What formal art training did we have?
Suzanne went to Wits Technikon for four years and Isak went to Joubert Park Art School for two.
Who influenced our artwork the most?
Suzanne says that she brings to the table a brush style that is very much in line with the impressionists - a speed and vibrant colour sense. Her strongest pull would be towards Van Gogh, Japanese design and Eron Hanson for her work ethic and vibrant colour sense - I suppose we take different things from different people or sources.
Isak has a saying – we are the sum total of every person we have ever been with "the good the bad and the ugly". I think it's true with painting as well, we pull from everywhere directly and indirectly on and in a subconscious and conscious level.
So I would say make sure that whomever you draw from, meets your standard or need. Also don't look at a million Artists, pick two or three at the most and see what and why it is that they resonate with you, what it about the work that appeals to you the most - it's all clues to where you want to be or should be as a creative person.
Isak's influences would be the Japanese Idea of Wabi -Sabie he gets most of his inspiration from there and nature itself. Wabi Sabi is the Japanese aesthetic where life happens to a object of value or something one loves. This aesthetic is sometimes described as..... “Embracing the Beauty of imperfection”.
The Japanese aesthetic Wabi-Sabi is a world view centered on the acceptance of transience, that idea is the basis for the textures that we put into our works.
When did we turn professional?
Suzanne turned professional in 2012 when she decided to leave the factory that she worked for, as a ceramic artist, to pursue a career in art with Isak.
Isak has always been in the art industry working as a Creative person.
How would we describe our studio?
We are part of a creative community in a suburb called Lyndhyrst, Johannesburg, an old property with several cottages and a Forrest, which is visible from our double garage.
Our garage/studio is always busy with the "clickety clack" of brushes and canvases stacked to the ceiling, a dog or two at our feet and the radio blaring in the background - who could ask for anything more?
What about our typical day? Do we have a set routine?
Monday's are normally our delivery day - also fetching materials etc. A typical day would be to start work at 8:00 am break at 1:00 pm and stop somewhere between 5:00 and 6:00 pm with lots of cups of tea in-between.
How would we describe our painting working process?
Suzanne loves the South African landscape in all its forms, while Isak is more ethereal and intuitive in his approach. He likes the suggestion of a place or a moment in space and time that appeals to his calm temperament.
We work mainly from References, Photos of places we have been or would love to go. We would decide on an idea that we both strongly feel about, then we would source for the most appropriate reference. Next, we decide on size and general texture that we lay down as our basis/canvas? The subject gets drawn on and the painting starts.
We work on several canvases at a time. Isak would start with textures and layout and Suzanne would bring brushwork and colour. Sometimes the piece would require one to independently finish it after the footwork was done by either one of us. We can't really say who does what beforehand. It depends on the art piece itself and the subject matter - as they say “we go with the flow”.
Suzanne don't interfere with Isak’s processes and the other way round. There is a working synergy that we both respect and enjoy - we work with each other's strengths and the end result is amazing!
What materials do we use? Brands of paint, canvases, brushes etc.?
We found that because we work on a large scale that it is better for us to make our own stretchers that we stretch with canvas, then we paint with two layers of gelatin and two layers of white household acrylic. The benefit of doing it this way is you get the sizes you want and it's cheaper on the pocket.
We use many materials to paint with - anything that will give us the required mark or look that we are after.
"Do what you can with what you have", has always been our motto.
There are two schools of thought on materials. The first school would say it's about the materials that makes an Artist a better Artist. This is "true" sometimes, that having the right materials will boost self esteem, but will it make one better or sustain ones confidence?
The second school would say it's about the skill and not necessarily about the materials. This is also "true" - but will it give the Artist the Divine spark?
Great Artists with great skill can use any material and create a masterpiece with it. Many times it would be technically accurate and academically stable but does it carry greatness? Does it have the Divine spark? We think that the answer to that “is in the eye of the beholder”.
We feel there is a third school. "Inspiration" – for if you find it, it has the ability to lift ones skill level no matter what one touches and even turns dust into stardust. Inspiration carries an energy that fuels one’s endeavours as an Artist. It's a powerful thing and it makes all the difference. We think it takes one’s work from the mundane, predictable, monotonous to truly something special, the out of the box kind of stuff.
How do we promote our work?
We have always been blessed in the sense that the work finds the buyers. We sell mainly on and at markets, shows, shops, cafes, restaurants... Any open door or opportunity. Many times Isak would come home and say - Oom Pierneef and Aunty Irma says hello!! (That's a metaphor we use for when we see where our paintings hang "in good company".)
Any tips for new Artists?
Some final comments?
Over the last several years there have been quantum changes in the overseas market place concerning Art. For example, in Europe and many other countries, there is a huge trend towards Art Fairs. South Africa is playing catch-up at this point, where in the past it was exclusively in galleries where one would see and meet the Artist and that would sadly be only for the select view.
Art should be available to and for the common man... and woman of course!
With regards to having a presence in Art Gallery's in South Africa, we are very open to that possibility. However right know, our works are displayed at any given venue and reflects our position as a gallery, with the added benefit that the public gets to meet the Artists in person and maybe walk away with a happy purchase or two that does not put a dent in the budget.