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, January 26, 2023

A gate in the Karoo

W&N watercolour on Bockingford 300gsm
 
Many visitors to Karoo National Park in South Africa access the Park by car as this allows them the freedom to explore the park at their own leisure. Instead of heading to your destination on the main tar roads, try something different – like a drive along the gravel. But be warned – I hear there are many gates to open en route! I’ve never been to the Karoo and if I had a bucket list, a visit there would be on it!

The Park is a convenient stopover on the N1 route between Cape Town and the interior of the country. Cape Town is situated about 500km south of the Park. Johannesburg is situated about 1 000km north of the Park.

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Saturday, January 21, 2023

Waiting for the Dandelions

Ink sketch and colour wash on Bockingford 300gsm

Can’t wait to see the Dandelions again…

We've had our first summer rains, and lots of it, and summer is in full swing. Now I'm just waiting for the Dandelions to appear again... So far I’ve only got 3 in my garden and it’s a delight to see the butterflies around them.

Thought : Maybe I can make a corner for just Dandelions? Smiling!

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Monday, January 16, 2023

Herbs - inside or out?

W&N watercolour on Amedeo 200gsm watercolour paper 12″ × 8″

Herbs on a shelf on my patio
 
Herbs can be grown indoors and out so the choice of where to plant them is a personal choice. Many people prefer to grow their herbs in their kitchen where they can be easily accessed during cooking. I’m not much of a cook, but there’s nothing more inspirational than seeing some Sage or Parsley on your kitchen windowsill, it often sparks an idea of what to cook for me.

You can buy herbs as seedlings at any nursery or garden centre, or you can choose to start your plants from seeds.

If you are starting from seeds, just about any small container will do. If I’m going to be panting the herbs outside at a later stage, I normally start them off in egg shells filled with a bit of potting soil, put in my seeds and when they’re big enough, plant them outside shell and all.

I have quite a collection of various sizes of Terracotta pots, and the small ones are ideal for sowing some seeds for a kitchen window sill. This way you always have fresh herbs at hand and it also makes a nice display.

Some of my favourites are Parsley, Sage, Rosemary, Basil, Chives, Garlic and Mint.

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Wednesday, January 11, 2023

Mother-in-law's tongue

W&N watercolour on Bockingford 300gsm

A pot of Mother-in-law’s Tongue (Sansevieria trifasciata laurentii).

Indigenous to South Africa, it is also known as the Snake Plant. It is a truly remarkable and striking easy care house plant native to tropical West Africa from Nigeria east to the Congo. I remember my dad having one on a windowsill in our house, where it stood for absolutely years without any seemingly extra care. The modern trend in the average home is to keep the plant separate from others and have it standing bold and alone. 


One of my Snake plants is flowering at the moment and it's unbelievable how many insects the sweet nectar attracts.  

Sansevieria are summer growers. As with all succulents, Sansevierias require a well-drained mix and moderate watering. Water frequently during the warmer months and keep fairly dry through winter. But here at the coast there's no guarantee that it will be dry during winter! To maintain their best shape and colouration they are best grown in dappled sunlight. Grows up to 3 or 4 feet tall.

Propagation is by division or leaf cuttings. Sansevieria is easy to divide because it has shallow roots. Simply turn the pot on its side and pull out the entire plant. Use a sharp knife to cut through the thick roots and pot each clump separately. To propagate Sansevieria by leaf cuttings, cut leaf into 2-inch (5 cm) pieces and place them right side up (the way they were growing) in moist perlite or cactus potting mix.


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Wednesday, January 4, 2023

Euphorbia cooperi

W&N watercolour on Bockingford 300gsm

Euphorbia cooperi (or Lesser Candelabra Tree, Transvaal Candelabra Tree or Bushveld candelabra euphorbia), is indigenous to South Africa. Found in KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga, Gauteng and Swaziland up to Messina in the Limpopo Province, it prefers well-drained soils and is mostly found in rockier places, often on granite outcrops and in rock cracks or in wooded grassland and thorny scrubland, in planes and in steep hillsides on north-facing slopes. This spiny succulent grows 4-7 m tall and produces small yellowish-green flowers in spring and summer.

I had this one in a pot in my garden, but unfortunately it succumbed to frost one severe winter. But imagine my delight when I spotted an actual live 7m tall specimen right here in Ballito! It actually amazes me that succulents grow so well in this very wet and humid climate - but as I've said before, most succulents prefer more water than drought. Smile!

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Friday, December 30, 2022

Plant and care for trees

It's the end of another year and even after living here at the coast (KwaZulu Natal, South Africa) for the past 3 years, I'm still longing for my Highveld trees. Blue gums, Black Wattles, Cussonia, Celtis, Karee, Jacaranda and even the Syringa -- none of which can be seen along the coast. But they are etched deep into my memory and I will be digging deep every now and then when the longing gets very strong.

"Plant and care for Trees" - W&N watercolour in Moleskine 200gsm watercolour sketch-book

Trees combat climate change. Trees clean the air. Trees provide oxygen. Trees help prevent water pollution. Trees provide a canopy and habitat for wildlife. Trees help prevent soil erosion.

How many more reasons do you need?

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Monday, December 26, 2022

The beauties of Nature

Acrylic on canvas

Tasmanian bluegum (Eucalyptus globulus)

This large, straight-trunked tree grows to about 70m tall in open forests in south-eastern Tasmania, on Bass Strait islands and in parts of southern Victoria. Its common name comes from the waxy blue-green colour of its juvenile leaves. These juvenile leaves are hightly sought after for flower arrangements.

The plant’s cream-coloured flowers are a good source of nectar for bees and the resultant honey is dense and strongly flavoured. Here in South Africa, this bluegum is widely planted as forage for our honey bee populations and this amber coloured honey is mild in taste and a safe bet for any new honey enthusiast. Bluegum Honey is also known as Eucalyptus Honey. Yummy!

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! 

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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.

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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. 💚







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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

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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.

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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 …

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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.

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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

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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!

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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.