Annelea Blignaut

My Artist Journey

My Artist Journey

My artist journey has not been linear but rather a constant push and pull in my life, pulling me in at different times and pushing me to explore, learn and develop.

Pablo Picasso rightly said “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.” I loved drawing as a child and my biology notebooks became my canvases for a dove or a frog or whatever it was we were learning about, but I never “took art”.  I didn’t grow up in an artistic family and art was never encouraged beyond being a hobby.

It wasn’t until 1995 that I had my first fling with exploring art.  I joined a friend of mine at her art class.  The teacher didn’t teach any specific style but came alongside to help you develop with suggestions and gentle nudges in the right direction.  The result was these four pieces and my first ever exhibition.  The first sketch (All in a Days Work) was sold to dear friends and the other three became gifts to my mom and two sisters after the exhibition.

1996 I went to Bosnia as a volunteer on a 2-year programme.  I stayed 13 years and, in this time, hardly ever touched a pencil.

When I returned to South Africa in 2010, I took a sabbatical to rediscover myself.  I remembered my forgotten love and this time explored painting.  I flirted with oils, watercolour, and gouache until I found acrylic and fell in love with it.  I painted throughout 2011.  It was lost again in a new job, lots of travel and finally moving to Chile where the novelty of a new country, language learning, and life took centre stage in my life.

In 2015 our company changed to a four-day week and Fridays soon turned into my painting days.  I would paint for hours and was challenged by friends to work towards an exhibition.  I planned a collaboration with a friend who wrote poetry to the paintings but was asked to move to Canada by the company I worked for.  I ended up with a hybrid Cheese & Wine Exhibition in my apartment / Facebook Auction where I managed to sell all my paintings.  Below is some from my “Blue Series” all done on 12″ x 12″ Canvas.

Blue Series

I moved to Canada in October and joined the Barrie Art Club in November. I attended many workshops with brilliant Canadian artists learning about portrait -and life drawing, colour theory, landscapes, and abstracts, trying to find my voice and style.  I painted a lot during 2016 & 2017.  I painted everything: portraits, landscapes and abstracts using different styles and approaches.  The only thing that stayed constant was my love for colour.

Mid 2018 my brushes and paints gathered dust while I pursued my MBA until mid 2020.  COVID and lock downs found me picking up my pencil again mid August 2020 and I spent my evenings sketching friends and family.  I completed 74 pencil & pen portraits from mid August till end December.  With nowhere to go and a very limited social life, sketching in the evenings helped me keep sane.  I became familiar with the curve of a smile or the shape of a nose again and realised that portraits are my first love.

In January this year (2021) something shifted within me.  I have always struggled to call myself an artist.  I felt that I was just dabbling in it, but I realised that I have this constant pull to create.  I want to paint, and I want to paint people.  When I look at a photo that grabs me, the energy translates into colour. Through colour abstraction I try to convey emotion and the essence of the person.  So I took action and bought a few furniture pieces and created a studio space where I don’t have to worry about packing up.  My easel always has the current painting I’m working on, and I can drop in and paint whenever I feel the urge.  I painted my first portrait for the year that sold straight from my easel. After months of sketching, I was hungry for colour.  I found my mojo again.  I also developed my art website that went live end of May, and art has moved more central to my life.  I still work full time, so do not get as much time to paint as I’d love to, but my easel is ready whenever I have the time and I have been painting much more than before.

Many of my art pieces over the years have found a home on the walls of family and friends as well as the odd sale to the unknown buyer.  They are my raving fans.  They always encourage, support, and cheer me on.  They are the wind under my artist wings.

This year I also had my first commissions, not just one but five all in a matter of weeks.  I have completed two commissions (photos below) and am working on the others.  I have so many ideas and so little time.  I am looking forward to seeing where this journey takes me in the next couple of years.

Cow Stories (12″ x 12″) Acrylic
Carlos & Kristel (16″ x 20″) Acrylic

I am very grateful for each one of you sharing this journey with me.  Did you notice that you can now share a blog post directly to your social media or email?  Just click on the appropriate icon.

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