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, October 31, 2009

Moleskine - Snail

“The year's at the spring / And day's at the morn; / Morning's at seven; / The hillside's dew-pearled; / The lark's on the wing; / The snail's on the thorn; / God's in his heaven - / All's right with the world!”
- Robert Browning

A daily practice of sketching and painting gives you a chance to exercise the big three P's - practice, practice, practice!

"Snail" pencil sketch and watercolour in Moleskine Watercolour sketch-book - Maree©

Oh my! I found some snails in my garden! They're all over the Agapanthus. One consolation is that there is now plenty to eat for the Thrushes and any passing hedgehogs.

The snails are related to the oyster, the clam, the mussel, the squid and the octopus. All of these animals are called molluscs. More than 30,000 kinds of snails have been described, of which about two-thirds still exist -- about half of them in salt water and the other half in fresh water or on land. The remainder are known only as fossils and, in the limestone quarries around Chicago, we find several kinds-- some as big as your fist-- which have lain buried there since this region was on the floor of the ocean, 150 million years ago.

There are even Graffiti snails roaming London!

Shell shock: One snail has shell graffiti

Most people have to shell out to give their homes a makeover – not so for these multi-coloured molluscs.

The flashy snails have had their drab shells given a paint job for nothing – and they didn't even have to move a muscle.

A London artist, known only as Slinkachu, has used the molluscs' shells for a series of designs dubbed 'Inner City Snail – a slow-moving street art project'.


Thursday, October 29, 2009

Bapedi Woman

“For tribal man space was the uncontrollable mystery. For technological man it is time that occupies the same role.”
- Marshall McLuhan

A daily practice of sketching and painting gives you a chance to exercise the big three P's - practice, practice, practice!

"Bapedi Woman" watercolour on Ashrad 200gsm - Maree©

Chrissie, my gardener, above, is from mixed Pedi and Coloured stock.

Pedi, (also known as Bapedi, Bamaroteng, Marota, Basotho, Northern Sotho - in its broadest sense, has been a cultural/linguistic term. It was previously used to describe the entire set of people speaking various dialects of the Sotho language who live in the northern Transvaal of South Africa. More recently, the term "Northern Sotho" has replaced "Pedi" to characterize this loose collectivity of groups.

Estimated at 7 million, these Sotho speakers are the second largest African language group in South Africa. Three million Sotho and other closely related groups live outside of South Africa, the majority of who are in Lesotho.

Although the Pedi originated from the Bakgatla and were of Sotho origin, their inter-marriage with other tribes by defeating them, ended up in the application of many other words in the Pedi language and customs which are not of Sotho origin, but which are akin to the Venda and Lovedu and the Karanga from Zimbabwe.

The Sotho can be subdivided into three groups. The first group is the Northern Sotho also called Pedi and Bapedi.

The Pedi society arose out of a confederation of small chiefdoms that had been established sometime before the 17th century in what later became the Northern Transvaal (Northern Province). Defeated early in the 19th century by the armies of Mzilikazi, they revived under the leadership of Sekwati. Thereafter, they repeatedly clashed with the Voortrekkers during the later half of the 19th century.

It appears that the Sotho people migrated southward from the Great Lakes in Central Africa about 5 centuries ago in successive waves and the last group, namely, the Hurutse, settled in the Western Transvaal towards the beginning of the 16th century.

It is from this group that the Pedi eventually originated through the Bakgatla offshoot that takes its name from the chief Mokgatla. Very little is known of the history of the Bakgatla people for the first few generations after their founder Mokgatla had withdrawn from the originating group, but it is known that, arising from a further split at a later date, a chief by the name of Tabane left with his followers and settled at what is now known as Schilpadfontein in the vicinity of Pretoria.

Now here's the interesting part - It is not known how long they lived there, but Tabane appears to have been succeeded by his son Motsha, whose son and heir Diale (or Liale) had a number of wives, the youngest of whom was his favourite, Mathobele. The other wives were jealous of her favoured position and when she was expecting her first child they would tease and mock her; saying that her child cried whilst still in her womb.

Mathobele gave birth to a healthy boy, and named him 'Lellelateng' meaning 'it cries inside', but the unusual event was attributed to witchcraft and the Kgatla council, wanted to kill the mother and child. Diale interceded for them and they were both saved.

However, as the baby grew older it became apparent that he would not be accepted by the tribe, and it seems that he and his family, together with a large following, broke away or were driven away and trekked to the east with their flocks and herds to start the Pedi nation.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

South African Grasses 1

Teach your children what we have taught our children, that the Earth is our mother. Whatever befalls the Earth befalls the sons of the Earth. If men spit upon the ground, they spit upon themselves. This we know - the Earth does not belong to man - man belongs to the Earth. This we know.
- Chief Seattle

My daily sketch...

South African Grasses
"Restio - Thamnochortus sp" - watercolour in Moleskine Watercolour Notebook

One of the Restios or Cape Reeds, Thamnochortus lucens, is very common in the Western Cape mountains. It grows well in dry, gravelly slopes and is often in small populations or locally dominant. The plants grow tufted on a short rhizome, often with tangled sterile clusters of culms at the base. Grows to 50 cm. There is quite a difference between the male and female plants - the sketch above is a male.

The beautiful Thamnochortus genus have 13 species and most of its members grow well in coastal areas at the beach. Some species are very large and are commonly used to thatch houses. T. insignis is commonly used for this purpose because of its very long culms. One species, T. nutans is the exception and is only found 600m above sea level. It is endemic to Table Mountain and the Constantia berg.

Female Thamnochortus lucens.

Restio stems


Monday, October 26, 2009

Painting Wildlife in a Game Park

Gathering your own reference materials, sketches and using your own imagination is going to help you grow as an artist far more than stealing someone else's work.
- Bonnie Hamline

"Impala" watercolour on Bockingford 300gsm - Maree©

It was last during 2004, when I visited the Krugersdorp Game Reserve, that I had painted any wild animals plein air, but in January 2009 I re-visited the Game Lodge, taking my paints with me, and managed to find the Impala herd quite close to the road, which allowed me to capture a group that were standing close together. The rest of the herd on the right-hand side of the picture are not included, as my scanner could not take the large sketch.

Also see Painting Wildlife

Friday, October 23, 2009

Velvet Spider

If you want to live and thrive, let the spider run alive.

~American Quaker Saying

A daily practice of sketching and painting gives you a chance to exercise the big three P's - practice, practice, practice!

Black Velvet Spider - pencil sketch and watercolour in Moleskine Watercolour Sketch-book

This black Velvet Spider has lived in the bark of an old log in my garden for approximately 2 years now and she lets me coax her out for photographic sessions every now and then. These spiders are robust and deliberate in the way that they walk and she even allows me to gently stroke her abdomen and thorax, which is covered in thick, smooth, velvety hairs.

The velvet spiders (family Eresidae) are a small group (about 100 species in 10 genera) of almost totally Old World spiders (exception: a few species are known from Brazil).

Velvet spiders are found under rocks or bark resting in a sheet of dense white silk and are often confused with baboon spiders. They can live up to 5 years. Free living but rarely leave the safety of their webs.

Description: 12mm to 15mm in length. These robust spiders colouration may be from black, grey or a rich red. Body covered with hairs which give them a velvety appearance, hence their name. The abdomen is often lighter in colour than the rest of the spider. Abdomen may have 4 dimples on the top. The eyes are close together and the mouthparts are very robust looking for a spider that size. Legs are short and strong and they are widespread throughout Southern Africa.

Web: These spiders build their webs under rocks, under loose bark. Their retreats consist of flat candy floss like dry sheets of silk. The silk is tough and has interwoven prey remains. Their nest-like webs are attached to the ground using silken anchor lines. Silken lines radiate from the entrance to their shelters. These lines are used to detect prey.

Venom: Even though these spiders can be large in size they very rarely bite. Not much is known about the affects of their venom. It is highly unlikely that this spider’s venom is of importance to humans.

Notes: Females seldom leave their webs in order to hunt. Instead, they prefer to wait for prey to wander into their webs and radiating silken lines. They prey upon tough skinned insects and other large prey items.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Journal entry - Duckling

Death--- the last sleep? No the final awakening.
- Walter Scott

A daily practice of sketching and painting gives you a chance to exercise the big three P's - practice, practice, practice!

"Carolina Duckling" pencil sketch in Daily Nature Journal - Maree©

This little Carolina duckling (Wood Duck) was very weak when it hatched and it also had a cripple leg. Despite all my efforts, it didn't survive and died 3 days later. This is from a sketch I did in an old Nature Journal.

Sunday, October 18, 2009


"Gather ye rosebuds while ye may,
Old Time is still a flying:
And this same flower that smiles today,
Tomorrow will be dying."

A daily practice of sketching and painting gives you a chance to exercise the big three P's - practice, practice, practice!

My 1982 Natal Fig Bonsai (Ficus Natalensis) watercolour in Daler-Rowney 190gsm Sketchbook - Maree©

I acquired by Natal fig bonsai in 1985 when he was 3 years old and about 6" tall - through the years he's been transplanted into various bigger containers, but this year I'll just be freshening him up and adding some new soil and do some feeding.

Now summer is here! and it's time for spring-cleaning - the garden, the house (curtains - I've only got 3!), and everything else in sight, including my Bonsai.

The Japanese word "bonsai" is translated to "tree in a bowl" and is an art form symbolising many things. To some it is considered the link between heaven and earth, to others it symbolises the balance between man and nature. Attending to Bonsai creates peace and tranquility and is a great stress reducer.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Moleskine - Road to Harties

"Creativity begins in wonder."

- Maree

Daily Moleskine sketching...

"Road to Hartebeespoort Dam" in Moleskine Watercolour Notebook
(Click on images to enlarge)

Notes for 'Road to Hartebeespoort Dam' in Moleskine Watercolour Notebook

We often take a drive out to Hartebeespoort Dam in the North-West Province (South Africa), which borders Gauteng, just under an hour's drive from us. We prefer to take the scenic route, staying away from the main roads and all the traffic, using a gravel road crossing over a mountain, reveling in all the wild life we spot on the way.

The once sleepy village of Schoemansville, which has always been one of the major tourist attractions in the area, is now buzzing with activity and new developments, but has still managed to maintain most of it's original charm. Harties is Lynda Smith's choice place of residence.

I had to scan the notebook in two sections as it is too long for the scanner when opened up.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Lighthouse Storm

The problem is never how to get new, innovative thoughts into your mind, but how to get old ones out. Every mind is a building filled with archaic furniture. Clean out a corner of your mind and creativity will instantly fill it.
Dee Hock

A daily practice of sketching and painting gives you a chance to exercise the big three P's - practice, practice, practice!

"Lighthouse - Storm" mixed media of watercolour and acrylics on Bockingford 300gsm - Maree©

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Nguni Cattle 1

“It’s amazing how loose some people become in their sketchbook drawing simply because they have a carefree approach and don’t become locked down in trying to make finished works.”

- Robert Wade

A daily practice of sketching and painting gives you a chance to exercise the big three P's - practice, practice, practice!

"Nguni" watercolour in Ashrad 200gsm Sketch pad - Maree©

I am SUCH a lover of Nguni cattle - if there's a book to be found I buy it! A Black and white Nguni skin adorns my lounge floor and I avidly read any articles or history about them I can find.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Karoo Storm

stunning heat:
even the birds
are silent

A small poem from WATERMARKS

My daily sketch ...

"Karoo Storm" abstract watercolour on Bockingford 300gsm - Maree©