The Drawing Guild: Degrees of Realism

Recently I had the privilege of taking part in a group exhibition hosted by The Drawing Guild in the beautiful Weylandts showroom in Nelspruit.  Along with 8 other local artists we showcased work done in pastel, coloured pencil and graphite.

The exhibition was titled ‘Degrees of Realism’ and focused mainly on work in this particular genre, but with a myriad of subjects.  Alongside the wildlife art hung botanicals, portraits, nudes and even a few of my landscapes.

The Drawing Guild

I founded The Drawing Guild after two very specific conversations that highlighted the need for such a body in South Africa.

Some months ago I was introduced to a gallery owner in the Western Cape and prompted to show my work.  He was busy painting, gave it a sideways glanced and told me it was good, but asked me ‘when I was going to stop playing with pencils and rather paint’.

As an artist I am quite comfortable with the fact that not everyone will love my work.  I am also completely open to constructive criticism.  But I admit that his comment floored me and touched me in a way I wasn’t prepared for.

This was followed soon after by another gallery enquiring about my work online.  The lady loved the work but then asked if I didn’t do oils at all.

I confess I really did consider it – to the point of acquiring a few oil paints and attempting the medium.  It just didn’t give me the same joy as pastel.

What do I love about pastel?  Everything!  I adore the sound and feeling of soft pastel on rough sanded paper, I love the vibrant raw pigment, the ability to achieve fine lines but also cotton-like foggy softness.  Its both a tactile and visual experience.

And right there the idea for The Drawing Guild took flight.  I dream that pastel and coloured pencil will be elevated to the heights achieved internationally.  I envision bringing the medium to South Africa and showcasing it to art-lovers and artists alike.  Across the world pastel and coloured pencil societies are popping up and celebrating what can be achieved in this amazing medium, and I aim to join the wave.

My idea is that The Drawing Guild will enlighten and educate.  It will be a platform for artists to bring their work to the public eye and create an awareness for the medium both in versatility and as an archival medium of notable beauty.  I am also blessed in having like-minded people who share my dream and wouldn’t have been able to pull off the exhibition without the hard work and input from our co-founder Coleen Williams and the amazing team over at Weylandts.  They made our dream a reality.

If you are interested in The Drawing Guild, visit our website at and fill in the membership form to join us.  The entire exhibition can also be viewed online until 30 November.  Here are a few photos by our official exhibition photographer Casandra Jacobs.

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