Friday, 4 August 2017

July Meeting and Art Challenge

We had the pleasure of hosting Donna McKellar at our July meeting, the first in our new venue, the Alphen Hall.
Before the main event, Di Metcalf from Artsauce came to talk to us about the Sketchpack Project which Artsauce arranges every year in August. Members were able to buy the little 30 page folded sketchpacks so that they could do a drawing every day. 


Sketchpacks waiting to be bought.





















Chairman Linda Gotlieb introduced Donna McKellar, a Cape Town based artist known for her detailed landscapes. Donna studied graphic design and spent her first few years designing packaging, logos etc. She discovered her love for our unique countryside and walked wholeheartedly into her art persona, making for a 22-year career as a professional artist. Her art features in galleries both local and international, with clientèle just as diverse. 


Donna McKellar
Donna is working on a huge landscape commission and by means of slides, she showed us the progress of the painting from start to near finish. (She has not yet completed the work, but will send us a photo when she does). 

Donna started with a red underpainting, done in acrylic so that it dries quickly. She told us that this gives the work a warm feel, and she tries to leave bits of red showing through in the finished work. She then draws in the basic elements with a large brush.


Donna likes to start with the features of the landscape furthest from the viewer: the distant mountains. As she showed us the various stages, Donna gave little tips and tricks she has picked up over the years as she walked us through her process.






Donna explained in detail how she achieves the texture of a dirt road by using brushstrokes going in the direction of the tracks.

Donna's approach to life and art is one of gratitude. She appreciates that each painting she creates teaches her through the little challenges she faces to make the picture come to life as she sees it. She sees painting as a blessing that should be embraced and that each art piece presents a beautiful journey for artists to find their unique voices.


Members looking at the works Donna brought to the meeting.

Donna's Tips:

Use red underpainting to start with a warm base for your African landscapes.

Play with transparent layers to build depth and distance into you artwork. Blue glazes creates distance. Keep the glazes as thin as possible and layer, layer, layer!

Work from a photograph, but trust your intuition to create a scene that evokes emotion. Add in elements that will accomplish that end result, even if that means redoing a whole sky to show off your focus points.

Use crackle medium to create cracks in walls, wooden fences etc

Paint trees from dark to light and knock back your colour with glaze

Use large split brushes to create wonderful textured grasses, tire tracks on roads etc. They also make great tools to splatter paint to create rocks on the roads! Use your hands as a tool to create a rust-drip, run your finger through wet paint. 

Nature is organic and thus random, so play with techniques that introduce randomisation into your work. Split, ruined brushes, your fingertips, paint splatters and different textured brushes should be embraced.

Create focus areas in your painting by having looser edges and greater details where you want the viewer's eyes to go.

You will be your own worst critic, but embrace this as quality control. You can then only send out work that you are happy with.

Take photos of your work as it progresses so that you can quality control along the way

Use sunlight soap to wash your brushes! Donna cleans her glass palette with water and sunlight liquid as well.


Use the best paints and brushes you can afford. Use the cheaper stuff for underpainting. Even the best talent is undermined by lower quality paints and brushes.




We all enjoyed the spaciousness of the Alphen Hall.

The theme for the July meeting challenge was 'bare'.
Here are the works which were on display:

Bonnie Auret
Kirsten Slater

Karin Davel
Ann Stepto
Christopher Reid
Angela Stannard
















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