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An Evening With Helen Van Stolk

Our members’ meeting for June was held on Thursday the 24th via Zoom. The meeting was opened by the SASA president, Liz Pearson, who welcomed new and returning members to the society and assured us that we’d be meeting in the Athenaeum as soon as possible – we just have to “wait and see” when that will be. She assured us that this years selection weekend would definitely be happening, but with strict COVID protocols in place.

 

 

 

 

Liz introduced our guest for the evening, Helen van Stolk, who gave us a wonderful slide presentation, showing how our art can expand our lives. She told us how lucky we are, as artists – especially in these challenging times – because our creativity allows us to journey within, when it’s not possible to go anywhere else.

 

 

 

 

Helen told us of her own steps to creating more than just a painting, but a whole experience for herself and her viewers. She encouraged us to experience more – to notice what we’re attracted to and open ourselves up to our deepest desires, gathering inspiration along the way.

 

 

 

 

 

A vision board is a good way of collecting all these bits of inspiration and opening our subconscious to ideas and possibilities.

 

 

 

 

 

Helen told us of her dreams of visiting the studios of various artists, of drawing amongst an orchestra, of hosting workshops, all of which she made real by reaching out and making them happen.

She showed us a little of her studio practice and gave us a taste of her latest exhibition.

Helen’s advice to us was to dream big, be open to the unexpected and let the magic unfold, till our whole life becomes a masterpiece.

Thanks Helen, for a most inspiring evening. In case anyone missed this meeting, it was recorded, so please email Nicole – the SASA secretary – secretary@sasa-artists.co.za – for information.

 

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Val Watt Pastel Demo

Our members’ meeting for May was well attended via Zoom, with over 40 people watching. Everyone was looking forward to Val Watt’s pastel demo.

The meeting was opened by SASA president, Liz Pearson, who welcomed new members and council member and thanked those involved with videoing and presenting our Zoom meetings. She also sent condolences to friends and family of Dale Elliot, a long-time SASA member, who sadly passed away a week ago.

 

 

 

 

Val began her presentation by  showing us all the materials she uses, starting with the pastels themselves, pastels being the closest medium one can get to pure pigment. The softest and most intense colour comes from pan pastels, which are applied with a chamois-covered applicator and used for covering large areas.

 

 

 

 

She then went through all sorts of different pastels and pastel pencils, the softer of which have more pigment and less binder. As the binder increases, the pigment decreases, which give a lighter, less intense colour and these are usually the pastels used underneath the softer ones. She uses the “arm test” to check the “power” of each pastel.

 

 

 

 

 

Next we saw some of the many different papers available, from sanded, which has more tooth and can hold more layers, through to much smoother papers which are not as durable…..and for storage and shipping, a sheet of tracing paper is used to prevent smudging.

 

 

 

 

 

Val began her portrait by drawing the face with a hard, light pastel pencil, then adding yellow to place the highlights. She carefully chose her colours for lights, darks and mid tones before she began mapping out her portrait, going from hardest to softest and blending with a harder pastel, rather than a finger.

She splashed alcohol on the pastel to make interesting texture and carried on on top of that, darkening and lightening as she went, correcting drawing and tone, often using colours one would never think of using in a portrait.

It was fascinating to watch the portrait emerge.

Thank you Val, for presenting your process to us and for answering all our questions. If you’re interested in attending one of Val’s workshops, her next one will be held sometime in July.

 

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Sonja Frenz Charcoal Drawing Demo

 

 

For 29 April’s Members’ meeting we had our own, very talented Sonja Frenz giving us a demo on her charcoal drawing practice.

 

The meeting was opened by our president, Liz Pearson, who thanked Audrey Innes and Adrian Larkin for getting the zoom meetings going – without them we wouldn’t have been able to “meet” at all for the past year, so well done you two!

Liz also assured us that we’d be able to return to the Athenaeum for our meetings from next month and asked that we check our shelves at home for outstanding library materials!

Since this was an online meeting, Sonja had put together a video presentation for us, which started by showing us all the equipment and materials she uses. Who knew there were so many different types of charcoal available!

She showed and demonstrated for us the very loose charcoal dust, applied with a cotton ball; soft willow charcoal; compressed charcoal, which is harder and more difficult to smudge; charcoal pencils and woodless charcoal. We also saw how she uses various erasers, for drawing into darker areas as well as for rubbing out – soft putty eraser, eraser pens – both round and square, battery operated eraser tool, as well as white charcoal and chalk to add sharper highlights and a smudging tool to soften and create gentle lines.

What takes hours and hours to create, we saw in about thirty minutes and it was fascinating to watch the image emerge. Using her cotton ball and working from a photograph, Sonja starts her charcoal pieces by mapping in the largest, darkest areas with charcoal dust, then moving on to the various sticks and tools, editing all the time – smudging lines and adding them, darkening and lightening areas – finishing off with the lightest lights and brightest highlights.

Sonja stressed the need for using a very high quality paper, when using this technique, as well as resisting the urge to use a fixative, as this tends to flatten the layers and loses the “history” of the piece.

Than you Sonja for sharing your secrets with us and for a fascinating demo.

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April SASA Monthly Members’ Meeting – Sonja Frenz Demo

Sonja Frenz will be our guest at the SASA members’ meeting on Thursday the 29th of April. Sonja will be giving us a demo of drawing skills and techniques. The meeting will once again be held via zoom. See the April SASA newsletter for details.

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SASA March Members’ Meeting – Celeste Barnard Talks About Paper

On Thursday 25 March we had yet another members’ monthly meeting via zoom. Audrey Innes, our outgoing SASA president, handed over the reins to Liz Pearson, who will be taking on the role. Liz began by welcoming new members to the society and especially our new council member, Val Watt (Yay Val!!).

If anyone else would be willing to serve on the council, there are a couple more empty places. The society cannot be run without it, so please consider stepping up and giving a little of your time.

 

 

 

 

 

The main attraction of the evening was Celeste Barnard, from Kuhne Conservation Studio, who gave a talk on paper and paper conservation.

 

 

 

 

Celeste began by telling us a little about the chemical structure of paper and the different natural materials used in the making of paper. It was interesting to learn how the different fibres, found in different plant sources and even parts of the same plant, have such an effect on the type and quality of the paper produced, thereby explaining its suitability for different applications.

 

 

 

 

We also learnt about the additives used in paper-making and the reasons water has such an impact on the paper itself, as well as the artwork on the surface of the paper. Water plays a large part in the paper-making process, so when too much is added at a later stage the paper reverts to it’s original pulpy state, whereas if the paper dries out too much, it becomes brittle and crumbles.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The way a piece of paper reacts to water can also tell us a lot about how the paper was made, if by hand, or machine.

 

 

 

 

The conservation and restoration of paper is a very complex subject, into which Celeste gave us a little insight, stressing the importance of acid free materials when painting or framing, as well as the correct storage conditions. She also gave us tips on the prevention of potential risks.

 

 

 

 

Thank you Celeste for a hugely informative evening and for answering all our questions. For anyone who missed it, the complete presentation will be available from SASA.

 

 

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March Monthly Members’ Meeting

On Thursday 25 March, Celeste Barnard will be giving a talk on paper restoration and conservation. With level 1 lockdown rules in place, we were supposed to be having the meeting at the Athenaeum, but since the air conditioning in the main hall is not working, we’ll be reverting to Zoom!

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Feb Members’ Meeting, AGM and Drawing Competition

On 25 February, the last Thursday of the month, we held our monthly members’ meeting for the eighth time via zoom, our first AGM to be held using this platform. We’re getting the hang of this!

 

 

 

 

The meeting was opened by our President, Audrey Innes, who welcomed new members to our society and introduced council member, Adrian Larkin, as MC for the evening. Great job, Adrian, it all went very smoothly.

All the usual AGM protocols were adhered to, with Audrey giving the annual president’s report, which was a little sparse, due to the most peculiar year we’ve had, and Mike Forrester – SASA treasurer – giving the financial report.

A useful suggestion was made by one of the members attending that some sort of schedule of events be drawn up at the beginning of the year so that new members would know what to expect. It was also suggested that one of our more long-standing members should be at our monthly meetings to welcome newcomers to the society. Lyn Northam very kindly volunteered for this role.

Then came the drawing competition, for which 18 entries had been submitted via email and for which votes could be cast either again via email, or over the zoom “chat” after the meeting.

We had some very beautiful entries, but the overall favourites, voted for by members who attended the meeting were…..

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

in first place,”Rainy Days are the Best”                        second was “Hidden Treasures”                                           by Sonja Frenz                                                      by  Penny Steynor

 

and third was “Fun Times” by Sue Paulsen.

 

Well done you three and enjoy spending your vouchers, which were very kindly sponsored by Deckle Edge.

 

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SASA January Members’ Meeting – in Conversation with David Bucklow

Thursday 28 January was a busy day for SASA members, with the hanging of the Merit Exhibition in the morning and our members’ meeting – once again by “Zoom” – in the evening.

Well-known South African artist David Bucklow was our guest for the evening, chatting to council member Adrian Larkin, about his work and “life in art”.

 

 

 

 

Born in Johannesburg, David did most of his growing up in KZN and moved to Cape Town in 1987. Though always an artist at heart, David has had no formal training, but refined his skills through practice, dedication and determination, often painting late at night, while working in other fields during the day to earn his living.

 

 

 

 

 

The sea has always been a big part of David’s life and features largely in his work – he painted his favourite lighthouse from many different angles – but he also loves animals and his wildlife paintings became a big “income generator” amongst locals and  tourists alike.

 

 

 

 

David’s advice to anyone hoping to make a living by selling their art, is to paint what sells, yet still remain true to yourself, painting what makes you happy in between.

 

 

 

 

 

During the first days of hard lock-down, when galleries couldn’t open, David did a series of small paintings of favourite views around the Cape Peninsula, from Muizenberg to Cape Point and Chapman’s Peak. Working quickly, in acrylics, he did a painting a day, selling them to locals at very reduced rates and it’s this entrepreneurial spirit that got him through the lock-down.

 

 

 

 

As one of the thirty-two participants put it, David was “refreshingly normal and humble” and an inspiration to us all. Thanks David, for taking the time to talk to our members and share a little of your journey with us.