In relative terms, I am a total newbie to the art world, it’s true. My background is strongly rooted in commerce – I have a business degree and all my jobs have been either in marketing, advertising or strategic business consulting. My other full-time job has been being a mom to my gorgeous twin sons (now 18) and my beautiful daughter (now 17) and I can honestly say, hand-on-heart, it has been the single best thing I have ever done. But my boys are now finished school and about to start at university and my daughter is in her final year of school – and I am so well aware that the empty nest is right around the corner. My mother has always cautioned me against not having a life of my own and putting too much pressure on my children as they set off into the world on their own wings – and it is advice I have seen and experienced as being deeply true.
I started painting classes about eight years ago with my friend and art teacher, Belinda Ardé, when my children were still in primary school. I was immediately captured, and loved the the freedom that oil paints give the artist (definitely the most forgiving medium), the fresh canvasses begging for a creative start, the opportunity to examine beauty intensely and up close and to start to really learn how to see through the eyes of an artist. Belinda – Buzz to her friends – is gentle, graceful, hugely talented and an inspiring teacher. Her classes were filled with the smell of oil paints, classical music, the odd gentle commentary from her students (which often overflowed into raucous laughter) and many cups of coffee and tea served with delicious biscuits. I loved the art but really, my first attempts weren’t anything to write home about as you can see…
‘Two Green Apples’ 2010 (and the first painting I ever signed!)
First art classes (no, I’m not in the picture, I was taking it!)
The bug had sort-of bitten, and I painted once a week for about six months. But then the demands of being a stay-at-home mom grew as my children got older and I gave up the classes (which I had started to attend too sporadically anyway). Many years passed and finally, towards the middle of 2015, I decided once again to see if Buzz had a space in her art class for me. Very happily she did, and I started to paint with her in the lovely studio she rented in the beautiful wine farm area called Constantia here in Cape Town. Well, the bug REALLY bit then. I fell completely, hopelessly and utterly in love with art and oil painting. Me, who has never studied art, who doesn’t have any (known) artists in her family, who would never consider calling herself an artist…wanted to pursue THIS life and career.
Over the past couple of years, I have read voraciously and widely on art in all its forms. I have signed up for lessons with online academies to learn to draw (it’s so important as a fundamental skill as an artist, well for this artist anyway), continued with my lessons with Belinda and painted long hours in my now studio (did I mention I took over the dining room for my studio, despite the raised eyebrows from the rest of the family?). I have travelled again to Paris, London and New York to relook at and study the famous artworks in the great museums with fresh eyes, and went more recently to San Francisco to take an Alla Prima art workshop with the amazing Daniel J. Keys. And I have bought nearly every book that exists on oil painting and drawing. Literally.
Artist: Daniel J Keys
My ‘Roses Alla Prima’ painted during Daniel’s workshop, 2016
At the beginning of this year, I publicly committed myself to following my heart and my love of painting by launching my website and sharing the news with friends and family on Facebook. I was so overwhelmed with the love and support for my venture, I literally had tears in my eyes from receiving so much positive encouragement. I am under no illusion that I have a very long way to go and there is so much (a whole lifetime!) of learning ahead of me. But I have discovered the untold joy of the love of learning, of being passionate about what I do – and in waking up each day so excited just to be able to put on my painting apron and sit down in my studio (with my classical music playing) and try to capture the numinous beauty I see all around me.
It’s definitely not always easy. My amazing fiancé Bill has picked me up, dusted me off, and set me back on the path of my heart more times than I care to count. Every time I think I can’t do it, I’m not really THAT talented, no-one is going to love my painting style, or ‘How am I going to make money doing this?’…he carefully, gently, insistently reminds me what is truly important in this life (did I mention he’s AMAZING like that?! If you need help finding what you love or with anything you’re struggling with in your life, there isn’t anyone better, drop him a line.)
As I mentioned in an earlier post, I truly believe that one should ‘Let the beauty of what you love, be what you do.’ In French, the word ‘amateur’ means ‘lover’: someone who enthusiastically pursues her work in the spirit of love regardless of the potential for fame or money. They’re in love with what they do! With that in mind, I hope to achieve great things with my skills, but I hope to always remain an amateur at heart: to pursue my work in a spirit of love and see where this journey goes, one day at a time. I’d love to have you along for the ride 😊