Artist Interview: Catherine De Villiers – Living To Learn, Or Art As Adventure

April 26, 2022

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Catherine De Villiers is an artist working from her home base of Betty’s Bay, near Cape Town.


What sort of training have you received and how important do you think it is to seek training (in terms of learning first principles and refining technique)?

I think learning is imperative to creativity. As a friend of mine, Ian Hertslet, said, “technique facilitates passion”. I am mostly self-taught. However, I was lucky enough to spend hours with fabulous artists, such as Marjorie Wallace and Enslin du Plessis. These days one can learn so much from the internet. Learning is living!


 What is your principal medium, and why did you choose it?

My go to media are oils and charcoal. I find them friendly and forgiving. I also like to combine the above with a little pastel.


Describe the techniques you use most? How complicated are your methods, and why is each step necessary?

I use more than one technique as I like to explore. Art, for me, is an adventure. So, I move between exaggerated mark-making with quick, sure movements and the layers and layers of gently applying a medium.


Which technological tools do you use in your work?

I mostly paint with a palette  knife but I also love the gentleness of brushes.


Who is the single other artist whose style you most admire, and why?

Gosh… I want to say Carl Buchner. I adore Buchner and carry a heavy influence from him. I do try to move out from his influence for fear of it being too close. I also love Nicolas de Stael and Mark Rothko for the love of fields of colour.


Galleries and other traditional means are only one way of marketing art. What do you believe are the most important other routes, and what is the most important insight you have gained in that area in your career?

I think my most important observation would be that I need help in marketing my work. I am not good at it and would much rather spend my time painting.


Why do you create? What are your stated goals in producing art?

I paint because I love it. It affords me a voice. It is my life therapy, my inner – and outer – healing. A goal? I would love to be able to survive off my art. My art validates me as a human.

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