Painting Workshops with Colleen Hamer

Colleen Hamer, teacher and painting enthusiast, will be running the courses. Art is her passion.

The venue for this painting holiday is superb, The Cavern’s relaxed, friendly hospitality and superb cuisine is legendary and our studio is spacious, convenient with windows on three sides. You may sketch and paint out-of-doors in safe surrounds or can choose to remain painting in the studio. The glorious weather that we can expect and the beautiful mountain surrounds is sure to set the scene for an enjoyably creative painting holiday.

Everyone is welcome to come and explore his or her creative potential, from beginners to experienced artists. Colleen will instruct, give guidance and demonstrate techniques.You may work in your medium of choice and are free to bring your own subject matter or to choose from that on offer.

About the workshop

This relaxed painting workshop is for beginners as well as the more expert artists to capture the ‘berg in its Summer or Autumn colours. However, participants are free to choose other subject matter too. I will be working mainly in oils and encourage you to bring oil paints too. However, I have experience and can advise those who work in other mediums, such as acrylics, pastels or watercolours. I will help with sketching, and will encourage the use of ink and wash too.

I hope you will arrive before lunch on the first day. The afternoon will be the time for settling in and unpacking, placing your art equipment at a table in the studio and exploring the gardens and surrounding mountain slopes.You will spend the following four days working in a well-lit thatched studio or out doors, if preferred. The week ends with a cheese and wine function for all hotel guests and a chance to exhibit the paintings and drawings produced.

The Cavern provides a wide variety of activities and you are encouraged to bring your partner or family along!

You will have uninterrupted time to work on your paintings, leaving unfinished work in the studio overnight. On this painting holiday participants are able to work in the medium of their choice. However, it may be a chance to experiment and try another medium too. Having decided your medium/s, check the items you’ll need to bring.

Below you’ll find a list of suggested materials. Please bring as many of these items (appropriate for your painting medium) as you can. (It’s a good idea to label items where possible.)

Materials for Painting Holiday:

Drawing materials: (This is for everybody)

A sketch pad ( preferably A3 size), a drawing board with bulldog clamps or masking tape.

Pencils (B or 2B), stick charcoal and/or charcoal pencil, and a waterproof pen- black ink.

Bring a small bottle of black Quink ink, or some watercolours, or acrylic paints, or inks and brushes for line and wash. Bring pieces of bamboo stick and feathers, if available.

Bring a roll of roller towel or toilet paper.

Painting materials – Colours:

Bring one or more of the painting mediums that you wish to use: oil paints, acrylics, watercolours or pastels. For beginners, I strongly suggest working in oils. (Phone me if you need to discuss this.)

The range of colours is optional, but for pastels you need a wide range of SA landscape colours- at least 48. Pastel pencils are useful for finer details.

For oils, acrylics and watercolours, you need at least a basic palette of the three primaries in a cool and a warm version: suggested colours – alizarin crimson, cadmium red, lemon yellow, cadmium yellow light, ultramarine blue and cerulean blue. In addition I’d suggest the earth colours – Naples yellow, raw umber or yellow ochre, burnt sienna and burnt umber. For oils and acrylics, titanium white is necessary too. Additional colours are optional, of course.

Painting materials – Brushes and Palette knives:

Personal preference dictates choice of brushes, but be sure to have a wide variety of sizes to use. Hog-hair brushes are suitable for oils and acrylics. A filbert tipped style of brush is most useful. The inexpensive hake brushes are wonderful for the rapid loose painting of skies and large areas, so do acquire a couple. Synthetic brushes are aiso useful.

For oils and acrylics, several palette knives of differing sizes are necessary for mixing paint and may be used as painting tools too.

Watercolourists may love their sable brushes and they are very desirable, but the less expensive blends and synthetics are fine too.

Painting surfaces:

Acrylic and oil painters will need to bring primed stretched canvases or other primed surface of choice. Bring at least six (45cmx60cm suggested)

Pastel artists and watercolourists need to bring good quality paper. (Please telephone if you need guidance.) Masking tape and backing boards are needed.

There will be 10 standing easels in the studio, but bring a portable outdoor easel and a table easel if you have one.

Additional items:

Pastel artists may need spray-on fixative. A small tray with foam mat is useful for pastels in use.

Watercolourists need a palette and a jar for water. Some may like masking fluid.

A wet palette is very useful for those using acrylics. (Phone me for info about making one using a shallow plastic container, such as a Tupperware cold-cut keeper.) Extender, which keeps acrylic paint from drying as rapidly, is available at art stores. E.g.Golden Products makes acrylic glazing liquid which is a water-based acrylic medium that extends the open time of acrylic colours.

Oil painters will need a suitable palette. W&N Liquin or Artiste LiquiGel are essential to use as a softening or glazing medium and to encourage more rapid drying of oil paint. Bring mineral turpentine for cleaning brushes and a jar or two for turpentine in use while painting.

Rags, such as old T-shirt material, worn out sheeting or curtain lining are most useful for wiping paint off, for drying brushes after dipping, etc.

Optional: moulding paste if you like to build your surface or add texture when painting in oils or acrylics.


Please bring an apron, old shirt or smock to protect clothes while working in the studio.

Bring a portfolio bag or cardboard folder for storage and transport of paper, pad, sketches and paintings, etc.

For sketching and painting out in the fields: A lightweight stool, a lightweight easel (if you have one- or you’ll have to work on your lap), a sun hat, sunscreen, a warm hat and scarf (just in case), insect repellent, a water bottle, a carry bag or small backpack for art materials.

Bring subject matter for inspiration. On windy, rainy days or really hot days you will want to stay in the studio. Bring photos, black and white photocopies, magazine/book pictures, sketches, etc. Look for pictures of mountains, rivers, farm houses, farm animals, skies, trees, indigenous flora and fauna, SA rural scenes, people, still life pictures, etc. In reference pictures, look for good tonal contrasts.- Though I’ll have my photos of local scenes to use and share, please bring pictures of scenes that attract you as well.

NB: For the collection and recording of painting subject matter: a camera. I will be bringing a printer.

If possible, bring cut mounts to use when displaying your work on the final evening.

For further information please contact Colleen directly on

COLLEEN HAMER, AWSSA: a brief Curriculum Vitae

I qualified as an art and English teacher and taught at various schools for 28 years. My artistic output during those years was geared mainly towards educational visual aids. Fifteen years ago I took advantage of a retrenchment offer in order to devote more time to art.

Watercolour painting was my first love and for many years I painted watercolours exclusively. I am an Associate member of the national Watercolour Society of SA.

For five years I was secretary of the local branch of WSSA, followed by two years as branch chairman.

Currently, I’m painting mostly in oils and acrylics. I exhibit with three art groups and in a number of art galleries in and around Durban. I’m a committee member of the North Coast Art Group and belong to KZNSA Gallery and the Highway Art Group. Examples of my paintings are in private collections in SA, Australia, Canada and in the UK.

I love drawing and I paint a wide variety of subject matter, from portraits, still life paintings and flowers to landscapes- and particularly enjoy painting people and domestic animals. I aim to capture the effects of light – hoping to produce fresh, spontaneous looking paintings with expressive lines and brushstrokes. This is an on-going challenge.

12 thoughts on “Painting Workshops with Colleen Hamer”

  1. I would love to join your May 2019 Art Workshop if there is a place still available.
    Do I book through you or The Cavern?

  2. Hi. Are you planning retreat workshops in 2019. I am a watercolour artist and would love to attend one of your retreats

    1. Megan Carte Bedingham

      Dear Inge
      Thank you for your enquiry. We will be running a workshop in May 2019. Details will be finalised in the next month or so. If you join our mailing list, or keep an eye on our website, you will get details in early October.
      Best wishes,

  3. Hi Sheila,

    Thank you for your email.

    There are no painting workshops at the Cavern during that time but I will forward your inquiry onto Colleen who will revert back about any other courses she may be running during that time.

    Kind regards,

  4. Hi Colleen,

    I am interested in joining you in you workshop and will be in SA from the 16/9/17 till 25/9/17. Will you be running a workshop during this period?


  5. Dear Louise

    Hope you are keeping well.

    We have standard accommodation available 3-8 September 2017.

    Your friend can also pay the painting workshop rate.

    Please send contact us to book.

    Kind regards,


  6. Louise da Silva

    Hi there… is there still space for the September 3-8th, art week?
    If I bring a non painting friend with for that week, what price will her stay be?

    Many thanks
    Louise da Silva

  7. Laura Hartman

    I am interested in one of your workshops. Kindly advise re the next available workshop.
    Thank you
    Laura Hartman

    1. Dear Laura,

      Thank you for your enquiry about the Painting Workshops.

      Dates: 3-8 Sept

      Rates: R4800 per person sharing and R6000 per single
      The tariff includes all meals, teas and the workshop with Colleen Hamer.
      Please contact us for more information.

      Kind regards

  8. Hi there
    As per our telephonic discussion earlier in the week, I have added your daughter to join you.

    Feel free to contact me should you have queries.

    Kind regards,

  9. Dear Colleen,
    with regards to the workshop I am attending in May, my daughter Melinda is now able to join me and The Cavern can put an extra bed in my room, I hope this is OK with you, she is coming from Grahamstown, many thanks, regards Meryl

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