Name: Andrew Berthelson (aka Andy Steele)
Hometown: St Francis Bay
Before we get started, tell us where you surf, what you ride, and are you a goofy or natural foot?
I grew up in Ballito (where my folks still live) and I have lived with my wife Rowena and my two daughters, in St Francis for the past 12 years. So I guess that Ballito is my home break, but Seals is my surf address. I ride anything that moves… right… as I am a natural foot. I mainly ride “Hutchison Handcrafted” because Johno is my cousin and he shapes great boards!
Tell us a little bit about your art?
I like painting familiar things that anybody can relate too. Anything that makes you feel good inside. I love watching people staring at my paintings and getting totally absorbed even though they are so simple. My art is purely decorative. Obviously a surfer will look at a wave painting like he wants to ride it, but I know that I have got it right when an elderly lady, who has never surfed in her life, buys that painting.
If you think back, can you remember your first piece of art you created?
Yes. When I was 10 I saw my first whale off Salmon Bay. I could not handle the fact that I could not really see the thing from the beach. A Southern Right whale is huge, but it looks like a big, black, flat crocodile with a hole in its head! Thus started an obsession to sketch what it looks like underwater. I drew them from every angle, day and night, until I got it down.
Why does art interest you?
Ha ha! Art was interested in me! I just went with it. That’s like asking me why does food interest you? It’s a part of my body!
From where (or whom) do you draw your inspiration?
I have travelled a lot in Southern Africa. From Malawi, to Mozam, to Kaapstad. I have surfed your spot sometime. That is inspiring! My girls are my greatest inspiration though without a doubt. I also have a connection with lighthouses. They are always where the action is. The one at Seal point is amazingly beautiful and when I am surfing out the back I cannot get enough of looking at her. I have painted her hundreds of times and she is now in homes all over the world!
What art do you most identify with?
Probably with portraiture. We all have a built in ID mechanism to recognize people. Doing paintings of children is my greatest challenge. The kid is saying, “Hey, that’s me”, while Mom is saying, “Mmmm… the mouth needs some more work!”
What are your favourite mediums and what kind of projects do you like working on?
Acrylics on canvas. In the past 20 years I have painted a lot of wildlife on handmade paper. At the moment one of my projects is raising funds for rhino conservation here in the Eastern Cape.
Do you have a favourite work of art?
A painting that I did of my oldest daughter Shannon Skye. Someone bought it but I do have a photo of it!
Do you have any exhibitions planned?
I am busy with paintings for Sun International and their new hotel in PE. So maybe later. Exhibitions stress artists out!
Where can people see more of your work?
At the new Boardwalk hotel soon! I have outlets in Ballito, Umhlanga, Shelly Beach and “Veranda” in St Francis Bay. You can see my wildlife or contact me at www.artistcapes.co.za.
What is your dream project?
To travel with Hanli Prinsloo and do paintings of the whales that she sees! My childhood obsession has not left yet!
Lastly, tell us who your favourite artist is…
Locally: ANDY! Ha ha! (that’s how I sign my paintings). Other local favourites must be Este Mostert, Peter Gray, David Thorpe, Natasha Barnes
Internationally: ANDY STEELE – that’s the pseudonym I use overseas. People can’t remember Berthelson! Ha ha! Actually, my International favourites are Paul Bosman, Simon Combes, Robert Bateman
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