6th May 2016 - Back by popular demand - Gregory Wellman gives OVAS a taste of Africa
Gregory Wellman gave a demonstration to the Otter Vale Art Society last November when he impressed members of the society with his portrait painting prowess by producing an excellent likeness of the actor, Sir Ian McKellen, in pastels. On Friday 6th May he was back at the Institute by popular demand to talk about his love for African scenery, wildlife and, in particular, the imagery of the Maasai tribespeople of Tanzania. He is well known for his formal portraits giving impressive likenesses of individual people of the Maasai, but for his demonstration chose to portray a group of four in a looser impressionistic style.
As he worked with acrylic paints, OVAS members saw how he could work quickly, with the colours and lighting effects evoking the scene as a memory, while leaving out the irrelevant and distracting detail one might find in a photograph or a more formal rendition of the scene. Gregory clearly has a great affinity with the Africans’ way of life having visited them several times since his first visit to Kenya in 2005, including a visit to Maasai villages in 2011 and on an art safari in 2013. Members and guests at the meeting were fascinated by the many stories to tell of his encounters with the tribespeople, mostly being able to gain their trust but being aware that any misunderstandings could necessitate a hasty departure.
In thanking Gregory on behalf of the society at the end of proceedings, Mike Bird, chairman of OVAS, noted that one cannot explain what a picture is about in words. Art is a means of communication that transcends words of any language, but it was fascinating to hear about Gregory’s memories and thoughts as he worked. In the end, the picture so effectively captured the essence of the scene that the viewer could become immersed in it and almost share the memory with the artist.