When Sharon asked me to be Artist of the Month, I started to think about the word ARTIST. Am I really an artist? I think being an artist (whatever form it takes, fine art, photography, crafts) , means feeling free to express your personality through your work. It involves a real love for the process.
For me, being an artist means a love of colour, trying to capture the light and expression in the eyes of an animal, the way the fur or feathers lie and the myriad of tones. To see the light shining onto a field of yellow grass and the many colours in the shadows cast by tall trees, these are the things that excite me.
I am filled with anticipation and a slight sense of uncertainty when I start a painting and a tremendous sense of joy when it is completed.
However, things don’t end there. I am always learning, experimenting and through my students and other artists, discovering new ways of interpreting things. I have a compulsion to improve where I can, to play with colour and shapes.
So perhaps after all I am an ARTIST. Yippee!!!!
One has likes and dislikes. These preferences express the core of our personalities. However, one might really love a particular subject, animals, mountains, water, flowers but negative thoughts intrude. ‘I could never paint that. Only really good artists can manage this or that’. No! no! no! One can always learn techniques to start one off on the road to discovery. Reading, watching demonstrations, attending an art class are all terrific catalysts, which can kick-start creativity. That is where I started and where I still am, learning, enjoying, observing and making art part of my everyday life.
Now I am going to tell you a little more about my background and myself.
I was born in a farming village deep in the North-Eastern realms of South Africa. Running free and barefoot, I spent all my school holidays with my grandparents in their lovely rambling farmhouse and explored the hills, meadows and streams surrounding it.
From a very early age, I developed a deep and abiding love for animals. I nurtured baby lambs, played with the farmyard kittens, rode horses bareback and discovered that each of these creatures had totally different personalities, likes and dislikes. I even learned to distinguish the features of one sheep from another. It was wonderful.My grandmother was an artist, although she painted merely as a pastime. Today, I still have one of her paintings, a beautiful pastoral scene with superb aerial perspective. I realise now that she was a very talented lady.
I had studied art at school but then went into journalism and magazine layouts for an educational magazine. However, I decided to go back to college and do an Interior Design Course. So, you see, the artist in me was saying ‘Chammi, I am starting to move you in the right direction’.
I then studied porcelain painting and did fairly well, painting caricatures on mugs, flowers on plates, etc. This still did not satisfy me. Once I had created the designs, it was a long and tedious process. So, off I went and did a watercolour course with a wonderful South African artist. Annice and I became close friends and my love of painting just grew and grew.
The move to Hamburg, Germany in 2000 with my husband Pete and our ‘almost’ Jack Russell Terrier, was a huge challenge for me. I did not speak a word of German but decided this needed to be rectified. I bought tapes, watched children’s TV until at last I felt confident enough to start teaching a group of German ladies how to paint in watercolours. They were wonderful, enthusiastic and we all laughed at my funny German. I started off with 6 students once a week. Soon the 6 became 12 and the rest of the time, I did my own painting.
I am convinced, as a teacher that the classes should never be larger than 6 people. I feel that each person has a unique style. I believe in positive feedback. I look for the best in a student’s work and then gently guide them into improving technically. I NEVER impose my style, as I love to be able to recognise a painting and say ‘Ah, that was done by Ulla or Heidi or Jutta’. I don’t want to see carbon copies of my work.
I have studied with the OCA for three years and completed the courses. I am now doing a Pets Portraits Diploma with the London Art College and enjoying every moment – trying new mediums. I feel one can never stop gathering knowledge. This keeps me excited and motivated.
I have had numerous exhibitions and managed to end up a finalist in a British Art Competition. There were several thousand entries so I was delighted that my painting of an owl ‘The Eye that Sees All’ was chosen. It was a very exciting experience.
I am inspired by so many things, colour, ambience, light but most of all, animals and birds. Their vulnerability in a world where their environment is shrinking touches my heart. I am totally fascinated by eyes, the gentle warm light of trust or a fierce predatory glow. Just love to paint them!! All my paintings of animals and birds start with the eyes.
Although I am always trying a new medium, I paint mainly in Acrylics. I am very involved in the Acrylics Forum of Wet Canvas and have done a classroom on how to paint fur and feathers. I am also a member of the Painters Online Forum and Gallery.
As a final word, I would really encourage you all to keep a sketchbook/journal. I find mine invaluable. It is where I write notes, feelings, and sad and happy things I see accompanied by sketches. When I need inspiration, I page through my journal and ‘Wham, there it is!!’
Should anyone wish to get in touch with me, you can visit my website http://www.chammi-kaiser.de/
or email me firstname.lastname@example.org
By the way I am looking forward to trying out my new Shining Feather Soft Stroke brush!!
The Eye That Sees All
Face to Face
Rettet den Spatz
I love You Warts and All!
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