Total Art Soul - for artists

" Art is the proper task of life "
Friedrich Nietzsche

Generally speaking I am not intimidated by too many things, however I must admit that I have always been very cautious while swimming in the sea. I guess this is simply the result of growing up in South Africa and from time to time seeing the huge sharks which fishermen have landed from the shore and the rocky coastline. Somehow the thought of not being able to see ” what lies beneath” is a little unnerving. The added idea that there are predators such as the great white shark possibly swimming somewhere in the murky depths looking for its lunch never helped the matter.

Yesterday as I stood in my studio ready to start the next canvas, a 24″ x 34″ x 1.5″, I suddenly felt intimidated by this huge expense of white canvas which was ready to swallow up my creative ideas. It was not that I didn’t know what the commission would entail but it was simply the thought that I may get it wrong and that my client would be disappointed. Suddenly the canvas in front of me became a metaphor for “what lies beneath”.

I have talked to many artists about this fear of “great whites” and why it is that after executing many successful canvases, some artists still struggle with the first strokes of a new commission. Perhaps this feeling is the equivalent of the adrenaline rush which athletes experience before the sound of the starting pistol. It may well be that these feelings are essential and it is what pushes artists onto the creative edges of their style and into the evolution of their journey as artists..

After some procrastination and another cup of tea, I  finally I reached for the Vandyke brown, quickly mixed it into a nice watery consistency and then, cloth in hand, I applied the base coat which serve to render this “great white” harmless. Suddenly there it was, that rush of satisfaction as the white disappeared and from the surface of the canvas there began to appear the rudimentary shapes, ideas and serendipitous coincidences of line and movement.

As I turned off the lights and close the blinds on my studio last night,  I felt the satisfaction of what the anglers of my childhood memories must have felt when landing a big shark on the sun-drenched beaches of the Eastern Cape.

This morning when I lifted the blinds and turned on the lights, there it was, a great white on my easel, now a brown expense of shapes and lines ready to do my bidding. As I stood looking at the tame canvas before me, the words of Jonathan Truss, the artist who painted the amazing picture of the great White at the beginning of this blog, came flooding back to me. I had mentioned to him how I sometimes felt intimidated when starting at new canvas. He looked at me and with a lot of understanding but very little sympathy simply said this;

“just get painting Ed, just get painting”

With that sound advice, that is exactly what I am going to do. I am off to prepare and eat my shark and get this next commission done…..”creativity demands expression”.


If you’ve ever been in Africa on a hot afternoon when the smouldering sun is intent on roasting anything which is stupid enough to be found exposed on the dry cracked hot plate of soil, then you will know what the intense heat of such an afternoon can do to an artist’s imagination. One of my favourite things to do on days when all sane individuals have retired to the cool shade of veranda’s and trees, is to brave the scorching heat and to walk into the veld.  Once alone I locate a small hill which will afford me an open view of a valley. From such a vantage point I can see miles across the swimming and dancing landscapes as the afternoon heat brings mirages and illusions of cool water flowing across the thirsty scene.

Once out of the stinging view of the sun, the hot shade of a Mimosa tree allows me to relax and enjoy the silence of the African bush.  It is a silence like no other and at first one could be excused for thinking that you have lost your hearing in the thick silence. It is like having a pillow over your head and just as you are about to click your fingers to reassure yourself that you have not lost your hearing suddenly some flying insect races past. Its sound passes, in stereo, first from one ear, then past your face and onto the next, punctuating the silence with its buzz. As you sit and wait, slowly your ears become accustomed to the soundtrack which accompanies the scene and you begin to hear the bush as if for the first time, the scene ushered in on an overture of sound from screeching cicada beetles.

To those who are familiar with the bush this will not be a new experience and will be one which is almost taken for granted.  For me who has had his ears anaesthetised by the white noise of the city however this is like regaining consciousness after surgery. The sounds of the hot afternoon begin to penetrate my memory banks of sounds deposited from the years I was raised in Africa.

I have never found it easy to paint in the outdoors; perhaps it’s the uncertain and disorderly nature of painting away from the familiar and ordered character of my studio that I find hard. Painting with watercolour under these conditions is difficult as the heat dries out the paper and pigment very fast, adding another layer of complexity to the process. On these occasions I rely on my camera, lenses and an ability to compile a scene which I will enjoy painting on my return to my little studio. During the long cold and damp months of an English winter, painting scenes like these will bring with them the warm memories and sounds of a hot afternoon in the veld. The contrast of colours are inspiring; from the vermillion orange of the aloe flowers to the duck-egg blue of the sky and from the rich browns and khaki shades of the grass to the deep greens of the mimosa trees.


The memory of this view and the small outcrop of iron stone boulders and shady mimosa trees will serve as the canvas on which I will paint the narrative of an afternoon spent in the company of these five lovely ladies the “red heads” of Harrison Farm.

Although I have many photographs of similar scenes I have used this lovely photo taken by my good friend and owner of Harriosn Farm & Harrison Hope Wine Estate, Ronnie Vehorn The Traveling Writer

More is Less & Small is BIG

Posted by: thornwoodstudio


One could be forgiven for thinking that the tiny studio on Tuckton Road Christchurch might not have enough exhibition space to be taken seriously, but that would be a mistake.  True, there is not a lot of space and if you wanted to swing a cat around this would not be your first choice of location. As a studio-cum-gallery however all the available wall space is occupied with landscapes, portraits of movie stars and animal portraits, the products of many, many hours of dedicated and focused work.

Rod Pease
was introduced to brushes and paints in 1970 at the age of twelve when his father presented him with a painters box set. While Rod,who attended art college at the age of sixteen and seventeen wanted to paint, his father wanted him to have a "real job". So it was that he entered the world of employment as an apprentice tool-maker,  a very technical and precise trade, now a quality which is reflected in much of his work today.

Rod, who also lived in the Netherlands for some time was able to have one-to-one tuition while living in Almelo, a town of approximately 72 000 people. It was only in May of this year, 2011, that Rod finally made the transition from tool-maker to full-time artist. Since then he has spent all his time behind the large shop window from where he can be seen from the street, painting at of his easel.

I spotted the little studio some months back and, ever curious and keen to meet a fellow artist, I turned the door knob one Saturday morning and introduced myself. Rod, who is of sight build and keen eye is a friendly and very helpful chap and I can guarantee that you will always find him ready to welcome you and open to talk about his work.

Rod has a very distinct style and gives great attention to detail.  This I assume is a trait he developed  from years of work machining items and components of incredibly accurate proportions and measurement. While I consider a tape measure with millimeters to be accurate, Rod's choice of measuring tool would be a micrometer, parameters too tight for an impressionists brush such as mine.

In the studio you will discover a mix of subjects, landscapes, portraits, figurative works and animal portraits, each painted with care and flair, capturing atmosphere and character alike. I am particularly struck by Rods use of colour, especially in his more dramatic sunsets. Rod's palate is a colourful one but his mixing and use of colours remains true to the scenes he paints. There is a lovely naive richness about his application of colour, a richness which would throw some artists onto a panic. Rod however captures his subjects with a optimistic eye and a warm blend of colour; the more I see his work the more I like it.

Rod is also a member of "the Hub", a group of local artists who meet regularly and who are seeking greater local and trans-local recognition. He is a member of the Bournemouth Chamber of Trade and Commerce and has a strong belief in local businesses and the  role it plays in sustaining the area's character and prosperity.

If you are passing by and Rod is in, why not pop in for a visit, view his work and be inspired. Better sill, why not take a piece of his work home, you will find Rob's art well priced and affordable. There is simply nothing as good as an original work on your wall, l especially when you know the artist.

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