Laraine Campbell through the eyes of Donna White
What mood did Laraine whilst she was working?
She smoked a lot, and was generally very anxious, but focused totally on the work at hand.
Which artist/s inspired Laraine in the early days?
I knew her from 1982, when we both attended the Johannesburg Art Foundation. I’m afraid I can’t remember which artist or artists inspired her.
I know she enjoyed drawing human figures surrounded by her favourite furniture / flowers etc. were there other topics?
Her last pictures were all about, generally , vintage dolls as far as I remember, with flowers as an alternative subject matter.
Which piece was Laraine’s favourite and why?
I think she loved her dolls the most, but I’m not sure which one.
Were there any sensitivities / deep meanings behind her different pieces, if so, could you possibly elaborate?
She never expressed anything in this direction to me at the time. I think she found drawing to be deeply therapeutic.
Did she know when her work was finished?
Where did she work indoors, outdoors, with view or not?
Generally indoors, when I was around, at any rate. We had life models coming to my house originally, and then Laraine moved on to the Parktown church with Cecily Grant and others in my group, when I found that having 2 little boys was a bit much to deal with in addition to organising an art get-together every week.
Did she work with music, if so, what was her favourite music?
We sometimes did, but generally not. Can’t remember any particular favourites. In the later years she worked with Cathy Cox at her own studio.
She use to create her effects with the used pastels, carbon pencil, charcoal and discriminate applications of pure turpentine on card. Did she develop this technique?
Partly. The mix of turpentine, pastels, carbon pencil and charcoal was my initial contribution, although I also experimented with shoe polish and pencil crayons among other things, as you can see in my portrait of Laraine as a clown. Laraine initiated the concept of holding her drawing vertically when the turpentine was still wet, to watch it drip to the level she wanted. This became her trademark that she used consistently from then on.
Did Laraine enjoy more the effects she used or subject of the painting?
Besides this medium and style, did Laraine do any other art form?
When we were at Bill Ainslee’s Johannesburg Art Foundation, she did some printing, but that stopped when she left, as far as I know.
What was her general outlook on life?
I didn’t know her when she was younger. She showed glimpses of having been a very enthusiastic person once, and she always came across as a very warm person.
What inspired Laraine once she became an experienced artist?
As exciting as a piece she had completed looked to us as fellow artists, the thing I remember most from this time was her inevitable response:” But will it sell?” I think she responded most to the dolls because they seemed locked in a silent prison as I think she was towards the end.
What frustrated her whilst she was working?
Noise, and people talking.
Was Laraine involved in the art society groups?
Cecily named the group at the church, but I can’t remember the name.
What do you personally admire about Laraine’s work?
Her strong observational and linear sensitivity, as well as her sense of composition.
What did she enjoy doing besides painting?
She loved her dog. She was an excellent cook. She had a great library of art books.
Who were Laraine’s favourite modern day artists in her latter days?
Egon Schiele, if I remember correctly.
When and what prompted Laraine to start drawing?
I don’t know what she did before 1982, but I suggested that a group of us could continue drawing at my place after we left the Foundation…it was at the Foundation that we all picked up the discipline of drawing from life once or twice a week.