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!

Saturday, September 30, 2023

Blue gum fantasy

W&N watercolour on Bockingford 300gsm in small sketch-book
Blue gum trees on our smallholding (Tarlton, Gauteng, South Africa) I must just mention that we no longer live in Tarlton, but her colour-palette is forever etched into my mind. 

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.


Monday, September 25, 2023

I love a tree..

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

When I pass to my reward.
Whatever that may be,
I’d like my friends to think of me
As one who loved a tree. 

I may not have a statesman’s poise
Nor thrill a throng with speech
But I may benefit mankind
If I set out a beech.

If I transport a sapling oak
To rear its mighty head
Twill make for them a childhood shrine,
That will not soon decay.

Of if I plant a tree with fruit,
On which the birds may feed,
Then I have fostered feathered friends
And that’s a worthy deed.
- Samuel N. Baxter

Sunday, September 17, 2023

Aloe ferox painting 1

W&N watercolour on Bockingford 300gsm

A painting of an Aloe ferox in my previous garden in Tarlton, Gauteng. Each winter the aloes put up the most spectacular show of orange, brightening up the dull winter landscape. And for 10 years, every  June/July, I was  blessed with their beauty over and over 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.


Wednesday, September 13, 2023

Arums - Cloak of Silver-white

W&N watercolours on Daler-Rowney 300gsm

Arums in my garden

Unfurl your cloak of silken white
Reveal your secret wand upraised at length
And not unlike a star you shine serene
To exalt the autumn-tide with silver cups*.
- Unknown

White or common Arum Lily (English); Wit varkoor (Afrikaans). The striking arum lily “flower” is actually many tiny flowers arranged in a complex spiral pattern on the central column (spadix). The tiny flowers are arranged in male and female zones on the spadix. The top 7cm are male flowers and the lower 1.8cm are female. If you look through a hand-lens, you may see the stringy pollen emerging from the male flowers which consist largely of anthers. The female flowers have an ovary with a short stalk above it, which is the style (where the pollen is received).

These plants are native to Southern Africa from South Africa north to Malawi. The botanical name is Zantedescia aethiopica and is also known as Calla lilies.

Wednesday, September 6, 2023

Enter the wilderness

W&N watercolour on Bockingford 300gsm
A farm road to a smallholding in Magaliesburg, Gauteng, South Africa.
Alienation from nature and self is a uniquely modern malady. “Progressively, over the course of the centuries, Western humankind indulged in a mental separation from the totality of all physical phenomena, building up the wall of civilization against Being, elevating ourselves above all other living organisms.”
- (Francois & McGaa, 2007)

The modern world is slowly realizing that our disconnection from nature has become self-destructive. Take up some eco-therapy and go into the wilderness, take a nature walk, leave behind our man-made fences separating us from nature, allowing greater connection with ourselves.