ART THAT TOUCHES THE SOUL
SOLI DEO GLORIA (Only to God be the Glory)
I was born in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) in a little town of Fort Victoria (now Mazvingo) in 1949. Art was very important in my family. My father was an artist, and my oldest brother, Charl, is also a professional wildlife artist. I began painting and drawing as far back as my memory allows me to go. Although I did have art as a subject in school, I learned very little from my teachers. I learned more from my father, mostly from sitting behind him, watching him paint. I am also very thankful to my brother, Charl, who taught me specific little details that I still use in my work.
Halfway through college, I dropped out and was conscripted into the Rhodesian army where I spent months in the Zambezi valley. It was a memorable time, as I had contact with the animals of Africa on a daily basis. This experience taught me a love of Africa and her animals. After my service in the army, I returned to my studies and met Vita, who later became my wife. Art was not very important to me at this stage. From 1973 to 1975, I taught at a school in Pietersburg, South Africa, but only lasted two years due to the constraining atmosphere. For the next six years, I gave pottery and art lessons, and painted. I was experimenting with watercolors and pyrography ('painting' on wood or leather with a soldering iron) but never got any career off the ground.
In 1978, as South Africa was involved in a long undeclared war, I was conscripted into the army for two years. By now, we had two small children, Braam and Marize, so I did my best to stay close to my family. I worked in the South African Defense Force at an audiovisual production unit. After my stint in the army, I got a job in the South African Education Department to develop an audiovisual facility for the department. This was truly the most exciting time of my life while working for others. In the ten years I produced audiovisual programs, my creativity was developing in such a way that I believe this to be the background I needed to cultivate the style of painting that I now use.
In order to advance further in my career, I needed a master's degree. I took a six month sabbatical to work on my dissertation. While studying, I began evaluating my life. Where was I heading? Going the academic route would take me into higher and higher posts in the education department - away from the creative work that I enjoyed doing. I suddenly envisioned myself sitting at a desk in the head office, pushing papers. I lost all motivation to study further and used the rest of my sabbatical painting. I was blessed to sell enough pieces to show me that it was possible to make a living from my art. I called my family together and put forward a proposal. I would resign my job and become a full time artist, or I would resume my studies and strive to become the biggest “big shot” I could in the education department. We each had an equal vote and the result was unanimous – I was now a professional artist!
This was the first move that I made in faith. Few artists in South Africa could really make a living from painting full time and most of them did not have a family to provide for. I laid the risks on the table and my family came through for me. We prayed together, laying our lives before the Lord, and asked Him to provide for us.
In January 1990 our new lives began. My first major shows were at the Rand Easter Show in Johannesburg and the Pretoria International Show. In 1991, I travelled to the US for the first time, and was overwhelmed by the American people who invited me into their homes and hearts. I doubt there is any other country that can match their hospitality. I became involved in SCI (Safari Club International), where I continue to exhibit, and have participated in shows in many different parts of America over the years. I have made many friends, coming from my client base, from folks I meet each at each exhibition, and from gallery owners and other artists. I am most thankful to the other artists from whom I have learned so much, not only about their creative processes, but about marketing and promotion, as well. The Americans lead the world in promoting themselves and what they do. For what I am still learning from them regarding professionalism, I will always be grateful.
In 2014 my lovely wife went home to be with the Lord. I thought my life had come to an end. Two years later I met Elsie Hartzenberg who became my wife. What an incredible blessing it is to be able to, unconditionally, love and be loved again. God gave me MUCH more than the highest standards I ever set for myself. I am so grateful.
Our home is my workplace. It is where we live and where I paint. It is where I plan my business and where I receive guests, personal guests as well as clients and prospective clients. Therefore, it was important for us to have a creative environment conducive to peace, productivity and hospitality.