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!

Friday, May 27, 2022

A coastal scene?


With the cooler weather comes outdoor activities again. For me at least; summers at the coast are just beyond bearable. So I took my easel outside (overlooking cane fields!) and tried my hand at a coastal scene. But as I said before, my Muse stayed behind in Gauteng, hence the mountains. Give me strength! 


Friday, May 20, 2022

Humble beginnings


Going way back to 1999, this was one of my first sketches of flowers and of course I chose Cosmos as they were in full flower in fields and all along the road-side — March, Cosmos time, and then again in November.

Friday, May 13, 2022

Purely sketching


Working on getting my confidence back. Just a few pencil lines will be my practice for today — maybe I’ll add some colour at a later stage.


Saturday, May 7, 2022

Trying again

It’s amazing how insecure about my colours I’ve become since not touching a brush for almost four years. And as I might have mentioned before, my colour palette is still stuck on Highveld (Gauteng, South Africa) colours, quite apparent in this tree sketch I did yesterday afternoon. (But as soon as my Muse returns from her hiatus, her and I will go on a coastal adventure!)

Tuesday, May 3, 2022

Going small

 A collection of sketches in a hand-made sketch-book with hand-crafted satin-finish linen paper. 💚


Sunday, May 1, 2022

Going back in time


Seeing as I haven’t particularly been painting for a while (my Muse let me know that she’s on her way), I am looking back in time — memories of my gardener, Chrissie, and sunshine days gardening and painting in, what feels like, a previous life-time.

Chrissie doing her Autumn chores

Chrissie and Tappeltjie off to do some shopping


Sunday, March 27, 2022

Whats on my easel today?


I have not been painting as much as I should. Fullstop. I don't actually have an excuse except to say that life happens. And boy, did it happen over the past four years! We retired from Gauteng to the Dolphin Coast, KwaZulu Natal in December 2017 and it took a while for us to find our next forever home and to get settled in. So that's my one excuse for not painting, feeling unsettled and trying to get my groove back. 

Then, in December 2019, my husband was diagnosed with a Meningioma, a benign brain tumour that had to be surgically removed. After 6 weeks in hospital and 4 weeks in rehab, hubby was finally ready to come home. But all was not sunshine and roses -- the pressure of the tumour on the frontal lobe of the brain had taken its toll, causing loss of memory, several strokes and a certain amount of loss of movement. Adjusting to this new challenge in our lives took up all of my time and energy, and even during some quiet moments that I had to myself, I was unable to find my muse and my brushes and paints stayed in the cupboard, patiently awaiting my return. That's my second excuse.

My third excuse goes like this ~ the colours here at the coast are all wrong! Everything is either blue or either green. And there's no grass here. I kid you not. Only sugar cane fields. Lots and lots of sugar cane! and there are no Blue gum trees here, or very few, and they are the wrong species. Long empty branches with tufts of leaves at the end of each branch. Now I'm no stranger to painting with blues or greens, I have even done many beach scapes during my visits to the coast in earlier years.

And now my muse seems to be stuck in Transvaal and bushveld colours ~ browns and yellows, oranges and reds, browns and greens, even black, and my eye keeps looking for waving fields of grasses, green in summer, yellow in winter, but lots and lots of waving fields of grasses! And the Highveld trees ~ oh my! Acacias and Karees, Blue gums and Stinkwoods, Cussonias and Combretums. Even the Aloes here are different!

But I am slowly and surely learning about all the coastal trees and one thing the Coast has in common with the rest of the country, is that succulents thrive here. I can already feel that the Highveld is relinquishing her hold on my muse and soon we will be at it again full throttle!

For practice, an old painting given a fresh new look.


Friday, December 17, 2021

Rhus lancea leaves - Black Karee - Botanical illustration

W&N watercolour on Amedeo 200gsm mixed media paper
Leaves of a Black Karee tree in my garden (Tarlton, Gauteng, South Africa)

Indigenous to Southern Africa, this tree is a bit untidy with a weird growing habit of the branches backing up on one another and having most of its leaves right at the tip of the branches. It has a graceful, weeping form and dark, fissured bark that contrasts well with its long, thinnish, hairless, dark-green, tri-foliate leaves with smooth margins. The small, inconspicuous flowers are presented as much-branched sprays which are greenish-yellow in colour and are produced from June until September.

The fruit are small (up to 5mm in diameter), round, slightly flattened and covered with a thin fleshy layer which is glossy and yellowish to brown when ripe. The fruits are produced from September until January, and during that time, my garden is a total mess! And if it happens to rain a lot, I have hundreds of seedlings sprouting up throughout the garden. And yet I have never been able to remove one and grow it successfully …


Friday, December 10, 2021

Gum leaves - Botanical illustration

W&N watercolour on Amedeo 200gsm

Dedicated to all Eucalypt and Bee-lovers.

A recent study by the SA National Biodiversity Institute (Sanbi) in South Africa has found that gum trees provide nectar and pollen for swarms of commercial bees – and bees in turn pollinate about 50 food crops in the country. This “service” bees provide is worth about R10.3 billion a year.

Gum trees are not only important food for bees, but so are many roadside wildflowers, crops, suburban flowering plants and those that many regard as weeds. A major reason for the decline of honey bees around the world is a lack of good forage plants to provide nectar, which is the carbohydrate in the bees’ diet, and pollen the protein. Bees collect nectar from Blue Gum tree blossoms from spring to late summer.

A lack of good quality and variety of forage plants can lead to unhealthy honey bee colonies that are more vulnerable to pests and diseases.

This in turn can lead to insufficient pollination of our important agricultural crop flowers, leading to a decreased yield or quality of the food crop, Insect pollinators are needed for 35 percent of all food production globally – or one of every three bites you eat.

Although most Bluegums have been declared as an invasive species in South Africa, Beekeepers are highly dependent on eucalyptus and if they are all removed because they are aliens it would mean a serious shortage of food for bees – with a knock-on effect on crop pollination.

Because of this, the Department of Environmental Affairs’ legislation on alien and invasive species, updated in 2014, is “nuanced” for eucalyptus trees, not requiring all of them to come under the axe or chainsaw.


Saturday, December 4, 2021

Dark reaction

Acrylic on canvas

The dark within awakes.
My very breath it takes.

Bloody black feelings stir
growing shadowy black fur.

A drop of hate -
A torrent of anger -

A sheet of darkness -
A shard of light-

I lost track.
~ Mau Rose


Saturday, November 27, 2021

My favourite outfits

W&N watercolour on Bockingford 300gsm

I just love autumn shades and these days comfort also plays a huge roll in planning my wardrobe - gone are the days of squeezing into tight jeans or hobbling along on 6" heels - go with the flow is what I say!


Friday, November 19, 2021

Herbs in pots - Oregano

Bladk ink and watercolour sketch in watercolour sketch pad.

Having herbs in terracotta pots on your kitchen windowsill is an excellent way of always having fresh herbs handy for your cooking.

This aromatic, ancient culinary herb (Origanum vulgare), also referred to as “wild marjoram,” originates from the hilly, Greek countryside, and is now grown all over the world. Its pungent, spicy, slightly bitter flavour pairs well with almost any vegetable preparation.

Thursday, November 11, 2021

Bluegum fantasy

W&N watercolour on Bockingford 300gsm in small sketch-book

Blue gum eucalyptus (Eucalyptus globulus to the botanists), have been a part of the South African landscape since the Gold Rush, long enough that legends have sprung up about how they first made it to the country. The usual story is that 19th Century gold miners encouraged planting of the trees as a quick-growing source of quality lumber, then were disappointed to find out that South African-grown eucs produce wood unsuitable for much besides rough fenceposts and firewood.

The stories have some factual basis: there was a speculative eucalyptus-planting rush in the first years of the 20th Century, with people planning uses from fine furniture to rot-resistant railroad ties. And the home-grown trees, which grew far more quickly than their Australian counterparts, did not turn out to make lousy timber! The logs were extensively used in our mining industry and to this day they are still popular as fence posts and roof timber.

Wednesday, November 3, 2021

Herbs in pots - Lemon thyme

Ink and watercolour sketch in watercolour sketch pad.
Having herbs in terracotta pots on your kitchen windowsill is an excellent way of always having fresh herbs handy for your cooking.

In cooking, lemon thyme (Thymus citriodorus) delivers the best of both worlds. It has a soft herbal thyme flavour along with a subtle essence of lemon, all without any of the bitterness we sometimes get from regular thyme. It pairs well in everything from salads and vegetable dishes, to meat, and fish.

Lemon thyme is also used for the following :
  • relieving muscle spasms
  • has anti-aging properties
  • immune system
  • easing digestion
  • easing a tight chest
  • constant coughing
  • relieving asthma
  • promotes relaxation
  • laryngitis
  • gastritis

Wednesday, October 27, 2021

African buffalo

W&N watercolour on Bockingford 300gsm

African buffalo or Cape buffalo (Syncerus caffer)

African buffaloes are strong and imposing animals of the African savanna, but today few populations exist outside the confines of national parks. These formidable grazers are the only wild cattle species, and bonds between females are strong. If one individual is under attack from a predator, the herd will rush to the victim’s defence, and a herd is easily capable of driving away an entire pride of lions.

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

A happy ending

W&N watercolour on Bockingford 300gsm

Trees are sanctuaries. Whoever knows how to speak to them, whoever knows how to listen to them, can learn the truth. They do not preach learning and precepts, they preach, undeterred by particulars, the ancient law of life.

“Love the trees until their leaves fall off, then encourage them to try again next year.”

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

The Dragonfly and the Daisy

 Black ink sketch on Bockingford

After spending several years under water in fresh water, the Naiad (Dragonfly larvae, about 2cm in length) emerges, crawling up a plant stalk, usually at night, as a fully grown Dragonfly (order Odonata). They may be on the wing for just a few days or weeks and are fast, agile fliers, sometimes migrating across oceans, and are often found near water. I’ve watched them emerging from my wildlife pond many a time and am always amazed at the beauty that comes from such a voracious (and ugly!) little predator, capable of catching small fish twice their size.

Wednesday, October 6, 2021

A farm fence

W&N watercolour on Bockingford 300gsm

I'm absolutely besotted with farm fences and gates and just cannot drive past without stopping to take a photograph or a quick sketch. There's something about a fence that says, "This is the boundary, please don't pass" and an open gate is always an invitation to drive through and see what's on the other side!


Wednesday, July 28, 2021

White-browed Sparrow Weaver

W&N Watercolour on Bockingford 300gsm

A Bird A bird came down the walk, He did not know I saw; He bit an angleworm in halves And ate the fellow, raw. And then he drank a dew From a convenient grass, And then hopped sidewise to the wall To let a beetle pass. - by Emily Dickinson 

These White-browed Sparrow Weavers used to be regular visitors to my old garden in Tarlton, Gauteng, South Africa. I see their environmental status is listed as LC "Least Concern", which I'm so glad about, they are real little characters.

They have a general, harsh 'chik'chik' call when they're flocking, as well as a loud, liquid 'cheeoop-preeoo-chop' whistle, which I really miss... The White-browed Sparrow-Weaver is found in greatest numbers in north-central southern Africa. While this species most densely populates at dry regions with woodland or wooded grassland in northern South Africa, its range includes Botswana, the North-west Province and Western Gauteng, northern and central Namibia, and western Zimbabwe. It is seen very often in South Luangwa National Park, Zambia and southern Malawi. Populations may be found as far north as Ethiopia.

I'm particularly sorry that I probably won't be seeing them here in KZN, although I have noticed a smaller, less colourful little sparrow, which could probably be passed off as a distant cousin! 

Saturday, July 24, 2021

H. hortensis

Flowers have a mysterious and subtle influence upon the feelings, not unlike some strains of music. They relax the tenseness of the mind. They dissolve its vigour. - Henry Ward Beecher 

Hydrangeas - a small watercolour sketch on Bockingford 300gsm  

Hydrangea H. hortensis, the common garden species, is a native of China or Japan. Here in South Africa they are also known as "Christmas Roses" as they normally flower in December. For us in South Africa, Summer means a bright, sunshiny Christmas and it also means Hydrangeas! They start flowering during late November, through December until January. Instead of Holly and Ivy decorating tables and mantles, it is the Hydrangea that takes pride of place! 

Some years ago a friend gave me a huge bunch of Hydrangeas and, after sketching them, they were hung in my potting shed to dry. Provided you hang them in a fairly damp-free area, they maintain their full, bright colours for a really long time.