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!

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Spring Farm landscape

“The best thing one can do when it's raining is to let it rain.”
- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, American Poet in the 19th century, 1807-1882)

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

"Spring Farm landscape" watercolour on Bockingford 300gsm - Maree©

Passing by Spring Farm on our way to Magaliesburg, I once again took the chance to do a quick sketch of the dam from a different angle, finishing it off once we got home. We've had plenty of rain and the dam has crept over its banks, forming vleis on both sides.

(In geography of South Africa a vlei is a shallow seasonal or intermittent lake. The word is of Dutch/Afrikaans origin meaning 'pond', 'marsh', and is pronounced as "flay". Vleis vary in their extent according to the fall of rain or dryness of the season.)


Friday, February 26, 2010

Childhood memories - Albasini Dam

"Since it doesn't cost a dime to dream, you'll never short-change yourself when you stretch your imagination."
~ Robert Schuller

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

"Albasini Dam" watercolour on Bockingford 300gsm - Maree© (no sketching)

This sketch is remembering childhood days in the 1950's, I was about 10 years old, when I lived in the Limpopo Province (then it was known as the Northern Tansvaal) in Pietersburg (Now Polokwane), when I used to go fishing with my dad at the Albasini Dam, surrounded by the Soutpansberg Mountains, at Louis Trichardt. Once we'd arrived and set up the fishing rods, we'd sit for hours waiting for a bite, chatting about everything and nothing in particular, sipping cold coffee from the flask my mother had packed.

A bite, however, would result in scrambling for the fishing rod, excitedly reeling the fish in, me not being able to wait to see what we'd caught. Most of the time it was only a Barbel, a carp-like freshwater catfish that cooked beautifully over our camp fire. My dad would gut and clean it, slicing it into big, round, fat steaks, and then fry it together with slices of cold potatoes, and devour it with fresh home-made bread and thick butter.

My mother always packed far too much food for our trips - the fresh, home-made bread she'd baked the night before, hard-boiled eggs, baked potatoes still in their foil, beef sausages and gherkins and pickles. And, of course, the coffee flask.

Barbel catfish

The Albasini Dam was built in 1952 and is named after Joao Albasini, who was born 1 May 1813, in Lisbon, Portugal. He came to Lourenço Marques in 1831 and became a slave trader and Elephant hunter. The remains of his trading post can be found at the new Phabeni Gate, 10 km from Hazyview.

This dam was built primarily to supply the Levubu Irrigation Scheme. The dam has a capacity of 28,200 cubic meters (1,000,000 cu ft), and a surface area of 3.498 square kilometers (1.351 sq mi) and the wall is 34 meters (110 ft) high.

A small tributary off the Albasini Dam - The upper Luvuvhu, Sterkstroom, Latonyanda, Dzindi, Mukhase, Mbwedi and Mutshindudi are steep, narrow rivers dominated by cobble riffles and occasional pools with a few bedrock rapids. These were our favourite fishing spots.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Gum Forest 8

If you reveal your secrets to the wind you should not blame the wind for revealing them to the trees.
- Khalil Gibran

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

"Gum Forest 8" watercolour on Bockingford 300gsm - Maree© (no sketching)
Size : 5.5" x 7.5"

(This Series is for sale on my SALES BLOG)

The eighth and last sketch in the Gum Forest series where I've been experimenting with not doing any preliminary sketches before painting, just putting colour directly onto the paper and seeing what develops. This cool palette would also look lovely in a sepia frame and will display well together with No. 1 in the Gum Series.

Monday, February 22, 2010

The other side of Harties

"...try to forget what objects you have before you, a tree, a house, a field or whatever ... merely think here is a little square of blue, here an oblong of pink, here a streak of yellow, and paint it just as it looks to you, the exact color and shape..."
- Claude Monet

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

"The other side of Harties" - watercolour in Moleskine watercolour sketch-book - Maree©

For me, this is "the other side of Hartebeespoort Dam" - not the usual route we always take over the dam wall, but turning off at Strawberry Farm and going into the Villa D'Afrique housing estate - the estate has got a wildness about it, away from the normal hustle and bustle of the dam, very peaceful and quiet.

I found a comfortable rock, prepared my palette and just put the colour straight on the paper, with no sketching, starting with the water - the reflections were great and high above the the Magaliesberg mountains the vultures were soaring, not in my pic, making use of the warm thermals to gain height. A perfect day for sketching!

Friday, February 19, 2010

South Africa's King

Rinkhals in my garden

In the past couple of weeks I've had to temporarily give up my sojourns into our Blue gum forest at the bottom of our property where I go to sketch and paint, due to all the rain we've had, which has resulted in a larger than normal number of snakes that I encounter while trying to settle in to sketch.

While you're concentrating on a specific tree, it's rather disconcerting hearing the leaves rustle and then seeing a Rinkhals (Spitting Cobra) nonchalantly sailing in your direction. It means either sitting dead still, hoping he's not going to notice you, or it's a mad scramble trying to get out of the way (and then alerting him to your presence), sending easel or sketchbooks and water flying through the air!

In the past 2 weeks I have already rescued and evicted two Rankhalses from my garden (the pleasure of my garden only to be enjoyed by Mollie, my resident Mole Snake or the Brown House Snake - all others like the Rinkhals and the various Adders are summarily evicted!). Chrissie, my gardener, immediately takes a short-cut home when she sees I'm busy catching a snake for safe delivery to a dam nearby us.

Rinkhals - Hemachatus haemachatus

The Rinkhals is a member of the Cobra family and is also a spitting cobra. It is the smallest of the cobras reaching only about 1.2m or about 4 ft in length. It is a venomous elapid species found in parts of southern Africa. It is one of a group of cobras that has developed the ability to spit venom as a defense mechanism. Rinkhals are unique amongst African cobras in being ovoviviparous. They give birth to 20-35 young, but as many as 65 babies have been recorded. The Rinkhals is unique also, compared to cobras, as it has keeled scales.

If you would like to read more about the Rinkhals and how he feigns death when faced by danger, you can go to my NATURE JOURNAL.

One of the sketches I did of our blue gum forest in my Moleskine watercolour Sketch-book

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Africa's Wonder

"Let a Person Walk Alone With Few Wishes, Committing No Wrong, Like an Elephant in the Forest."

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

"Africa's Wonder - Elephant" - watercolour on Bockingford 300gsm - 12" x 9" - Maree©

Africa's wild animals are a constant source of inspiration and for me elephants symbolise
Strength, Solitude, sense of loyalty to the family and Intelligence. Looking into the eye of an elephant, one sees Wisdom beyond our understanding.

I sketched this young elephant on a visit to the Elephant Sanctuary Hartebeespoort Dam where they provide a “halfway house” for young African elephants in need of a temporary home.

African elephants are bigger than Asian Elephants. Males stand 3.6 m (12 ft) tall at the shoulder and weigh 5,400 kg (12,000 lb), while females stand 3 m (9.8 ft) and weigh between 3,600 and 4,600 kg (7,900 and 10,000 lb). However, males can get as big as 6,800 kg (15,000 lb!).

Some interesting info :
Elephants have four molars; each weighs about 5 kg (11 lb) and measures about 30 cm (12 in) long. As the front pair wears down and drops out in pieces, the back pair shifts forward and two new molars emerge in the back of the mouth. Elephants replace their teeth six times. At about 40 to 60 years of age the elephant no longer has teeth and will likely die of starvation, a common cause of death.


Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Thinking Big!

“The question isn't who is going to let me; it's who is going to stop me.”
- Ayn Rand

"Rain in the gum forest" - watercolour on Bockingford 300gsm - 20" x 39" - Maree©

This is my first foray into BIG! A familiar subject, trees... There's something so scary and intimidating about a huge, pristine white piece of paper staring at you - putting that first splash of colour feels almost like sacrilege, like I'm defacing something pure and wonderful. But as the colour started to take over, I confidently worked faster, thinking about my own advice on fear - what's the worst that can happen?

Do I fear wasting the paints? What would happen if I did? I’d get more. I’d move on. I’d live.

Do I fear spoiling the paper? What would happen if I did? I’d crumple it up and throw it away. I'd get some more. I’d live.

And so I bravely worked with big, bigger than what I'm used to anyway, brush strokes, finally seeing it all come together. Whew!

I did a practice sketch of these trees on our smallholding, shortly after a downpour, and did the painting from that. I just could not see myself out in the bush with the easel and this big piece of paper!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Fear of the Great White

“The greatest barrier to success is the fear of failure.”
- Sven Goran Eriksson

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

Practice 1

I've been doing some quick practice sketches for larger paintings I'm planning. Anything bigger than A4 has been scaring the daylights out of me - I keep taking out the BIG piece of art paper and then quickly putting it away "for another day". I've just got to tackle those large canvasses now, no more procrastinating!

Here are a few sketches I've been doing over the past couple of days. They're all done on Bockingford 300gsm, working quickly to get a feel of the brush as it moves across the paper and they are all 12" x 9". Here I can see what works and what doesn't, where I have to go lighter or darker or where I can improve on my technique. Planning is something totally new to me, but for the large paper looming in front of me, it seems essential this time!

Practice 2

Practice 3

Practice 4

Practice 5

Practice 7

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Gum Forest 7

Just think of the trees: they let the birds perch and fly, with no intention to
call them when they come and no longing for their return when they fly away.
If people's hearts can be like the trees, they will not be off the Way.
- Langya

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

"Gum Forest 7" watercolour on Bockingford 300gsm - Maree© (no sketching)
Size : 7.5" x 5.5"

(This Series is for sale on my SALES BLOG)

The seventh in the Gum Forest series of 8 where I've been experimenting with not doing any sketches before painting, just putting colour directly onto the paper and seeing what develops. As I put in the preliminary washes, I was envisaging the closeness of the trees in our Blue gum forest and left a lot more clear paper before starting on the next colour phase.


Friday, February 12, 2010

Black Wattles in Tarlton

The creation of a thousand forests is in one acorn.
- Ralph Waldo Emerson

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

"Tarlton Black Wattles" watercolour on Bockingford 300gsm (no sketching) - Maree©
Size : 12" x 9"

The Black Wattle trees on our smallholding in Tarlton, Gauteng, South Africa, which we are trying our utmost to eradicate, have put up the most spectacular show of browns with their millions of seed-pods in between the greens. How can we even begin to think to destroy such beauty? Yet, for the survival of our own indigenous flora, it is a task we undertake every year in a bid to save some of our own natural growth.

Read more about the Black Wattle struggle HERE.

PAGES - New feature for Blogger

In case all my fellow 'Blogger' bloggers don't know it yet, Blogger now has a new feature called "PAGES", similar to the pages that you can add to WordPress. Mine appears just under my header, and I will be using it as a special place to add important announcements or pages about a specific topic. You are allowed 10 Pages (bit of a bummer, could've been more!) and you can find out more about it here at "The Computery"

'I Love the Way She Blogs' has also got an article "How to use Pages on Blogger"
and you can also go to Blogger's site "What are Pages?", which explains how to add the menus horizontally in stead of vertically.

A new tool to play with! How exciting!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Lonely Shores

There is pleasure in the pathless woods, there is rapture in the lonely shore, there is society where none intrudes, by the deep sea, and music in its roar; I love not Man the less, but Nature more.
- Lord Byron

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

Lonely Shore - watercolour on Bockingford 300gsm - 12" x 8.5" - Maree©

I've been missing the coast for a while now, haven't been for several months. Miss the sand between my toes, watching the sun rise over a brilliantly turquoise sea, the waves washing up little treasures to sketch... I love just sitting on the rocks, the breeze in my hair, the crabs scurrying around before the tide comes in again.

The beaches in Ballito, on the North Coast of Kwa-Zulu Natal, South Africa, stretch flat and smooth for long distances, ideal for long walks, and some stretches have lots of rocks, offering a place to sit and ponder, but way up the North Coast, at St. Lucia, the beaches are wild and undulating, covered with vegetation. The Loggerhead and Leatherback turtles breed in these waters and lay their eggs on these shores.

If you're interested in seeing a bit more of St. Lucia, go HERE