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, January 30, 2010

Early morning landscape

"With each sunrise, we start anew"

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

"Early Morning Landscape" - watercolour on Bockingford 300gsm - 12" x 9" - Maree©

The sun rising gently behind our Blue Gum forest and, with some imagination, the fields are turned into a wonder-wetland.

This painting is one in a series of paintings done by painting directly onto the paper, no sketching done before-hand. Lately I have found that, unless I am doing something very detailed, like the feathers of a bird, I am eager to get the image onto paper or canvass and don't feel like restricting myself with pencil lines.

This painting is for sale on my SALES BLOG.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Our Comfort Zone

"Often what we call procrastination, a lack of inspiration or boredom, is really just being trapped in the shell of our own comfort zone. Our comfort zone offers a safe haven, a trusted beaten path for us to follow. However the comfort zone can easily become, over time, our liability zone!"

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

It's amazing what you'll do when inspiration fails to materialise. I just couldn't think of anything to sketch - a landscape? No, boring! Some animals? No, boring! I was at my wit's end, trying to come up with something, so I decided to really challenge myself and do something I really hate - still life!

I looked around the kitchen and grabbed a couple of things lying around and just started sketching. Before long I was totally immersed in capturing the see-throughness of the plastic wrap and the vibrant colours on hubby's favourite mug - even my hake lying close-by got roped in!

Moving out of my comfort zone and doing something new made me realise that we so easily become entrenched in the 'known' - that excitement and passion can easily ebb away and leave us feeling drained.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Phoebe loses Stormy - RIP

A quick sketch I've done of Phoebe as I'm writing this - Phoebe back from feeding

Many of us have been following Phoebe, the Allen's Hummingbird, sitting on her nest in Orange County, California, via live cam (http://cam.dellwo.com/), whose babies, Sassy and Stormy, hatched on the 19th January 2010. The sad news is that Stormy died last night - apparently he hatched the same day as Sassy, but was only due to hatch 2 days later, so he was premature and weak and, therefore, did not make it. RIP poor Stormy...

But, of course, we must realise this is nature's way of ensuring that only the fit and strong survive. The second egg is normally laid as an insurance policy.

Sassy alone in the nest...

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Art in the Garden

"Eagle's Fare" restaurant at the Walter Sisulu Botanical Gardens, Roodepoort, South Africa

Come along and browse art in the stunning outdoor setting of the Walter Sisulu National Botanical Gardens in Roodepoort. 10% of all sales go to the Botanical Society's Garden Development Fund.

For further info or directions, e-mail botsoc@sisulugarden.co.za

Forthcoming dates:
Sunday 31 January 2010

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Across a Moonlit Sea

"Across a Moonlit Sea" watercolour in Moleskine Folio 12" x 8" - Maree©

The Moonlit Sea

On a calm sea the moonlight shimmers
Holding all eyes entranced
Bright and silvery it glimmers
As the argent light danced
By the lapping shore when the hour is late
The rippling moonlight upon the sea hypnotizing
A place to ponder and contemplate
The undulately moonlight upon the sea mesmerizing
The silvery sea's slow, rhythmic measure in the night
The gentle breakers softly caressing the shore
The brilliant moonlight is eerie bright
Its refulgent shine of splendorous galore
The lulling of the gentle breakers seduces
Where hushed night shall ever be
The radiant patterns of the silvery water induces
A spellbound state by the becalmed moonlit sea

- by Thor's Fury

Monday, January 18, 2010

Allen's Hummingbird

"Allen's Hummingbird" watercolour in Moleskine Folio - Maree©

I've been following the progress via Live cam (http://cam.dellwo.com/) of the Allen's Hummingbird sitting on her eggs, laid on the 2nd and 4th of January 2010, respectively, and which are due to hatch within the next day or so. The link was supplied by well-known bird artist, Vickie Henderson, who also sketched the Humming bird. You can see Vickie's post and sketches on her blog, Vickie Henderson Art.

I did this sketch from screenshots taken of the live cam. Not knowing Hummingbirds very well, I Googled it and somehow think I've made the beak much too curved (although it certainly looked like that on the screenshot) - the description read, "Allen's Hummingbird: Small, compact hummingbird; male has straight black bill, glittering green crown and back, white breast, and rufous sides, belly, rump, and tail. The throat (gorget) is iridescent copper-red. Feeds on nectar, insects, spiders, and sap. Swift direct flight, hovers when feeding." It also states that it is the female that incubates the eggs for 15 to 17 days, so maybe the female's bill is a bit more curved. All wonderfully new stuff to me!

I'm keeping a close eye one the Live cam, as I really would like to see the hatching of the eggs. Pop in again for an up-date!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Wetland (temporarily) in Tarlton again!

"Thicket by thicket and wetland by wetland, we are losing the remaining wilderness and diversity of life. The greenbelt is stopping the loss of natural features and the species they host."
~ Jim Bradley

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

Wetland - Watercolour on Bockingford 300gsm - Maree©
Size - 12" x 9"

A foray into bright colours, showing my excitement - the Tarlton stream is flowing again! It was almost as wide as the road as it snaked its way towards the dam, dropping several meters as it flowed through the broken dam wall. We haven't seen this sight for many years, but the plentiful rains we've had must've caused it to break through the man-made obstructions further up-stream. In this view the stream is flowing from the top down towards the old dam.

Longing back to the days of swimming in the dam with our horses before the wall was broken down...


Friday, January 15, 2010

Farm shed in Magaliesburg

"The key question isn't "What fosters creativity?" But it is why in heaven's name isn't everyone more creative? Where was the human potential lost? How was it crippled? I think therefore a good question might be not why do people create, but why do people not create or innovate? We have got to abandon that sense of amazement in the face of creativity, as if it were a miracle if anybody created anything."

Farm Shed in Magaliesburg - watercolour 12" x 8.5" - Maree©

Magaliesburg, situated on the border of Gauteng and the North West Province, is renowned as a tourist destination, but also supports a vast farming community. I did this sketch of the shed on a farm not far from The Cradle of Humankind Visitors' Centre.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Fisherman's House

Never a fishermen need there be
If fishes could hear as well as see.
- Author Unknown

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

"Weskushuisie" - Watercolour in Moleskine Watercolour sketch-book - Maree©

Examples of the original little fishermen's houses on the West Coast of South Africa are becoming a rare site and artists seem compelled to capture images of an era long gone by. Not being anywhere near the Cape Province, I did this sketch from imagination.

The West Coast is a region of the Western Cape Province in South Africa and is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean on the west and the Swartland region on the east.

The Cape West Coast stretches from Cape Town as far as the border with the Northern Cape at Touws River, including within its parameters the indescribably beautiful Cederberg Mountains, famous for centuries-old rock art. All along this stretch of coastline is a series of quaint historic towns and fishing villages with names like Lambert’s Bay, Paternoster, Saldanha and Langebaan that today roll with ease off the tongue, but until fairly recently were left to languor in relative obscurity.

South Africa's fishing industry has a long and eventful history. As early as 1658, a mere six years after the first permanent settlement at the Cape, four free burghers were given permission to settle in Saldanha Bay. They established themselves as fishermen and sold dried fish to the other burghers as well as to passing ships.

Today, three centuries later, the once unlimited fish stocks have been placed under such pressure through wastage and over-exploitation that it has become necessary to protect them from total decimation. As a result, the government has reduced catch quotas drastically across the whole industry. The number of fish meal and fish oil processing plants has also been reduced.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Dam on Spring Farm

It is only when we are aware of the earth,
and of the earth as poetry, that we truly live.
- Henry Beston, 1935

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 notebook

On our way to Magaliesburg, we often leave the main road and approach Magaliesburg via all the gravel roads, one of which leads past Spring Farm, a large cattle farm situated right next door to Maropeng, the Visitor Centre of the Cradle of Humankind. This is one of the dams on the farm and early in November last year we stopped and I did this sketch. The cattle on my side of the dam barely stirred as I sat down with my sketch-book - luckily!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

This old stump on 84...

People in suburbia see trees differently than foresters do. They cherish every one. It is useless to speak of the probability that a certain tree will die when the tree is in someone's backyard .... You are talking about a personal asset, a friend, a monument, not about board feet of lumber.
- Roger Swain

This old stump is a relic from one of the blue Gums on our property sawn down many years ago, and now plays host to some moss and a lonely fern leaf. Was wondering if I should add a bit of soil, and maybe some compost? Would that be interfering with Mother Nature?

Friday, January 8, 2010

River landscape

“What makes a river so restful to people is that it doesn't have any doubt - it is sure to get where it is going, and it doesn't want to go anywhere else.”
- Hal Boyle

River landscape - watercolour - 12" x 8.5" - Maree©

A great story about the Zambezi River - The river god, Nyaminyami, is two snakes, one male and one female. When the bridge was built across the Zambezi at Victoria Falls, the two snakes were separated. But the male snake still longs for his mate. Every now and then, he lunges out towards her - and that's why there are earthquakes.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Blue Gum Forest on 84

It is not so much for its beauty that the forest makes a claim upon men's hearts, as for that subtle something, that quality of air that emanates from old trees, that so wonderfully changes and renews a weary spirit.
- Robert Louis Stevenson

This Blue Gum forest on our smallholding is just in the process of recovering from winter and some heavy veld fires - most of the dead leaves are gone and some of the trees are still black from being burnt, but some green grass is starting to peep through. It provides me with endless hours of enjoyment walking through the trees, watching the birds and sketching.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Sketching in my area

My neighbour's house... half hidden by a huge, gnarled old Oak. I was half-way up his driveway, which is about 300m long, sketching the scene, when he came driving down in his bakkie (our term for an LDV, the 'a' being pronounced as in 'bucky', weird, but true!) - he didn't mind at all, and asked to see the sketch when it was finished, which led to him buying it when I showed it to him a week later!

Just an explanation of the long driveways - the size of our properties here in Tarlton is 8,5ha (or 21 acres or 10 morgen), which normally translates to a front width of approximately 200 meters and a depth or length of 600 meters, and most houses are either right at the back or half-way up the property. Sometimes, like ours, the house is in the front of the property, close to the road, leaving the full length of the back of the property for some farming activity.

We do not do any farming, but half of the property was planted with Eragrostis by the previous owner, a perennial grass used as fodder for horses and cattle, and plays host to a variety of birds, one being a little bird similar to the reed warbler, building it's nest by tying the long grass stalks together. A quarter is taken up by our living area and a quarter contains a Blue gum forest, planted in the early 20th Century for use by the mining industry. This forest is where I spend a great deal of time sketching the trees.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Wise Old Owl

Some wise words for 2010 :

“A wise old owl sat on an oak;
The more he saw the less he spoke;
The less he spoke the more he heard;
Why aren't we like that wise old bird?”

"Scops Owl" watercolour on Bockingford 300gsm - Maree©
{Otus senegalensis}

The African Scops Owl is a common, sometimes abundant, resident of Savannah woodland in South Africa. Scops Owls feed mostly on insects and spiders and breed in a tree cavity.

The Scops Owl is fully nocturnal and mostly insectivorous. It is a bird of scrub and bush territory, and often uses ground nest sites for breeding.

It is a small owl of only about 17cm and lays its 4-6 eggs in a tree cavity from April - June. Incubation about 27 days. Young fledge by about 30 days.

Its call is a soft croaking, frog-like "prrrup-prrrup".

Detail of Scops Owl feet

Detail of Scops Owl face

Saturday, January 2, 2010

"Making A Mark" Award

A most fitting way to start a new year! Our group blog, Sketching in Nature, hosted by Cathy (Kate) Johnson, of which I am proud to say I am also a contributor, received the "Going Greener" award from Katherine Tyrrell of "Making A Mark". These awards are given out every year to artists, blogs, groups, etc.

This year, Sketching in Nature gets it for "Going Greener" - with many kind words for the contributors of Sketching in Nature.

Thank you, Katherine!

Go to MAKING A MARK for more information.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Sunrise in Tarlton

"Sunrise doesn't last all morning, a cloudburst doesn't last all day;
seems my love is up and has left with no warning -
it's not always going to be this grey.
All things must pass, all things must pass away."
- George Harrison

My first post for 2010 and I thought it fitting to start with a sunrise, depicting a new day, a new beginning, filled with hope, joy and lovely sunshine for all!

"South African Sunrise" Watercolour on a sheet of Daler Bockingford 14in x 10in watercolour paper, 90lbs (190gsm) - Maree©

At the edge of our smallholding stands this lonely little Syringa tree, and I was up early enough one morning to capture the sun rising.

I did 286 posts from April to December last year and I hope to stick to
a-sketch-or-painting-a-day pledge I made back then.