I am a South African Artist from Nelpsuit, Mpumalanga, South Africa.
I grew up as a 'bushbaby' -six months of my life when moving from Zimbabwe to Phalaborwa (a small town in the far north of South Africa) was spent in a tent and caravan. The town had no houses as these were still been built. This was the seed of my love for the environment. The Kruger National Park was within walking distance from my home. My art 'education' was a living one - the bush - the heat and the dust, its creatures, wildlife, rivers, mountains, streams, and of course the trees were a big part of my life. As a young person my family traveled through all parts of South Africa and Zimbabwe on a regular basis. When I started working, a drive along the Kruger Park Fence 'just for a look' was done everyday after five, this had a big impact on me. I feel that South Africa, it's flora and fauna are ingrained in me. I currently still live very close to the Kruger National Park in a town called Nelspruit. My father, http://johnvanderwesthuizen.weebly.com/ with his love for trees and wood also influenced me. He creates anything from wood i.e. musical instruments to antiques and his pieces can be found throughout the world).
Other interests which I sometimes integrate into my art is design, architecture and world history. My art is versatile and I feel that I paint something for everyone, my subjects include wildlife and birds, still-life, landscapes, some architecture and buildings, portraits and figures and flora of all sorts, some contemporary and abstract work. I write poetry as well, but these poems are usually inspired by a subject that I paint and the poem is purely based on that, i.e. the thoughts and feelings I have as I paint. My poetry can also be viewed on this site. I am mostly self-taught and have gained inspiration from many artists, books etc. I spent many years 'battling' along by myself, but this was a great learning period for me. I have that 'never give up' outlook and will leave nothing uncovered in my search to improve and I certainly gained much experience from that as where some might give up, I do not. Some art instruction I received from a local teacher, Heila van der Merwe, who taught me the finer points about art and I am grateful to her for that.
My work is a 'thought' process right down to the last stroke. I can spend hours to a couple of weeks on a painting. I paint what I love and if something grabs my attention whether it is a real-life or imagined scene, something from a book or something I set up - I will paint it. Each subject dictates to me how 'it' wants to be painted. I do not intentionally paint in a 'style', this just materialises by itself. Each finished piece for me is a celebration and a big thank you to my Creator. My paintings are the very essence of me.
My main medium is oils, which I call the living paint. Every now and then I work in acrylics. I have worked with watercolor, batik, lino, collage, pastels, and gouache, but always return to oils, this being my favorite.
I have been painting forever it seems, and have sold my work locally, and internationally, i.e. U.S.A, United Kingdom and Australia. I have exhibited in many areas where I reside and I have recently been invited to exhibit my art in Denmark. A recent exciting commission for me was three paintings, which had to be copied from a book called 'Mpumalanga our Beautiful Province'. The paintings were auctioned successfully on the same night as the launch of the book. I have had a few competition wins, which you can read about on my blog and recently became the subject of an art project by an art student! I was recently contacted by Supreme Master Ching Hai International Associated,with a request to do paintings for a book on the musical Loving the Silent Tears http://suprememastertv.com/ which opens in Los Angeles on the 27 October 2012. This was an honor, however I had to decline due to lack of time.
Art is joy! Enjoy looking at my work and thank you for doing so. Remember the greatest compliment you can give me is to take the time to view my work. Please feel free to contact me with any questions using the contact form - I would love to hear from you!