And a long art history it is! I started teaching in 1993, but officially started the school in 1997. It was a very humble beginning - with a wish to change the way art classes are constructed and a few chairs and tables from a rented space in my parents' house. I advertised in the local newspaper and soon realized I need more space, so I bought a house with a studio in Norkem Park and grew my business from there. I still have a few students from then - 15 years later.
My neighbours had to close off their pavement due to parking problems, but growth was inevitable (my neighbours finally joined the art classes). The sudden success was due to systems I put in place for teaching people an unique step by step drawing methods and then later painting as well. I started adding more and more media and techniques. Of these came a system I developed called 'blocking' - a method by which you can measure an object's length according to its width and then progressively moving into the object - very simple, very effective. I also brought portraiture very soon into the syllabus - and formulated a method that combined many skill developments and self assuredness in only one project. I used pencil and white pastel on Fabriano paper which to most people is a big no-no. This project teaches calculated progression of an artwork with great emphasis on focus and step by step guidance to be able to locate problems, then to learn to blend and to redefine, to maintain correct tones and integration and also a special finalizing method of adding special tricks to make your drawing absolutely professional! I also teach people to do detail and texture last and I refrain from follies like how to paint a tree, how to paint a mountain, how to paint a sky and a copper pot - instead we teach our students to observe and paint what they SEE, not what they think. All accessible to the layman. My blocking method also pertains to live objects, and we have easy methods to teach painting; tackling problems first, then expanding it to other mixed media.
Those were days of youthful endeavours, and many parties and friendships were founded in such a rich and happy milieu. I was fortunate enough to meet many fantastic people and our backbone has always consisted mainly out of this bond with people from all walks of life.
Soon again I ran out of space and bought a property in Glen Marais with business rights, and continued on my mission of creating more courses and refining those already in place. Due to popularity I spent years training teachers so that we could keep up with demand.
We also expanded to Morningside and Bedfordview and on we went - teaching, exhibiting and enriching our knowledge with all the people and art surrounding us. The I became a we. I introduced sculpture art classes and all kinds of courses and I also started taking large groups for team building. Some teachers went on their own - you will notice similarities in our student's work, and some are still with us. I am eternally grateful to them as it enriched my life even more and put me on a very decisive path - that of absolute originality and inbound imagination. Teachers of Ajay's past and present: Hesther de Waal, Carel Kruger, Liz Valentine, Neva Duncan, Claire Kirkland, Rosa de Camara, Jenny Murray, Retta Matthyser, Ester Reardon, Adele Frankle, Rentia Jacobs, Heidi, Saartjie Hildebrandt, Annetjie, Rian Janeke and Hermina Andrade Swanepoel. Thank You for your great services!
During the first decade of this century our teaching has changed somewhat in philosophy and execution to allow for more imagination and flexibility.
During the first decade of this century our teaching has changed somewhat in philosophy and execution to allow for more imagination and flexibility. Now we have contemporary workshops and classes, as well as workshops on music, food and art. I designed another course called loosening-up which we incorporate into many art courses to remove the shackles of creative fear, advanced drawing, more mixed media and larger projects for kids and adults alike. I think our greatest achievement is the amount of students returning to us.
And then there is travel - I first took some students to the east coast of South Africa for art training in 1999, I think, and took it up again about 3 years ago after I visited Paternoster on the West Coast for the first time. It is a place that draws artists as I soon confirmed visiting Stone Fish Studios. So now every year, sometimes twice a year I take in anyone who wants to have a very, very, special experience - many different art lessons, art classes and workshops with me on location and with local artists combined with culinary and different activities. Paternoster is a muse for artists - we mix beginners and professional artists in these sessions which proves to be a breeding ground for sharing ideas and thoughts. Please visit www.paternoster-westcoast.com for more information on experiencing the best a vacation can bring you and see what people say.
And now there is France 2014!! Yip - its happening. All welcome so start saving.
And of course that brings us to today and the future. The future can be foretold to a certain degree and with technology only spiraling further into the digital abyss, I have to follow suit - which means the creation of e-classes. You may think it is not that new, but ours awill be very different
With Hesther de Waal, the future will be kind to us in the future. If you'd like to know more about our amazing online art classes, click here. And more workshops, more classes and many more people to share with us the great and all-consuming world of art!