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, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year 2011!

New Year's eve is like every other night; there is no pause in the march of the universe, no breathless moment of silence among created things that the passage of another twelve months may be noted; and yet no man has quite the same thoughts this evening that come with the coming of darkness on other nights.
- Hamilton Wright Mabie



Here's wishing all my beautiful friends, fellow artists and bloggers a WONDERFUL, joyful and inspirational new year! In fact, I wish this for you for the rest of your life! This has been such an awesome year for me, and I don't know how to express all the feelings I've experienced here; the sharing, the support and the recognition from everybody that has crossed my path. May you all experience similar beautiful feelings in the new year!

As far as New year's resolutions are concerned, I have made only one, and will try to always keep to this:

To rise above the little things.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Merry Christmas & A Joyous 2011!

And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow,
stood puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so?
It came without ribbons. It came without tags.
It came without packages, boxes or bags.
And he puzzled and puzzled 'till his puzzler was sore.
Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before.
What if Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store.
What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more?
~Dr. Seuss



One of my Guinea fowl watercolours turned into a Christmas card - this will be my last post for 2010 and here's wishing you all a joyous and inspirational 2011! I'm really looking forward to seeing everybody's art and inspiration in the new year and I would like to thank everybody for viewing my blog and leaving your lovely comments here!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Painted Dog

Man is the only creature that consumes without producing. He does not give milk, he does not lay eggs, he is too weak to pull the plough, he cannot run fast enough to catch rabbits. Yet he is lord of all the animals.”
- George Orwell

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


'Wild Dog' - Coffee on Bockingford 300gsm - 12" x 8" - Maree©

The Painted dog or *African Wild Dog* (Lycaon pictus), is a medium-sized canid found only in Africa, especially in Savannahs and other lightly wooded areas. It is also called the *Painted Hunting Dog, African Hunting Dog,* the *Cape Hunting Dog,* the *Spotted Dog,* the *Ornate Wolf* or the *Painted Wolf* in English, *Wildehond* in Afrikaans, and *Mbwa mwitu* in Swahili. It is the only extant species in the genus _Lycaon_, with one species, L. sekowei, being extinct.

There were once approximately 500,000 African Wild Dogs in 39 countries, and packs of 100 or more were not uncommon. Now there are only about 3,000-5,500 in fewer than 25 countries ore less. They are primarily found in Eastern and Southern Africa, mostly in the two remaining large populations associated with the Selous Game Reserve in Tanzania and the population centered in northern Botswana and Eastern Namibia.

Whilst the largest population resides in the Kruger National Park (South Africa), some wild dogs have been released into Madikwe, Pilanesberg and Hluhluwe-Mfolozi, South Africa.

I did this painting with coffee on tea-stained (Five roses, black, and VERY strong!) Bockingford 300gsm - 12" x 8"

Friday, November 26, 2010

Fantasy Arums

“Let us be grateful to people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.”
- Marcel Proust

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


Arum Lilies - Acrylic on Gesso primed un-stretched canvas - 9" x 12" - Maree©

Definitely a first for me, doing a subject that is not true to life. I mean, really, Orange Arums?! What next?! Normally for me, as here, once I apply a back-ground, that normally sets the tone for the rest of the colour palette. And it seemed a natural progression of incorporating orange as the contrast to the yellow back-ground.

All species of Arums (or Zantedeschia) are endemic to southern Africa. Z. aethiopica grows naturally in marshy areas and is only deciduous when water becomes scarce. It grows continuously when watered and fed regularly and can survive periods of minor frosts.

The Zantedeschia species are poisonous due to the presence of calcium oxalate. All parts of the plant are toxic, and produce irritation and swelling of the mouth and throat, acute vomiting and diarrhoea. A beautiful flower carrying a deadly secret!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Die Hard!

“You expected to be sad in the fall. Part of you dies each year when the leaves fall from the trees and their branches are bare against the wind and the cold, wintry light. But you knew there would always be the spring, as you knew the river would flow again after it was frozen.”
- Ernest Hemingway

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


Watercolour in Moleskine Watercolour sketch-book - 8" x 5"

These blue gum trees (Eucalyptus) on our smallholding (Tarlton, South Africa) are real die hards! They have withstood this past Winter's fire ravages and are already sprouting new young leaves and producing new bark under the old burnt, peeling bark. These trees will never cease to amaze me - I've even seen one that, after being struck by lightning and split down the middle, the one side continued growing, even producing new branches!

Monday, November 8, 2010

The Simple Beauty

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.
Shall we drink sweet nectar as we praise
The simple beauty revealed now in truth?
Or shall we simply sit and idly gaze
Into the eyes of love I have for you?
Calla lily soft and silken white
With open heart I pledge my love this night.
- Author unknown

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



Arum lilies done one the back of a sheet of Photo printing paper, using coffee (Nescafé Instant, very strong, very black!) - for the back-ground. This paper is actually very thin, and ever so slightly glossy, so it was a completely different feel painting on this in stead of my normal heavy-weight watercolour paper I'm used to. It's also not conducive to allowing the paint, or coffee, to freely flow and mix. I also gave the back-ground a slight salt treatment, which then promptly refused to budge once the painting was dry! I had to scrub it off with a nail brush! I used fine table salt, maybe that could be the reason... But it has somehow imparted a raw quality to the painting.

Zantedeschia is native to southern Africa from South Africa north to Malawi. The Zantedeschia species are poisonous due to the presence of calcium oxalate. *All parts of the plant are toxic,* and produce irritation and swelling of the mouth and throat, acute vomiting and diarrhoea.

Did you know that 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 7 cm are male flowers and the lower 1.8 cm 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). The spadix is surrounded by the white or coloured spathe. According to Marloth, the whiteness of the spathe is not caused by pigmentation, but is an optical effect produced by numerous airspaces beneath the epidermis.


To buy a Greeting card or other fine art print of this image, go to My Redbubble

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Coffee Trees - Flow-ers of energy

From the Non-physical, you created you, and now from the physical, you continue to create, and we are nothing if we are not Flow-ers of Energy. We must have objects of attention, that are ringing our bells, in order to feel the fullness of who we are, flowing through us, for the continuation of All-That-Is. That is what puts the eternalness in eternity.
- Abraham-Hicks

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


"Trees - Flow-ers of Energy - Coffee on Bockingford 300gsm

Some more painting with coffee, this is totally exciting! The back-ground was stained with tea first (black and very strong!) you can see it peeping through in the three corners) continuing with coffee when the tea was totally dry. Unlike the coffee, the tea is staining, so doesn't lift easily and takes over-painting and layering like a dream.

This was done exclusively with no sketching beforehand - I just followed the flow of the colours and, trees, being one of my favourite subjects, always seem to appear before my eyes! I also added a bit of Cadmium Red for interest and some Intense Green for a couple of leaves. The dark parts are where the coffee dried to a rich, glossy sheen on the original, but doesn't show up on the scan.

Done on a thick Bockingford 300gsm watercolour paper - 12" x 8"

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Reflections

Everyone and everything that shows up in our life is a reflection of something that is happening inside of us.
- Alan Cohen

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


"Reflections" - Watercolour on Bockingford 300gsm - 8" x 12" (A4)

After all the coffee painting I've done (and there are more to follow!), I craved the good flow of my familiar and beloved watercolours and here I really just played with my colours wet-in-wet, with no preliminary sketching, enjoying the interaction of the colours and watching the picture appear! Nothing like watercolours! Whoot whoot!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Coffee Charred Landscape

"Because of the routines we follow, we often forget that life is an ongoing adventure. We leave our homes for work, acting and even believing that we will reach our destinations with no unusual event startling us out of our set expectations. The truth is we know nothing, not where our cars will fail or when our buses will stall, whether our places of employment will be there when we arrive, or whether, in fact, we ourselves will arrive whole and alive at the end of our journeys. Life is pure adventure and the sooner we realize that, the quicker we will be able to treat life as art: to bring all our energies to each encounter, to remain flexible enough to notice and admit when we expected to happen did not happen. We need to remember that we are created creative and can invent new scenarios as frequently as they are needed."
~ Maya Angelou - 'Wouldn't Take Nothing for My Journey Now'

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


"Charred Landscape" - Coffee and watercolour on Bockingford 300gsm watercolour paper
- 12" x 8"


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, and got a bit bolder, using watercolour for the sky and mountains. 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.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Coffee Daisies

"Good Art comes from good Inspiration!"
- Maree

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


"Coffee Daisies" - Coffee and watercolour on Bockingford 300gsm - 12" x 8"

I have discovered painting with coffee! I have used both coffee and tea in staining certain materials before, especially cotton, but never thought of using it in art until I saw some of Barbara Glatzeder's art on RedBubble.

I've painted these daisies almost totally with coffee, adding a bit of Cadmium Red to the background, leaving it to dry over-night. Then I did the flowers straight on the page with coffee the next morning (Nescafé instant, made VERY strong!), no sketching. A bit of grey/green was used for the flower stalks.

When looking at the original, the coffee, when it dries, leaves the richest, shiniest, wet-looking patina, better than any permanent staining watercolour, absolutely great! Wish they made coffee in other colours!! And as Barbara says, the artwork smells great!

I'm disappointed in the scanning of this image, as the rich patina of the coffee doesn't show at all.

You can view more Coffee Art HERE.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Gemsbuck in the Kalahari

I know no subject more elevating, more amazing, more ready to the poetical enthusiasm, the philosophical reflection, and the moral sentiment than the works of nature. Where can we meet such variety, such beauty, such magnificence?
- James Thomson

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


Watercolour on Bockingford 300gsm - 12" x 8"

The gemsbok or gemsbuck (Oryx gazella) is a large African antelope, of the Oryx genus. The name is derived from the Dutch name of the male chamois, gemsbok. Although there are some superficial similarities in appearance (especially in the colour of the face area), the chamois and the oryx are not closely related.

In the *Kalahari Desert in South Africa*, they have to trek vast distances to find water. The park covers an area of a little less than 10,000 square kilometers and consists of mile upon mile of rolling rust-red sand dunes, solitary trees and scattered grasses. For lovers of the ambience of untamed Africa, this hauntingly beautiful region has a special appeal all of its own. The Kalahari Desert is a part of the largest continuous area of sand in the world.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Consumed by desert sands

Am I willing to give up what I have in order to be what I am not yet? Am I able to follow the spirit of love into the desert? It is a frightening and sacred moment. There is no return. One's life is charged forever. It is the fire that gives us our shape.
- Mary Richards

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


"Consumed by desert sands" - watercolour on Bockingford 300gsm 12" x 8"

A short fiction ...

Trudging gingerly across the arid sands of the desert, the explorer is careful not to put a foot wrong, for he knows it may be his last. He scours the land and shifting valleys for tell-tale signs of disturbance in the sands below, always ready for the unexpected lurch of an alien being said to kill in one strike with a sharp spout of acidic venom to the face. A creature so secretive that no photographic evidence yet exists, but the locals know it’s there, always waiting in silence for its prey, waiting to strike ...

Just playing with watercolours on a clean sheet of paper gives me great pleasure, not knowing how it's going to turn out or what's going to show up. Here I used Burnt Sienna with a bit of Sepia, watching the interaction and flow of the colours. I can spend hours filling sheet after sheet with colour, watching how the colours react and fascinated by the contours formed in the process.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Silhouettes of Africa

The shadows now so long do grow,
That brambles like tall cedars show,
Molehills seem mountains, and the ant Appears a monstrous elephant.
(Evening Quatrains) - Charles Cotton

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

Watercolour on Amedeo 200gsm - 12" x 8"

Elephants in the shadow of a mountain on their way to water in the northern parts of the Kalahari desert (South Africa). This started off as a landscape, but I suddenly envisaged desert dunes and added the elephants.

.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Left-handed landscape

“The person who risks nothing, does nothing, has nothing, is nothing, and becomes nothing. He may avoid suffering and sorrow, but he simply cannot learn and feel and change and grow and love and live.”
- Leo F. Buscaglia

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


Landscape done with my left hand - watercolour, no sketching, on a scrap piece of photo printing paper - 12" x 8"

Talking about taking risks and doing things you've never done before, how about, if you're right-handed like me (and I'm NOT AL ALL ambidextrous!), painting something with your left hand...? I did this scene from my imagination with no sketching before-hand, and even managed to sign my name! This from a person who plays the keyboard ONLY with the right hand, and can't even get her foot to tap in tune with the music at the same time!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Windy morning on the dunes

Blustery, wind-swept grass
leaves dancing, everlast
Trees bowing, branches creep
dusty vision that I keep
Waves lapping, rocks abound
seagulls dipping, all around
- Jon Coe

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

Windy Dunes - watercolour in Moleskine Folio 12" x 8" - Maree©

Many a times I’ve sat on the dunes at Zinkwazi and reveled in the sight of the wind whipping the dune grasses into a frenzy, as if to align the landscape with the stormy seas, with white horses dancing in the distance and waves crashing furiously onto the beach as they’re driven onto the coast by the wind. I’m not normally a wind person, but at the coast it seems to have a purpose and doesn’t leave dust in your hair or dry out your skin.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

African Wild Dog

“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.”
- Mahatma Gandhi

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


African Wild Dog - Watercolour on Ashrad 200gsm - 8.5" x 12"


The African Wild Dog (Lycaon pictus) is a medium-sized canid found only in Africa, especially in savannas and other lightly wooded areas. It is also called the Painted Dog, Painted Hunting Dog, African Hunting Dog, the Cape Hunting Dog, the Spotted Dog, the Ornate Wolf or the Painted Wolf in English, Wildehond in Afrikaans, and Mbwa mwitu in Swahili. It is the only extant species in the genus Lycaon, with one species, L. sekowei being extinct.

There were once approximately 500,000 African Wild Dogs in 39 countries, and packs of 100 or more were not uncommon. Now there are only about 3,000-5,500 in fewer than 25 countries, or perhaps only 14 countries. They are primarily found in eastern and southern Africa, mostly in the two remaining large populations associated with the Selous Game Reserve in Tanzania and the population centered in northern Botswana and eastern Namibia.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Sossusvlei Dunes

The heart of creativity is an experience of the mystical union; the heart of the mystical union is an experience of creativity.
- Julia Cameron

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


"Sossusvlei Dunes" - watercolour on Bockingford 300gsm - 12" x 8" - Maree©

Sossusvlei is a clay pan in the central Namib Desert, Southern Africa, lying within the Namib-Naukluft National Park, Namibia. Fed by the Tsauchab River, it is known for the high, red sand dunes which surround it forming a major sand sea. Vegetation, such as the Camelthorn tree, is watered by infrequent floods of the Tsauchab River, which slowly soak into the underlying clay. The Dead Vlei and Hidden Vlei clay pans lie near Sossusvlei.

Some of the spectacular hills of sand are, at a height of 300 meters, the highest in the world. Only after a heavy rainfall, which is a rare event in this area, does the vlei fill with water.
Info from "Wikipedia":http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sossusvlei

This was done from a photograph supplied by a friend, taken on his recent visit.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Abstract Spring

“Rays from the sunrise drew forth the buds and stretched them into long stalks, lifted up sap in noiseless streams, opened petals, and sucked out scents in invisible jets and breathings.”
- Thomas Hardy

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


"Abstract Spring" - watercolour on Bockingford 300gsm - 12" x 8"

Spring has arrived in South Africa, and although you wouldn't believe it today (we had another cold front creep in like a thief in the night!), the changing colours of the landscape is proof enough, as well as the appearance of the black-headed Oriole, delighting in the rich nectar offered by the Aloes (which are winter-flowering), and which will still offer their sweetness to the birds as if to make sure they are well-provided for during the last of the cold.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Golden Daffodils


Daffodils - watercolour on Bockingford 300gsm - 5.5" x 7.5" - Maree©
(From my "No sketching" journal)


I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;

Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze
Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:

Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.
- William Wordsworth, "I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud," 1804

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Moonlit beach

"When the storm is over and night falls and the moon is out in all its glory and all you're left with is the rhythm of the sea, of the waves, you know what God intended for the human race, you know what paradise is."
- Harold Pinter

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


Acrylic on primed Acrylic un-stretched Canvas - 12" x 9" - Maree©

Today, or should I say tonight, is full moon and like many artists, I am quite fascinated by the phases of the moon. The shape varies from a full moon (when the Earth is between the sun and the moon) to a new moon (when the moon is between the sun and the Earth). When two full moons occur in a single month, the second full moon is called a "Blue Moon." Another definition of the blue moon is the third full moon that occurs in a season of the year which has four full moons (usually each season has only three full moons). A full moon appears as an entire circle in the sky. The full moon is given different names, depending on when it appears. For example, the "Harvest moon" is the full moon that appears nearest to the Autumnal Equinox, occurring in late September or early October.

This is one of my few forays into Acrylics and I really enjoyed working on this one.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

A new start

“Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending.”
- Maria Robinson

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


"A new start" - Watercolour on Visual 140gsm 13.5" x 10" - Maree©

Looking at this picture, one could either perceive a ruin and the sad end of something or a new start of a wonderful experience. This one is a family building their new home, preparing for a new adventure at the foothills of the Magaliesberg Mountains.

This was done from a photograph I took on our last trip to Hartebeespoort Dam.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Journey

“I haven't a clue as to how my story will end. But that's all right. When you set out on a journey and night covers the road, you don't conclude the road has vanished. And how else could we discover the stars?”

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


Magaliesburg Farm Road - watercolour in Moleskine watercolour sketchbook
8.5" x 5" - Maree©


A farm road in our area passing through Spring Farm, which we often use as a short-cut to get to Magaliesburg (Gauteng, South Africa). I did a quick ink sketch in my Moleskine Watercolour Sketch-book and completed the colour when we got home.

Friday, August 13, 2010

A glint of Green

Yesterday the twig was brown and bare;
To-day the glint of green is there;
Tomorrow will be leaflets spare;
I know no thing so wondrous fair,
No miracle so strangely rare.
I wonder what will next be there!
~L.H. Bailey


A Glint of Green - Done with Fountain pen ink - Parker Quink Blue, Rohrer & Klinger "Verdura" green and Rohrer & Klinger "Vernambuk" red - on Ashrad 200gsm watercolour paper.

SPRING! is surfacing in South Africa (August 2010) and little bits of green are appearing everywhere! From tiny leaf buds to the greenest of grass stalks peeping through a black charred landscape, the world is turning greener by the day! Hooray!

Here I played with some Rohrer & Klinger and Parker fountain pen ink.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Road through Broederstroom

“The road leading to a goal does not separate you from the destination; it is essentially a part of it.”
- Charles de Lint

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



This is the road to Harties through Broederstroom, a village located in the foothills of the Magaliesberg, 35km from Pretoria (South Africa), situated on the Crocodile River (where I sketched the open gate) and overlooking Hartebeespoort Dam from the East side.

The many routes we have as an option to Harties are equally as fabulous as the destination. Leaving the tar road, there is this short-cut over the mountain and virtually only fit for off-road vehicles, but the scenery and the wild life crossing our path more than makes up for such a bumpy ride.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Magnificent Nature

I know no subject more elevating, more amazing, more ready to the poetical enthusiasm, the philosophical reflection, and the moral sentiment than the works of nature. Where can we meet such variety, such beauty, such magnificence?
- James Thomson

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


Magnificent Nature - Watercolour in Moleskine Watercolour Sketch-book - 8" x 5" - Maree©

Trees and mountains - the best nature has to offer! And *such* a pleasure to try and capture the beauty on paper! Denise Levertov said, "You can live for years next door to a big pine tree, honoured to have so venerable a neighbour, even when it sheds needles all over your flowers or wakes you, dropping big cones onto your deck at still of night!" How true! I cannot imagine a garden with no leaves - not only do they supply the earth with natural compost, but the Thrushes think it's heaven scratching through them, finding the most wonderful little tit-bits! My gardener has a very easy job, no raking is allowed in the garden!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

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

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


Hydrangeas - watercolour on Bockingford 300gsm - 15.5" x 17.5"

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, and are also called 'Christmas Roses'. Instead of Holly and Ivy decorating tables and mantles, it is the Hydrangea that takes pride of place!

Last Christmas (2009), 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.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Road through Noupoort

"A man may surely be allowed to take a glass of wine by his own fireside!"
- Richard Brinsley Sheridan


"Road through Noupoort" - watercolour in Moleskine Watercolour Sketchbook 8" x 5.5"

On the way to a friend's farm in Noupoort a few weeks ago, just the other side of Magaliesburg (South Africa), I stopped to do a quick sketch of the road disappearing past a hillock and did the colour over lunch, some chatting and a glass of wine. I think it got a bit over-worked, I couldn't put down my pen while chatting!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Cottage by the sea...

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


"Cottage by the Sea" - watercolour on Visual 200gsm - 12" x 9" - Maree©

"Happiness is a summer breeze, sand between your toes, and your best friend by your side."

My dream of a cottage by the sea… There are songs written about it, there are books written about it and poems written about it – the sea. How many of us have the dream of owning a cottage by the sea? I mean a cottage standing all alone, surrounded by nothing but the wild sea, the dunes, mist and the gulls, miles from the nearest civilization. A place of peace and tranquility, quiet walks on the beach with not a soul in sight, collecting shells and drift-wood, sitting on a rock watching the ships go by…

Don’t we all have a dream like that?

This is an imaginary scene on the West Coast of South Africa.

Have a great day everyone!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Cosmos swaying in the breeze

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


Cosmos - watercolour on Bockingford 300gsm - 11" x 7.5"

"Bright flowers, whose home is everywhere
Bold in maternal nature's care
And all the long year through the heir
Of joy and sorrow,
Methinks that there abides in thee
Some concord with humanity,
Given to no other flower I see
The forest through."
- William Wordsworth

The show of Cosmos in Tarlton (Gauteng, South Africa) this year was fabulous! They stretched next to the road-sides for kilometers and extended into ploughed fields, swaying pink, lilac, white and cerise in the wind. Nature puts up this grand show every year from November, well into March, and tourists travel from the Cape Province to Mpumalanga to witness this spectacular event.

Cosmos are originally native to scrub and meadow areas in Mexico (where the bulk of the species occur), the southern United States (Arizona, Florida), Central America, South America south to Paraguay and South Africa.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Crocodile River 1

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


"Crocodile River 1" - watercolour on Bockingford 300gsm - Maree©

Runs all day but never walks
Often murmurs, never talks.
It has a bed but never sleeps,
It has a mouth but never eats.

Crooked as a snake,
Slick as a plate
Ten thousand horses
Can't pull it straight.

Denial ain't just a river in Egypt.
- Mark Twain

Just before the Crocodile River flows into the Hartebeespoort Dam (North-West Province, South Africa), it makes a quirky little bend, flowing past some houses on a hill-top. These residences don't have a view of the dam, but the view of the river must be equally pleasing. How blessed are those with stunning views like this!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Well-guarded Secret

“Secrets are made to be found out with time.”
- Charles Sanford

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


Watercolour in my Moleskine Folio 200gsm Watercolour sketch-book - 12" x 8" - Maree©

About 20 kilometers down the road from us, lies the area of Honingklip, a rural area now densely populated as progress has spread slowly but surely from Roodepoort (Gauteng, South Africa) on its way West towards Tarlton. Twenty years ago this area was still "in the country", now it's a stone's throw from major highways and shopping centres.

Yet, not far off the main road, lies this hidden little secret - a beautiful pond known only to the most avid of fishermen and lovers of nature. Sitting on the grass at the edge of the pond, one can hardly believe that you're just minutes from civilisation, as Reed Cormorants dry themselves on the branches of an old, dead tree and ducks serenely cruise the water, ever on the lookout for something to eat.

We visited here not so long ago, and as the men sat chatting and enjoying their beers, I sketched a corner of the scene.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Forest drama


Forest Drama - Watercolour in Moleskine Watercolour Sketch-book - 5" x 8"

Winter here in Tarlton (Gauteng, South Africa) is always dramatic and spectacular. Once the green fields of summer turn yellow and dry, and after the veld fires have swept the landscape, we are left with gorgeous contrasts of greens, blacks and browns, starkly contrasting with the bright blue of winter skies.

Despite our fire breaks and the fact that our grass had been cut, our smallholding did not escape the ravages of the veld fires this year - it swept through our property in the small hours of the morning, leaving a charred landscape in its wake and the acrid smell of smoke in the air.

I took a walk down to the Blue Gum forest at the bottom of our smallholding (8.5ha), and did this sketch of some trees that had been caught in the fire, a drama that plays itself out year after year.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

First Light

early dawn | two-note, two note | who are you?
A Twitter poem from WATERMARK


"First Light" - Acrylic on Canvas board - Maree©

This was one of my first ventures into Acrylics. I've only done another 2 or 3 since then, and will get around to posting them some time or another.

Sunrise or sunset in the Kalahari Desert in the Cape Province of South Africa is always a spectacular affair. Here I have tried to capture the mystery of the desert as the sun rises over a landscape of golden grass and small red dunes.

The name Kalahari is derived from the Tswana word Kgala, meaning "the great thirst", or Khalagari, Kgalagadi or Kalagare, meaning "a waterless place". The Kalahari desert is part of the huge sand basin that extends some 900 000 square kilometers from the Orange River up to Angola, in the west to Namibia and in the east to Zimbabwe. The sand masses were created by the erosion of soft stone formations. The wind shaped the sand ridges, which are so typical of the landscape in the Kalahari.

In the southern Kalahari desert, which is the driest part, the Kalahari desert takes the form of a stationary dune veld. To the East and to the North of this, the Kalahari desert becomes a flat park-like terrain or savannah.

The Kalahari is not a true desert as it receives too much rain, but is actually a fossil desert.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Zulu huts

*"Ukuph' ukuziphakela." (Giving is to dish out for oneself).
- Zulu proverb

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


Zulu Huts - watercolour in Moleskine Folio 200gsm watercolour sketchbook - 12" x 8.5" - Maree©

As one descends down Van Reenen's pass at Harrismith in the Free State, South Africa, you enter the hills and valleys of KwaZulu Natal, known as the Zulu Kingdom, home to the Zulu people. Here you will find traditional Zulu huts dotting the country side, set amongst peaceful, green hills, waving grasslands, abundant forests, with an unhurried lifestyle and a soil imbued with the strength of the Zulu nation who fought for this land. Here one can visit a Sangoma (traditional healer), watch a rural wedding ceremony and experience Zulu hospitality.

Prior to 1994, the territory now known as KwaZulu-Natal was made up of the province of Natal and all pieces of territory that made up the homeland of KwaZulu. In the 1830s the northern part was the Zulu Kingdom and southern part was briefly a Boer republic called Natalia (from 1839 until 1843). In 1843 the latter became the British Colony of Natal, though Zululand (KwaZulu in Zulu) remained independent until 1879.

Located in the south-east of the country, it borders three other provinces and the countries of Mozambique, Swaziland, and Lesotho, along with a long shoreline on the Indian Ocean. Its capital is Pietermaritzburg and its largest city is Durban.

This is done from memory on my numerous trips down to the North Coast through this beautiful part of our country.

¸.•*¨*•♪♫•*¨*•.¸¸¸.•*¨*•♪♫•*¨*•.¸¸¸.•*¨*•♪♫•*¨*•.¸¸¸.•*¨*•♪♫•*¨*•.¸¸¸.•*¨*•♪♫•*¨*•.¸¸

From my series of "South African Landscapes" and "Ethnic South Africa" on RedBubble

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Trees and singing hills

“May brooks and trees and singing hills join in the chorus too,
and every gentle wind that blows send happiness to you.”
- Irish Blessing

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


Watercolour in Moleskine watercolour sketchbook - 8" x 5" - Maree©

A scene a couple of kilometers from where I live - a gravel road through Tarlton (South Africa) on the way to Randfontein. It's a short-cut we often take past all the veggie and flower farms, the rubbish dump where all the Seagulls (600km from the coast!) gather and where tall Blue gum trees flank the road. Here you will find many old farmsteads dating back to the 1800's and early 1900's, but unfortunately most of these have fallen into disrepair and neglect and are more and more making way for more modern and comfortable homes.

There is also a vlei (marsh) area here that extends for many kilometers all the way to Tarlton and the hills fairly sing with the sound of birds and waterfowl. I presume this was the original feed for the Tarlton Dam, which is now empty, broken and no longer in existence, although the water still flows down the course during heavy periods of rain.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Nature at its best

I know no subject more elevating, more amazing, more ready to the poetical enthusiasm, the philosophical reflection, and the moral sentiment than the works of nature. Where can we meet such variety, such beauty, such magnificence?
- James Thomson

Watercolour on X-pressit Aqua 300gsm - 12" x 8" - 26/06/2010 - Maree©

Our 8,5ha smallholding in Tarlton, South Africa, is situated on the border of the famed Cradle of Humankind "World Heritage Site", which includes the famous Sterkfontein Caves, where the famous "Mrs Ples" and "Little Foot" Australopithecus hominid fossils almost 3 million years old were found. It also hosts the "Maropeng Visitor's Centre", where all these fossils are displayed.

This road is the entrance to the farm of friends living within the Cradle of Humankind and, as such, great restrictions are placed as to what kind of building and development may be done, as well as what kind of plants you're allowed to garden with. They have left everything as natural as possible, doing the bare minimum of development and not even paved the road leading up to their house. It is a wonderland of natural and indigenous growth, offering a safe haven to many of the animals found in this region.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Arums at night

"What a desolate place would be a world without a flower! It would be a face without a smile, a feast without a welcome. Are not flowers the stars of the earth, and are not our stars the flowers of heaven?"
- Mrs. Clara Lucas Balfour

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

Arum Lilies at night - watercolour on Ashrad Not - 6" x 8.5" - Maree©
In a mostly green, shady and indigenous garden like I have, these Arum Lilies of mine seem to fairly glow against the dark green foliage at night, fireflies sometimes flitting in between, making me feel like I'm in a fairy landscape!

Friday, July 2, 2010

Flowers so fine

"He must have an artist's eye for color and form, who can arrange a hundred flowers as tastefully, in any other way, as by strolling through a garden, and picking here one and there one, and adding them to the bouquet in the accidental order in which they chance to come. Thus we see every summer day the fair lady coming in from the breezy side hill with gorgeous colors and most witching effects. If only she could be changed to alabaster, was ever a finer show of flowers in so fine a vase? But instead of allowing the flowers to remain as they were gathered, they are laid upon the table, divided, rearranged on some principle of taste, I know not what, but never again have that charming naturalness and grace which they first had."
- Henry Ward Beecher

Watercolour on Bockingford 300gsm - Maree©

A wet-on-wet exploration during one of my watercolour classes in April this year.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Magaliesberg Mountains 4

"Magaliesburg Mountains 4" - Watercolour on X-pressit Aqua 300gsm
- 12" x 8" - Maree©

“The experienced mountain climber is not intimidated by a mountain -- he is inspired by it. The persistent winner is not discouraged by a problem -- he is challenged by it. Mountains are created to be conquered; adversities are designed to be defeated; problems are sent to be solved. It is better to master one mountain than a thousand foothills.”
- William Arthur Ward

This 30 000-hectare mountain preserve in the North-West Province of South Africa is almost entirely the property of agricultural, mining or industrial landowners. But legislation ensures that no more quarries, factories or unacceptable developments can take place that would threaten the integrity of the natural area. There is a fragile and secret world in the kloofs of the Magaliesberg, with places where you can see vultures soaring on updrafts, swim in clear mountain pools - and perhaps even catch sight of a pangolin, a brown hyena or a leopard.

For this wet-on-wet scene of the mountain, after wetting the paper, I sketched the main outlines of my scene using my Rigger and Cerulean Blue, a "trick" I picked up at my watercolour workshop in April this year. I'm sure many of you use this technique, but I've always been somewhat of a sketchy person, using my pencil, going into great detail with a lot of erasing happening. It's only been the past couple of months since I started practicing painting with no sketching beforehand that I feel confident enough to consider doing this.

.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Awe-inspiring Mountain

“A friend who is far away is sometimes much nearer than one who is at hand. Is not the mountain far more awe-inspiring and more clearly visible to one passing through the valley than to those who inhabit the mountain?”
- Kahlil Gibran

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

"Magaliesberg Mountains 3" - watercolour on Ashrad 300gsm w/colour paper - 8" x 6" - Maree©

The Magaliesberg is the closest thing to a wilderness in Gauteng (South Africa) ... to watch the sheer south-facing slopes from eagle height and to see trees, cows and cars like toys in the patchwork playground of green-brown fields below, is a sheer joy.

I sketched this scene just a few kilometers outside Magaliesburg, as these majestic mountains start rising, eventually reaching their full height of 1741m above sea level.

"The village of Magaliesburg lies just below the southern range of the Magaliesberg Mountains. The roads and rivers take similar paths, breaking though the steep ridges of the mountains in a few places, only to traverse much of the land along the valleys on either side of the two mountain ridges. This small village lies at the heart of a beautiful region of mountains, valleys, rivers and indigenous woodland - home to a variety of birds.

The Magaliesberg mountain range lies in between the highveld savannah of the Witwatersrand and the African bushveld, stretching roughly from past Rustenburg in the west, past Pretoria to Bronkhorstspruit in the east. This mountain range is almost 100 times older than Everest with interesting geology, archaeology, fauna and flora.

The area was also the site of battles during the Boer War, such as:

• Battle of Nooitgedacht: Monument to one of the historic battles between the Boer and English, at the height of the Boer War.
• Old English Block House: Loosely packed stone wall construction built by the English in 1902 towards the end of the Boer War. To view by appointment only.

The Magaliesberg has the most intriguing and longest session of history, as man would have experienced, than anywhere else on earth. The reason for this is the discovery of the remains of the earliest species of primitive man know today, in and around the Sterkfontein Caves, about 20 minutes drive from Magaliesburg."

Read more at http://www.mogalecity.gov.za/municipality/magaliesburg.stm

Monday, June 21, 2010

Magaliesberg Mountains 2

The true artist paints for himself.
- A. C. Leighton

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

"Magaliesberg Mountains 2" - watercolour on Bockingford 300gsm - 12" x 8" - Maree©

This 30 000-hectare mountain preserve is almost entirely the property of agricultural, mining or industrial landowners. But legislation ensures that no more quarries, factories or unacceptable developments can take place that would threaten the integrity of the natural area. There is a fragile and secret world in the kloofs of the Magaliesberg, with places where you can see vultures soaring on updrafts, swim in clear mountain pools - and perhaps even catch sight of a pangolin, a brown hyena or a leopard.

For this wet-on-wet scene of the mountain, after wetting the paper, I sketched the main outlines of my scene using my Rigger and Cerulean Blue, a "trick" I picked up at my watercolour workshop in April this year. I'm sure many of you use this technique, but I've always been somewhat of a sketchy person, using my pencil, going into great detail with a lot of erasing happening. It's only been the past couple of months since I started practicing painting with no sketching beforehand that I feel confident enough to consider doing this.

The other day I was reading the article "When can you call yourself an Artist?" - and that morning, painting this scene, I felt like an artist! Standing in front of the easel, arm outstretched with the Rigger, creating a beautiful masterpiece!

I didn't use any reference material either, just my imagination.

By the way, to answer the question above, I think the best reply was as follows :

“You are an artist when you make art. Many artists spend their lives not selling their work … One of the first requirements for an artist is to ignore those who would define whether they are artists. The only real measure is the person making the art or, if need be, posterity.”
-- Jon

Friday, June 18, 2010

Magaliesberg Mountains 1

“I've learned that everyone wants to live on top of the mountain, but all the happiness and growth occurs while you're climbing it.”
- Unknown

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


"Magaliesberg Mountains 1" - watercolour on Bockingford 300gsm - 15" x 11" - Maree©

For one of the workshops I attended with Angela Eidelman in March this year, we had to stretch and prepare our paper at home beforehand and that week's practice was wet-in-wet again. We had to draw the outlines of the scene we were going to paint, from pictures Angela supplied, with Cerulean blue and then, paint it wet-on-wet, keeping in mind our composition, light source, focal point, etc., with Angela constantly peeping over our shoulders, giving encouragement and correction.

This is a scene of part of the Magaliesberg mountains, which runs for more than 100 kilometers from Rustenburg to beyond Pretoria. I thoroughly enjoyed this exercise!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Hartebeesthoek

“I listened, motionless and still;
And, as I mounted up the hill,
The music in my heart I bore,
Long after it was heard no more.”
- William Wordsworth

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


"Hartebeesthoek" - Watercolour on Bockingford 300gsm - 11" x 7.5" - Maree©

Driving towards Hartebeespoort Dam, we go through the area of Hartebeesthoek (Gauteng, South Africa), where the Hartebeesthoek Radio Astronomy Observatory is situated in a Nature Reserve in a valley in the Magaliesberg hills, 50km west of Johannesburg.

The Hartebeesthoek Radio Astronomy Observatory (HartRAO) is the only major radio astronomy observatory in Africa. The Observatory began as Deep Space Station 51, built in 1961 by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) of the United States of America. The station tracked many unmanned US space probes. These included the Ranger, Surveyor and Lunar Orbiter spacecraft which landed on the Moon or mapped it from orbit, the Mariner missions which explored the planets Venus and Mars and the Pioneers which measured the Sun's winds. ("Hartebeest" refers to Gnu, a species that used to roam the area in vast numbers).

This area is still one of vast open spaces and unspoilt landscapes, green rolling hills and steep gulleys, with wildlife roaming free and sometimes even crossing the road (luckily none of the Big 5!), like Warthogs, Monitors, Mongoose, snakes, tortoises, guinea fowl, hedgehogs, Striped Polecats and small buck. In fact, anything that's small enough to get through the fence. We normally drive through the area at about 60km per hour and I, for the life of me, cannot understand people whizzing past at 120kph, oblivious to the beauty of nature all around.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Daisies infinite

"Daisies infinite
Uplift in praise their little growing hands,
O'er every hill that under heaven expands."
- Ebenezer Elliott ("The Corn Law Rhymer")

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


"One Spider-Daisy" - watercolour on Bockingford 300gsm - 11" x 8"- Maree©


The Gerbera Spider Daisy is from the sunflower family (Asteraceae). It has a delicate, spiky appearance and is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds, and deer resistant! (No idea why, Wiki doesn't say!)

It has approximately 30 species in the wild, extending to South America, Africa and tropical Asia and is a tender annual flower.

I just love sketching these daisies - each one has a different personality and seems to fairly beg you to look at them and take notice!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Zantedeschia (Arum Lily)

When you take a flower in your hand and really look at it, it's your world for the moment. I want to give that world to someone else. Most people in the city rush around so, they have no time to look at a flower. I want them to see it whether they want to or not.
- Georgia O'Keeffe

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


Arum Lilies - watercolour on Bockingford 300gsm - 5.5" x 7.5"- Maree©

A study of some Arums in my garden - this year they have exceptionally long stalks (probably looking for some sunshine amidst all the shade!) and I have been picking bunches for my tall vase for the dining room table - stunning!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Redpoll

“Be as a bird perched on a frail branch that she feels bending beneath her, still she sings away all the same, knowing she has wings.”

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


Common Redpoll {Corduelis flammea} - watercolour in Moleskine Watercolour sketch-book 8" x 5.5" - Maree©

I was visiting a friend a couple of weeks ago to see how it's going with the Red Bishop she took over from me - he somehow lost a WHOLE wing as a fledgling in my garden - and I saw this little unknown bird (to me) in her aviary and enquired what it was. Turned out it's a Common Redpoll from the US, which she had bought at a pet shop. If I had my way, all pet shops would be banned from selling anything besides cats and dogs, and even that is a stretch for me.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

10-Minute quickie


10-Minute small quickie hot off the brush just to brighten my page - I've been so SLACK today! Besides the fact that I've been unable to get into Blogger, I haven't achieved much except to print out some of my flower sketches as greeting cards. And NOTHING feels right if I haven't done at least ONE sketch for the day!

(I meant to post this yesterday, but Blogger was off-line, so here it is today.)

Watercolour (no sketching) on Ashrad Not - 8.5" x 6"