Meeting and Art Challenge

Sonja Frenz was the guest speaker and demonstrator at our last meeting on the 30th of May. With her warmth and ease, Sonja drew us into her appreciation for oil painting, making for an intimate session that captured the capacity audience's imagination and attention.

Sonja Frenz
Sonja is a born teacher and had so much information to share on the subject of colour and tone. She loves working in colour, but emphasised that hue, tonal value and saturation were the first steps to consider before tackling colour. She emphasised the importance of underpainting, how to use opposite colours to desaturate, how to use white to cool a colour (except for yellow which it intensifies instead) and how to push your paint into the canvas whilst keeping the darker colours transparent. 

Sonja's Still Life

Sonja brought an underpainted canvas for the potted daisies still life scene she was using to demonstrate the intricacies of colour mixing; concentrating on identifying the hue and tonal value (with some nifty toys she brought along), establishing saturation and determining temperature. As she explained how to find the hue and tonal values, she casually pecked away at her artwork and the painting came to life in front of our eyes. Some members even took to crawling along the floor to get to see the work from all angles!


As a natural teacher, Sonja encouraged us to explore our art personas, to keep on learning through workshops and meet-ups and to try our best not to get stuck in comfort and predictability; as there is no growth potential in that.

MAY ART CHALLENGE - AUTUMN

Bonnie Auret
Angela Stannard
Kirsten Slater
Margie Nachmann

Karin Davel
Melanie Meyer

Judy Hilton-Green

























Saturday, 29 April 2017

April 25 Meeting and Art Challenge

Art restorer Richard Mitchell gave us an entertaining and informative talk and slide show on the preservation of oil paintings on canvas.

Richard Mitchell

He first told us all about what we paint on and how to prepare it. It is very important to use a properly stretched, sized and primed canvas. If there is not a layer of size (such as rabbit skin glue or gelatin) and ground (primer) between the canvas and the oil paint, the paint will soak into the canvas and destroy it. Once the painting is finished and the painting has dried properly, it should be varnished to protect the paint. Richard answered quite a few questions from the audience, then showed us some slides of works he has restored.

Varnish discolours after a few decades, and then has to be removed and reapplied. Richard showed us a photo of a painting where the old varnish had been removed to reveal the original colours.


He showed us other slides of painting he had restored. One with a bloom on:




Another with cracks all over it.


This one was badly torn.


At the end of his talk, some members had brought some old works to show Richard, and he gave his expert opinion. A fascinating evening, thank you Richard!

Our theme for this month was water, and quite a few works were brought along to the meeting for everyone to look at. Here they all are:

Mandy Herdien

Kirsten Slater

Richard Jacobs

Angela Stannard


Mandy Herdien

Janet Spurr

 

Linda Gotlieb

Linda Howe-Ely

Kirsten Slater