A woman for all seasons

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PAINTING EN PLEIN AIR, MARINA CLUNIE CAPTURES THE MOOD AND SPIRIT OF THE WEST COAST IN ALL WEATHER CONDITIONS.

It’s hard to believe that self-taught artist Marina Clunie of Velddrif didn’t lift a brush until she was 51 years old. Sixteen years on and she paints non-stop. “Living with art inspires me daily and the West Coast is my muse,” she said.

Growing up in Boston, Bellville, Marina always had a desire to be an artist, but, fatherless since age eight, her mother encouraged her to pursue a secure career. So off she went first as a secretary and then into banking. “The only creativity in my life was cooking and crocheting. So, when our last child left home, I enrolled for art classes. My husband thought I was nuts. Twenty minutes into the first class I was about to walk out when the switch flipped.”

After two terms at art school she went it alone. “In learning to paint, I had to paint my own language.” Around this time, in 2000, the Clunies decided to drop out of city life in Bellville, moving lock, stock and barrel to Velddrif. First Marina ran a restaurant, Ebbtide, in a fisherman’s cottage that they restored, but when she received an offer she couldn’t refuse, she sold the business and started painting fulltime.

At her lovely place of work, River Studio in Velddrif, she works next to husband Des’s restaurant, Ek & Djy Visserye. “It’s a challenge being a visual artist,” she continued. “People seem to think it’s relaxing, which it is largely, but it requires hard work, intention and focus.”

“I’ve never wanted to paint pictures,” she explained. “The auras, tones and atmosphere of what’s around us provide a cornucopia of subjects. Every day, I drink in the environment, ensnaring these oft-overlooked moments and shifting them to the foreground. Whether it’s the autumn colours on the wetlands, the rustling reeds, the stormy sea, mist rolling in or spring flowers. Ah, not forgetting my favourites: old jetties and boats. I simply can’t paint enough of them. As a naturalist, these landscapes are the perfect vehicle for expressing the joy I have in my surroundings.”

Working in both acrylics and oils, Marina’s atmospheric West Coast paintings are selling well. Now with confidence in her skills, she exhibits at Stonefish Gallery in Paternoster, Bay Gallery in Langebaan, Laaiplek Hotel and four times a year at Kirstenbosch Gardens with members of the South African Society of Artists.

When not painting, Marina travels the West Coast with hubby to further enjoy the splendour it has to offer. They have five children between them from previous marriages and eight grandchildren.

FAST FACTS
I veg out by lying under a tree listening to cicadas
My sport is cycling
As spectator, rugby is my game
My pet place on the West Coast is Velddrif
My favourite restaurant is Noisy Oyster in Paternoster
I love eating seafood bisque or mussel chowder
My signature drink is a red wine blend
I read autobiographies
My hobby is painting

Marina can be contacted on marina@riverstudio.co.za