Lyn Northam

I was born in South Africa in 1949 to very interesting risk-taking Irish/English parents who had left England after the 2nd World War, to create a new life in Africa... Lucky me!

Growing up in Johannesburg, I began a happy, carefree explorative childhood where my love of nature and drawing began. No formal art training, but a lot of creative art projects as a child and during my training as a pre-school teacher, helped me realise that art is a form of expression and for me always, a passion. In the genes too!

A new season begins...
Since 2001, after 20 years of nurturing pre-school children (with the last 11 years as a principal and teacher of Sweet Valley Pre-primary School) - and after our two precious children flew the nest to the UK - a new season of life blossomed into a passion for art!

Pastels, watercolours and now oils. Plein air painting is my ultimate joy - painting from real life, feet in the sand at the beach or on a mountain, wind in the hair, fog in the air and seagulls calling! Capturing that fleeting moment in time, chasing the light like the Impressionists - a real challenge. What a window opened to a new world of knowledge, history and beauty.

Putting myself out there...
Joining the local art society, Constantiaberg Art Society (CAS) as well as the South African Society of Artists (SASA) - and sitting on the SASA council for five years - was key in channelling and focusing my art, and often igniting a competitive edge! Its good to have a big goal and dreams! And dreams do come true with lots of hard work, perseverance and luck.

2007 was a highlight in my art career, earning a coveted  Fellow of South African Society of Artists award (FSASA). And this is a huge honour, as only 14 people have been made Fellows in the last 100 years - and I am the youngest artist to ever be made a Fellow too!

I've won various competitions and awards  - and twice I've been awarded the highly prestigious annual SASA Eleanor Palmer trophy, in 2004 and 2009! But the joy of painting and encouraging is far more important than winning!

A love for learning...
Many thanks to the creativity and challenging inspiration of some admirable art teachers over the years - Christine Beckley, Les Charnock, Ada Kennedy, Margie Johnson, Louis Audie, Natalie Hirschman and even Hazel Soan. Their passion is contagious - I'm so blessed to have caught some!

The art of teaching...
Passion for art is a true gift and a blessing from God for oneself and others. And since 2008, I have taught oil painting once a week to beginner adults of all the things I was never taught. Building self-esteem and passing on this totally addictive passion into the journey of exploring and learning to see is a true joy for me.

In 2010, I was asked to adjudicate the Children's Schools Annual Art Eistedford in Cape Town, from Grade R to Matric. 739 art pieces - whew! It was also a huge honour when I was invited to judge the 2010 Finale Fish Hoek Art Society art competition with esteemed SA artist, Ann Nosworthy.

The world from a different view...
Now I pursue the challenge of catching a moment in time - years of practise every week come rain or shine, mist or baboons. Memories are made of this!

My camera acts as a grand viewfinder, I carry one with me at all times, as well as wearing a flower behind my ear and picking more daisies and stopping to smell the roses! What a life!

I'm always challenging myself to portray a looser, more painterly impressionistic version of our beautiful world - cows, flowers, trees, landscapes, harbours, boats and the sea are my joy - they light up my soul! (And always a chance for a quick dip inbetween paint strokes!)

Getting out there...
My work is often exhibited at Kirstenbosch's Sanlam Hall with either one of the two art societies or with Original Cape Art or Art Portfolios, as well as on permanent display in Bredasdorp at Bredasdorp Square in a Victorian Building above a restaurant, run by Zoon Jacobs.

And hence we often have to spend seven day 'business trips' painting in Arniston, Yserfontein and other picturesque places around the Western Cape. At night I fall asleep while painting in my head, or during the day I'm painting clouds with my eyes while waiting at the robots! What a fabulous country we live in! Never a dull moment!

Plein air, another universe...
Painting becomes addictive - it needs good drawing skills; solid techniques; practise, desire and patience; miles and miles of canvas, a flask of coffee and good company! Add an apron over your costume in between swims, and this is called work! Mondays were never like that!

It's all quite a challenge, particularly the plein air painting... and it never gets easier - I just love it more and more! One gets lost in a world of paint, brushstrokes, edges and endless decision-making... totally lost in my art bubble! Even the books, magazines and DVDs I watch and read, are all art-related these days! What a pleasure!

Empty-nest syndrome never materialised - just a new full season of life! To God by the glory, great things he has done and is doing if we trust Him! I do wholeheartedly.