Tag: Art

The Time it Takes

Time.

I often ponder on time. My time, the time I have to do or accomplish certain things, the time I get to spend with my kids, family and friends. Time for myself, time for exercise, time to dream. I never realised how much time would go into planning my time and deciding how much time to spend on each of my priorities (that includes writing 5 school speeches this week and attending rugby matches). And as an artist, time takes on a new dimension.

The challenge is that the longer a piece takes, the less its actually worth. With each passing hour my wage per hour reduces and the fact of the matter is that I will in all likelihood never really earn what I spent in hours.

Pastel Waterbuck Painting
‘Kobus’ 40cm x 60cm Pastel Pencils on Pastelmat

Having attempted to be more ‘loose’ and spend less time on detail has proved to be a disaster. What you don’t see is that behind the scenes I am also trying different other mediums, attempting different subjects and playing around. Not a lot – those commissions are waiting for me you know – but just trying something different here and there. Trying to see if there is another way to add to my income. The fact of the matter is that this is my only income.

Having tried different things I have come to one not-so-astounding (at this point) conclusion. I love detail. I flourish on trying to get the hair just right, creating the texture on a nose or horn. I just love discovering details in my subjects that I’ve never noticed, exploring the feeling of the detail, imagining what touching them would feel like. That is me – I am the can’t-back-down-from-detail freak.

Drawing vs Photo
‘Kobus’ Drawing vs Reference Photo

Detail takes time.

Detail doesn’t allow fat sloppy lines and a couldn’t-care-less attitude. Detail is patient and precise. Detail sometimes doesn’t allow me to sleep 8 hours.

In the end I want to create art that I am proud of. Art that is me, art that combines a sensitive hand with a love for all things alive. I want to capture the essence and grace of our animal kingdom – whether its a well-loved dog of questionable breed or a majestic kudu.

And that takes time.

One Moment of Insane Courage

Have you ever read a phrase that just embedded itself in your mind even though you cannot really remember the context?

Last week an artist friend of mine asked me how I market my work and there it was, popping into my mind like a Perdespookbossie.  Also referred to as the Candelabra flower, they seemingly pop up out of the earth with a head of dark reddish pink flowers.  Once dry they roll around (presumably scaring horses in the process!) like a tumble weed, scattering their seeds.

My tumbleweed came out of nowhere: I market via one moment of insane courage.  It started me thinking though.  A lot of what we do as artists are moments of insane courage.  Even taking the leap to identifying yourself as an artist takes courage – it means putting yourself and your vision and your interpretation out there in the world for people to see and, well, lets face it: judge.

More often than not we don’t even need the judgement of others as we are usually our own worst critics.  But as I have mentioned before, we cannot evolve and develop without a measure of self criticism.

You might find yourself facing fear of a different kind when presented with a new challenge – something simple like an item you have never drawn, a medium you have never used or an audience you didn’t prepare for.  Yet it is in accepting those challenges and facing your fears and just realising that the only way out is through that you discover courage and experience growth.  In those moments your boundaries shift, your intuitive artistic nature expands and you open a new world within yourself.  One moment of insane courage might just be saying yes when you want to shout no or drawing that first line when all you want to do is start a new drawing.

In my experience marketing yourself is very much the same.  The worst that can happen is a ‘no thank you’. Making peace with the negative responses means accepting that we are all different and that we are all entitled to prefer different versions of art.  A ‘no thank you’ shouldn’t ever be seen as personal – especially where art is involved.  Grab that moment and show your work, show yourself and you will be surprised at the amount of yesses that will follow in the wake.

There are moments when I am unsure whether its me or the courage that is insane, but I am thankful for those glimmering moments. Fear doesn’t stop bad things from happening and it certainly doesn’t stop failing – but it does stop life. In my life, art is life and my wish (as I mentioned on my Facebook page today) is that your love for being creative will always outweigh your fear of failure.

No go forth and make art!

Pencil Blessings

Drawing Tips: Pencil Facts | Part 3 – Caran d’Ache Luminance

Imagine applying pencil colour to paper… imagine the lead glides over the paper effortlessly, like a warm knife through soft butter, leaving a delicious line of vivid colour.  It might help that the beautifully made pencil does this with a suave Swiss accent!

Luminance – as the name suggests – sports an amazing array of 76 luminous colours.  What I love most about the Luminance colour range is the fact that they are really natural, soft shades often not found in other sets.  They are just so… usable – especially as a wildlife, or animal artist.

From an artist point of view this is the limousine of pencils.  The lightfastness ratings are spectacular ( have a look at my blog here on why that is important!) and the pencils sport a generous 3.8mm soft oil-based core that holds a point fairly well.  Luminance pencils blend exceptionally well with solvents and blenders and enables you to do multiple layers.  I also don’t find that wax bloom is a big problem when doing multiple layers, which is a real plus.

But there is one more trait that sets the Luminance pencil apart from other pencils (*drumroll*) – the fact that the light colours are so opaque that they actually are visible when applied over darker colours.  The Luminance white is viewed as one of the best white pencils around.

Colours are also available open-stock, which means you can buy singles instead of replacing an entire set when your Violet-Grey is reduced to the length of a peanut.

Not an artist?  There is no reason you cannot use a limousine to run to the corner café for milk and bread!  I imagine these must be absolutely heaven to colour with.  They apply and blend so smoothly that you might just become addicted to colouring!

Let’s chat about price then.  Caran d’Ache is a premium brand demanding a premium price, but having tested and used a myriad of pencils I can honestly avow that the Luminance pencil is worth every penny.  Their is a quality to the pencil that is unparalleled – both in build and pigment.  Even the packaging is impressive!

Neither Rome nor limousines are built in a day, so go out, buy a few colours and try them and don’t forget to get a white pencil (insider’s tip: use the white to blend colours together, then layer more colour on top to get a nice rich depth)…you know you want to!

I will be discussing pastel pencils, coloured pencils, paper and other odds and ends too, so keep an eye on my Facebook page for new blogposts.

In the meantime – here is a little look at some of the progress photos of ‘A Mother’s Love’ that I completed earlier this year.

Pencil-Blessings!

Why Coloured Pencils?

As I took my first images to be scanned for prints, my now-fiancé asked me quite unceremoniously whether I really thought it would sell. Not because he doesn’t like the art or believe in me – as a matter of fact I think aside from my mom he is my biggest fan, always encouraging and somehow believing I can draw things I am not even sure I can – but because it is coloured pencil. “Is it even commercial?  Why don’t you rather consider oil paints?”

I had to ponder my answer. In my experience people often have a tendency to reply to seeing my work with a statement like “You use colouring-in pencils?” or “Ok, you use crayons” (insert my wide-eyed horror here!).  We seem to have gotten bogged-down in our primary-school definition of coloured pencils, labeling them only as a tool for kids and colouring.

And right there, in that simple presumption, I realised, lies the beauty of the medium. It is that simple – not only can even kids use it, but it is versatile enough to colour with, draw with, and yes, make art with.

Let’s look at coloured pencils from the point of view of an artist then.  Why – as an artist wishing to sell your work – would you choose this medium?

Maybe your definition of art refers to Renoir and Van Gogh and the classic masters whose paintings have endured for hundreds of years. Well, the great news is that coloured pencils can be as long-lasting. Companies like Caran D’Ache and Faber Castell have poured their passion and expertise into creating pencils that are lightfast, superbly blendable and highly pigmented – ensuring you have artist-quality tools to create with.

Coloured pencils are easy to travel with, enabling you to create your art anytime, anywhere. With handy sets of every size in durable travel-friendly cases you can simply pop your paperpad and pencils into your suitcase and ferry them wherever you go. Inspiration strikes in exactly those places where you least expect it, and this handy medium will be right there at your side without the fuss of needing an easel, multiple brushes and the odd bits you require for other mediums.

Versatile does not even begin to describe the scope of the medium. A choice of everything from charcoal pencils, to watercolour, pastel pencils, oil-based pencils and ink-based pencils mean there is truly a brand or style that will suit everyone.  You might prefer a more painterly approach – then use watercolour pencils or simply use a solvent to blend your oil-based pencils.  Maybe you love the bright vibrancy of ink – then try Derwent Inktense.  The subtle shades of the Derwent Graphitint might appeal to you if you love natural muted shades – and they are water-soluble too!

I personally fell in love with the ability to easily create fine detail (my go-to pencils for this is Faber Castell Polychromos and Caran D’Ache Pablo), but the chunky thick creamy Derwent Drawing pencils are so amazing for backgrounds.  I have seen the most amazing wildlife and animal portraits in coloured pencils, but the astounding range of colours available means you can also create stunningly accurate skintones, and finely detailed landscapes.

Using Coloured Pencils is really childs-play (don’t tell anyone I said that!) and the techniques involved are simple and easy to master.  YouTube offers a vast array of tutorials by excellent artists.  From shading to cross-hatching and layering, the information is endless.

In the end, as an artist, you might want to sell your work.  The secret here is that with millions of people out in the world, there truly is a place in the sun for everyone.  People do not share the same aesthetic tastes, and the person who walks into a gallery to buy the oil painting, is not the same person who would necessarily walk in and buy the sketch.  But someone will appreciate it – and as the lovely people over at the fine art printing company who do my prints say – it sells exactly for the reason of being different.

It is therefor no secret that I am a big Coloured Pencil fan and should I decide to broaden my horizons and venture into something different, I might just try Pastel Pencils.  How is that for being adventurous?

Go on – buy a set…try it out… You know you want to!

Pencil-blessings…

The story behind Tlou

Tlou is a very special drawing to me.

In October 2016 I had the privilege of visiting the Chobe region with my now-fiancé and our two boys.  During what felt like the peak of the drought we spent a few days at Senyati Lodge near Kasane.  What made Senyati special was the man-made waterhole and underground hide.  Climbing down into a narrow tunnel that runs underground to the hide, you could view the wildlife at the waterhole from only a few paces away – so close that the kids would come running to tell about an elephant bathing at the fountain – splattered with mud from said bath!  The unique vantage point also gave new perspective on these majestic creatures as they towered over us.  More than once my heart beat in my throat as one stepped closer and I could just imagine an elephant standing on the hide!

It was during one of these afternoons that I photographed Tlou.  Every afternoon literally dozens upon dozens of elephants would visit the oasis.  Around us the vegetation was scarce – with no rain the grass had dwindled to mere stubs here and there and the trees were mostly barren.  Around the waterhole it was green and lush.  This little guy came rushing into the patch of mud from the overflow and promptly started playing in the mud.  His tiny little trunk was going everywhere, swinging around and spraying mud just about everywhere aside from over his body!  We watched him for quite a while and ever since Christo and I would often just refer to ‘our little elephant’.

In the end I drew him for Christo and I am excited to share our little elephant Tlou with you!

Watch out for prints of Tlou available soon!

Much love

Hello!

I just received my package of prints and I am over the moon – the idea to sign then and send them off into the world fills me with the same kind of excitement and trepidation as sending a child off to a new school.

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