WHEN I signed up for the Jon Snow course at Bright Day Creative Space – or as they call it, the I Know Nothing beginners course – I had no idea I would learn so much more than simply how to paint.
At the end of the four sessions, not only had I completed a fairly acceptable oil painting that I did not loathe, but I also had a few valuable art – and life – lessons tucked into my portfolio. The emotional value of confidence and achievement, and the mental well-being derived from that, should not be overlooked either.
This particular course – one of many different courses and classes offered here, from jewellery making to figure drawing (complete with nude model and wine, very popular I’m told) – is conducted by Anthony de Klerk, who has advertising in his background as well as fine art. His bold paintings can be seen in the Bright Gallery, as well as part of his current exhibition at Luni around the corner in Durham Avenue entitled Dreamers, Heroes & Monochrome Dreams which runs until July 31.
De Klerk’s method for this course is to lead by example. In other words, he explains each step to his students while demonstrating (see above). In the first class we drew three basic shapes – cube, cylinder and ball – with charcoal. We did it our way (as in the “I know nothing” part), after which De Klerk clued us in on a few useful techniques. Employing these, the second drawing was way superior.
In week two, we tackled our first oil paintings. This medium in itself is an education, and to begin, we were to paint in black and white and all the shades of grey in between. Perhaps the battered little enamel pot wasn’t the most exciting subject in the world but we all have to start somewhere. Once again, I surprised myself with the result, which was not too awful.
During the classes, De Klerk moves around from student to student offering personal tips, advice and help, as well as all-important praise and encouragement. With soothing calmness, he advised us to let go of constantly aiming for perfection. “It’s just a painting,” he said gently, adding that the world would almost certainly not come to a crashing end should our brush strokes be a bit off.
“Paint what you see,” was another pearl of De Klerk wisdom. Very logically; no one who sees your painting is likely to know your reference so as long as it looks right, you’re good.
The third and fourth classes were dedicated to a full colour oil painting of a still life. Again, an orange, a giant chilli, and avocado are probably not my first choice for something sexy I might eventually hang on the wall, but I took a deep breath and accepted I was – am – still learning.
And herein lies perhaps the biggest lesson of all, especially for me: patience. None of this is rushed. The subject is studied and observed, the light and shadows regarded. It’s called a work of art for a reason.
“Not so wild,” commented De Klerk at one point, as I dramatically swooshed the brush across the canvas with a bold flourish. I looked at him quizzically (how could he be reining in my drama like so?), and then I got it. Be gentle. Also, the painting doesn’t have to be finished in one go. Oils take days to dry and space between sessions can give you mental breathing room too.
Something I discovered all by myself was that taking a few steps back from your painting can make all the difference as it suddenly looks so much better when you’re not so close.
Besides the tangible result of my paintings, and all the additional enlightenment which can be applied to other areas of life too, I found these weekly three-hour sessions to be incredibly good for my soul. It’s never too late to awaken the artist inside.
- This story first appeared in Saturday Live (Weekend Argus) on July 14, 2018
PHOTO CREDIT: BIANCA COLEMAN ©