JUST ME :: and a stack of blank pages

:: Living creatively ::

About me

This is the real secret of life — to be completely engaged with what you are doing in the here and now. And instead of calling it work, realise it is play. The only thing that is ultimately real about your journey is the step that you are taking at this moment. That’s all there ever is. I’m here to tell you that the path to peace is right there, when you want to get away. When you are present, you can allow the mind to be as it is without getting entangled in it. If you miss the present moment, you miss your appointment with life. That is very serious!

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Barn Owl hunting 1

Brown Stabilo Fine point 0.4 pen sketch on a coffee-painted back-ground – DalerRowney 300gsm

The Barn Owl (Tyta alba) is a frequent visitor to my property (Tarlton, Gauteng, South Africa) and is not shy to hunt in broad daylight. I often see one pouncing on something in the long grass during the day, flying off with its prize, probably to feed some babies. 

Barn Owls love to use man-made structures to build their nests and are very partial to nest boxes one supplies. I’ve always had a box or two in my garden but, sadly to say, the weather has taken it’s toll on them and seeing as I’m past the stage of climbing trees to put one up, it’ll have to wait until I find someone young and agile to do the job for me!

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Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Barn Owl hunting 2

Black Pilot FineLiner pen sketch on a coffee-painted back-ground – Nescafé instant, strong! – Bockingford 300gsm 

I'm always thrilled when I see or hear the owls on our property. I was lucky anough to spot this Barn Owl hunting early one morning while taking a walk on our property.

The Barn Owl (Tyto alba) is the most widely distributed species of owl, and one of the most widespread of all birds. It is also referred to as Common Barn Owl, to distinguish it from other species in the barn owl family Tytonidae. 

These pale, nearly worldwide, birds are closely associated with man through their traditional use of barn lofts and church steeples as nesting sites.

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Barn Owls are short-lived birds. Most die in their first year of life, with the average life expectancy being 1 to 2 years in the wild. 


Although they are easy to identify in the day as they often hunt in daylight, by night you can find them by listening for their eerie, raspy screech, quite unlike the hoots of other owls.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

My Geranium would like to see you...

“Won't you come into the garden? I would like my Geranium to see you.”

Watercolour on Bockingford 300gsm 8″ × 12″

A few years ago, a friend gave me a Geranium cutting, just a little piece of stalk with one leaf, which I planted in an egg shell filled with potting soil and kept on the kitchen counter. As soon as there were enough roots, I planted her into this Terracotta pot, egg shell and all. Within 2 weeks I had about 8 leaves and another stalk appearing next to the original cutting. She now lives on the patio near my Natal Fig bonsai, and I’m sure I’ve heard them whispering to one another a couple of times! And now, every spring she blesses me with a great show of her gorgeous flowers.  

It is well known that the whole Geranium genus is highly redolent of volatile oils – lemon-scented, musk-scented, and peppermint-scented. In South Africa, folk-lore has it that, if you plant Geraniums in your garden, you will never have any snakes!

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Monday, May 27, 2013

Turn, turn, turn!

W&N watercolour on Bockingford 300gsm - I used a candle for the white parts of the gulls. You can freely apply colour over it, where the candle wax is, it stays white.

Seagulls (in the family Laridae) and an Arctic Tern (Sterna paradisaea) waiting their turn for a morsel of bread. One of my favourite past-times, watching seagulls… These gulls were hanging out at a restaurant in St. Lucia (KwaZulu Natal, South Africa) and I was almost thrown out because I was feeding them!

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Sunday, May 26, 2013

Gemsbuck study

We must fight against the spirit of unconscious cruelty with which we treat the animals. Animals suffer as much as we do. True humanity does not allow us to impose such sufferings on them. It is our duty to make the whole world recognize it. Until we extend our circle of compassion to all living things, humanity will not find peace. 
 ~Albert Schweitzer, The Philosophy of Civilization 

Pilot Fineliner Black ink sketch with W&N watercolour on DalerRowney 220gsm (135lb) Smooth heavy-weight sketching paper

The few times that I have seen a Gemsbuck, I've been in utter awe. their beauty is beyond description and it totally  amazes me that anybody would want to kill such a magnificent animal (no matter what the excuse!).

The Gemsbuck (Oryx gazella) is one of the most handsome antelope in Africa, with its long rapier-like horns and striking markings. They can form herds of up to 20 - 30 animals. Gemsbuck are grazers but will survive on browse in times of drought. When wounded they can be very dangerous animals to approach on foot. The horns of the calves grow extremely fast and when they emerge from concealment after birth their horns are very evident. This has lead to the myth that a Gemsbok is born with horns.

Here I have done the same sketch, but given it a card-like appearance.

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Saturday, May 25, 2013

Lobelias for Winter



It's winter here in South Africa and time for Lobelia! As an annual, Lobelia will grow nearly anywhere and they are great in hanging baskets – which is the route I go as my chickens destroy anything delicate planted directly in the ground!

Native to Southern Africa, trailing Lobelia (Lobelia erinus) needs plenty of sun to bloom its best. Technically they are to be planted late winter and will flower from spring well into midsummer or even longer, but here in Tarlton our heat can get pretty intense, so I prefer to plant them in Autumn and every winter I have a blue mass of beauty. I hang them under the eaves of the patio so that they don't get any direct frost and where they get morning sun and mid-afternoon shade.

When planting Lobelia in hanging baskets and hanging planters ensure your basket or planter has plenty of holes for drainage. Then select a good, lightweight, airy potting soil. In summer, they will need watering daily as the temperatures start to warm up, but in winter I water only once a week.

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Friday, May 24, 2013

A garden path

W&N watercolour on Bockingford 300gsm 

I always seem to be doing the opposite of what I should, like with gardening. In stead of jumping into gardening like everybody else in Spring, every Autumn I get this inexplicable urge to revamp my garden! I think it must be the cooler weather, much easier carting paving stones and pots around when it's not so hot.

I've just bought 10 bags of compost and a couple of bags of potting soil for a few potted plants and will be feeding the garden just as it wants to rest! But I'm sure all my earth worms will be thankful for a bit of extra sustenance during this cold period...

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Monday, May 6, 2013

This garden that I know


 "There is a garden that is not like the other gardens round about. In many of these gardens the flowers are only prisoners, forced to weave carpets on the changeless turf, and when the eye is sated and the impression palls, they become to their owners, who have no part in them, merely purchased episodes. 

This garden that I know has a bit of green, a space of flowers, and a stretch of wildness, as Bacon says a garden should always have. At its birth, the twelve months each gave to it a gift, that it might always yield an offering to the year, and presently it grew so lovable that there came to it a soul."
From 'The Story of a Garden' by Mabel Osgood Wright (1859-1934)

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Sunday, May 5, 2013

Wildlife Triptych

Ink with W&N watercolour on a textured back-ground by Kim Klassen 

Three beautiful animals of the South African Bushveld . the Cheetah . the Rhino . the Gemsbuck 

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Friday, May 3, 2013

The Garden Party

W&N watercolour on Bockingford 300gsm - done from my imagination

"After all the weather was ideal. They could not have had a more perfect day for a garden-party if they had ordered it. Windless, warm, the sky without a cloud. Only the blue was veiled with a haze of light gold, as it is sometimes in early summer. The gardener had been up since dawn, mowing the lawns and sweeping them, until the grass and the dark flat rosettes where the daisy plants had been seemed to shine. As for the roses, you could not help feeling they understood that roses are the only flowers that impress people at garden-parties; the only flowers that everybody is certain of knowing. Hundreds, yes, literally hundreds, had come out in a single night; the green bushes bowed down as though they had been visited by archangels."
- Katherine Mansfield

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Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Lavender in a pot

 W&N watercolour on Bockingford 300gsm

Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) is such a romantic flower that every gardener sooner or later succumbs to the urge to grow it. The fact that it is a native of the Mediterranean and a lover of dry, sunny, rocky habitats makes it a perfect specimen for our hot Highveld climate. It even manages our frosty winters quite well, probably because it is our dry season with not much rain. 

I have taken a couple of cuttings from a plant growing in my garden to try it in a pot, which I can put in a full sun position. I did this sketch from my imagination to try and "see" what it will look like and I've convinced myself! 

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