Friday, March 26, 2010

Why I think my tango teacher is so great

I had my first argentine tango lesson of 2010 yesterday. My foot is still sore since the foot op last November so I had to take it easy and I am still dancing in takkies.
So we worked on gentle walking and building that connection that is so essential to a great tango.

I was feeling very rusty and out of practice – this was very evident to me last month when I attended my first milonga of the year – I felt and danced like a beginner and just wasn’t getting that tango feeling. I suppose having a sore foot doesn’t help.
So I started off my lesson with that same sense of inability, but Nathan got me back to that sense of tango and connection by the time we were 40 minutes into the lesson.
Nathan is a unique tango dancer, he dances with what I can only describe as an energy connection, his energy connects with your energy and when that happens the dance soars into a feeling of great connection and fluidity. It just flows.
The trick is to keep that energy flowing which is quite hard to do.
It’s why it can sometimes be difficult to follow him, if you lose touch with the energy flow you lose the connection and then you end up trying to read the lead – which with Nathan is tricky because he is so unpredictable.

The benefit of this is when dancing with someone else, it becomes so easy to follow them.
Dancing with Nathan feels like you are dancing in 3D, dancing with anyone else feels like a 2D experience.

To get that 3D experience though you need to be able to let go and allow it to flow and connect on an energy level rather than on just a physical level.
Nathan can lead without touching; he can also create an emotional connection as though two hearts were dancing instead of just two bodies.

I have only ever experienced that emotional connection with one other person, my regular tango partner.
Perhaps it comes from dancing with the same person often, or maybe it’s that with some people you don’t need to dance as though there is an emotional wall between you.

I would rather have a tango experience that is connected and emotional than one that is at arms length – which always feels a bit cold.

On the other hand I love to dance with as many people as possible – everyone brings something that is special and unique to the dance floor and every tango is a new experience.
That’s the best thing about Argentine Tango, no one dance is ever the same.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Online art tutorials are great!

I tried out some online art tutorials this weekend.

Here’s me with my fancy art degree from university – so you’d think I wouldn’t need an online tutorial right?


There are lots of useful technical points and tips online that I never got from university – the approach there is more of an intellectual one, with emphasis on how to make art that “Says something” rather than just how to draw a face.

Or maybe it’s just that it was so long ago and I am a bit rusty and out of practice.

Anyway, all these years I have told myself that I couldn’t do portraits – that it’s one thing to draw a human face that looks like a face and anther thing to make it look like the specific person you are drawing.

I have decided it’s time to put this idea to bed and learn to do them properly.

So I have been practicing. Some days I get lucky – maybe I was focused that day and I come up with a sketch and it looks just like the person. Other days it just doesn’t.

This weekend I wanted to do a portrait of my daughter – she is such an inspiring subject for me – I can’t help it, I am her mother.

So I start doing a drawing of her from an old photo, but it just did not look right.

So with a flash of inspiration, I start doing a search online for how to draw portraits, and found some great advice.

Then I find one on how to draw children – there’s some info there about their proportions being different to adults – well duh, but the advice was specific and so I start another drawing of the same photo and whoopee – it looks just like her!

I ran out of time to finish it so it's still in rough sketch mode, but I will think about posting it soon.

So thanks to all you artists out there who put up this stuff -for free nogal.

By the way, in my searches online I came across this guy – his portraits are pretty inspiring – Henk Prinsloo – a local SA guy who now lives in the US.

He really knows how to make it look like the person.

Here is a link to his site

Friday, March 19, 2010

So am I a collector too?

I bought a painting a few weeks ago.

My very first one. I thought it would be cool to be an art collector as well as an artist.

This idea came to me while browsing around a fantastic website called

What a novel idea – buying art online. Now I have since discovered lots and lots of online websites – many international, but this one remains the best so far.


Well, it displays the scale of each piece so you get an idea of how big it is.

It also shows you what has been recently sold so you get an idea of what other people are buying. This gets updated on a daily basis so the stuff is certainly selling.

You can also track which artists are your favourites as well as specific pieces of art.

You can search on types of art – e.g. Contemporary, (my personal choice) or on types of media.

You can also contact the artist as their email address is on there.

Plus it features local artists – and I have to say in SA we have a great standard of art and if you are going to buy something it’s not going to be shipped internationally.

It also shows what has recently been added and emails you when any of your favourite artists adds a new piece.

So I am now waiting for my purchase to arrive from Cape Town.

Garth has assured me that it has been nicely packaged with bubble wrap and a crate.

We are doing a deal whereby my husband’s work colleague will send it up on the next company truck – it’s kind of big so I am penny pinching on shipping.

So here is my purchase.

Artist is Garth Marais. He has some other great stuff too, check him out on the website or even on Facebook.

I am thinking of buying another one – but will be watching my budget for a while, plus I think it's a good idea to wait for the first one to arrive first.

Now my only problem is where I am going to put it.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

I am an artist

I am an artist. There, I said it. I started off as one; then decided art was a one way ticket to poverty and gave it up for twenty years. I did not even try. Let's call it low self esteem. That's in the past.

Now I am back. And I love it.

I am a programmer and I love that too. So now I have two great careers and only 24 hour days.

I have a beautiful 2 year old daughter who is the light of my life.

She also takes up a lot of time so when they invent 27 hour days I will be happy.

In the meantime, I have given up on TV most nights and spend those being productive instead.

I snatch a couple of hours on a Sunday and have a tv viewing fest – then I have to be choosy about what I watch and get my fix in between hubby’s sports.

Lucky for me PVR was invented – so I can pick the time and the program. Lovely.

So now I spend my days painting as much as possible in between my full time job and my family.

I have done four paintings so far and soon as I have a few more I will see about selling my art. I have sold some in the past – but that was when I was a newly graduated Art student. I don’t actually have many of my paintings left; a lot of them are in other people’s houses – mostly friends and family.

So here is my favourite painting – it won a merit award in an exhibition and it almost got sold but now I am glad it didn’t – this is the one I want to keep.

I will post some more as soon as I have a decent camera to photograph them.

By the way, I am addicted to Argentine tango too, so I am sure I will be posting lots of tango stuff in the future.

About me – well – born in Cyprus to British parents, grew up in the UK until we emigrated to South Africa when I was six.

Lived here ever since, apart from a couple of years back in the UK.

I love living in SA. The lifestyle (for the middle classes anyway) and the weather are fabulous.

Discovered I could draw at the age of eight at the same time I discovered horses and developed a passion for both. Now I can sketch a nifty looking horse in 30 secs.

Everything else needs a reference.

My art bio is as follows:

After the horse drawing frenzy at age eight, I later won the sunday newspaper art competition 4 times at age of 14 - I think the prize back then was R2 or so for each entry published. I managed to get every entry I sent in published so got R8 richer.

Discovered paint by numbers around same age and did my first oil painting without numbers at 15. I still have it – will put it up soon as I take a picture of it.

1988 - Fine arts degree at Wits majoring in painting.

1987 - Got two works chosen for the annual student exhibition in the Getrude Posel Gallery.

1987 - Received a merit award for my piggy painting in the New Signatures exhibition in Pretoria.

Worked as a landscape artist for a company that sold quick paintings – we used to paint about eight landscapes a day.

Sold two paintings.

Here they are – I kept photos – back in the days when you had to go to a shop and get them developed the old way.

Gave a pile away to family and friends.

Did a few commissions too, but did not keep records of those - silly me, I still think about those and would love to see them again.

1989 - Dropped out of the art scene.

2010 – Back with lots of ideas and wishing I had more time to get them all done.