Wednesday 29 September 2010

Different times, different media

Years ago Marshall Mc Luhan said: ‘The Medium is the message. This is merely to say that the personal and social consequences of any medium - that is, of any extension of ourselves - result from the new scale that is introduced into our affairs by each extension of ourselves, or by any new technology.
The different periods of my life have influenced the choice of medium in my painting.
At Epworth School– it was watercolour. “Mizz” Owen taught us well. In addtion to the fundamentals of drawing and painting, she made us pay particular attention to the care of our precious brushes. During my recent de-cluttering I found my old metal paint box and some of the brushes as well.
My old Winsor & Newton watercolour box

At Art School it was oil paint of course, with here and there a splash of acrylics. Unconventional surfaces were a favourite, I recall incorporating a wooden window frame – sans glass - to accompany an abstract painting. I don’t have any photos, because we didn’t take ourselves seriously enough to warrant documenting any of the works - pity.
There was a hiatus of some years while my children were growing up, but I then went back to watercolour. I was very involved with the Watercolour Society of South Africa  and was able to combine painting with raising a family. The introduction of collage gave the paintings an added dimension.
It was also during this time that I became fascinated by miniature art and after a talk by the founder Charmian Keneally I joined the Miniature Art Society of South Africa.

Blue porcelain & Tomatoes Watercolour on paper 57mm x 70mm
©2000 Carol Lee Beckx
Arch series – Abdaye Brialmont Watercolour on paper 90mm x 60mm
©1998 Carol Lee Beckx

Arch series – Limbourgh Watercolour on paper 90mm x 60mm
©1998 Carol Lee Beckx
 The attention to detail and importance of every part of the composition can become addictive. It also calls for a very steady hand – no sneezing, please!

Arch series – Maastricht Watercolour on paper 90mm x 60mm

©1998 Carol Lee Beckx

Eventually the detail of miniatures became too confining. I began to struggle both with the watercolour medium as well as my subject matter. I just wasn’t able to express myself fully. Many paintings were abandoned, to later be recycled as collage elements or greeting cards.
A few years ago, with more life changes, I became restless and needed something different.

So, after a break of many years, I resumed painting in oils. At first it was really hard – it was as though I had never used a brush. Gradually the medium stopped fighting me and it grew a little easier.
I began to enjoy the freedom of exploring the paint as though it were completely new to me. I felt as though I had come home.

Blue bowl with Apples Oil on canvas 500mm x 500mm
©2004 Carol Lee Beckx


  1. So grateful for the time you spent raising Warren and I. It goes without saying, I suppose, that I have a new perspective on it trying to walk the tight rope of raising the kids and chasing personal goals and dreams..
    Reading this I felt a flash of frustration at your having to take a hiatus of any sort from your painting..

  2. Thank you, Tanya. The years spent raising you were probably the most worthwhile of my life. I don't regret a single minute.
    At that stage of my life I don't think I was ready concentrate fully on painting - I gained so much more from being a mother.