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!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Low tide

It's hard for me to put into words why I like the beach so much. Everything about it is renewing for me, almost like therapy...Beach Therapy”
--Amy Dykens

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

"The beach - Low tide" - watercolour in Moleskine watercolour sketch-book
8" x 5.5" - Maree©

In Wikipedia the tides are explained as follows:
  • Sea level rises over several hours, covering the intertidal zone; flood tide.
  • The water rises to its highest level, reaching high tide.
  • Sea level falls over several hours, revealing the intertidal zone; ebb tide.
  • The water stops falling, reaching low tide.
To me this is very similar to the feelings we experience throughout our lifetime - we all have our ups and downs. So when you're feeling down, just remember - after every low tide comes a high tide.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Mauritius beach - No. 18

Mauritius Beach - watercolour in Moleskine watercolour sketchbook - 8" x 5"

In December 2008 we were lucky enough to visit Mauritius for a week for my daughter's wedding. Of course the kids were having a ball - swimming in the ocean, snorkeling, paddle-boating, jet-skiing, fishing trips, sailing - the list is endless. And this palm tree was the centre of their attention, climbing up to the top, dangling precariously while having their photographs taken. I did this sketch from memory, as the trip is deeply etched in my memory forever.

Some friends sailing in the tropical waters of Mauritius

I don't regard myself as a big traveller (although I do go down to the North Coast, Ballito, about 10 times a year (because my daughter lives there and we also have a holiday apartment there) and to Cape Town a couple of times a year, where my sister-in-law lives) and I really envy people that hop on the plane or take off somewhere at the drop of a hat. I've only been overseas (UK) once and didn't find myself particularly impressed by anything and besides, those long hours on the plane (or bus or train!) are definitely not for me. I prefer to jump in my car on a whim and when I feel like it.

The Stunning Beach at 'Sunset Beach'

We were a party of 14 people and at 9.30 am our flight departed from O.R. Tambo airport in South Africa. After a four-hour flight, we arrived in Mauritius at 3.30pm! Weird, the time-zone thing... and then another hour's drive from Port Louis to Sugar Beach Hotel, where we were just in time for sun downers after getting all the luggage to our rooms.

Sugar Beach Hotel

Entrance to the Hotel, with me trying to escape the sun

Sun downers was an absolutely blissful experience - everything that anybody could ever dream of - stunning setting, stunning views and the most stunning service I've ever come across anywhere.

Sundowner Deck at night

Sundowner Deck during the day, where you can also enjoy lunch

The rooms are beautifully appointed, en-suite, spacious and, obviously, air-conditioned, (without which I would not have managed to survive!) with stunning views over the ocean. All the expected extras like tea and coffee server, writing material, internet connection and a fridge brim-full with delightful goodies!

Our Large Bedroom

Another view of the bedroom

En-suite bathroom

We had a state-of-the-art swimming pool right in front of our room, which was heated at night! (can't believe anybody would be cold there!) and it just seemed to blend in with the sky and ocean. At the restaurants there was another pool (HUGE, with islands and deck chairs in the water for sipping cocktails) and lot's of play-space for the children.

Pool in front of our room

Pool at The Tides Restaurant

Deck chairs in the pool for sipping cocktails

Sitting at The Tides Restaurant at dusk, chatting and sipping cocktails in the cooler evening air was the highlight of my every day - cool ocean breezes, the beautiful Indian Ocean - a get-together of everybody, sharing experiences and regaling the thrills of the day's happenings (everybody would have breakfast together in the beautiful dining room every morning, but thereafter, each was off on their own trip - swimming in the ocean, snorkelling, paddle-boating, jet-skiing, fishing trips, sailing or flitting off to Flick 'n Flack for some shopping.

The Tides cocktail deck

It was an unforgettable experience for me, partly because of my daughter's wedding and partly because I've (like everybody else) had this dream of visiting a tropical island, lazing on the sun-soaked beach and cooling off in an Azure blue ocean. Another dream realised! Just goes to show we're never too old to do something new!

After a week of bliss, it was time to return home on a four-hour flight that actually only took 2 hours! - once again the time zone thing - we boarded Mauritian time 4.30 pm and arrived Johannesburg 6.30 pm.

Definitely a travel experience to remember and for anybody that has not yet visited Mauritius, I would highly recommend Sugar Beach Hotel as your chosen destination.

View from our room

Lounge at Sugar Beach Hotel

The Bride and Groom - my daughter Samantha and Donovan Crewe

The Wedding Marquee on the Beach

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The Seagull and the beach

"Jonathan Seagull discovered that boredom and fear and anger are the reasons that gull’s life is so short and with these gone from his thought, he lived a long fine life indeed."
- From 'Jonathan Livingstone Seagull'

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

"The Seagull and the beach" - watercolour in Moleskine Watercolour sketch-book
8.5" x 5" - Maree©

This is done from my imagination – I'm longing for the beach and seagulls!

"Seagull, you fly across the horizon
Into the misty morning sun.
Nobody asks you where you are going,
Nobody knows where you're from.

Here is a man asking the question
Is this really the end of the world?
Seagull, you must have known for a long time
The shape of things to come.
Now you fly, through the sky, never asking why,
And you fly all around 'til somebody, Shoots you down.

Seagull go and fly,
Fly to your tomorrow, leave me to my sorrow, fly."

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Exploring Tonal value

As artists, we must learn to be self nourishing. We must become alert enough to consciously replenish our creative resources as we draw on them – to restock the trout pond, so to speak.
- Julia Cameron

Beach and trees - tonal value exercise

My watercolour workshops with Angela Eidelman are two weeks apart - every second Wednesday - and probably just as well - after three hours of watching, listening, planning, and actual sketching exercises, I find myself totally exhausted afterwards, and I'm telling myself it's NOT an age thing! My younger counter-parts like Cathy Gatland (read her workshop up-dates with Hazel Soan here) and Debbie Schiff (read Debbie's posts about her art class with Hazel Soan here) have both complained about the same thing. It's hard and exhausting work setting up your work station, trying to take in everything and anxiously trying not to make a complete botch-up of your exercises, right there where everybody is witness to the whole thing!

So for two weeks until my next class, I've got plenty of time to practice all the basics. At first I've been trying to do everything all in one painting - the planning, good composition, focal point, light source, tonal value, and where the most detail or the least detail is. I've given that up as a bad job and am spending a day or two on each point - the exercise above is mostly about tonal value, but it also gave me a chance to explore the source of where my light is coming from and making sure I don't have shadows running in all sorts of directions!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Watercolour Workshop 2 - Wet-on-Wet

We all have time to paint. We have time to paint the minute we are willing to paint badly, to chase a dead end, to scribble a few words, to paint for the hell of it instead of for the perfect and polished result.
- Julia Cameron

Art class wet-on-wet 17/03/2010 on Bockingford 300gsm - Maree

This past Wednesday was my second watercolour workshop with Angela Eidelman, Honorary Chairman of the W.S.S.A. (Watercolour Society of South Africa), and this week we covered wet-in-wet, that loose, elusive style that so many artists strive for.

A new concept of painting for me - having to keep in mind good composition, focal point, light source, tonal value, and where the most detail or the least detail is. I usually just go with my gut feeling of what feels or looks good to my (untrained!) eye. So for the next two weeks it's the three big P's - practice, practice and practice!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Crocodile River

“When the river is deepest it makes least noise.”
- Chinese Proverb

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

"Crocodile River, Broederstroom" - watercolour in Moleskine Portfolio 12" x 8" - Maree©

When we choose to go to Hartebeespoort Dam via Broederstroom, we cross over the Crocodile River (the same river I collected water from to sketch the gate scene in the previous post), which feeds the dam, offers white water rafting, and includes overnight options complete with riverside camping. Tubing, canoeing and cable slides into the river are also available.

I did this sketch from memory after we returned from our lunch and is the view from the bridge.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Keep out!

Creativity occurs in the moment, and in the moment we are timeless.
- Julia Cameron

This farm gate scene is not far from us in Broederstroom, a farm bordering on the Crocodile river, on our way to Hartebeespoort Dam. We stopped to give our puppy a chance to go to the toilet and I was faced with this wonderful gate right in from of me!

To hubby's utmost frustration, I actually hauled out my paint set, collected water from the river and quickly started doing the sketch. The frustration was because it took a bit longer than normal, actually putting in the colour right there - normally I would do a preliminary sketch and finish it off at home - this took me just over half an hour, while Dave and Jacko explored just inside the fence, but we were soon on our way and I fiddled a bit when we got home.

This was done in my Moleskine Folio watercolour sketchbook, 12" x 8".

Friday, March 12, 2010

A new family!

"The key to everything is patience. You get the chicken by hatching the egg - not by smashing it."

- Arnold Glasow

"Pippie the Hen" - watercolour on Visual 140gsm - 12" x 8" - Maree©

This is Pippie, one of Kingston's hens, getting quite fluffed up having me so close and personal in her space! The other hen took off as soon as I approached, but I think Pippie's brood is about to hatch and she's not being intimidated by a lunatic with a sketch-book!

She was in Kingston's harem when I bought them, just in time, as he was destined for the pot. I haven't brought them over to my yard yet as some of the hens are still sitting on eggs, so I'll be getting a few extra for my money spent!

Monday, March 8, 2010

The learning curve - Watercolour Workshop 1

Doing work points the way to new and better work to be done.
- Julia Cameron

Original "Field in Oaktree" watercolour 12" x 8"
(Click on images to enlarge)

During my watercolour workshop, my teacher took my above painting to demonstrate to the class how a good painting can become exceptional - she showed me where to add some colour and soften some lines, and to add some softness in the distance to draw the eye to the focal point. Little changes, but with amazing results! We could play, "Spot the difference" here!

"Field in Oaktree" corrected

I know what I think, you be the judge! - this is such a learning curve for me and I'm so excited, and impatient! and ready, to go to the next level of my growth.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

5-Minute exercises

“In our lives there is bound to come some pain, surely as there are storms and falling rain; just believe that the one who holds the storms will bring the sun.”

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

"Storm Brewing" - watercolour on Bockingford 300gsm - Maree© (no sketching)

I decided it was time for some quick 5-minute exercises again with no sketching before-hand and to encourage looseness and I did these two in under 5 minutes each. These quick exercises really irk me - my brush just itches to do more and more!

"The Beach" - watercolour on Bockingford 300gsm - 12" x 8" - Maree© (no sketching)

Friday, March 5, 2010

Scene at Harties

"If you can express your soul, the rest ceases to matter."

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

Scene at Hartebeespoort Dam - watercolour in Moleskine watercolour sketchbook - Maree©

You might have noticed that Hartebeespoort Dam (also known as Harties) holds a special fascination for me. The scenery possibilities are endless, ranging from location to the time of day and the change of light.

Most of the time, like this one, I stop for a quick sketch on our way there, other times I will work off one of my photographs. I've been meaning to take a trip up the cable car, but every time I've been there, it has been closed for some reason or another. It's next on my wish-list.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Gum Forest 0n 84

Approaching a tree we approach a sacred being who can teach us about love and about endless giving. She is one of millions of beings who provide our air, our homes, our fuel, our books. Working with the spirit of the tree can bring us renewed energy, powerful inspiration, deep communion.
- Druid Tree Lore

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

"Gum Forest on 84" - watercolour on Bockingford 300gsm - 9" x 12" - Maree©

A suggestion of a Blue gum forest - colour put directly onto the paper without any prior sketching. (The "84" in the title is the number of the smallholding where I live.)

This sketch is bigger than the rest of the Gum Forest Series, which is 5.5" x 7.5", and here I'm exploring the same method of not sketching and just using colour to suggest the image, just going bigger. It's easy putting colour on a smaller painting - the bigger you go, the more colour you have to mix and the quicker you have to paint - I also invested in two new round Winsor & Newton BIG brushes - no's 24 and 28 - I'm sure one gets bigger, but that was the biggest size Pen & Paper in Clearwater Mall had. Now I need a bigger flat - I've got a Nylon Daler ¾" - I probably need a 1"?

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Another Sunshine Award!

My cup runneth over and it seems I'm the luckiest person alive! I also received the SUNSHINE AWARD for "Creativity and Positivity in Blogging" from Debbie Schiff, whose beautiful art fascinated me long before I met her on Facebook! Thank you Debbie! Your art, especially your wildlife, is an inspiration to me and I wish you everything of the best for the future!

When one accepts the award, it must be passed on to 12 others. But I'm not going to be nominating any specific artists here, but would like to dedicate it to every artist out there who is following their passion and doing what they love!

"Happiness is not in the mere possession of money; it lies in the joy of achievement, in the thrill of creative effort."
- Franklin D. Roosevelt

Sunshine Award!

I received the SUNSHINE AWARD for "Creativity and Positivity in Blogging" from Artist Marie Theron, who chronicles the West Coast of South Africa with her beautiful paintings and history of the area. Thank you Marie, it's a great honour coming from you!

If one accepts the reward it must be passed on to 12 others. One must also let them know that they are nominated. Everything must be linked to everything.... whew!

Here is my list of creative and positive bloggers who inspire and give joy to others. Please follow their links so you can meet these outstanding artists!

1. Pam Johnson Brickell
2. Cathy Gatland
3. Cathy Johnson
4. Debbie Schiff
5. Vickie Henderson
6. Melissa Fischer
7. All the correspondents at SKETCHING IN NATURE
8. Ronell van Wyk
9. Teri Casper
10. Toni Kelly
11. The Happy Painter
12. Jean Haines

The rules for accepting this award are simply to:

1. Post the Sunshine Award logo on your blog, on your post or both.
2. Pass this onto 12 bloggers who you admire.
3. Inform them of the award.
4. Link the person who awarded you in the first place.