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.
Art & Creativity - Maree Clarkson
Shhh… germination in progress. Can you hear the swish of the brush, dipping, dipping into water, gathering colour from the palette? That's the process of planting flowers in my watercolour garden. *•.¸🌿¸.•*
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!
Arum lilies in my garden (Tarlton, Gauteng, South Africa)
What could be more beautiful than a creamy white arum lily – whether in your garden, a pot, or the wild? Arum lilies (Zantedeschia) are native to southern Africa from South Africa north to Malawi and grow well in full sun near water, but prefer a semi-shaded environment when there’s no permanent water nearby.
The faintly scented flowers attract a multitude of crawling insects and bees, which pollinate the flowers in exchange for food, each one in its own way. The white crab spider, for instance, visits the flower to eat the insects. It does not spin webs, but makes good use of its paleness as an effective camouflage in the spathe.
Pocupines are crazy about the large rhizomes and will savagely destroy whole colonies of arum lilies. The good thing is that thanks to this brutal pruning, the plants regenerate fresher than ever with the most amazing flowers. It’s worth the massacre!
The morning cup of coffee has an exhilaration about it which the cheering influence of the afternoon or evening cup of tea cannot be expected to reproduce.
~Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr., “Over the Teacups,” 1891
Ink sketch on Visual 200gsm watercolour paper, using a Pilot Calligraphy Lettering pen (Black) and a Pilot black Fineliner for finer work.
Sketching has always been one of my great passions, but of late I’ve been neglecting it in favour of doing mostly watercolours. I’ve decided to go back to basics and sketch a lot more.
Sketching forces you to look in more detail, and ask yourself what you actually see. You’ll end up seeing a lot more than you would otherwise. There’s something about holding a pen or pencil in your hand that gets your creative juices flowing in a much different way than holding a brush. When you get used to sketching, the movements of your hand become much more fluid and it becomes really easy and natural. The more you practice, the better you will become at sketching.
Here I’ve sketched one of my pet hates – tea or coffee in THICK hospital-like cups! (Sketched at the Krugersdorp Private Hospital, Krugersdorp, Gauteng, South Africa).
Coffee and watercolour on Bockingford 300gsm watercolour paper
Another exploration into the world of painting with coffee – I really love the natural, earthy colour it imparts and here I used it for the tree and all of the fore-ground. The very dark parts on the tree and the trunks is achieved by dipping my brush into the very strong residue at the bottom of the glass and it actually dried to a rich, thick sheen, not visible on the scan. For the white areas I used art masking fluid, removing it afterwards (I just love peeling that stuff from the paper and my fingers!) and softening the stark white with a bit of coffee.
This is a depiction of our South African landscapes after the ravages of all the veld fires we have during winter.
It has been said that art is a tryst, for in the joy of it maker and beholder meet.
W&N watercolour on Bockingford 300gsm
Some rain, some heat and some cold - that's how our summer has been going. Mornings start off cool, getting hot and humid in the afternoon, ending with thunderstorms which is more noise than rain. But I'm grateful that we're getting our bit, after a cold, dry winter we badly need it.
Kiep, my little pet hen, comes from Bantam stock, though clearly mixed with a variety of other chicken breeds, and she actually looks like a miniature Leghorn.
Bantam chickens have been domesticated for centuries. In fact, they are one of the oldest known domestic animals. Marco Polo wrote about banties in his journal. While all bantams are chickens, not all chickens are banties.
All bantams are smaller than regular chickens and they share some unique personality traits. I personally think they have more personality than chickens do, are more able to care for themselves, and find more of their own food. They seem to keep the grasshopper population down better than other types of poultry! I haven’t seen a bug in my garden for ages since introducing chickens to my garden again.
Healthy bantams are curious. They will check out anything that seems unusual and loudly announce the arrival of visitors. I do not keep them locked in the pen, they roam as much as possible (a chicken’s raison de etre!) and have access to fresh, green grass, insects, and whatever else they find in addition to the feed I give them. And I'm rewarded with breakfast every morning!
Journaling is the process of regularly writing your thoughts, your dreams, milestones, events and feelings down on paper and, these days, virtually on blogs. There are many different kinds of journals you can choose to keep but it is a powerful process that provides the opportunity to explore things in a measured way. It can also be fun to look back and discover how far you have come!
"A common symptom of modern life is that there's no time for thought, or for letting the impressions of the day sink in," says Thomas Moore. Setting aside a block of time, however brief, to freely express thoughts and feelings is psychically healthy.
Journals also affirm the value of our lives, preserve our memories and dreams, and help to pin-point emotional patterns. Writing about problems is a great way to work them out, and recording negative emotions is often akin to dropping them altogether.
Keeping a nature journal, for example, is a wonderful way to become spiritually centred. We are rewarded for the attention to detail and patience this practice requires with deepened understanding of what it means to be human and alive and a part of Creation.
What you decide to put in your journal is a personal choice. Nature journals can be anything from field notes, which limit themselves to objective descriptions of what the writer has observed, to fully developed poems, stories, or essays in which the landscape is a major character.
You may want to draw or paint in your journal as well as write in it or to fill its pages with photographs or pressed flowers. Experience the natural world through fresh eyes! Keeping a nature journal is your most powerful ally in crafting the kind of life you want.