Paarl painter Charles Small, who has produced more than 700 artworks, is planning to hold an exhibition of his work.
Self-taught Paarl painter Charles Small has created a large, varied body of art and plans to hold an exhibition of his work.

He said his paintings and models, which number more than 700, were inspired by his beautiful Boland town.

The 56-year-old artist began sketching when he was in primary school. “I enjoyed painting and drawing from a very young age. I started to draw from pictures in books, and I began painting with watercolours. Later I built small models of houses with matches and made portraits from ice cream sticks,” said Small.

“Art and woodwork were my two main subjects at Klein Nederburg Secondary School. I am a landscape and still-life artist. I try anything.”

Scale models he created with matchsticks are displayed at the Paarl Museum and McGregor Museum in Kimberley.

Although he now works in pastels, watercolours and acrylics, oil remains his favourite medium for his evocative still-life and landscape paintings.

“I’ve always been inspired by the techniques of Renaissance artist Leonardo da Vinci as well as the beauty of my surroundings and the people around me.

“Working in oil is very time-consuming and it can take days to complete a painting.

“I can spend up to six hours a day trying to capture my subject. I teach myself from videos I find on social networks. They give you step-by-step instructions.”

He recently sent a canvas abroad after an insert of his work that he placed on YouTube, called Charles Artworks, attracted interest.

Some of his works have also been exhibited at the Rhebokskloof Wine Estate, Cape Town International Convention Centre and at multi-purpose stadium Boland Park. He is an enthusiastic user of the Paarl Tourism app, and uses it to keep his followers updated on his latest works.

Small was among talented artists who recently attended a “Product of Place” workshop run by the Craft and Design Institute. During the workshop, when some of his works were made into postcards, Small realised that creating work with a local theme could significantly boost his marketability, and he will be using a “proudly Paarl” theme for his upcoming exhibition.

Small also took part in an artist development programme facilitated by the Drakenstein Local Tourism Association and funded by Drakenstein Municipality. Annelize Stroebel, general manager of the association, said: “If artists such as Charles can create pieces focusing on local (Paarl) content, it would appeal immensely to visiting tourists and these artists could build sustainable businesses.”