I was privileged to have attended a magnificent group art workshop with Vanessa Mayhew Creative! I have seen others attempt to do fluid art or paint pouring in South Africa but Vanessa is above the rest and her exquisite work cannot be compared. I thoroughly enjoyed my session and exposure to this amazing art form of Fluid Art.

Tell us a little bit about your background

I studied art at school and went on to study Fine Art at the Natal Technikon. 

I have always been involved in & taught art in some form, and even had an Art/Craft shop for a few years. 

4 years ago, I stumbled across Fluid Art & was immediately hooked. At that time it was a very little known technique in South Africa and so I decided to find out everything that I could about pouring and to become the “go-to person” for everything pouring and pouring related. 

I taught Fluid Art for over 3 years and I hope that I have given people as much joy as I have received through the numerous courses and workshops that I have hosted. There have been hundreds of people through my studio doors during those years. Some of these students have kept coming back and some have come just for a one-off experience, but I don’t think that there was ever a workshop that I came away from, without having learnt something new.

Who are your biggest influences or who inspires you?

Every person that I have come across, or will continue to encounter, is a source of inspiration to me. We can learn so much from one another and each person has their own story. As I said before, I don’t think that I ever walked away from a Workshop without having learnt something new, however big or small that lesson may have been.

In terms of art, I love looking at other artists’ work & to find their stories, but the one thing that I try not to do is to “copy”. There is a difference between being inspired & copying. To be inspired by something or someone, you take the essence of what has sparked that interest & use that essence to create your own work in your own language.

My biggest motivators are my children, they continue to be the driving force behind anything that I do because, at the end of the day, I not only want them to be proud of who and what I am, but also through example, to allow them to become the best versions of themselves and if you are going to take on something, do it to the best of your ability or don’t do it at all. There is just no point.

 

How have you developed your career as an artist to get you where you are today?

I got divorced. (just kidding!)

I learnt long ago to never stop experimenting. You can not get stuck in one place, because the moment that you stop moving forward, that is the moment you start to die. Not only in art but with life in general. When we stay in our comfort zone and are too afraid to feel uncomfortable, that is when we become complacent and that is when we stop growing. 

Even with the work that I am currently doing, I try to take this art form to a different level. I like to work back into my paintings so that I can elevate them, they are not just the “normal” Fluid Art pours.

Currently, I work in the three disciplines of Acrylic pouring, Alcohol ink and resin & I often combine the mediums to create something that becomes a little more visually stimulating.

I always joke that I know that I am on trend when Mr Price comes out with lines that are similar to what I have been doing for a while.

At the beginning of this year, I decided to stop teaching. I was becoming frustrated with not having the time and also the space to “play” with my art. I began to feel frustrated with not being “seen” as an artist, whatever I put out was not being viewed as a piece of art, I was constantly being asked when I was going to hold a workshop on that particular painting or technique and as much as I enjoyed the interaction with students, I realised that I needed the space to grow and to find out how far I could go in this journey.

What are you doing currently?

Currently, I am focused on producing my own work for retail, which includes a range of Functional Art, Paintings and also Commissions. I love to work with customers to create their own personal art pieces and I also provide for the Hospitality Industry, working with Interior Decorators and Designers.

What is next for Vanessa Mayhew Creative?

What is next for me? 

I have so much that I want to do. As I brought Fluid Art to the public in terms of Workshops, I now want to bring this to the public in a different way.

This technique is so versatile, there is so much that one can do with it. I want to have my art everywhere and on a whole range of different mediums.

I am working on a new Series or Collection, which I am hoping to release in the not too distant future, so I am excited about that. It is something that I have never consciously explored and I am eager to see how it develops. 

I keep saying that with this technique because it is so Fluid & happenstance, you can never duplicate it, but I am currently in negotiations (through a third party), with Mr Price. They are looking at prints for 2022, so fingers crossed that it comes to fruition.

I am also in the process of exploring printing onto fabric for clothing and creating an exclusive bedding range.

Apart from the aforementioned, I want to maintain my originality, so I will continue with paintings that are original and exclusive and not geared towards the mass-produced market.

I am also in the process of exploring printing onto fabric for clothing and creating an exclusive bedding range.

Truly, there is no limitation to where I can go with this & I am going to keep pushing upwards.

 

What else do you want the public to know?

I am open to commission work, no piece is too large or too small and it would give me immense pleasure to create a customised piece of art for you. 

So often clients come back or message me about how much they enjoy something that I have created & this does make my heart happy. I want to live up to my slogan, “Touching Lives Through Art”.

Something that no one knows about you

If I tell you that, then it is no longer unknown 🙂

The one thing that very few people do know about me is that I cannot get onto a down escalator. To take that step from Terra Firma onto the moving escalator terrifies me!

What advice would you give a young artist looking to make art a career?

Personally, to make a living from Art, it has to be a passion, live that passion & don’t ever give up. This is all that I have ever wanted, from the time that I was a young girl and it has taken me this long to realise the dream. 

You have to love your own work. I do not understand the concept that you cannot like what you create. If you don’t love what you produce then how do you expect other people to love it? It is a part of you, it comes from within, celebrate & embrace it.

Don’t give up because things get tough, that is when you experience growth, & don’t take it personally if not everyone falls in love with your work. Just as you don’t love everything that others produce, don’t expect your work to appeal to everyone, that is what makes life interesting. We are all different.

Expose yourself to various mediums, artists and techniques. You cannot work in a vacuum, because then you will never develop, you will stay one-dimensional. 

Surround yourself with those that believe in you & learn to take constructive criticism, but understand the difference between constructive & destructive.

Above all, be authentic. Be authentic in what you create & what you speak, be consistent & show up!

Vanessa Mayhew Creative has her studio based at Fig Trees Farm in Hillcrest. 56 Inanda Road Hillcrest. Go have a look at her beautiful fine artwork on display. Vanessa is an Art pioneer and visionary and you may see some of her artwork in Hospitals or BnB’s around South Africa.