JUST ME :: and a stack of blank pages

Saturday, March 21, 2015

A farm cottage

W&N watercolour on thick sketching paper

Done from a photograph, with kind permission of a dear friend, Maria Lock, Millmerran, Queensland, Australia.


Wednesday, March 11, 2015

View across the river

W&N watercolour on Bockingford 300gsm

View of the Magaliesberg across the river in Broederstroom. Once again Blogger is not playing the game with the colours of my painting, it views much greyer than what it really is!


Sunday, March 8, 2015

Aloe ferox painting 1

W&N watercolour on Bockingford 300gsm

A painting of an Aloe ferox in my garden. Each winter my aloes put up the most spectacular show of orange, brightening up the dull winter landscape. I can feel the season is turning already, gets lighter much later in the mornings and soon (well, roundabouts June/July) I’ll be blessed with their beauty again.

Aloe ferox (known as the Cape Aloe, Bitter Aloe, Red Aloe and Tap Aloe), is a species of arborescent aloe indigenous to southern Africa. It is one of several Aloe species used to make bitter aloes, a purgative medication, and also yields a non-bitter gel that can be used in cosmetics.


Friday, February 27, 2015

Singing sweet songs, of melodies pure and true

W&N watercolour on Bockingford 300gsm

‘Rise up this morning,
smile with the rising sun,
three little birds
sit by my doorstep,
singing sweet songs
of melodies pure and true,
this is my message to you.’

PS : I don't know what's wrong with Blogger's colours, but the image I uploaded is not as dark as this and the back-ground is totally white, no grey...?


Monday, February 23, 2015

Bluegum bush at the dam

W&N watercolour on Bockingford 300gsm

Not far from us is this dam with a lovely blue gum bush on one side. I used to sketch here often a few years ago, but now the dam wall is broken and there's only a stream trickling through when it rains. A great loss to the environment, as it used to offer food and shelter for all sorts of wildlife from Egyptian Geese to a plethora of water birds and lots of small mammals. The price we pay for progress...


Thursday, February 19, 2015

Another forest path

W&N watercolour on Bockingford 300gsm

The seasons are changing. I can feel a nip in the air during my early-morning walks on our smallholding and already the leaves are changing colour. We've had an extremely hot summer and the cooler weather is extremely welcome, you just gotta love Autumn!


Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Forest path

W&N watercolour on Bockingford 300gsm

A path leading through the Blue gum forest on our smallholding (Tarlton, Gauteng, South Africa). Walking this trail, I often discover little treasures like rabbits, hedgehogs, tortoises, lots of insects, little wild flowers and the odd snake. We’ve had many enquiries from people wanting to cut the bush down for the wood, but have always declined as many birds call this blue gum bush their home, a little sanctuary as the area gets more and more built up.


Sunday, February 1, 2015

A blank page

W&N watercolour on Amedeo 200gsm


a blank page . a new journal . what shall I do
dream / sing / write / wait / think / pause / garden / chat / paint
decided to paint


Monday, January 26, 2015

Morning is my favourite time

W&N watercolour on DalerRowney 220gsm heavy-weight sketching paper

Morning is my favourite time when everything is new;
flowers drink the morning dew
and skies are painted in a golden hue.
Each tree stands tall and stately -
different shades and different face.
I'm viewing morning's painting,
done with Nature's brush of Grace.
The sun peeks slowly in the East,
then rises with its smile;
Another morning greeting
and we walk another mile.


Sunday, January 25, 2015

Little White Dove

W&N watercolour on Bockingford 300gsm

This is Little White Dove, a White Ringneck Dove I found in my garden a year and a half ago, minus a tail and a big wound on her coccyx. After coaxing her down from the tree with some seeds, I managed to capture her and tend to the wound. She recovered quickly, sporting a brand new tail within a few days.
She has now become part of the family, flying around my studio, having regular baths in her favourite bowl, tolerating Tweeti, the Cockatiel’s advances and her and I have long chats, cooing to one another, she just loves participating in conversations!

Ringneck doves are sweet natured and naturally tame. If you should be lucky enough to acquire one, give them a day or two to settle into their new home, and begin to finger tame them. Talk to them and let them get used to your voice and movements. Coax them onto your finger inside the cage, and then gently take them from their cage. They will fly around the room, but will not fly for long and will settle down quickly. Patience and time will pay off, and soon you will have a wonderful new friend…

The White Dove is often thought of as a separate species but it is actually perhaps the most common color mutation of the Ringneck Dove (Streptopelia risoria). This bird is often confused with the domestic white homing pigeon which is used to release at special occasions (weddings, anniversaries, etc.). This bird does not have the homing instinct and should not be released.

These birds have been bred in cages since biblical times as pets and cannot survive in the wild. They often are not able to find food having had it provided to them all their life and because of their white colour they are easy prey for a variety of predators. Thus many of these released birds die or are killed in a relatively short time. Many white doves that have been released end up looking to humans for assistance.


Friday, January 23, 2015

Looking forward to beautiful Geraniums

W&N watercolour on Bockingford 300gsm

My Geraniums looked decidedly worse for the wear this past winter – I added some fresh potting soil and hope for some beautiful flowers this summer, maybe I’ll add something blue to the pot as well…?


Friday, January 16, 2015

And the tree asks "Why am I here?"

Winsor & Newton watercolour on Bockingford 300gsm

Every branch shaking, shifting, and falling in the icy wind,
A tiny leaf at the very end holds strong,
Why am I here, questioning wondering waiting, for that final pulse that will blow him down?
But in that tree was a force, a force of life, a force of strength, a force unmatched by the icy wind.
That tree was a young tree, a tree that never crossed roots with wild bushes,
Bore fruits desired by many, tasted by few and discarded by the very planter,
Questioning why am I here, questioning is this the only way,
Now the broken branch begins to fall, now this tree was not very tall,
No other tree was like this tree, this tree was special,
This tree was bearing the strain of an icy wind,
Just as the branch had hit the ground there was silence all around a calm in the drifting storm
Now this was rare, a tree this young, a tree this strange, a neglected tree, a tree with shallow roots, a tree with hollow bark had survived the storm.
Questioning why me?
This tree was a lonely tree, this tree knew he would grow strong, weak body strong thoughts kept the tree unmoved on broken paths.
Extract from “A tree” – Emmanuel Mohanlall


Saturday, January 3, 2015

All of life is a journey

W&N watercolours in Moleskine 200gsm watercolour sketch-book - no preliminary sketching

“All of life is a journey - which paths we take, what we look back on, and what we look forward to is up to us. We determine our destination, what kind of road we will take to get there, and how happy we are when we get there.”
- Unknown


Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Season's Greetings and a Happy New Year 2015!

Original is W&N watercolour on Bockingford 300gsm

The best part of the season is remembering those who make the holidays meaningful. I wish you all the love and happiness this season can bring, and may it follow you throughout the coming new year.


Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Winter's redeeming qualities

W&N watercolour on Amedeo 200gsm

Winter has very few redeeming qualities. Many animals find that the best thing to do is simply sleep through it. Studies show that human beings sleep more during the winter months as well. One of the few redeeming qualities of winter is snow, something of which we don’t get a lot here in South Africa. But when it happens, there are few things more magical then looking out the window from your house and discovering those first flurries gently falling to the ground. When the snow builds up outside our houses it envelops us in a warm cocoon.

For my Northern Hemisphere friends, the time has come to put on your warm slippers, grab a cozy blanket, and curl up with some hot chocolate!


Saturday, December 27, 2014

Cosmos in December

W&N watercolour on Bockingford 300gsm

Here in South Africa we know Christmas is near when the Hydrangeas and Cosmos start flowering – Every March and November respectively our countryside explodes with colour when pretty pink and white cosmos flowers bloom in early autumn and then again in late summer. They grow easily in the soil at the side of the roads disturbed by the road scrapers widening the verges. This year the Cosmos are a bit late as the road crews have not been around yet.

Hope you had a lovely festive season!


Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Another Windpomp and a dam

W&N watercolour on Bockingford 300gsm

A ‘windpomp’ (windmill) in Magaliesburg. They are such a part of our countryside here in South Africa and they play a specially important part in dry areas like the Karoo where both humans and animals are very dependent on them for water. 

These windmills extract the life blood of the earth and it is usually poured into a cement dam close-by the windpomp. Many farm children swim in these cement dams on sweltering days and I have seen flocks of Egyptian Geese taking a quick, cool dip on their way to somewhere.


Friday, December 5, 2014

Winter wonderland

Dedicated to all my Northern Hemisphere blogger-friends!

On a wonderful clear winter night,
Feeling the breeze,
Watching the trees,
They're swaying with grace,
In this peaceful little place,
Oh man, how wonderful Winter can be!
- Unknown

I've got this little hand-made sketchbook with a satin-finish linen paper and I can sit for hours churning out these little 7"x4" (17cmx10cm) watercolour sketches. I find it totally calming and it also satisfies my need to fiddle! This paper is very unforgiving, can’t take pencil marks, so you can’t do any preliminary drawing and also no erasing. The paper (or linen) virtually disintegrates under an eraser. Once you put colour to paper, that’s it! But it does allow for a lovely flow of the paint, which I enjoy immensely as I never know exactly what I’m going to end up with.


Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Enjoying Summer

W&N watercolour on Bockingford 300gsm

At this time of year I really enjoy the silhouettes of the trees and hedges against the summer sky in my garden.

(If you are interested in buying this original painting, you can purchase it here.)


Tuesday, November 25, 2014

A little bit curious...

W&N watercolour on Bockingford 300gsm

When you come to a bend in the road, aren’t you just a little bit curious as to what lies just around the corner…?


Wednesday, November 19, 2014

The joy of snow

W&N watercolour on Amedeo 200gsm

We rarely have snow in South Africa, but when we do, there is always great excitement. Schools close, everybody rushes around taking photographs and spreading the word on social media and a ball is had by all. And, of course, it softens and beautifies any garden. But it also causes havoc as our country is not geared up for snowy conditions. Livestock like sheep suffer greatly as they are mostly kept out in the field on huge tracts of land and bringing them indoors is not an option.

So here's to all my Northern Hemisphere friends, enjoy your winter and enjoy the snow!


Tuesday, November 11, 2014

A rumble of thunder

W&N watercolour on Bockingford 300gsm

A rumble of thunder, a shower of rain and a murder of crows heading away from the rain...


Saturday, November 8, 2014

Clouds over the Magaliesberg

W&N watercolour on Bockingford 300gsm

Clouds over these mountains, viewed from Magaliesburg (Gauteng, South Africa) to the North, means that we are probably in for a big storm accompanied by hail and lots of wind. Our "normal" rain comes from Randfontein's side, to the South. Seeing it go dark and clouds building up on the mountain side of the horison always sends me scurrying to bring my Pachypodium under cover and get the chickens to safety in their coop.


Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Guineas are winged wonders

a guinea fowl
molting polka dot feathers—
handmade earrings

W&N Watercolour on Bockingford 300gsm
After years of not seeing any guinea fowl around our property, I was lucky enough to have a visit from them a couple of weeks ago and I was totally thrilled!

Like turkeys, guineas are Galliformes, a group encompassing all chicken-like birds. But while chickens are members of the pheasant family, turkeys and guineas each have a family of their own. Native to Africa, they are known for travelling in large, gregarious flocks. There are seven species of guinea fowl, of which the 'helmeted'  is by far the most common, and certainly the weirdest looking, with its oddly shaped helmet, white, featherless face, bright red wattles, and grey polka-dotted feathers.

Free-ranging guineas spend most of their days foraging. They work as a team, marching chest to chest and devouring anything they startle as they move through the grass. When they discover a special treat—a rodent, for example, or a small snake—they close ranks, circle their prey, and move in for the feast. All the while, they keep up a steady stream of whistles, chirps, and clicks, a sort of running commentary on the day's hunt.


Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Summer beauties

W&N watercolour on a back-ground painted with coffee in a Bockingford 300gms sketch-pad
A clump of Shasta daisies, growing at the rubbish hole on our property after I had removed old plants from my garden. I discovered them during a walk on the property and these little die-hards just seem to have no end!


Monday, October 27, 2014

Sunrise over a winter landscape

W&N watercolour on Bockingford 300gsm – 15″ × 11″ (38cm x 28cm)

Winter here in Tarlton (Gauteng, South Africa) means a late sunrise, often accompanied by clouds, which usually clear up as the day progresses.

“Nature is painting for us,
day after day,
pictures of infinite beauty
if only we have the eyes to see them.”
— John Ruskin


Saturday, October 25, 2014

A handful of Southerly wind

"And God took a handful of southerly wind, blew His breath over it and created the horse." 
 - Bedouin Legend

  Pencil, Black waterproof Pilot Calligraphy Lettering Pen sketch, candle wax and W&N 'Sepia' watercolour on Bockingford 300gsm

The historic mining village of Kaapsehoop is situated about 25 kilometers from the town of Nelspruit in the South African province of Mpumalanga. It is within this paradise-like setting that the legendary wild horses of Kaapsehoop roam freely. Kaapschehoop has the only wild herds in South Africa, whilst the other nearest known wild horse occurrence is in Namibia.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The Muse

W&N watercolour on Bockingford 300gsm


Like a disappearing fish 
or a bird in full flight - 
the muse, 
in an element of her own is jealous of freedom.

She circles close, insistent, 
just below the surface - 
but, when you reach out to catch hold 
without a backward glance she’s gone!

Only on rare occasions 
if you woo her assiduously; - 
right kind of pen, paper she approves of - 
a chair which allows one to forget 
the intrusive flesh.

If the light is right 
and the time 
then, slender as a mosquito 
and as easily brushed aside 
she’ll flirt nearer to inject 
the catalyst sting

Which may find pathway to the tip

of the waiting pen. 
- Margaret Gough 


Monday, October 20, 2014

Follow the clouds

W&N watercolour on Bockingford 300gsm

It's always tempting to go a little further and follow the clouds to see what's just over the hill...


Friday, October 17, 2014

The worst is over...

Ink sketch and W&N watercolour on Bockingford 300gsm

Winter is gone… but still the weather teases, keeping the rain just around the corner.


Saturday, October 11, 2014

I watched the tide go out

W&N watercolour in Moleskine 200gsm watercolour sketch-book

As the sun sank lower and lower, I watched the tide go out... further and further.


Saturday, October 4, 2014

Muddy tracks

W&N watercolour on Bockingford 300gsm
Muddy tracks weave o'er hills & valleys enticing continual exploration of my much-loved Tarlton ...


Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Amethyst Sunbird female

W&N watercolour on Bockingford 300gsm
Black Sunbird feeding on the Kniphofia (Red Hot Poker) flowers in my garden (Tarlton, Gauteng, South Africa).

The Amethyst Sunbird, also called the Black Sunbird (Chalcomitra amethystine) mainly occurs in Africa south of the equator. Its natural habitat is dry savannah but it is extremely fond of gardens.
It goes out of its way to visit a large clump of nectar-bearing plants. Here in my garden, it feeds on nectar from the Aloe, Kniphofia, Halleria lucida (Tree fuchsia) and a nectar mix in one of my bird feeders. It’s diet is supplemented with insects and often hawks flying insects from the trees or bushes, also gleaning them from leaves and branches. Nectar is obtained either from flowers or from garden feeders, which it uses readily (note that in feeding experiments it was found to prefer sucrose rather than sugar).

This Sunbird is not threatened, in fact its range has increased recently due to the spread of wooded gardens.

Swartsuikerbekkie [Afrikaans]


Sunday, September 28, 2014

Keep discovering life

W&N watercolour on Bockingford 300gsm

I yearn to keep ‪walking‬, keep ‪drawing‬ and keep discovering life along the way.


Friday, September 26, 2014

A Windpomp and a gate

W&N watercolour on Bockingford 300gsm

A familiar sight in South Africa – a windmill drawing the life blood from the earth.

Water availability has shaped life and society in many ways, with aridity shaping the landscape and soils and determining where we live, grow our crops, raise animals and build our cities. Without these wind pumps, farming, and life in general, would not be possible in the more arid parts of our country.


Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Waiting for the Dandelions

Ink sketch and colour wash on Bockingford 300gsm

Can’t wait to see the Dandelions again…

We've had our first summer rains, albeit much too little, and summer is in full swing. Now I'm just waiting for the Dandelions to appear again...


Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Waiting for the rain

W&N watercolour on Bockingford 300gsm

The fields are quiet, the lands are empty – oh, for the sound of rain!

Summer has hit with a vengeance - Spring was short-lived and after freezing temperatures, we went straight into 30℃ heat.


Saturday, September 6, 2014

The colour of Winter

The colour of springtime is in the flowers, the colour of winter is in the imagination. 
~Terri Guillemets 

W&N watercolour on Bockingford 300gsm

A winter scene in South Africa.

Clear blue skies and trees scorched by veld fires is a familiar sight here in South Africa in winter. With just a few more weeks of cold, the August winds have already blown in Spring, bringing everything to life again.


Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Arum fields

W&N watercolour on Bockingford 300gsm

A happy meander through the fields and flowers of a sunny Spring morning ...


Sunday, August 10, 2014

Winter is golden

W&N watercolour on Bockingford 300gsm 

Winter is always depicted in cold colours of blue and grey, but here in South Africa, cold as it is, the sun is shining on a bright brown, yellow and green landscape. The only time we have blues and greys is in summer when it is raining!


Saturday, August 2, 2014


W&N watercolour on Bockingford 300gsm 

Thoughts drifting through my mind as I wend my way up the path towards the gate…


Saturday, July 26, 2014

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The Guineas are back

For the first time in many years (except for a brief visit in December 2013), I've had Guinea Fowl visiting my garden again. They even stopped to have a quick snack of corn which I put out for Solly's chickens.


Saturday, July 19, 2014

Africa burns

It's winter, which means it's once again time for our annual veld fires (wild fires). A couple of weeks ago we had one rushing through our property, but luckily the grass had already been cut in preparation of the event and the damage was minimal. But with strong winds, it is scary the speed at which these fires can travel.

The fire rushing through our property


Friday, July 18, 2014

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Three cheers

Winter is still persisting but three cheers for rising temperatures this morning. A spring in my step and a smile on my face!


Saturday, July 12, 2014

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Playing with a candle

A couple of years ago I decided to try out a new technique (probably not new to many of you!) - I used a candle to draw some random lines on watercolour paper, gave the whole sheet a soft wash of ochre, which made the tree trunks stand out and from there I could complete the scenery, darkening the main trunks, adding more trees in the back-ground and then doing a fore-ground. Since then I often use this method and it's amazing what results one can achieve.

Below is another painting I did using the same technique using the waxed areas as highlites.


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