For Odette and Debbi Powell, art is a family matter – and one that bonds this mother and daughter team.
When asked what the best thing about working as an artist is, Odette and Debbi share a smile and answer, in unison, “the creativity”. For the mother and daughter duo, art is everything – something to share, a means of expression, and a family business. Relative newcomers to the North Coast, the pair work together to create, sell and teach art.
Odette was drawn to the North Coast three years ago for its beauty and warmth. When she first moved to Ballito, she began offering art classes from her garage. “The same ladies who started lessons with me then are still with me today,” she says. Originally from Nelspruit, the family owned an art and framing store for many years. While living there, both Odette and Debbi took much of their inspiration from the area’s natural environment and animals.
Debbi has a particular interest in birds – their colours and character – and her pieces reflect this fascination, while Odette has done a lot of work on wildlife and trees for which the Lowveld is so well known. Now, says Odette, her style has shifted and changed to reflect her new home.
“I paint a lot of beach scenes, seascapes and sea life. Inspiration comes from where you live.”
Art has always been a way of life for Odette, and this is something she has passed on to Debbi. “I love working with my daughter,” she says. “We love each other!” And for Debbi, the feeling is mutual, having moved to Ballito a few months ago to be closer to her mom.
“We worked together for 16 years in Nelspruit, and it’s wonderful to be together again.”
Although their styles differ, the mother-daughter team enjoy painting together and they often help each other with ideas and feedback. Debbi works with watercolours, inks and acrylics, while Odette uses mostly acrylic and oil on canvas. Odette did not formally train as an artist, and has developed her own style over time, which, she says, is constantly changing. “I jump from medium to medium because I get bored with doing the same thing over and over again,” she admits. Debbi is also self-taught, having grown up surrounded by paints and brushes.
Odette has taught art classes for adults for many years, and the experience of sharing her expertise is deeply rewarding. “I believe that everyone must have their own style, be free, and enjoy it,” she says. “A lot of women who have been through hard times come to me for art classes, and it’s helped them tremendously.” Odette actually began painting when her husband passed away, and for her, it was a healing process. The classes are also a space for connection, and many of Odette’s students have become great friends over the years.
To complement Odette’s offering, Debbi recently started classes for children, an experience she is thoroughly enjoying. “They have so much fun, and get so absorbed in the process,” she says. “It builds confidence and they get to make friends.”
While the business of selling art is not always easy, Odette and Debbi wouldn’t have it any other way. “We are blessed to do what we do,” says Debbi. “It can be frustrating, but it is rewarding. And it’s fun! I love playing with colours, getting lost in the work, not thinking about anything else. And hopefully when people look at it, they feel joy.”
Odette agrees that the profession has its ups and downs, but ultimately, art is in her blood. “I have a lot of flops, and I sometimes feel disheartened. There have been times I’ve said I’m giving up; I’m never painting again. And then a week or so later, I miss it!”
Details: Odette: 082 603 1321, [email protected]