I am a watercolorist living on my little piece of African soil in Tarlton, Gauteng, South Africa. The inspiration for my art is the wonderfully rich variety of Fauna and Flora to be found throughout this beautiful country.
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.
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
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.
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
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.”
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
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
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.
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
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.
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!
"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.
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.
A familiar sight in South Africa – a windmill drawing the life blood from the earth.
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.
The colour of springtime is in the flowers, the colour of winter is in the imagination.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
Winter has hit us here in South Africa with a vengeance and it's snowing in many parts of the country. Last night we experienced -6℃ and all the bird baths and water bowls had a quarter inch thick ice on top. I'm sure if it snowed here in Tarlton it wouldn't be this cold...
You may be interested in purchasing some of my art printed on throw
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my site at RedBubble and on any artwork, click on the THROW PILLOW option.
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