Sunday, July 25, 2010

Penny Steynor's Pastel Workshop

On Saturday 24th, 19 people arrived for Penny's workshop.

With so many people, space was at a premium, but a spot was found for everyone, and Penny treated us to an incredible amount of information as well as a display of how versatile a medium pastel is.

Here are Penny's notes:

Pastel is a very exciting and versatile medium.  It is a drawing or painting medium and is a Direct medium to use offering wide range of techniques and approaches with Drawing - convenient - direct - quick and expressive with no elaborate preparation with painting - prepare paper and layer pastel in washes.  It can also be used over watercolour, acrylic or mixed media to great effect, or work with "Pastel marks" (John Blockley) - people are recognized by their marks!

Pastels are made from gum tracanthas, a binder and Kaolin and pigment.  Home made pastels are harder as more binder is used.  They are PERMANENT and do not fade as sophisticated pigments are used in their manufacture.

Which side of the paper?  Usually the rougher side is used.
Never use graphite pencil as the oil repels the pastel.  Always draw with charcoal - you can even incorporate the charcoal into the pastel.  Oil pastels are different - we are dealing here with chalk pastels.  There are both hard and soft varieties.  Harder pastels are usually used for the drawing technique.  In painting use the hard pastels first and end with soft.

Work from dark to light, as in oils.  No water or cleaning agents except soap and water, towels, wet wipes and old clothes!  But unlike oils you cannot mix pastels on a palette like paint - you can mix to a certain extent on paper.
In order to ascertain a colour, you have to test it or use it - if it is wrong or racts in a way you don't want it to, stop immediately and remove with a stiff brush.  YOU CANNOT CORRECT MISTAKES BY OVERLAYING WITH PASTEL.  You will end up with a muddy, tired looking painting.

MUD!  In my experience, mud is caused by using opposite sides of the colour wheel (what would normally cause grey in watercolour and may be beautiful can cause mud in pastel).  Also adding too much white content too soon.  Adjacent colours are best for blending.

DUST!  Do not blow.  Turn over your pastel and tap.  You can also put a piece of wide masking tape, sticky side up, on the bottom edge of your paper, catching dust that way.  Semolina makes a good cleaning agent.


  1. Use genuine turps or water to soften your pastel wash - or scrape pastel onto your board and wipe with a soft cloth to give a "wash effect"
  2. Work from dark to light

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Watermedia Showcase

Watermedia Showcase sponsored by Watercolor Artist
Best of Show: $500
2nd Place: $250 
3rd Place: $100 
4th Place: $50
Award Winners will be published and Honorable Mentions’ names will be listed in the February 2011 issue of Watercolor Artist. All Winners and Honorable Mentions will receive a certificate suitable for framing.
Deadline: August 2, 2010

The competition is open to artists anywhere in the world. All works must be original. Compositions based on published material or other artists' work are NOT considered original and are not eligible. Paintings executed in a workshop under another artist's supervision or paintings based on another person's photograph (even if copyright-free) are NOT eligible. Mixed-media entries are accepted, but the primary medium must be watermedia. Employees of F+W Media, Inc., and their immediate families, are not eligible. Watercolor Artistreserves the right to reject work deemed unsuitable for publication or that does not meet above criteria. Work previously published at the time of submission to this contest in a national publication or receiving an award at a national-level exhibition is not eligible.
You may enter online or you may mail all your entries in on one CD. All entries must be digital files. You may enter work in any and all categories; there is no limit to the number of images you may enter. If entering via regular mail you must inlclude an Entry Form. Please also include a separate sheet that gives the title and dimensions of each image. The titles of the images on the CD must match the titles on the sheet. Image files cannot exceed 2MG. The file must be saved as a JPEG in RGB color mode (not CMYK). If your work is selected as a winner, we may contact you about sending a high-res replacement. Incomplete entry forms and information sheets, and improperly named image files will be disqualified.
Fees and Payment: All entries are $15 per image. A credit card number and signature or a check or money order for the required jury fee (in U.S. funds, drawn on a U.S. bank) must accompany your entry. There will be a $10 charge for all returned checks or declined credit cards. Credit cards will be charged within 90 days of contest deadline. Charges will appear as "F+W contests."
Materials: CDs will not be returned (so have a duplicate made for your own files). Watercolor Artist will not be responsible for the loss, damage or return of any CDs submitted to the competition.
Entries must be submitted online or postmarked no later than August 2, 2010.
Entries will be prejudged and then finalists will be chosen by the magazine staff. All properly prepared entries will be viewed and judged. The decision of the jurors is final.
All winners will be notified by November 1, 2010
. The results will not otherwise be made public until they are published in Watercolor Artist. Non-winning entrants will not be individually notified of the results. Your cancelled check or credit-card charge will be notification for receipt of your entry.
Click here to enter online

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Check out JOHN SMITH's latest newsletter on "Where have all the Men Gone?".  Click on the heading above -  'Interesting Articles".  You can leave your comments on this, and any other article - go to the word 'comments' at the end of the article, click on it, and leave your message.
MEANWHILE BACK AT THE CITÉ    French letter 6 from Fula Paxinos

My studio on the 1st floor had floor to ceiling windows and I placed my work table in front of them and was able to watch a never-ending passing show of traffic (including hundreds of Renaults just like mine)  cyclists, motorcyclists, streams of pedestrians, school children, rollerbladers and huge tour buses disgorging groups of tourists,.

The leaves on the tall trees along the pavement outside the building have all changed into glorious autumn colours and have started falling in earnest.  Pretty soon I will have a perfect view of the magnificent Notre Dame Cathedral.

A couple of nights ago, I heard  an eerie swishing noise, almost like a very long gust of wind.  To my surprise a river of rollerbladers , hundreds of men, women and children, with a police escort were cruising past.  Nobody at the Cité  had any idea who they were or where they came from.
The swans on the river, the many tourists boats and the Bateaux mouches, whose rows of search lights illuminate the river banks at night add to the constant activity- which I love.
There also seem to be thousands of little Smart Cars on the road.  They are all very brightly coloured and patterned and from my window they look like Dinky toys.

Across the road on the pavement above the river bank are the Seine book sellers stretching all the way to Pont Neuf and beyond.  The vendor directly opposite my windows intrigued me. He had a guitar, and when not talking to a possible customer or friend, he strolled and danced up and down the pavement, strumming and singing.  A dark haired woman often came to visit him and brought lunch and a bottle of wine. They would sit on the bench nearby and spend a couple of hours eating and chatting.  That stopped and soon a blonde woman took her place and visited every day.  They were far more amoureux, she was either snuggled up on his lap with her arms around him, or cuddled up next to him.   Then she stopped coming and he went back to playing his guitar. Who were the women? Why did the blonde stop coming?  Did her husband find out?     An interesting video art installation could have been created based on Monsieur le Bookseller’s shenanigans!

The President's Guard
Several times during my stay I heard the clip-clopping of horses hooves along the road.  From my window I was able to watch the President's Guard riding by.  About 100 splendid horsemen in scarlet and black regalia on their richly caparisoned horses.  What a splendid sight!  Luckily I was able to capture it on video.

Along the block in front of the Cite the road is called rue de l'Hotel de Ville.  Beyond that the pavement is very wide and accommodates a cycle track and benches surrounded by low hedges.  The benches were very often occupied by couples wrapped around each other, and homeless people who made their beds there every night.  Beyond the broad pavement is the road that runs along the top level of the Seine.  What impressed me very much was how frequently the pavements were cleaned.  The weather was getting colder and the trees had started shedding their leaves.  Almost every day a strange looking vehicle would come along and the operator would blow all the leaves into piles, another weird vehicle would come along and vacuum them, and others would thoroughly wash down the pavement.  Frequently, I'd wake up to the noise of electric tools being used to neatly trim the hedges.  What impressed me most was how meticulously the workers did their jobs.

Just before the end of each month there was a spate of Open Studios in the Cité .  Sometimes 2 on the same night.  Then it was dead quiet till the new intake arrived and started producing work. Any kind of work, including video installations and musical stuff-  Pedro Morales from Mexico, picked up bits and pieces in the streets, old pots, buckets, even a bed base with springs, and scraps of bicycles, connected them to his computer and somehow they vibrated and produced the strangest sounds. He entertained us to a ‘musical’  evening at his open studio.

A tiny, cute, smiling, bowing, Japanese girl called Midori exhibited her very tiny, cute illustrations.   I had invited my friends Desmond and Marianne Colbourne to join me and visit an open studio.  Midori could not speak one word of English and her interpreter managed very little English.  They were overjoyed when Desmond spoke to them in Japanese.  Marianne chatted in Swedish to a Swedish sculptor at the party,  Carla a photographer from Pretoria spoke fluent French to several other guests and we were all able to speak Afrikaans to a Dutch couple.  What a fruit salad!  The party continued with more snacks and drinks chez moi afterwards, and Desmond gave me lots more information about where to go and what to see.

Metka the little woman standing in the centre had an Open Studio to show her paintings on  her round hand-made papier mache supports.   Only 2 of the 10 artists in the picture have the same nationality.

Although I had done a 6 month course at the Alliance Francaise in Cape Town and done all my homework, and tried hard in class,  not very much stayed in my memory from one lesson to the next.  Horrific grammar and verbs, almost as difficult as Greek. I had acquired a set of language CD’s which I found easier and also decided to go to French lessons at the Cite.  It was recommended as a good place to meet people.    I went to one lesson only.  The teacher only spoke French and I daresay that  after about 100 lessons, I might have learned to speak French,  but I felt my CD’s were easier, and I did meet ‘friends’ at that lesson.

Current Friends, their Nationalities and the languages they spoke.  
Arabic, English
Palestinian (Christian)
English, French, Arabic, Russian, Danish
German, English French, Dutch
German, English, French
English, French, Spanish
English, French
Greek Cypriot
Greek, English, French, Italian
Turkish Cypriot
Turkish, English, French – having an exhibition in Paris
South African
English, French, Afrikaans
South African
English, French, Afrikaans
Arabic, English, French, Hebrew
English, French, Swedish/Danish
African American
English, French – living in Paris

Alice Goldin from Cape Town who had been to the Cité  6 or 7 times, and her grandson Max arrived there shortly after I did and were the most wonderful friends. It was a blessing having their company.  Alice is a Gold mine of information, her memory is phenomenal and she advised me on what to see, where to go and how to get there.  We had dinner together several times, my famous salmon pasta and my omelettes and Max’s excellent soups.  Alice put me to shame by starting painting as soon as she unpacked and Max too was very busy drawing his illustrations. Max took good care of his gran and it was a treat to see them both working diligently on their individual projects and swapping crits.  Carla, the photographer did a lovely portrait of Alice in her studio.   Apart from her long friendships with the personnel at the Cité,  Alice also had friends in Paris and despite problems with her hip; she gamely managed to get out and about.  However, she had to leave Paris earlier than planned and I had a little farewell dinner for her in my studio.

Portrait of Alice Goldin by courtesy of photographer Carla Crafford

Although I hadn’t put brush to canvas yet, I did put up large photocopies of my wax paintings  and picture boards with photos of glorious sunsets taken from my balcony at home and photos taken from the end of my road, of Clifton and Camps Bay beaches.  My visitors were all absolument fascinated!

Fula Paxinos

Friday, July 2, 2010

Adolpho McQue Workshops

Landscape artist, Adolpho McQue will be holding two, 3-morning LANDSCAPE OIL PAINTING WORKSHOPS on

  JULY: Wed 28, Thurs. 29 and Fri. 30 - 9.30 to 12.30 am.
  AUGUST: Wed 4, Thurs. 5 and Fri.6 - 9.30 to 12.30 am.
  VENUE: STAG STUDIO next to Simonstown Library.

The fee will be R600.00 per person for 3 morning workshop, maximum 10 Artists per workshop, so book early.
The aim is to learn to SEE shape, design, tone, colour and to apply oil paint and have a lot of fun doing it, we'll aim to complete one small landscape painting during the workshop, beginners are welcome.
In booking you will receive material requirements and in depth course info.
Jane de Haas 083 3057846
Adolfo McQue 076 7449855
Visit the web site for more of Adolpho's work