Q&A With Artist Miche Watkins

Miche WatkinsQ: To kick off, tell us a little about yourself and your family:

I am a figurative artist painting in oils with an emphasis on portraiture. I lived in Cape Town for five years but have recently relocated back to Bristol, UK where my family is based. I have three grown up children, Megan, Tom and Joe who all live in England. None of them an artist!

On coming to Cape Town 6 years ago I struggled to start again artistically as of course no one knew my work. I had a very supportive partner, but did not know many people to bounce ideas off for my portraiture. For this reason, I developed my “Line Art” acrylic paintings which were the complete opposite of figurative oil paintings – no facial features at all! These paintings were fun, contemporary and affordable and struck a chord with South Africans who seemed to like this work.

Q: How long have you been painting?  What was the process and the tipping point that took you to the place of being a professional artist?

I have drawn and painted all my life. When I was a child I was forever drawing princesses (never princes for some reason).  I began my formal art training after my youngest child started school but owing to personal reasons had to give up my art degree and find paid employment to pay my bills.  I remember my solicitor’s words very clearly: “I see your future Miche, and it is very dreary…” However, this never stopped me painting. I started painting portraits and through word of mouth got commissions.

Q: How would you best describe your art style/genre and what is your preferred medium?

My art style is figurative as always. I am veering away from straight portraiture towards figurative paintings that have a narrative theme and there nearly always seems to be an element of isolation and loneliness in these paintings. I began with charcoal, progressed to pastels and now my real love is oil painting – I love the smell of turps!

Q: How or where are you likely to find inspiration?

I am inspired by artists like Aldo Balding, who I met at the Christopher Moller Gallery last year, such an unassuming and all round good bloke! Edward Hopper is certainly an influence and I am drawn to artists such as Jack Vettriano and Caravaggio because of the light and dark shadows they use in their work.  I find exaggerating the lights and darks in my paintings makes for a far more interesting piece of work at the end of the day.

Q: You are living and working in Bristol currently. What is your take and experience as an artist of that city?

I am extremely happy in Bristol which is a young and vibrant city with so many artists actually making a living – something I found difficult in Cape Town, being an unknown English incomer.

I am also now teaching life drawing here in Bristol (something I have done in the past) and with the city’s lively and buzzy artistic community this class goes from strength to strength. I am hoping to organise an exhibition of the students’ work in May because I want them to gain confidence in their work, and seeing someone buy your work is the best way to improve self-confidence!

Q: Where do you exhibit / sell your work?

When in Cape Town I sold work through the Lisa King Gallery, Art on The Bay in Camps Bay and of course through StateoftheART.co.za (Jennifer has always been a big support to me).  Here in England I exhibit with the SBA, The Southbank Bristol Arts Trail in May, and am now part of Colin Neville Contemporary Art. I am also exhibiting with Art Extra in Devon at the end of June which is supporting HospiceCare and 25 artists have been invited to exhibit – exciting times for me.

I sell prints of my work through Fine Art America and workART.  I also do a lot of marketing (which I absolutely hate, loathe and despise doing having an artist’s brain) through social media channels like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn – and of course my website. I have to say, however, that this side of marketing does work! The rest is word of mouth.

Q: Do you see yourself returning to Cape Town or SA for that matter on a permanent basis?

I don’t see myself returning permanently to Cape Town as my home is here with my family nearby. But I do miss the warmth of that lovely city and my many friends there. I would hope to revisit many times though, and the world is indeed a smaller place with the Internet, and Skype.

Q: If you found yourself stranded on that proverbial desert island, who and what would you like to have there with you?

Ah, the desert island… I would like to have my Bible there please. I found God finally when I came to South Africa and I would need that daily connection with Him to keep me grounded. I know now my artistic talent comes from Him, so I would ask Him to please direct me to some paintbrushes and paints in the jungle. AND I would want my nearest and dearest with me…

{Images via Miche Watkins}


Studio Tour: Zana, Woodstock

Earlier this week while I was sniffing around the web for some awesome local product to include into my Scatter Cushion Addiction post I spotted these lovely shots on Zana‘s blog of their gorgeous studio in Woodstock, Cape Town.

Zana is a talented design brand with a fabulous boutique range of fabrics and products including some deliciously quirky scatter cushions. I simply adore the bright loft-like space that now form their main base of operations. The studio is a complete creative station – from here they design, screen print, sew, and package their stunning products to be shipped right across the globe. They have even recently incorporated some retail space into the studio, so if you are in the Woodstock are be sure to check it out.

The studio space, like their product, features a fresh white minimalist backdrop with pops of bold colour and fun pattern. Interior designer, Melissa Louise, who assisted with the overall look of the space has since joined the Zana ranks! The gorgeous snaps below were taken by photographer, Lindie Meyer. Be sure to pop onto Zana’s website to view some more images of their beautiful studio and to check out their awesome product. Oh, and their blog features some fun and easy DIY ideas too…

Images via the Zana Products website: here

Scatter Cushion Addiction

By now most of our readers know I’m nuts about scatter cushions, or throw pillows, or whatever you want to call it. If it’s clever or quirky I’m in love. In fact, I love scatters so much I’ve dedicated a whole Pinterest board to the pursuit of sniffing out trendy, unique and downright covet-worthy cushions. It’s art for your sofa after all! One of the easiest and cheapest ways to give your space a mini-makeover is to buy a couple of new scatters.

Today I’m going to share a few lovelies with you – most designed by talented local designers (super proud)! These cushions are all available in South Africa and can be purchased online… so you don’t even have to move your butt off that seat! I’ve also pinned them to my “Scatter Cushion Addiction” pinboard – be sure to check out all the other amazing cushions I’ve found around the web…

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Quick Tip #29: Paint-Dipped Utensils

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I think it is high time for a Décor Quick Tip, don’t you? I loved the fun little “series” we did last year and I thought it would be appropriate to kick off 2014 with a brand new quick tip series – all things paint-dipped…

#29  Give boring cooking utensils like wooden spoons and spatulas a new lease on life by giving the handles a paint-dipped effect. You can even try your luck with metal utensils or cutlery! Choose a colour combination that will compliment your kitchen colour palette or go for trendy bold neons or soft pastels. Always ensure that you use non-toxic paint and sealer. Paint-dipped utensils are not only beautiful kitchen accessories but also make excellent and personalized house-warming or kitchen tea gifts!

[Image sources: 12, 3]
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Lorraine Loots Paints for Ants

…And we are officially back at the studio! How are all you lovely people doing, did you have a good break? I sure did! While we are still defrosting our brains, we thought to kick of the year with something brilliantly beautiful… just to get back into the swing of things.

Rose spotted this lovely post on I Want That yesterday and it’s just too good not to share…

Lorraine Loots is a talented artist based in Cape Town. On the 1st of January 2013 she challenged herself to create a miniature painting every day for the entire year. Every single day of 2013 she painted a beautifully detailed watercolour painting, each with a different theme, each no more than 3cm x 3cm big. The project, 365 Postcards for Ants, caused quite a stir – prompting doting admirers to request paintings, suggest themes and even “book” sentimental dates!

Even though 2013 has come and gone, Lorraine has decided to extend the project into 2014. This year every painting will have a Cape Town theme to celebrate our city’s designation as World Design Capital 2014. Yay Cape Town!

Be sure to check out this video of Lorraine’s amazing story. An archive of all 2013’s paintings can be seen on her Tumblr site or you can visit her website to “book” a painting.

Pinterest Lovelies

A  happy 2014 to all our friends and readers! I trust you all had very merry new year’s celebrations?

Okay – so I decided that it would be cool to share some our Pinterest pins with you while we take a bit of a break away from our desks this Festive Season.

And in the spirit of just being light-hearted and playful, I decided to share pins that are along the magical and fantasy lines – images that take me to a really happy space.

I have a board that I have called “Lovelies” and onto it I have pinned stuff that evoke the word “lovely” from me. I am a Libra so I like beautiful stuff, pretty stuff, pink stuff and some touching stuff as well.

I hope that in sharing these images with you, it will just bring us a bit closer to each other – with you getting to know me a tad better.

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