Bloubergrant artist paints Paris

Athina May

Serenity fills Glenda Chambers’s Bloubergrant art studio with its watercolours of the Louvre Museum and Eiffel Tower in Paris and light flooding in through the balcony door enhancing the shades of pink and blue on her painted flowers.

”This is my favourite place,” says Glenda, turning up the volume of the classical music she has playing.

Glenda started teaching art at her home studio in 2008 after leaving her career in public relations and event coordination and deciding to pursue her passion for art. Now her art career is blooming and has even taken her to Paris.

“I started out with one class teaching oils. Now I do two classes a week teaching oils and watercolors to my students. I am also the South African Society of Artists (SASA) president and a founding member of the Blaauwberg Art Society.

“I was chosen to go to Paris in September last year for two months, and I was joined by 320 artists from around the world who did music, ballet and writing. When I first got there, I thought Europe smelt funny. But after four or five days I didn’t smell it anymore. I guess I got used to it,” says Glenda, brushing back her green-tinted hair.

During her stay, she lived on a diet of cigarettes, sketching, baguettes, milk and cheese. It kept her going for two months, and she returned home with 20 paintings, many which have already been sold.

“I smoke, so I met a lot of friends. I was the only idiot to smokes outside and not in the studio, but I got to meet a lot of people. We stayed near Notre Dame, and every day we would sketch. I completed 20 paintings while I was there and I sketched wherever I went,” says Glenda, flipping through her sketch book.

Rubbing her palette, Glenda talks about how she walked wherever she needed to be and accidentally walked out of Paris while looking for a museum.

“I walked Paris silly, and I noticed that everything started to look different. Before turning around, I thought I would sit down and have a cup of coffee and paid R90 for a cup of coffee. I will never moan about the prices at Woolies again,” she laughs.

The highlight of her trip was experiencing the works of the great masters up close instead of just on a computer screen.

“Seeing the masterpieces online and seeing them in real life is very different. The colors are different, they are just better.”

But not all her encounters with history’s great paintings were as awe-inspiring as she might have wished.

“I saw the Mona Lisa in the Pompidou Centre. I was aware that it is quite small; it is behind brown glass, you could barely see it, because it’s filled with people,” says Glenda, who did her own interpretation of the Mona Lisa using bitumen and bright colours.

“The Musée d’Orsay was the best museum for me and the Louvre is massive, you would need a week to see it all. It was time just to be an artist. I didn’t have to think about fetching kids or cooking; my husband looked after the kids.

“Some evenings we all gathered and showed our art work to each other. There were a lot of young people there and myself and another woman who were older. We had an older style of painting. When we saw what they were doing, I told her we should give up and take up knitting,” laughs Glenda.

But she hasn’t tossed aside her brushes or cut off an ear in frustration. She’s continuing to hold her art classes in the Bloubergrant area and will exhibit some of her work with the Blaauwberg Art Society at the Table View shopping centre until Sunday May 8. If you’re interested in finding out more about the techniques used in oil and water colour painting, contact Glenda at gchambers@mweb.co.za