Anyone can paint

I’ve always wanted to be an artist. I’ve often imagined hosting a fancy dinner and a guest pointing admiringly to a masterpiece on the wall asking who the artist is. I would then (modestly) confess that it’s me… :-) This became a reality this year.

Old woman with cigarette, graphite on paper

I’ve never been able to draw. This is what I was told in primary school, when the apple I drew in art class more resembled a red baseball than a fruit. The art teacher patiently explained that an apple is not round and that was the first time that I realised that the appearance of things wasn’t actually what I thought it was. It took me another 34 years to muster up the courage to try my hand at another apple. At the end of last year I was stuck at home for the holidays with 2 boys under the age of 5. It was great spending some time with my kids, but towards the end I thought I was going out of my mind. I just needed something new and creative to allow me to feel human again. So, I borrowed my sister’s book “Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain” by Dr Bettie Edwards. I painstakingly did all the exercises in the book and was actually quite surprised at what I managed to achieve. Instead of thinking about how something should look and then trying to draw it (which is nigh impossible), I really looked at an object and drew what I saw. The outcome was rather amazing.  I drew the likeness of an old woman holding a cigarette in her mouth.

Protea in ink, charcoal and chalk

Encouraged by early success I then set out to find an art teacher. I found a studio close to home that offered classes on Tuesday evenings, covering a variety of mediums. On the first evening the art teacher, Isa, set us up with charcoal and chalk and told us to choose a picture from a magazine and draw that. The result overwhelmed me so much that I seriously thought of framing it!

I tried to learn what I could from both the teacher and the classmates and had a thoroughly good time. We learned how to draw without stylizing (that is drawing what you THINK it should look like instead of drawing what it ACTUALLY LOOKS like!) and although I still struggled every now and then, I found myself improving. A couple of months later I created an oil painting over a photo printed on canvas. This I did frame and it’s hanging in my corridor. It’s one of my favourites.

Photo printed on canvas, oil

But I felt frustrated. I wanted to work with oil paint and the classes were focused on exposing students to various mediums. I dropped out and bought a book called “Oil Painting for Dummies”. Sounds like it could teach me a couple of things, right? It did! It covered the basics around materials, mixing colours and creating a picture. Again I didn’t cut corners. I did all the exercises – still lives of vegetables, cans and bottles. I tried different techniques and brushes. I painted from life and from photo’s. Some paintings came out better than others, but I learned something with every effort.

Still life of vegetables, oil on canvas paper

Again, I found myself frustrated. After I worked through the book, I had even more questions. I set out to find another art teacher, one specialising in oil painting. The one I found (Carien du Preez from specialises in creating realistic paintings in oils and acrylics. I started weekly classes with her. First I chose a landscape because I’ve always wanted to do landscape. It wasn’t my favourite picture in the world, but again I learned about painting in layers and using the contrasts in the painting to your advantage. The result was given as a Christmas present to my mother. She professes to love it!

Kirstenbosch aloes, oil on canvas

All throughout this, I would check out painting tutorials on YouTube, read articles on about painting and practise, practise, practise! After the landscape scene, I wanted to do a still life. I found a beautiful photo and Carien and I started working. I did cheat a bit – I traced the picture onto the canvas from a projector to keep the perspective and the proportions correct. For me it’s the outcome that matters and not so much the journey there. Is that wrong? The still life came out beautifully! My best work yet. I was overjoyed that I managed to create something so awesome!

Still life with jug, bottles and glasses, oil on canvas


It has been framed and hangs in my dining room, just waiting for that dinner guest to point out how beautiful it is. What have I learnt from the experience? Anyone can paint. If you can hold a pen with enough dexterity to sign your name, you can create a masterpiece. Sure, I won’t be the next Van Gogh or Picasso, but I don’t have to be. The satisfaction of creating something that is beautiful and can be admired is exhilarating. It does take time and effort, but if you are focused on the outcome and willing to put in the work, it will happen. My next goal is to actually “sell” a painting!

Keep on checking my blog for updated pictures of my art work.

Sienna Miller and I…


Sienna Miller and I have the same stylist. Are you impressed? So was I!

It happened like this… On my way home from holiday on the 30th of Dec 2011, I received a call from Peter from Woolworths. Great news, he said. I won a competition through Little World, the club for mommies at Woolies. You can understand my initial scepticism – I had won millions in the UK Lottery before (without buying a ticket), so I was understandably taking it with a pinch of salt. But it was legit. I won a “Mommy Make-over” competition through Woolies’ Little World. It included a full afternoon with a stylist who would do my hair and make-up and then take me shopping with the R3,000 voucher included in the prize. I was overjoyed. It sounded like a LOT of fun. 

Fabienne inserting some curls

And so it was that on the 17th of Jan 2012 I made my way over to the Melrose Arch Woolworths to present myself to staff and stylist. The shop, which I had never been to before, is beautiful. It’s quiet, with a great selection of everything Woolies has to offer in the area of drop-dead style. I was met by the Beauty Manager, Angie and taken to


 a private room where the make-over would happen. I met the stylist, Fabienne Zadel, ( ), a small French woman with striking eyes and a long salt ‘n pepper braid tied with a bow. She greeted me warmly and I could see her professional glance taking in my complete appearance. I was glad that I dressed fairly nicely (I thought so,


anyway) because I wanted her to see what my current style was like. There’s always something to improve on, right?

Making small talk, I asked her what she’d been busy with the previous day. Oh, she said, working on a movie shoot in Cape Town with Sienna Miller. Gulp! As we chatted, she mentioned the international stars that she has worked with – Charlize Theron, Ryan Reynolds, Jeff Bridges, Denzel Washington. Ok, I was impres


sed! Fabienne washed my face and started on my hair. She blow-dried it and added a couple of curls. Then she had me bend over and went wild with the hairspray. When I came upright again, I had a hairdo like Marilyn Monroe! Wow, this woman was a genius.

Like, wow!

Onto the make-up next. Fabienne told me that the foundation I use is too pink. I always thought that, being quite pale, I had to choose a foundation that would bring a bit of colour to my face. Not a good idea, evidently. She used a foundation with a more yellow tint, which had the effect of creating a pale canvas onto which the make-up could be applied (Smashbox Studio Skin). I must admit that it looked a lot better. She told me that the main mistake I had been making with my usual make-up was to go too dark on my lips and too light on my eyes. As we grow older, Fabienne said, dark lipstick tends to make us look harsh. Leave it for the evenings only. She encircled my eyes with a dark copper liner (complimenting the green of my eyes) and used a dark brown (Lancome Black Cuivre – 244) to cover most of the eyelid. She used a lighter colour on the bank of the eye to highlight it (Woolworths Apricot Frost). Next, she used black mascara to frame the eyes. She insisted that I MUST wear blusher applied lightly on the apple of the cheek. Evidently Charlize wears it like that. Ok. On my lips she used Smashbox Lip Tech Peony with Smaxhbox lipgloss “Afterglow”. When she finally let me look in the mirror I was blown away! Who knew I could look like a movie star?

Very funky

The next step was spending some voucher money! Fabienne went for a funky look for me. She chose bright colour for the pants like melon (a type of orange, I thought) coupled with a crisp white shirt and a scarf which mirrored the melon colour of the pants. She plunked a hat on my head which had the effect of making me look playful and – yes – funky! High heels completed the ensemble.

A little violet number

Next, I tried on a dark violet dress with black lace around the neckline. A golden scarf and nude high heels created an interesting contrast and made the fancy little number a bit more mischievous. (insert photo) A bright pink dress with killer black heels and pink clutch bag had me looking ready for a board meeting while emphasising the femininity of the look. (insert photo) All throughout the Woolies staff was ooh-ing and aah-ing and taking pictures to upload onto the website (insert Flicr stream). Everyone was extremely friendly and very willing to please. I FELT like Sienna Miller for an afternoon.

Shopping, shopping

The next day I managed to copy the hairstyle and the make-up from the day before and with my melon outfit and spiky heels, dropped my son off at school. My friends, standing around outside the classroom, ignored me at first – because they didn’t recognise me! The looks of amazement on their faces were precious! They were so impressed with the transformation that they asked for Fabienne’s details in order to book her. Evidently she can do this for groups. Only problem is, now they’re all going to look as fabulous as me! There goes my competitive advantage! LOL :-)

What I learned from the experience: Don’t be afraid to change. There’s always room for improvement. Don’t be afraid to use colour – both on your face and in your outfits. Match different things together (violet and gold, for example) and don’t be afraid to experiment. Thanks Fabienne and Woolworths! You’re the best.