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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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Val Watt Pastel Workshop

A group of about ten SASA members joined us on Saturday 15 May for a wonderful pastel workshop with Val Watt. Starting with the declaration “There are no rules, only options”, Val very generously shared all her experience and expertise with us, never prescriptive, but letting us find our own way, gently guiding us if we got lost.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Val first discussed the materials we’d be using – soft, medium and hard pastels; the various papers available and new textural and innovative ways of making our own supports. As she explained and demonstrated the pastels, ground and supports, we tried them out too, feeling and seeing the differences for ourselves, at times even drawing a line on our arm to test for softness and density of pigment.

Val demonstrated a seascape with two figures on the rocks. We began by drawing in the horizon line, while Val described how to check the size, proportion and placement of the figures.

Selecting our lightest, medium and darkest colours, we began to put all we’d learnt that morning into practice. Starting with a watercolour sky and using hard pastel, we drew in the rocks and sea, which we then washed with alcohol to get wonderful textures, splashes and drips.

It was lovely to see all the different interpretations of the scene, each artist bringing her own special touch. We all enjoyed the workshop tremendously and learned an enormous amount. Thank you Val for a truly inspiring day! Thanks as well to Irene for organising it – and the photos – for us and to Mary McMillan for the words. Looking forward to Val’s demo at the SASA members’ meeting next week.

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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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Plein Air Workshop With Beth Lowe

Beth Lowe, plein air artist extraordinaire, held a workshop on St James Beach on Wednesday the second of March. There were nine participants gathered near the tidal pool, as Beth took us through her process.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Her equipment – obviously simple as it needs to be carried with her – consists of a French easel, a golf umbrella, which she ties down with guy ropes and tent pegs and of course, her paint-box of carefully chosen colours for outdoor painting.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Beth illustrated the importance of good drawing skills, composition and choice of focal point, as she worked on her demonstration piece.

 

 

 

 

 

After observing her painting for a while, we set up our easels and got going on our own canvases, while Beth walked between us, assisting where necessary and solving any problems that might have arisen.

 

 

 

 

 

By midday it had become rather hot and a little windy, so after watching Beth complete her painting, some of us jumped into the tidal pool to cool off. A refreshing end to a marvelous morning. Thank you Beth.

 

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October Zoom Meeting With Yvonne Ankerman

 

 

 

 

 

On Thursday the 30th of October we held our SASA members’ meeting via Zoom again, with Yvonne Ankerman as our special guest for the evening, speaking about the use of sketchbooks and her travels to exotic lands.

As Yvonne said, you can sketch anywhere, anytime. Anything around the house, or garden may become the subject for a page or two and these little drawings, or paintings don’t have to be perfect – they’re just for you. The more you do it, the better you’ll get.

 

 

 

 

 

Yvonne is never without her “sketching pouch” – which she unpacked for us. It goes everywhere with her, whether when traveling to far-off places, or just going for a walk. Her pouch contains a small journal, or zig-zag watercolour pad, a watercolour palette, a bottle of water, a variety of different pens and pencils, a selection of brushes – even a toothbrush for a splattering effect – in fact any sort of tool one might need.

 

 

 

 

 

There are no set rules when you’re sketching. You may want to use a pencil or ink pen first and then fill in the colour, or go straight into watercolour, without the lines. You can even add a little white with gouache, or black lines with ink afterwards.

 

 

 

 

 

 

You can work wet into wet and create lovely runs of colour, or work wet on dry, for more precise capturing of your subject. This can become a piece in itself, or reference for another in the studio. Smaller sketches can also serve as gift tags, or birthday cards.

Yvonne finds that she remembers a place or experience way better having done a sketch of it, than she does from a mere photograph and often also writes a few words to go with her sketches. She urged us to get into the habit of carrying sketch-book and tools with us, so we can take advantage of any opportunity that may come our way to commit a scene to paper memory.

 

 

 

 

 

Thank you, Yvonne for a delightfully inspiring demo and to all involved in facilitating the evening.

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Don’t Miss the SASA October Zoom Meeting With Yvonne Ankerman!

Tomorrow – Thursday 29 October – we’ll be holding our monthly members’ meeting via Zoom, once more. Yvonne Ankerman – travel sketcher/nature artist/urban sketcher/expedition artist in residence – will be doing a “Watercolour and Sketchbook demo”. Yvonne will show us how she captures those wonderful travel moments. For more info please see your latest SASA newsletter.

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September SASA Members’ Meeting

Our members’ meeting for September, held on Thursday the 24th, was once again held via Zoom and hosted by our president, Audrey Innes. Our October meeting will also be online, but we are hoping to have a “garden party” at the Athenaeum for the last meeting of the year, at the end of November. It will be good to see everyone again in person, so watch your newsletter for details and updates.

Back to September’s meeting! Our guest for the evening was our lovely Helen Van Stolk, who spoke to us about elevating our – and our viewers’ – spirit through our art. Her key-word for this talk, as well as for her own recent work, was “connection”.

 

 

 

 

 

 

She let us see how our work transforms when we really feel connected to it – feeling valued; seen and heard without judging or being judged. She likened her new process to a journey, not meticulously planned and mapped out, but rather just going where the road takes us and seeing what happens.

Helen urged us to seek inspiration everywhere – it can come from nature, music ,words, magazines, even pieces of coloured fabrics or paper. As we were told through a video clip of David Bowie – you should never work for other people. Something inside made you want to paint in the first place, so that’s where it needs to come from, but be brave – wade a little out of your depth!

To feed our art with freshness and imagination, we need to experience new things – things that make us feel inspired and invigorated. Helen proposed taking ourselves on “artist dates” and spoiling ourselves with “self-care” to energise ourselves, as whatever we’re feeling when we’re painting is what the viewer will feel when looking at a piece

……and presentation matters! It is essential to value your work, and paying attention to all five of the senses will allow you and your viewer to fully connect and experience it as a “beautiful encounter”.

 

 

 

 

Thank you Helen, for a peep into your studio and yourself – and for an exciting and truly inspiring evening.

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September SASA Members’ Meeting

Don’t forget this month’s Zoom meeting! On Thursday evening, 24 September Helen Van Stolk will be giving a talk and a demo – “Elevate Spirit through Art” – our own and others’ connection to our work. Not to be missed! For more info, please see the latest SASA newsletter.

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August SASA Members’ Meeting With Erika Van Zyl

On Thursday 27 August, we had the second of our Zoom meetings and our guest for the evening was well known artist, Erika van Zyl. We saw Erika demonstrating a still life in oils.

She first gave us a run-down on all the materials and equipment she would be using, including the setting up of her still-life in a “shadow box”.

 

 

 

 

 

Erika uses large brushes and good quality paints in a limited palette, which gives her painting a certain unity and harmony.

The composition and setting up of the still life is most important, showing what it is you want to say with your painting. Erika begins with a sketch, to which she then adds monochromatic tones for a “value study”, which is used as reference when executing the final work.

 

 

 

 

 

She stressed the importance of negative shapes and tonal values, which she considers more important than getting the colours absolutely perfect. It was fascinating to watch the painting grow and quite amazing to see the amount of detail she manages to achieve with her great big brushes.

Erika was able to complete her painting in a relatively short space of time, as she is used to painting en plein air, which necessitates working quickly, so that by the end of the evening we were able to see the finished piece. 

 

 

 

 

She very kindly offered us free access to the video on her school website – Colour your canvas with Erika van Zyl – for a couple of days.

 

 

 

 

The meeting was well attended – thanks to Adrian Larkin and everyone else involved, for setting it up for us and making it all possible.