Artists of St Francis

by Jacqueline Jorgensen

Painting with Bob McKenzie on the Canals

Bob McKenzie

Photo by Juliette Godfrey

In mid-May, a group of 9 local artists (including two glorious octogenerians) gathered at Anne Kleu’s beautiful home on the canals for a four-day workshop with Bob McKenzie. Originally from Queenstown, Bob, who is far from retiring, now lives in Port Alfred with his wife Faye. In his mid-seventies, Bob is still very much in demand, not only as a collector’s artist, but as an artist’s mentor. He travels the country from White River to Paternoster and even as far afield as Zimbabwe to hold these workshops, which are nothing short of life and art-changing.

As with all creative processes that push one beyond ‘comfort zone’, there were moments of angst, resistance, wanting to give-up-and-go-home, or erase your faulty creation with a turps-soaked rag and start again. He notices this all and he works with it, or around it and redirects it, poetically and calmly with lightness and kindness that is quite masterful.

Bob, who works with a palette of 9 colours and white, brings with him a box of tricks that, even in their utter simplicity, perform the breath-of-life upon any lack-lustre rendition of a reference photograph. More importantly, he brings himself. When asked what he paints, Bob’s answer is always the same “I paint light”. Not only does he generously give away what he has mastered in order for other artists to become as good as, or even better than him, but he has the impossible knack of pulling the gold out of each artist in the group with a sensitivity that is honed to the individual and their particular lean. Bob has the gift of encouragement and alongside being a painter of light, is in and of himself a bringer of light.

As I write, I still feel high (on joy, not turps) in the afterglow of deep satisfaction at what I learned; and in awe of the the beautiful paintings that our group was able to produce in a very short space of time with the help of this wonderful teacher.

Whether you are a self-taught novice painter like myself, an abstract large-scale painter like our fellow Seals artist/photographer Juliette Godfrey, or a Bachelor of Arts graduate with years of experience in a a variety of genres like our divine hostess, Anne Kleu, a 4-day art workshop with this acclaimed artist, promises to take your art to a level beyond your wildest dreams.

Bob uses only Winton oil paints by Windsor and Newton and Primeart brushes.

For enquiries about Bob’s Workshop calendar, and the costs involved, feel free to contact Bob McKenzie directly on 0836932442.

His work can be viewed at his gallery in Wharf Street Port Alfred, and he can also be found online as RD McKenzie SA Artist


Next Artist in the series – Dodds Blom