You don’t have to be Picasso to use a paintbrush

When one thinks about artists, we tend to envision the greats: Da Vinci, Monet, Van Gogh. Beyond that, perhaps contemporary artists that have appealed to us, like those I have shared in previous posts. It makes sense that we do this; one doesn’t think of struggling plain Jane in Hollywood when the word actor is mentioned – (I think of Ryan Gosling, but maybe that’s just me).

Anyway, my point is that there are millions of artists out there who don’t get any of the recognition that professionals do. There are those who aspire to make art their career and struggle, but there are also those who make art purely for themselves. In some regards, I think that is even more admirable than those who turn art into jobs. I may be generalizing, but I think that a lot of people don’t do many things they don’t have to anymore. Hobbies have largely been replaced with social networking and browsing the internet. Making art is something that takes time, patience, determination and genuine interest. I know this from personal experience.

I thought I would interview someone who is not a professional artist, but has spent decades working on their skills nonetheless. I wondered for a while who to speak to, but it dawned on me that the choice was obvious: my mom.

She has been painting her afternoons away since before I can remember and long before I was even alive. It takes guts to dedicate half of your life to something, but I don’t think I would have developed the interest myself if I hadn’t watched her for years growing up. I may be more than a little biased, but I think she’s pretty amazing.

Jeannine Evans (my wonderful mother), began drawing when she was very young. She used to take my grandmother’s sketching pads and pencils, and draw what interested her that way. She says that she “never really decided to start [making art], it just evolved slowly”. However, she began getting more serious about it when she got her first job, and attended a series of short courses which eventually ended up in her experimenting with oil paints. She has been in love ever since.

She explains that painting is “a place that [she] can escape to… a way to achieve something”. One only has to watch her work and rework the same area ten times to understand the depth of her passion and determination. Having never had any formal training, Jeannine finds that watching DVDs of professional artists working, as well as reading art books and magazines help her in honing her skills.

I think it is really important to support non-professional artists. If you live in a small town as I do, I can guarantee that there are dozens of talented painters displaying their work in a nearby gallery. Owning a work with a name is nice, but owning one from an unknown artist does so much more good. Jeannine explains that she feels genuinely humbled when “anyone wants something that [she’s] created on their walls”. A day with a painting sale is a very good day indeed.

She exhibits all around the Grahamstown, Bathurst and Port Alfred areas alongside many other talented artists. If you ever happen to be at the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown, I highly recommend taking a look at the local artists’ exhibition and supporting them.

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One of her earlier works in pastel, made when I was still a toddler

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A portrait of my cousin Jared

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One of her many recent township scenes in black and white

As a side note, it is interesting that my mom’s love for art started by taking my gran’s art tools, because that’s exactly how it started for me. If anyone is interested, here are some things that I drew. Perhaps someone will interview me too someday. Wink, wink.

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