Monday 29 November 2010


I have added a portrait page to my website. Commissioned portraits now have a separate page. These paintings almost always have a story attached to them. Some I have done as a memorial for loved ones, such as the portraits of Margie and also Rajesh’s Mother.

Margie - oil on canvas 505mm x 405mm
©2009  Carol Lee Beckx
Another was painted to commemorate a 21st birthday. Jordy Smith is a World Champion surfer from South Africa. Initially, I was commissioned  to do a conventional portrait.
Jordy Smith - detail - oil on canvas
©2009  Carol Lee Beckx
However, the client wanted to highlight the different stages of his career, so the painting eventually became a complex composition. In addition to the head and shoulders portrait, he is shown as a boy on a skateboard, when he won his first competition, and riding the waves.  An added challenge was that the painting was to be a surprise so I had to rely on family photographs to do the painting.

A favourite of mine is the one of my friend Zeldaa talented artist and always so elegant. I painted her seated in the studio where we painted every week.

There are more images on the Portrait page of my website.

Tuesday 23 November 2010

The artist's problems

Recurring problems for many artists are restlessness and procrastination. As my departure date gets closer the more restless I become. I battle to focus on one thing at a time – inefficient multitasking has become a way of life. Interrupted tasks have become the norm.
I have packed up my studio and I think this is the crux of the problem – I am suffering “oil paint” withdrawal symptoms. Last week I put the finishing touches to the last two commission paintings and the work was delivered.
Now I need to decide just what I need to have with me for the next couple of months. Separating the essential from the “good to have” is almost impossible. I delay deciding. The pile of goods to take with me on the plane grows as does the need to send a box on its own. Such a dilemma…..
Then there is the question of what to do for these last two and a half weeks. Oops – actually it’s only two weeks before I leave for Brisbane. I keep promising myself that I will draw but this is where the eternal procrastination steps in and I find something else to do instead.
All too often as artists we keep looking for something important to paint or draw. Instead we need to heed the advice of Michael Nobbs. His blog Sustainably Creative offers encouragement in just getting down to doing things and doing small steps at a time.
Earlier this year Michael’s free e-book Start to draw your life  was one of the motivations I had to do some drawing – every day. The important act was the drawing, not necessarily what one was drawing. Then somehow life started to get in the way, (not to mention the fact that I had to pack up my house) and like many resolutions I stopped the daily drawing.
Some of the drawings from this period show rather a shaky start – but it’s fun to draw exactly what you see next to you as you veg on the couch watching TV.

No great intellectual concept – just simple drawings for the sake of drawing.
You should try it sometime – I plan to do that right away.

Sunday 14 November 2010

The End of a Chapter

I write this post today with no small measure of emotion. Today marks the official end of my personal involvement with the retail Koi trade. I have been associated with the industry for over 15 years. First it was on the sidelines and then directly as a business owner. The shop has given me a good living and I’ve been able to support myself. My son and daughter-in-law have been essential in helping me grow the business to one that is successful in its sphere and that now provides employment to seven people.

Running a shop such as this has taught me many lessons. I have developed valuable skills in administration that are not generally included in an arts curriculum. I have had to become adept at running a business with no accounting or bookkeeping training, mostly by keeping everything as simple as possible, and by making friends with the accountants even though I still think they talk a foreign language.

The fact that I ended up having a shop was more by accident than design. One never really knows what life has in store. In an earlier post, Juggling roles, I commented on the fact that the plans you make in life seldom take the intended form. In fact, sometimes one feels it is better not to plan but rather to go where one is led.

I could feel that I my life would have been more fulfilled if I had spent the years as a painter and teacher. Now that I think about it, I’m not so sure. My life has been both varied and challenging - essentially good training for any artist.

What I have felt, rather, in common with many creative people, is a little frustration that there are not more hours in the day. I often wish that I could have had two lives running concurrently so I could do all the things I wanted to do.

So, as I left the shop today, it was with sadness at the end of an important part of my life. However, I know that the business is in very competent hands and will continue to be successful. I look forward to the future with excitement.

Sunday 7 November 2010

The Artist and the Viewer

Creative activity on the part of the visual artist is only part of the equation. The response of the viewer to the painting is the other part – even if negative – and the equation becomes complete. A dialogue has begun.
Lone Surfer with Palm Trees -  oil on canvas 310mm x 310m

©2010 Carol Lee Beckx
The knowledge that the work is understood, appreciated and valued is a further step in the creative process. Work that remains hidden is the private preserve of the artist.
Often it’s hard to part with paintings that have a history for the artist, the first of a series, a painting that somehow has simply painted itself, the kind that you look at when it’s done and you think – did I paint that?

Durban beach - Low Tide - oil on canvas 310mm x 310mm
©2010 Carol Lee Beckx
Having an exhibition such as the present one at my home – “Out from under the bed and beyond” that is part farewell exhibition, part clearance sale, part garage sale, has been an opportunity to connect closely with collectors.
White Lil,ies - oil on canvas
©2010 Carol Lee Beckx
900mm x 610mm
When one delivers work to a gallery the connection with the painting is broken. The work is often sold without one knowing where it has gone. Sometimes you will be fortunate enough to meet the buyer, and sometimes they become regular collectors.
Seeing the paintings go to good homes as is the case with the three shown above, is immensely rewarding. You know that the work has been chosen because it has made a connection with the viewer, and you know it will give pleasure in the years ahead.