The ”Metalfication” of my Art

The ”Metalfication” of my Art

If my art was a heavy metal subgenre, which one would it be? My admiration for heavy metal music led me to do some digging. 

I remember my transition to heavy metal in the mid-’90s as not so heavy. Ashamedly, I listened to hair metal bands before descending into grunge and later on much darker music in the 00’s. Nu metal and progressive metal was my gateway to death metal. Oddly, my music taste has become less dark, depending on my mood. I enjoy the technical ingenuity of classical music, especially the darker classical music. 

Creating art and problem solving have their soundtracks depending on my mood: The more stressed or irritable I am, the darker and louder my music becomes. I found that alternating Rammstein and Dawn of Demise have a remarkably calming effect on me and helps me focus my mind. They make great yoga playlists. During moments of calm, I crave Classic Rock, Progressive Metal, and Black Light Burns. When I’m sad, I prefer Bush or Bob Dylan.

So, where does my art style fit? Firstly I have to dissect my style to figure out what genre it can be categorized as follows:

  1. My subject matter is always organic: plants, animals, insects, or the human form (mostly body parts).
  2. I love soft blending. 
  3. Definite lines fade away at some point.
  4. My work is not highly saturated with a vivid colour palette.
  5. I gravitate towards graphite pencils.
  6. I use oil paint as a soft, thin, and blended water colour-like medium. 
  7. My themes are based on spirituality, melancholy, and macabre.
  8. I use different textured paper or canvas: smooth paper and sometimes a roughly textured canvas.
  9. My portraits always seem to end up with slightly larger eyes and a very somber expression.

If I had to sift through the heavy metal sub-genres, I could try to draw a comparison between the music and my artistic style. Let’s start where heavy metal was first named Heavy Metal: Black Sabbath, the frontrunner for extreme metal. Sure, they don’t sound anything like thrash metal, death metal, or grindcore, but they paved the way for these sub-genres to develop, and many of those bands agree that Sabbath were the ones who were named Heavy Metal for the first time. 

From there on, bands wanted to go darker, scarier, more sinister, and shock rock came into being with Alice Cooper (and the infamous chicken incident on stage). Then came a different type of darkness: Iron Maiden, which paved the way for thrash metal bands like Metallica and Slayer. Metal started to split into so many subgenres: shock rock turned to glam rock, which in turn became pop-like with hair metal bands like Poison, Motley Crue, Guns’ n Roses, and even Def Leppard went that route. This type of music was lighter, commercial, and very radio-friendly, heavily laden with power ballads. 

Tired of all the lighthearted music, punk rock bands started forming, with faster beats, angrier lyrics, and bold statements. In the meantime, heavy metal was not giving up on their signature sounds and went darker with bands such as Lamb Of God. Interest was slowly waning in this type of music, and thus grunge was born with Alice In Chains, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, and Nirvana. The music was loud and punchy, but the lyrics slowed down and showcased angst and suffering. 

Heavy metal seemed to become the outcast of society but soon gained momentum with Progressive metal. Prog metal, also known as technical metal, doesn’t seem too dark at first, but the compositions seem to evolve the longer you listen. It’s an amplified guitar-driven fusion of progressive rock and heavy metal, making the sound aggressive and more experimental or even pseudo-classical. It has a contained hostility to it, but also profound wretchedness. The technical dexterity of prog musicians is astounding, and it is quite noticeable that most of them come from classically trained backgrounds: Tool, Mastodon, Dream Theater, Gojira, etc. Soon after prog, nu-metal made its appearance and combined all that is heavy with other genres such as hip hop, funk, grunge, and alternative rock. I got into the metal scene with bands like Korn, Limp Bizkit, Deftones, Incubus, Slipknot, Chevelle, and many more. 

On the other side, Extreme Metal was forging its way through the world with Black Metal, Doom Metal, Death Metal, Norwegian Death Metal (which deserves a sub-genre), the beast of heaviness: grindcore. In Black Metal, the music is faster, “thrashier,” the lyrics are demonic, and the makeup corpse-inspired. With bands like Cradle of Filth, Dimmu Borgir, and Cannibal Corpse, the music seems theatrical: operatic vocals are sometimes incorporated with animalistic growls that give you goosebumps. 

Doom metal is darker with a sense of dread and funeral-inspired, especially with names like Pallbearer, Mournful Congregation, and My Dying Bride. Death metal’s characteristic is the deep, guttural growls that you can barely make out. It’s all about destruction, doom, and gloom: Arch Enemy, In Flames, Amon Amarth, and my latest crush: Dawn of Demise. Norwegian death metal bands such as Gorgoroth, Enslaved, Darkthrone, and Mayhem, take the darkness of death metal and turns it into Vantablack. Although I love the darkness of death metal, at times, it sounds the same: a sea of dark ink that consumes you. 

Then there is grindcore: it’s unnerving, uncomfortable, and beyond violence and today’s answer to shock rock: Napalm Death, Pig Destroyer, Dying Fetus, and Chelsea Grin (cautionary note: this music is not for the faint-hearted and should not be listened to if you have a weak constitution). 

Back to art: My art is dark and creepy at times, but not too dark or too scary. It still has some light and whimsy to it. My art is not made to shock, disgust, or scare the bejesus out of you. It is made to make you think: how will life continue when we (humans) keep destroying, plundering, and abusing nature as well ourselves. What is suffering, and how does it physically look. Suppose I draw or paint something that’s decomposing. In that case, it has layers, complexity, and melancholy to it, like a heartbreaking violin playing a single middle C and blending into the resounding finality of a low E on a four-string double bass. It would seem that this makes my art alternative, with progressive overtures. 

Light upon first glance, but the longer you look at them, the darker they become thematically. They seem to have contained aggression and profound wretchedness at the same time. The usage of lines start rhythmically; repeated patterns are used. But as the artwork progresses, the familiar lines and blending change give a completely different texture. I use various techniques on different artworks: some are softer and more fluid in texture, and others are harsh and highly contrasted. But it doesn’t evolve into something else. I stick to the idea, theme, and image I want to capture. I might decide to add a few embellishments as I create: such as extra eyes, smoke, branches, or even change the proportions a bit. So my art isn’t strictly prog metal. There are hints of black metal, but without the corpse paint and demonic eyes.

”If I stand around and watch then drown in a pool of gray

When we dive in I can surely say there’s feud with force

Am I in your way? Please knock me down. Can I help you in?

When I’m not around let us all be found in certain ways.”

– Mastodon

October Newsletter


Hi there, and welcome to my Halloween Imaginarium.

This month I’ll share some creative ways to spook-up your space with some fun decorations, my trusted recipes, and awesome things I found online.

I’m sure by now you all know the history of Halloween, so instead of drudging up old ghosts, I’ll share what the holiday means to me and how I usually celebrate it.

Halloween isn’t celebrated where I live, so finding elegantly creepy décor pieces are rare. I’ve opted for making my own, and somehow I always end up with a Witch-In-The-Forest vibe. Gnarled branches hang from the ceiling, bloody wax drip from candles and paper bats swarm my walls. Rusty cutlery and glass domes fill the spaces in between, and I stack as many books around as possible. I’m fortunate because a couple of years ago someone gifted me a box of vintage books. They’re not anything I’d read at all, but they are perfect for decorating! Decorating is a serious business, that I start around September and I have a spooky soundtrack or audiobook handy when I start.

On Halloween I have candles out for every loved one, human or animal, that died and a modest altar with photographs or treats they loved. It’s similar to the Offrenda but far less sophisticated. I’ll have lots of herbal tea, some homemade pumpkin pie, and I usually read something classic in the lines of Lovecraft, Poe, or Dante. In the evening is when my remembrance celebration starts: I light the candles and recall fond memories for each person/animal. It’s a sombre occasion and feels very similar to having a funeral. Afterward, I’ll have some more pie and break out my tarot cards for a Celtic Cross Reading. The rest of the evening is spent watching horror movies. I start taking down my decorations after Dias De Los Muertos. This too is a sombre event.

If you’re into tarot, which spread is your favourite?

Let’s get started with a Halloween staple: fake blood. There are so many recipes out there, and I’ve probably tried them all. Working in the indie film circuit taught me a lot about improvising, especially when it comes to props. I remember painting realistic severed fingers, filling bags with fake blood, and fashioning intestines from old stockings and flour. The latter doesn’t last very long and smells like rotten intestines if you leave it for a couple of days. I do not recommend making it! (insert gagging noises here). But I’m proud of my blood recipe, it has the perfect liquid consistency, is dark enough to look realistic, and it tastes good. The only drawback is that it stains porous surfaces and material, so be mindful when you handle or store it.

Download my film-worthy fake blood recipe here


What is the spooky season without a slice of pumpkin pie? In all my years, I’ve never found a single pumpkin Pie in South Africa, and finding the ingredients in US recipes proved to be challenging. So naturally, I made some adjustments, and I’m happy to report I’ve been using the same recipe for fourteen years. You don’t have to be a professional chef to bake this pie; you can cheat by just making the filling and using a pre-made pie crust from a bakery. You can also substitute the ingredients if you’re gluten-intolerant or vegan. If you want to know how to flute the edge of the crust, here’s a handy guide:

If you’re not sure how to do the toothpick test, this video will show you how:

If you’re curious to try my recipe, you can download it here

I’ve found some really interesting recipes if you’re feeling ambitious. Have a look at these inspiring creations:

What are your go-to snacks for Halloween?

Having the right entertainment is, I daresay, more important than the food. I’ve rounded up a few of my favourite things to watch and to listen to:

Decorating is what gets us in the Halloween mood, and the possibilities of themes are endless:

Vampire Lair, Hogwarts Magic, Zombie Apocalypse, Haunted Forest, Tim Burton, Witchy, Vintage, Jack-O-Lantern, Elegant, and anything else you can imagine.

Bat silhouettes are my favourite, and even though they are a bit OTT I adore the shadows they cast on a wall. I cut out the shapes on black cardstock, for a contrasted look, and also a few white ones to cover an entire white wall.

Get your Bat silhouette here

Do you fancy some blood dripping from your candles? Instead of painting them with fake blood, you can make them last a little longer with a hack I use. All you’ll need are the cheapest white candles you’ve got, a red candle and some shiny red nail polish.

Drip the red wax onto the white candle and when it’s dry, dot some red nail polish onto it to give it some extra shine.

No party is complete without the presence of a Jack-O-Lantern, and instead of going traditional, how about carving apples, or oranges and throwing them in a large bowl of water. You can also take it one step further by making a paper Jack-O-Lantern. Have a look at this adorable DIY:

Do yourself a favour and check out all the paper crafts that Ray O’Bannon has to offer. They are truly amazing and so much fun to make. I can’t wait to get started on the Ghost House!

If you’re looking for some fresh inspiration, why not spookify something that’s ordinarily cute. Dolls can be pretty creepy, with the right amount of paint and accessories.

Let me know how you usually decorate, and if you have a theme this year.

Here’s a little Halloween Greeting Card for you

Thank you for reading my spooky little newsletter. I sincerely hope it has been helpful and inspirational to you.

Have a wondrously creepy Halloween!


Halloween creative decor with skull in black, gray and pink colors

September Newsletter


Hi there, and welcome to the September edition of my Imaginarium!

I hope that my newsletters took your mind away from all the horrors 2020 threw onto our heads. This year has been terrible. But we’re creative folk, we tend to be more resilient, and we find ways to improve our dire situations. Enough with the doom and gloom, let’s jump right into it.

My exhibition is also coming to an end this month, and if you haven’t had a look yet, you’ll have until 22 September (Central African Time). This exhibition was the first of many I’ll be doing, and it’ll be part of a design package available on my website. So, if you are struggling to get gallery representation, you can exhibit online in my gallery. If you’re interested in learning more, drop me a mail, and we can get chatting.

In the meantime, you can scan the QR code in the image below to give my exhibition another browse:

Now for some DIY

This is something I’ve been dying to try for ever: making my own quill pen. There is something wonderfully magical about a hand-written letter and the idea that you used an elegant pen instead of humble old Ball Point, makes it so much more special. Over the years I’ve collected a few feathers, and I have the perfect one for the task ahead.

All you’ll need is a sharp knife, a large feather of your choice and some ink. It is important to understand the mechanisms of a fountain pen before making a quill. While it may be as simple as just dipping the feather into some ink and writing, you’ll find it difficult to control the flow and amount of ink that lands on the paper. 

A fountain pen consists of a reservoir, to store the ink, a feed, which is a tube with three channels running down its side, a metal nib for writing and a collector just below the nib that regulates the flow of ink.

Quills work on a similar principle, but much more simplistic. Feathers have hollow shafts that will replace the reservoir and feed part of the pen. If you look closely at a fountain pen, you’ll see that the nib splits open if you apply light pressure to it, this gives the lettering that beautiful thick and thin lines in calligraphy.

This effect can be achieved with a quill pen if you cut it just right. I’ve made an instructional template to guide you through the process, and you can download it here:

How to make your own Quill Pen


Now that I have my quill pen, I just have to learn calligraphy! Here is an excellent place to start:

Seeing that next month is Halloween, let’s get into the erm, spirit of things. (#iregretnothing) with the cabinet of curiosity. What is a cabinet of curiosity, actually?

Throughout history, man’s fascination with death led to macabre collections of specimens deemed as unusual or curious. It probably has to do with our innate fascination with collecting things. Nowadays we have less creepy things to keep in our drawers, but before time as we know it, stones, skulls, animal hides and sticks were most likely the preferred brand.

As humans became more sophisticated and developed a need to record findings, books were made containing anatomical, and botanical diagrams with information about the specimens. Ferrante Imperato’s Dell’ Historia Naturale is the perfect example of journaling this information. He was known as an apothecary and dedicated an entire room, to his work. The Smithsonian Museum digitised Ferrante’s journals, and you can view it here:

A cabinet of curiosity was a sort of permanent exhibition and comprised mainly of artificialia, naturalia, exotica and scientifica. Artificialia were mostly antiques or artworks, some of which were artificially modified. A perfect example would be clay sculptures from ancient civilizations. Naturalia included creatures with deformities, such as two-headed cow foetuses. It was also the stuff made of nightmares: questionable finds such as the Fiji Mermaid, Chimera or other creatures from folklore. Exotica was reserved for plants and animals that were considered exotic, such as taxidermied birds from unknown parts of the world. Scientifica was more in line with technology or medicines, but with artistic flair. Instruments such as the celestial globe were functional as well as work of art. Each of the biological specimens was preserved in jars or set behind glass in viewing cabinets.

While the practice has gone out of fashion, you can still have a glimpse at them here:

Over the years I’ve collected a modest amount of curiosities, all of them small enough to fit in a vintage suitcase. My collection comprises of a few moths, a hatchling skeleton (my saddest find), a bee-like beetle, interesting stones, twigs, leaves and enough feathers to build a giant bird. One day I’ll arrange them and label them properly in glass display.

Are you a collector of something weird and wonderful?

With October approaching, it’s time to dust off the pen and ink supplies again. Inktober is the only time I use ink of any kind in my artworks, and it’s been a tremendous help in improving my pen skills. When I joined the challenge a couple of years ago, I merely doodled on my hands with my favourite pens, but over the years I’ve become more ambitious, ranging from leaves to postcard-sized artworks. This year I’m upscaling to A5 and adding more detail. #nopressure! Needless to say, I’ll be participating in Jake Parker’s annual October ink-fest and Drawlloween as well. But I’m planning to add my spin on it with Ink’oween. My secret weapon for getting through Inktober is to get a head-start by subscribing to the official newsletter, which means I get the prompt list early, with enough time to do another challenge like Mab Graves’ Drawlloween Club.

If you’re keen on joining in on the ink fun, you can subscribe to Jake’s newsletter here:

He has some amazing resources to help you improve your inking skills.

For my challenge, I’ve dubbed Ink’oween, I’ve chosen 13 Halloween-related prompts, which I will use to replace 13 of the Inktober prompts with. Therefore, I’ll be drawing 18 artworks from the official Inktober prompt list and 13 of my own. I’ll be using #inkoween as a tag and if you’re participating, it would be glorious if you could use it as well.

Download my Ink’oween prompt list here.

Thank you for reading my little newsletter. I sincerely hope it has been helpful and inspirational to you.

I’ve kept this edition concise because I have so much planned for next month, that I hardly know where to start. It will be filled to the brim with all things Halloween! I’ll share amazing crafts, recipes, my top picks for films and so much more!

Until then, have a spectacular September!


August Newsletter


Hi there,

Welcome to the August edition of my Imaginarium! I’m going full Goth with everything black: ebony, crow, midnight, ink, raven, oil, onyx, pitch, jet black, obsidian, coal, metal, and the darker-than-your-soul Black 3.0. I’m also looking into ways to further your art career with some helpful resources.

There isn’t a guaranteed formula to follow when it comes to being a successful artist. A portion of it is hard work, while the rest is loads of planning and a dash of luck. Sometimes it seems that it’s all about hitting the right trends at precisely the right time and how much money you have to invest in it. There are numerous courses to help you manage your art business, but unfortunately, they cost money and time. But on the upside, there are plenty of free resources that help immensely, and by applying yourself bit-by-bit, you can manage a fairly decent career.

Not all of us are fortunate enough to have mentors, and not many people are willing to share their secrets. It’s only natural to look to other artists who managed to grow their careers and try to learn a few tips from them. I’ve come across a few of them who do not shy away from helping other artists, and their insights have been life-saving. I’ve rounded up my top picks:

If you’re looking for places to sell your art, the best place to start is with local markets or art fairs. You could also enter art competitions, but success isn’t always guaranteed. Keep an eye out for art competitions and open calls for exhibitions, and you never know which one can open the right doors for you.

Marketing also plays a significant role in promoting your art and investing in a professionally designed website or online portfolio will help you establish your brand as an artist. By knowing how SEO and Google Adwords work, is also beneficial once you start to market your art seriously. If you are in the market for a website, I highly recommend o5 Webdesign and Auxilium Haus.

Brushing up on business 101 is also a great way to boost your entrepreneurial skills:

Don’t forget to have fun with it. Your art career is an extension of your soul and something that should bring you endless joy. It’s important to remember to take it easy occasionally and to feed your creativity with things that you enjoy. Just for fun, and if you’re a Harry Potter fan, you can sharpen your magic skills by enrolling at Hogwarts:

If you need an amazing soundtrack to go with your studies, I highly recommend Miracle Forest:

Don’t you hate it when your favourite black clothes start to fade into that horrible brownish-charcoal oblivion? Black never seems dark enough, and I continuously find myself painting more layers on an artwork or increasing the contrast and shadows in Photoshop. Scientists discovered the blackest shade: Vantablack. It’s so dark, absorbing 99.995% of light, giving the object covered by it the appearance of a gaping hole. But it’s quite fragile and impractical for everyday use. There’s also an issue with acclaimed artist Anish Kapoor, who bought the patent and therefore no one else is allowed to paint with the pigment. This, of course, sparked outrage and prompted a bitter feud between himself and fellow British artist Stuart Semple. You can read more about the fantastic Vantablack and the dispute between the two rivals here:

In short, Stuart made new colours that he banned Anish from using, and the fight continued. What does this mean for those of us who want to use the blackest shade on the market? Even if we get our hands on Vantablack, lawsuits will prevent us from using it and chances are that it’ll ruin our artworks are rather significantly. Then Stuart made Black V1.0. Sure, it’s not as dark as its predecessor, but it came pretty close at 98 – 99% light absorption. And the best part: its non-toxic, acrylic, smells like cherries and can be used as regular paint. It’s also not too expensive. He’s since perfected the formula with Black 2.0 and recently Black 3.0. Finally, a shade as dark as my soul! Check it out for yourself, and let me know if you’d use 3.0 or any of your projects. But be aware, due to its high light absorption, there is a fire risk:


When it comes to illustration, it’s apparent that I prefer graphite pencils, sure, they might not be as dark as charcoal, but I love their simplicity, and I don’t like getting my hands full of charcoal smears. To achieve a decent shade of dark contrast, I use the HB 0.5 leads in my mechanical pencil. I opt for the H leads when I want to create lighter and more delicate lines. My mechanical pencil does all the darkest parts in my drawings, and for larger areas, I go in with my Derwent 3B pencil. When I paint with black, I use it straight from the tube, unless I’m mixing different colours.

One thing I’d love to try is drawing on a black canvas, which is readily available at art shops, and the effect of creating something that contrasted is breathtaking. Have you ever tried drawing or painting on a black canvas or paper? If not, here are some great tutorials to get you started:

Black clothing is just as versatile when it comes to making art: it doesn’t show the paint as much. But there is one huge drawback: pet hair! I look like a walking fur coat thanks to my cat, and she prefers lounging on my darker clothes. I go through lint rollers like you cannot believe. But stop wearing black? Never! Finding black garments in a country that is known for vibrant and sunny colours is not easy, I still get weird looks in certain areas when I venture out, so I’ve opted for lighter colours such as greys and dark blues when I need to blend in. If you’re someone who loves a darker aesthetic, check out these stores for some inspiration:

If you know of any places that sell unusual black wares and attire, please let me know!

One thing I don’t see often is black flowers, and they’re not as well-known. I scoured the net for some beautifully dark plants:

• Queen of the Night Tulip: They bloom in spring and are more of a velvety purple than black. They’re not too hard to maintain and can withstand colder climates.

• Hellebore: They’re poisonous, which adds to their mystery, but they’re evergreen and will grace your garden all-year-round.

• Bat Orchid: An exotic orchid that resembles a bat in motion is perfect for any garden. They do require extra love and care, but the result is spectacular.

• Black Pansy: Not only are they easy to grow, but they are also edible.

• Cranesbill Geranium: Also known as Black Widow Geranium grows in dark, damp spots.

• Spanish Moss: Although its seen as a hindrance, it adds an eerie beauty to any tree it grows upon. It makes the perfect indoor hanging plant.

• Black Beauty Elderberry: With its dark leaves, it adds just the right kind of vibe to a garden, even though the flowers are pink.

There are so many more that I haven’t mentioned above, but these are my top picks.

Looking for bio-degradable and environmentally friendly supplies can be arduous and expensive. But it doesn’t hurt to experiment at home with ingredients you might already have. I’ve started by making my ink from a few simple elements to practice calligraphy and ink drawing.

Download My Ink Recipe Here

Not sure which shade of black to choose for the day? You can download the perfect reading companion here, with the names of various shades of black:

Download The Shades of Black Bookmark Here

Thank you for reading and please share with your art-minded friends. They can also subscribe to my newsletter here:

Until next month, have a perfect August!



Flower Decay

Flower Decay

Simple wildflowers and garden weeds are in my opinion just as breathtaking as any rose or designer boutonniere. You’ll find them growing happily among my succulents and geraniums and I treasure them equally. Outdated telephone books are crammed with dried flowers and leaves and envelopes burst at the seams with feathers and twigs. These are my tiny treasures. I love nature in all its uncomplicatedness. It doesn’t have to be flashy, it should just exist.

Flower Decay is a eulogy in paint of one of the flowers in my decaying posy. I couldn’t bring myself to throw them out, so I decided to paint one of them instead. Not all of them looked withered enough, except for one pink little Daisy. The texture seemed soft, but was brittle and easily crumbled upon touch. Preserving it seemed an impossible task, so I decided to paint it instead.

It is a simple speed-painting of the decayed flower and a tree branch floating on a blank canvas. I didn’t capture too much detail and focused instead on the colours. Because I usually work in greyscale, it felt important to me to capture the feeling of the colours of the flower in this state of decay, rather than focusing on form.

I’m not one for drawing or painting conventional beauty; I find beauty in decomposition moving and profound. Just as the seasons change, so do all living things transform throughout their fleeting existence.

”Normal is an illusion. What is normal for the spider, is chaos to the fly” – Morticia Addams