Gilding the Image

Marc Alexander demonstrates his techniques for using gold leaf gilding in an oil painting. 

Enchanted Forest #II by Marc Alexander

In 2012, I produced a series of paintings for a solo exhibition entitled “Dreams of an Enchanted World”. This exhibition was mainly inspired by bedtime stories, folklore and nursery rhymes, which I often told with much glee to my four young children. Working mostly in richly coloured oils in the style of the traditional realist and incorporating the lustre of gold-leaf gilding, texture and some two-dimensional elements into my composition, I aimed at creating a surreal world of talking animals, heroic characters and magical trees.

I’ve always found the rich cultural diversity of the different South African ethnic groups inspiring and worthy of preservation. So growing up in a fast changing world of lost cultural identities has been a challenge to me. It’s because of this reason that I have often included traditionally dressed subjects into my paintings, continually trying to recapture the narrative elements of almost forgotten cultures and folklore.

It was during my training as museum technologist at the Pretoria Art Museum, that I developed a keen interest in the restoration of 14th to 17th century Dutch and Flemish art, especially the extraordinary luminosity that they achieved with their glazed layers. I also learnt how to restore Baroque frames and other gilded surfaces. In fact, I love gilding so much that gold or silver leaf almost always replaces background water, earth, snow or sky in my artworks, which adds a two dimensional element similar to that of a Coptic icon.

For many years now, I have been combining these traditional techniques, and some modern ones with contemporary materials. My compositions are usually clean and triangular with an offcentre focal point. During the preliminary drawing stage I take time to get the proportions and perspectives as true to nature as possible. After that each new element of the painting is systematically applied and there is never a shortage of painstaking detail.

This hyper-realism that I’m aiming for usually has a very smooth finish, so I will add an element of texture. Trees, dead branches or rock are sculpted using my homemade texture paste and a palette knife or other tools. I generally find that people are so saturated with perfect digital imagery these days that they often crave a bit of texture in a painting. Because the texture paste has a water base, I cannot apply it over my oils or gilded sections, so careful planning is essential in the beginning stages or what I like to call the ‘water’ stage of the painting.

Source: The Artist UK June 2016 edition

To view the demo portfolio click here or to see the demo video click here.

Grand Opening

The Studio Art Gallery’s grand opening and evening market and picnic at Imhoff Farm.

Lindy Marc and Donna cutting the ribbon at the Studio Art Gallery's grand opening
The Studio Art Gallery – Grand Opening 5

The Studio renamed The Studio Art Gallery, that was first situated in Kalk Bay at the Majestic Village has, after three very successful years, moved to Kommetjie – the new art hub. On Thursday the 31st of March at 6pm, The Studio Art Gallery will be having its grand opening. Please join us as we celebrate the beginning of the next sensational chapter. This opening will coincide with an evening market and picnic at Imhoff Farm. See: for further details.

The speed and complex, no-cost networking capabilities of the web, has fuelled a growing trend of artists who manage and market their own careers. Providing artist with direct access to private, corporate and institutional collectors as wells as the broader ‘cloud’ of individualised awareness of the artist’s work. Surfing this technological wave as business partners, are Cape Town based artists Marc Alexander and Donna Mckellar, who have chosen Imhoff Farm in Kommetjie on the busy Cape Point route to be their new gallery-front. The gallery occupies shop 6 and 7 that used to be the old blacksmith’s workshop built in 1743 and features the original forge, which is still in use, albeit only to warm visitors on rainy days.

The gallery is situated on your right as you enter the lawned area or courtyard, just after the Imhoff Plant Nursery. This new space with its half-meter thick walls and quaint surrounds perfectly complements both artists work. Donna’s enigmatic Karoo landscapes juxtaposing Marc’s partially gilded wildlife series is a breath-taking experience not to be missed. At present, the gallery showcases a wide selection of Marc and Donna’s original oil paintings as well as the highest museum quality artist’s prints, but plans to also include other local artists at a later stage.

Lindy Alexander, Marc’s kindly wife, who also manages his art career, has been appointed as the gallery’s new director. Besides a friendly welcome, Lindy plans to enthral visitors and patrons with a dynamic exhibition, education and events programme. Whether you are a new enthusiast or serious connoisseur, if you would like to build your corporate or private art collection, then Lindy is the person to talk to.

Most days, Marc can be seen painting in the studio part of the gallery, always willing to share his techniques and business experience, or talk about his latest projects

Neighbouring the gallery, one can also find a good mix of photographic art, ceramics, porcelain, glass art, and numerous other artistries. Many of the shops are new, and so contribute to a fresh and vibrant creative atmosphere on the Farm.

The Studio Art Gallery is open 7 days a week 9am – 5pm. To visit our website or online shop, please go to or for further information, consultations or private exhibition viewings please email: Imhoff Farm has a brief history on their website

New Gallery

Marc Alexander

In December 2015 The Studio Art Gallery, of which Marc Alexander, Lindy Alexander and Donna McKellar are co-owners, situated at the new art center on Imhoff Farm in Kommetjie, opened its doors to the public. In addition to a good representation of Marc and Donna’s artworks this gallery also plans to represent a select group of South African contemporary artists.