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Christopher Reid at the SASA May Monthly Meeting

On 30 May, Chris Reid will be talking about the International Watercolour Society of South Africa and the benefits for watermedia artists the society offers. As a bonus he will also be doing a watercolour demo for us.

The evening is a must for all waterbased media artists and those oil artists amongst us should also pick up a few useful tips from Chris.

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SASA March Members’ Meeting

 

 

 

 

 

Boniface Chikwenhere kept everyone fascinated as he explained and demonstrated his unique process for creating his wonderful sculptures. His gentle but assured manner of speaking lent great sincerity to his words as he told his audience how he takes a pride in using only very old indigenous woods for his work. This also  helps him when he exports his sculptures, as he seldom has problems with the regulations governing the treating of insects in wood, as the wood is so old and dry. Because collecting the wood is time consuming, he has assembled a team of gatherers in various parts of South Africa and Namibia. They search and dig for old roots and pieces of trees and for driftwood. Many of the pieces are very old, hard and dry. He had some examples with him, including Mopani, Sneezewood and a small root of unidentified wood that looked almost fossilized.


 

 

 

 

 

Sneezewood is called that as the shavings and dust cause you to sneeze. It was used by early settlers for fence posts – one could still see the holes in the piece he had, and as a result, became extremely rare. Boniface explained that the most time consuming and important part of his process was deciding what animal or bird was to be created from a particular piece of wood, as he works in a semi abstract way, leaving large parts of the wood completely unsculpted, allowing the grain, colours, and textures of the wood to suggest the particular creature that he sees in it. This part of the process could take days, months or even years.


 

 

 

 

 

Once he has decided on a particular species – birds make up a large part of his sculptures – he then carves appropriate portions of the wood, using an instrument called an Adze. This is made especially for him, to suit his stroke and the way he carves. It has a very sharp flat metal blade on a heavy wooden handle. He held his audience spellbound as he used this almost clumsy looking implement to fashion the head of a water bird from the piece of Mopani wood, leaving the rough bark to suggest parts of feathered wings. The audience gasped in horror as a large piece of wood was chopped off the beak, but he laughed as he explained that he had intended to do it, as the beak was too long.


 

 

 

 

 

He wears safety goggles and a mask while he works, as the wood is extremely hard and pieces fly off in all directions. At times he also uses electrical grinders and cutters.


 Once he is satisfied with a piece, it goes to his team of polishers, who use grinders and fine sandpaper to bring out the natural grain and beauty of the wood, he never paints or stains the wood, only using oils to enhance the shine and colour of the grain. He does use metalwork to mount the pieces, and sometimes to create legs for various bird sculptures.


Boniface spoke of putting his soul in his work, and balancing that with the need to be businesslike assessing what will sell, and the marketing of his work.


He learned his craft from his grandfather as a very young boy in the rural areas of Zimbabwe, where he worked in soapstone. He now passes his knowledge on to others, including his brother and his children, but said that his wife has been his best pupil, her speciality is making small bird sculptures.

Judging by the many questions and the participation from the audience, it was a very successful and enjoyable evening.

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First SASA Members’ Meeting for 2019

We had a record attendance for our members’ meeting held on Thursday 31 January and the hall at the Athenaeum was full to bursting.

Five of the category winners from last year’s annual selection weekend – Helena Jordaan (oils), Jeremy Day (acrylics), Christopher Reid (pastel), Penny Steynor (sculpture) and Pam Quinlan (watercolour), as well as SASA Fellow, Solly Gutman (scratchboard) – agreed to come and do a demonstration for us.

The crowd was fascinated by the progress of the pieces being worked on during the evening and by the diversity of the different media. The artists were extremely generous with their knowledge and their secrets, answering every question members put to them as fully as possible, giving very useful tips for simplifying and beautifying their own work.

 

 

 

 

 

As artists, our growth and learning is continuous and we are very fortunate to have those who are willing to share, as they did this evening.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Members were invited to feel for themselves the scraping of the tools on Solly’s scratchboard and the chiselling away of the stone at Penny’s sculpture demo.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Even those artists who were a little apprehensive about working with such an “up-close” audience, were pleasantly surprised at how much they enjoyed the interest shown and the sharing of skills.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thanks to everyone involved, for a most enjoyable and interesting evening.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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31 January – Demo with SASA Annual Prizewinners

At the SASA monthly members’ meeting, on 31 January, we will be treated to a demo by five of the prize winners from last year’s annual selection weekend, who, together with two of our “fellows”, will be showing us some of their winning techniques. A meeting not to be missed! See the January newsletter for details.

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October Members’ Meeting – Sonja Frenz Demo

Sonja Frenz, well known for her charcoal and pastel wooded landscapes, did a wonderful demo for us at the October SASA members’ meeting on Thursday the 25th of October.

 

 

 

 

 

Using charcoal powder and black and white pastels in all their shapes and forms, Sonja showed us how her unique technique can be adapted to suit other subject matter – for this demo, portraiture in particular.

The hall at the Athenaeum was packed that evening and everyone enjoyed themselves immensely, watching enthralled, as the beautiful portrait emerged.

Sonja kept us all entertained with her down to earth commentary and gave us a lot of tips and helpful hints to make the materials work successfully.

This is a wonderful new take on working with pastel and charcoal and we all went home inspired and ready to experiment.

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Harry Johnson Sculpture Demo

On Thursday 27 September, we once again gathered at the Athenaeum for the SASA members’ meeting and we were in for a treat!

 

 

 

 

Master sculptor, Harry Johnson was there with his special wax and his special talents to demonstrate his amazing sculpture technique. During the course of the evening he told us a bit about his history and a lot about the wax and the method he uses to create his pieces.

Starting with a vaguely cat-shaped clump, with a few additions and removals of chunks of the wonderfully soft, grey wax, we saw a cheetah materialise before our eyes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A portrait of a strong young woman was transformed into a dejected figure, using a slight rearrangement of arms and tilt of the head, showing how feelings and perceptions can be altered by mere gesture.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To demonstrate how easy it is to correct mistakes, or change proportions when using wax, to the horrified gasps of his audience, Harry sliced the nose off a sculpted face, pared away a layer and stuck it back on again…..or poked a stick up it’s nostrils to make it “breathe”.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Harry’s work is internationally recognised and admired, in ten years he has created more sculptures than any other South African artist has in a lifetime, yet he still made time to spend with us. Thank you Harry, for a truly fascinating evening.

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Demo by Mel Elliot

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At our members’ meeting on May 31, we were treated to a fascinating demo by Mel Elliot. He showed us his 10 step plan for “building” a landscape in oils, using acrylic paints for the under painting and first several layers.

 

 

 

 

 

It’s not until he gets to step 6 that he starts using oil paints and the contrast between the two media is remarkable. The acrylic looks flat and dull when juxtaposed with the singing colours and bright lights of the oils, but as Mel pointed out, the acrylics are good for mid tones and the contrast is effective.

Mel has a wonderfully relaxed and chatty manner, as he paints, which kept everyone entertained, while thoroughly absorbed in watching the painting develop.

 

 

 

 

 

Judging by the amount of note-taking that went on, this is one demo that our members do not want to forget…..so many tips and hints to take away with us and start trying out for ourselves.

Mel also shared some very valuable marketing points, such as the importance of a good frame, to make a painting more attractive and saleable.

 

 

 

 

Thanks Mel, for a most interesting and inspiring evening.

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March Meeting – Lesley Charnock Demo

At our March members’ meeting we were privileged to have Lesley Charnock demonstrating for us how to paint a portrait in oils with a very limited palette.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Neither weather nor long weekend could keep our members away from this one and we had a full hall, adding more chairs, as more people arrived….and they were not disappointed!

 

 

 

 

Lesley kept us enthralled and entertained for nearly two hours, which was more time than it took for her to pull this amazing portrait together.

 

 

 

 

She started her presentation by showing us some of the magic found in varying juxtaposition of colour – she’d brought with her three portraits, for which she’d used the same three colours she used in this demo, but in differing combinations and the difference was astonishing.

Armed with her enormous wooden palette of previously mixed colour and a selection of broad brushes, Lesley got to work. It was fascinating watching the painting grow – starting with a few brown brush-strokes on a blank canvas and working up to more and more positive colours, till this glowing face emerged.

 

 

 

 

 

 

There were cheers from the audience when she finally put her brushes down and pronounced her portrait “finished”. Thank you Lesley, for a truly inspiring demo.