The Nguni cow’s portrait

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Nguni Portrait – Ink on paper, A3 200gsm.

I had the opportunity recently to paint cows again for a commissioned ink work, which is now in its home in Hermanus enjoying the ocean air.

Some notes on the process:

  1. A fairly rough sketch in 5B pencil on some paper to warm up and have a better look at the image – hey bingo, a separate artwork (below).
  2. Plot the basic lines in 2H pencil on the A3 paper using a light box (read: my window) and the reference image for proportion accuracies.
  3. Ink time! Start with large areas of washes in very watered down ink where the darkest areas/shadows lie in the image.
  4. Work on layers, painting smaller areas but darker shades, building up the details.
  5. Work
  6. Work
  7. Work
  8. Use your finest paintbrush, add the detailed finishing lines, like lashes and stray hairs.
  9. Sign.
  10. Hey pesto. Nguni portrait done 🙂
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Practice sketch

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All images are © Amy Slatem.

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Joburg Art Fair 2015

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Having heard a number of good reviews about it, I went to go check out the Joburg Art Fair held at the Sandton Convention Centre for myself this weekend. Mmmm… there really was such a great collection of diverse contemporary art featuring some big names in the South African art scene and beyond.
It’s was definitely well worth it being able to see the work of artists I know of and have learnt about in school and varsity, or just generally admire. Let’s name drop a bit off the top of my head… William Kentridge, Lionel Smit, Athi-Patra Ruga, Ed Young, Brett Murray, Nigel Mullins, Nicholas Hlobo, Anton Kannemeyer, Roger Ballen and so many more.
Overall, it was well worth the R130 entrance for an afternoon spent walking around the lovely venue looking at works up close, then afar and getting to bond with my camera for a change and being able to admire the textures and painterly/material details of the actual artworks made by hands I admire.
So I’m sorry if you missed it, cause you missed out. Maybe next year, doll…

35-NigelNigel Mullins

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Johannes Pokela

2619_comboOne of my favourites (the artist’s name wasn’t there, sadly). Loved the realism left to clash with the loose brushstrokes and white canvas.

31Claudette Schreuders

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Lionel Smit

16-Lionel-comboLionel Smit

8 9 11-Cloe-ReidCloe Ried

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Ed Young, Buttercup

20_skullboySkullboy (If only I had R12 000 lying around… Love this guy!)

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1st date with my Wacom

Blue Portraai - Amy SlatemI’ve had my Wacom (Intuos Pro Medium) for about 2 months now but it’d taken till last night only for me to finally sit down and start working on a digital painting. I’ve been using the Wacom at work when I can, mostly just for logos and deep-etching, and very occasionally some illustrative work. It’s like a Ferrari having to drive at 60…
So last night’s practice was much needed for me to start figuring out just some of the powers of the tablet-Photoshop partnership.Blue-Portrait-animation_Amy Slatem

I started with the portrait by finding an image I liked, added some layers, base colours, cool brushes, more layers, help from a knowledgeable friend, colour accents, details, more layers, and this is as far as I got for now… Consider this a work in progress/ abandoned art.

Blue Portrait detail Amy Slatem-4

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Blue Portrait detail Amy Slatem-1

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Sunday Figures.

Amy Slatem Ⓒ 2014 Various black and white figures done in charcoal, ink and pen, some mixed. Fashion catalogs provide a myriad of interesting and well composed collections of figures to practice some body drawing and playing with different media on A3 paper.

Charcoal-figure-1Amy Slatem Ⓒ 2014Figure 1 and detail: WiIllow charcoal tonal drawing on paper. 297 x 420mm


Charcoal-and-chalk-figureCharcoal-and-chalk-figure_detailFigure 2 and detail: Charcoal and soft pastel on paper. 297 x 420mm


Ink figure1Ink-figure1_detailFigure 3 and detail: Ink and brush on paper. 297 x 420m


Ink-and-pen-figure-1Ink-and-pen-figure-1_detailFigure 4 and detail: Pen, water and ink on paper. 297 x 420mm
(Wow, her leg looks a bit broken. My bad)

Oh my… What big teeth you have.

Both eyes detail_SlatemStudio above_Slatem_WMMy painting space in my lounge.FInal portrait_SlatemFinal painting. “Oh My…”. Oil on canvas. 29.5 x 42.5 cmRight eye detail_SlatemLeft eye detail

Oh my… What big teeth you have.

Perhaps not the most impressive painting ever, but I had the urge play with my large collection of paint brushes and fill the room with the smells of oil paint and turps again. This was more a practice than anything as I had a canvas to use which I’d painted over in burnt umber to hide the previous failed painting from earlier this year. I wanted to see what it’s like painting over such a heavy base coat. Not very easy it turns out, far too dark, especially for such a light skin over coat.

I chose an advert out a glossy mag to practice portraiture some more, biggest mistake was choosing one with visible teeth… don’t do it, especially if she has a huge gap. Fail, but at least the photos make this painting look more presentable haha.