About my work
More about me and my milestones
During my childhood, the main thing I knew about me was that I’d one day be an artist. Or maybe a nurse.
I drew and drew – basically the same portrait over and over, as taught to me by one of my mother’s boarders. As kind as she was pretty, Tannie Bettie drew a face on my blackboard one day for me to copy. My portraits had golf-club eyebrows and wagon-wheel irises and I was so proud of them. Another boarder, the mysterious and cheerful Mrs Kennedy, painted in oils on our verandah with a Real Easel. The main memory that persists of this happy soul at work was a roll of toilet paper at her side, which I found faintly shocking. A local manufacturer of underwear, Mrs Hammersley, was a portraitist in oils. She taught me the correct underdrawing technique for lips and noses.
It can mean so much to a child when someone bothers to spend just a few minutes showing them something they want to learn. They just never know what they’ve started…
The most constant teacher was my father, who pointed out little things like the side of a nose not being a line, but a shadow. Same with the edge of the lips. There was a more negative reaction to my drawing big pictures on the outside walls of the house. Even worse was that I influenced my little siblings to follow suit. It’s such a vivid memory, my parents’ car crunching to a stop, and their open mouths gaping at us from behind the car windows. As we soon found out, it wasn’t from admiration.
Finally – high school, where there was a Real Art Teacher. The answer to the question of how comic artists drew with such black ink was revealed – Indian Ink! One evening during Prep, (evening homework sessions in the school classrooms) I discovered a very skillful ballpoint portrait drawn on one of the desks. This was a major leap forward in my drawing evolution. Soon I was drawing my fellow boarders for the large sum of 10c each.
The double Art period was the highlight of my week, and the only thing I really, really missed when I dropped out of school after a fight with my best friend. These things are monumental when you’re sixteen, enough to change your life forever. My mother shelved her dreams for me of becoming a designer of any kind.
But, after a circuitous route through:
- my first job at the local telephone exchange in Winterton
- three sons
- doing my Matric and honing my design/illustration skills via distance learning including a few years with UNISA
- a job at Wesbank and abandoning UNISA… (‘Giving up is often harder than carrying on and killing yourself’, observed my brother, Woody)
- being asked to illustrate Wesbank’s training manuals
- my first exhibition of pencil drawings in the library with my ex art teacher
- a move to the big city of Durban where I was fortunate to work in a friend’s backyard studio to learn about the workings of studios
- hawking my cartoon samples from the bank’s training manuals to local ad agencies and magazines
- subsequent full-time employment with various agencies
- getting a computer and starting my own freelance business
- divorce, and finally ~
- a move to Cape Town where most South African publishers and filmmakers dwell
I can finally now live the dream of working for myself and drawing all day long.
Meanwhile a new obsession has joined the mix: screenwriting. Early days, and very exciting.
Four years ago a twinkly-eyed East German called Stephan came along and brought a whole new dimension to my life. We’re both self-employed, and share in the triumphs and the terrors this state can bring. But a problem shared really is a problem halved, and shared joy is joy doubled.
He loves having a website, I love having a home where everything works.