Featured Artists 2022
ARTIST OF THE MONTH
Every month an artist is selected to be featured in the local Press. Here are the artists for 2022
February 2022 Robyn Koopman
Robyn Koopman grew up in a musical and artistic family
At the age of nine, Robyn was able to start ballet classes. Dancing became her passion and loved both teaching and choreography and over the next forty-five years built up a successful and well known studio.
In 2012, once she retired from teaching, she signed up for art lessons. This began the next chapter in her life as she started ‘an enchanted love affair’ with painting. Her teacher was Ina Eksteen, and Robyn is forever grateful to her for the huge encouragement and solid grounding she received over the next twelve months.
In 2013 Robyn and her husband retired to their beautiful smallholding, ‘Froggy Hollow’, on the banks of the uMngeni River in Howick.
Robyn paints in both oils and acrylics and has recently started exploring the medium of charcoal – which she enjoys. She says she is inspired by the beauty of the Midlands as well as by the many talented artists and teachers she has been influenced by through the wonderful art society of HARTS.
March 2022 Patricia Torr
Patricia Torr was born, grew up and educated in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe.
Pat says that she was exposed to the arts from her early days, having a father who was a well-known professional photographer in Zimbabwe. Her sister studied fine arts and is now an accomplished artist in Canada.
In the early nineteen-eighties, Pat moved with her husband and family to the Eastern Cape and again in 1989 where they settled in Pietermaritzburg.
After retiring to the Midlands, she enrolled in a beginners’ art course in Howick and so started her love for painting.
Pat attributes her growth in art to being a member of HARTS (Howick Art Society). She states that the encouragement and guidance from a group of such talented artists has been amazing. She believes that Howick is most fortunate to have this wealth of experienced artists who are so willing to share their knowledge.
Pat enjoys painting in oils, acrylics and watercolours. Each medium comes with its own magic, and living in the Midlands, with such beautiful surroundings, always gives her inspiration to paint.
Patricia Torr was awarded the HARTS Asselberg Cup in December 2021. This annual award is for a member who receives the most points tallied from the members’ votes for the best paintings throughout the year.
April 2022 John Butler
John Butler was born in Durban then moved to Underberg with his mother and brother until he matriculated and then went on to study Environmental Health at the Natal Technikon.
High school offered him the opportunity to do art but, at his first lesson, the teacher remarked that art was “not for boys” so he was relegated to woodwork classes, although he dabbled with pen and ink sketches when the opportunity arose.
John moved to Pietermaritzburg when he married and worked for the municipality as an Environmental Health Inspector. He says that he was extremely fortunate to meet Richard Rennie and Rennie’s classes in Clarens became part of his life for many happy hours . At one of these classes John met another artist, Lou Audie, who also became a mentor and was one of the reasons he moved from watercolours to oils.
Having lived in Underberg it was natural that landscapes, mountains, birds and animals became John’s main focus of interest, and states that he would classify himself as a representative artist, but often wishes that abstract and modern art could come more easily to him.
John says that he will continue painting for its therapeutic pleasure, using the wonderful scenes and memories in the treasure chest of his mind.
May 2022 Cathy Beattie
Cathy Beattie is a HARTS artist who loves life, friends, family, the Midlands and the beauty of the clouds and sky – the latter often influences her paintings.
Beattie’s education started in a small school in Lusisikisiki in the Transkei. Many happy years were spent there.
Drawing was always part of her life and when her father, a magistrate, was transferred to Durban she attended art classes. Cathy’s dream was to be a dress designer and she made money while at high school designing and sewing clothes.
After completing a secretarial course, her first job was at Eskom in Johannesburg. That was not for her and she soon found herself in the Drawing Office where she went on to get her Civil Technicians Diploma.
Creativity was in her blood, so she designed and sold children’s clothes. She also taught fabric painting for Your Family Magazine craft school.
Cathy started painting in 2010 and loves using oils. She is largely self-taught, and has also joined art groups for guidance and inspiration. She has participated in HARTS exhibitions and at the Skew Art Gallery at the Mushroom Farm.
She finds that canvases give her the opportunity to create something from nothing. She starts her paintings not knowing what the end result will be and this gives her a sense of freedom.
June 2022 Rob Langley
Rob Langley was born in Kimberley in the Northern Cape where he completed his schooling at Kimberley Boys’ High School.
Rob is a self-taught artist. From an early age he enjoyed art and being creative – making mud sculptures while out on fishing trips, and collages while visiting grandparents.
He was a teacher at Howick High School for thirty-one years and Headmaster for his last thirteen years. He undertook a part-time Masters’ Degree in Botany while fulltime teaching. “In those days you did everything yourself; from the taking and developing of your photographs to producing accurate, detailed maps and botanical drawings”.
Teaching Biology was a daily pleasure for Rob and he chose to teach through drawings on the chalkboard as much as possible. When he co-produced school plays he discovered a new enjoyment of set building and scenery painting. So, when he retired 7 years ago, he set about painting in earnest, being inspired by Marion Townsend’s watercolours and Bob McKenzie’s style of oil painting.
The art teacher resigned from Howick High School in the late 90s and so his passion for art and desire to continue to make art available to local artistic students, encouraged him to learn the Matric Art Syllabus. For two years he was able to offer art as an extra subject until it could be fully re-introduced
Some of Rob’s work can be found in Sweden, Norway, the Netherlands, England and locally, but in his own words he says, “I am a bad salesman”.
Rob would like to spend more time on his art, and always travels with a sketch book to record memorable moments or events.
July 2022 Juliet Grey
Juliet Grey is a Zimbabwean who says that she has always had creativity at her core.
Juliet was trained at school in the Cambridge curriculum, and had a fascination for figure drawing and painting – and also the Impressionist era.
As a child Juliet remembers drawing or decorating any surface she could lay her hands on, often earning disapproval from the adult world which, however, did not prevent a repetition! Her years of teaching art at St George’s College in Harare are among some of her favourite memories.
Painting predominantly in acrylic, Juliet enjoys creating a touch of drama with colour choices. She favours large canvases where she can employ swift and sometimes bold, simplistic brushstrokes, editing out the unnecessary detail, leaving the viewer to be drawn into the composition and imagine for themselves.
Whilst acrylic is a favourite medium, she also enjoys the roughness of a charcoal pencil, and is particularly passionate about good pencil drawing and the understanding of ‘form’, as being the basis of all art.
The vivid colours of Inktense have added strength to her watercolours and are an exciting addition to her repertoire. Expressive work in strong colour contributes to the intensity of each piece.
She continues to strive for simplicity of line and brushstroke – without losing any energy – to achieve spontaneity; to paint shapes not things and, best of all – alla prima (from the Italian phrase, painting the picture ‘all at once’). Also an important point – for all artists – is to know when to stop, with no touch-ups later.
August 2022 Liesbeth Groenewald
Liesbeth Groenewald, a new member of HARTS, moved to Howick recently from Ladysmith. Born in the Netherlands, her schooling was in South Africa. After matriculating she studied and became a pharmacist, married and did relief work whilst raising three children.
Liesbeth’s drawings and love of historical buildings resulted in her art becoming part of a touring exhibition of buildings in northern Natal. This in turn resulted in many commissions, postcards and a calendar. She applied and was accepted at UNISA’s art department, where she obtained a Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Art in the nineties. During this period she also had solo exhibitions at Durban, Pietermaritzburg, Pretoria and Johannesburg art centres.
In the new millennium Liesbeth published “Alex Angel”, a book of poems by her son, illustrated by her. During this time, in Ladysmith, she exhibited many larger paintings loosely based on the work of known Surrealists to portray ex-President Mbeki’s idea of “African Renaissance”. Shortly after this she achieved her Masters in Fine Art from UNISA.
Now retired, Liesbeth has many interests such as quilting, pottery, baking and, of course, painting. She works in acrylics incorporating collage, sand, gems, photographs and other found objects. An online course by Nicholas Wilton in 2019 led her in the direction she wanted to go. Although Walton is an abstract artist, he helped her to understand herself and what she wanted her art to be – to layer paint with abandon, not dictate the outcome, but let it happen naturally.
September 2022 Pieter Venter
Pieter Venter’s interest in art began when he started high school. He was enrolled in the art class and was fortunate to have an eccentric, motivating art teacher who sparked his talent.
It was his goal to study commercial art after leaving school. However, Pieter’s father encouraged him to embark on a safer career. He qualified as a Lithographer in the printing industry, and during his apprenticeship spent most of his free time with the commercial artist Wallis Hully, a well-known South African artist.
After work hours Pieter studied art at the Johannesburg Technikon. During his early years, as young artist, he exhibited his work at Art in the Park in Joubert Park, Johannesburg, which was situated behind the Johannesburg Art Museum. Later, this group became “Artists under the Sun” and moved to Johannesburg Zoo Lake.
Pieter’s other interests were Pottery and Slip Casting. He started a small production studio manufacturing and decorating pottery. He supplied pottery to The Palace at Sun City and it was used in their dining room.
There is great skill required to paint photographic detail, but he believes that the painting must reflect the interpretation of the artist’s emotions whilst painting a subject.
Pieter enjoys experimenting with different media such as oils, acrylics, watercolours, pastels, colour pencils as well as on and under glazes – to name but a few. He loves to use colour to portray landscapes and other subjects but feels the paintings must still reflect some realism of the subject matter as he believes colour portrays joy and beauty.
October 2022 Christiane Jamar Varney
Born in Bruxelles, Belgium her parents emigrated to the Congo in1949, where she and her three brothers had an adventurous and colourful childhood on a coffee plantation – until the Congo independence in 1960. After returning to Belgium, training as a nursing sister, and getting married, Christiane and her family returned to the Congo, then in 1973, with her husband and two toddlers they arrived in Pretoria.
Moving to a farm in Camperdown she was at last able to express her creatively in many crafts, until she met Valerie Maggs, from the Tatham Art Gallery and started to draw and paint.
Varney’s favourite artists are the Impressionists. Her Uncle George, who was an artist, suggested that she should go to the Art Academy in Bruxelles. Her husband, Jeremy, has been her most steadfast supporter and helper, at the shows and exhibitions.
The stunning beauty of nature moves her – the vibrant colours of this amazing country, the passion, the positive vibes, the exuberance of the colours and smells of Africa. Varney feels her large canvases, done in bright warm colour, either in oils or acrylics, are reflections of that passion as seen through her eyes.
At the Year-End function a number of trophies are awarded. Congratulations to all the 2022 recipients.