Durban - Artist Sakhile Mhlongo visited Northlands Girls’ High School to hold a workshop to teach different painting techniques and painting styles, especially when making a portrait.
“I’ve learnt a lot from Mhlongo that has improved my art skills. For example, I learnt how to use proportions of the face to create an accurate sketch of my subject matter in a short amount of time,” said matric pupil Ibanathi Sosibo.
“I also learnt that when painting, it is better to start with the dark parts of your subject matter, which makes it easier to identify certain details within the composition further along the painting process. I also learnt that, in art, it is okay to make mistakes and that I should express myself by playing around with colours.” The 17-year-old added that the workshop would help improve her speed, efficiency and overall creativity and recognition in an artistic sense.
Another particpant, Avele Nzuza, said: “It’s best to paint according to your feelings instead of trying to perfect the image you are working with in order to develop your own style. You also mustn’t be scared to make mistakes.” She added that the workshop would also help her make authentic artwork that reflects what she’s capable of.
When Mhlongo engaged with the pupils, he began the session by discussing how he started to do art and pay his way to study art at a formal institution, Durban University of Technology.
“His honesty resonated with the girls,” said head of visual arts, Daniela Verga.
“For example, as he was demonstrating a painting technique early on in the workshop, he spoke of his recent solo exhibition and its title, Ukwembulwa ‒ The Unearthing. He explained how he was unearthing and digging into his own identity as part of the body of this work ‒ which to the pupils resonates so well with their current practical exams and how they need to be able to use self experience and the like in their works.”
Verga added that the workshop taught the girls a lot about colour mixing from primary colours only instead of working with a full set of paint. “It taught them how to build up the start of their artwork and the importance of getting the form right from the get-go. He helped each individual girl with their portraits from the start, and this opportunity is priceless,” she said.
Verga said he aim of the workshop was to allow the girls to step outside of their comfort zone by exploring portraiture.
“I was asked by Northlands Girls’ High School to come and do a painting workshop with their matric students because they love my work,” said Mhlongo, and to share information with their art pupils.
“The things I focused on in this workshop were to give them the knowledge I have about making a portrait. I gave them a lesson on mixing paint in different ways and to paint with different styles and techniques.”
Mhlongo, who was born in Empangeni and raised in uMgababa, said his art journey started while he was in primary school and “was just doing it without much knowledge. I only understood it better when I got to high school as I began to enter art competitions and win most of them,” he said.
Mhlongo said his art was influenced by exploring personal unspoken experiences through realistic portraits of himself, his family and his friends.
The Independent on Saturday