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, May 28, 2010

Lover's Rock

“Ancient lovers believed a kiss would literally unite their souls, because the spirit was said to be carried in one's breath.”
- Eve Glicksman

"Lover's Rock" - watercolour on Bockingford 300gsm - 11" x 7.5" - Maree©

'Lover's Rock' is a family camping resort nestled on the banks of the Magalies River as it wends its way to join the Crocodile River onwards to Hartebeespoort Dam. The scenery in this area is breath-taking, and I'm sure there must be a story attached to this romantic name. The rocks towering over the river and the resort surely must evoke a tale of love and sorrow!

I would like to think that, one day, a long, long time ago, two lovers met in secret in this secluded spot. Sitting high on the rocks, holding one another close, their sorrow was bitter-sweet, as her family did not approve of him, the son of a local farmer and drunkard. "They don't realise what a wonderful person he is!" she thought. "How can they cast him in the same mould as his father?"

But today their meeting was different. He had come to tell her that he was leaving the area, going in search of work in the big city, so that he can prove to everybody that he is worthy of her love, and when he returns, it will be to ask her to be his wife.

She pleaded with him to stay, but his mind was made up. As he walked away, she sat staring into the depths of the ravine below her, tears flowing down her cheeks ...

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Dandelion Time

"If dandelions were hard to grow, they would be most welcome on any lawn!"
~Andrew Mason

My lawn (and the fields surrounding our house) is absolutely covered in Dandelions! In one spot it looks like a yellow carpet - wonder what the soil configuration is that makes them so rife in certain spots? I have always picked dandelions for a small vase I have, but it is only upon very close inspection when I was sketching them that I realised what true little beauties these small flowers are, each a masterpiece aster in miniature.

Did you know that Dandelions can be beneficial to a garden ecosystem as well as to human health? Dandelions attract beneficial ladybugs and provide early spring pollen for their food. In a study done at the University of Wisconsin, experimental plots with dandelions had more ladybugs than dandelion free plots, and fewer pest aphids, a favorite food of the ladybugs. Dandelions long roots also aerate the soil and enable the plant to accumulate minerals, which are added to the soil when the plant dies.

(I found this interesting information at "Northwest Coalition for alternatives to Pesticides")

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Spaza shop

“The Great Depression, like most other periods of severe unemployment, was produced by government mismanagement rather than by any inherent instability of the private economy.”
- Milton Friedman

Spaza Shop - watercolour in Moleskine Watercolour Sketch-book - 8" x 5" - Maree©

This Spaza shop in Tarlton has the most amazing bargains, like the cheapest cigarettes in the country!

A Spaza shop is an informal convenience shop business in South Africa, usually run from home. They also serve the purpose of supplementing household incomes of the owners, selling everyday small household items. These shops grew as a result of sprawling townships that made travel to formal shopping places more difficult or expensive.

"There are at least 100 000 spaza shops in South Africa – with an estimated 40 000 located in Gauteng – with a collective turnover of well over R7 billion per annum. Each spaza shop employs between two and three people, who in turn support an average of four family members. This translates into almost one million people benefiting from the existence of a spaza shop in their neighbourhood.

However, many of spaza shop owners do not hold formal business management qualifications and indeed, a significant number of them run spazas only as a means of survival."
(This info from SPAZANEWS)

Friday, May 21, 2010

Crocodile River in Broederstroom

"Sit by a river. Find peace and meaning in the rhythm of the lifeblood of the Earth."
— (Anonymous)

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

Broederstroom - Crocodile River - watercolour on Bockingford 300gsm 11" x 7" - Maree©

Another view of the Crocodile River, as it meanders on its way to Hartebeespoort Dam in the North-West Province of South Africa.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Daisies for healing

"Even thou who mournst the daisy's fate,
That fate is thine - no distant date;
Stern Ruin's ploughshare drives, elate,
Full on thy bloom,
Till crushed beneath the furrow's weight
Shall be thy doom!"
Author: Robert Burns

Echinacea purpurea (Cone Flower) - watercolour in hand-made sketchbook with Bockingford 300gsm watercolour paper
5.5" x 7.5" - Maree©

The Purple Cone Flower belongs to the Aster family and is believed to have therapeutic and healing properties. Native Americans have used Echinacea for more than 400 years to treat infections and wounds and as a general "cure-all." Today, people use Echinacea to shorten the duration of the common cold and flu and reduce symptoms, such as sore throat (pharyngitis), cough, and fever. Many herbalists also recommend Echinacea to help boost the immune system and help the body fight infections.

What Echinacea Is Used For
• Echinacea has traditionally been used to treat or prevent colds, flu, and other infections.
• Echinacea is believed to stimulate the immune system to help fight infections.
• Less commonly, Echinacea has been used for wounds and skin problems, such as acne or boils.

How Echinacea Is Used
The above-ground parts of the plant and roots of Echinacea are used fresh or dried to make teas, squeezed (expressed) juice, extracts, or preparations for external use.

(However, all herbs can have possible interactions with certain medications, so you should not use Echinacea when on any prescribed medication without first talking to your health care provider.)


Sunday, May 16, 2010

My latest toys - Gouache

"Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under trees on a summer's day, listening to the murmur of the water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is by no means a waste of time."
- John Lubbock

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

Landscape in Gouache - in Moleskine 200gsm Folio 12" x 8" - Maree©

In this invented scene I've experimented with a Gouache technique (pronounced "gwash" - it comes from the Italian aguazzo, for "mud"), using Opaque watercolours, starting with light transparent washes and smaller opaque passages down the slopes in the foreground, using colours like Light Red Permanent Opaque, Payne's Grey Permanent Opaque and Cadmium Yellow Permanent Opaque. For the sky I've mixed Cerulean with some Chinese White, using the same mix on the mountains with a darker variation.

I quite like the look one achieves with the opaques and I will be investing in some Gouache paints a.s.a.p.! This looks like an exciting new learning curve for me!

What is Gouache?
Gouache differs from watercolour in that the particles are larger, the ratio of pigment to water is much higher, and an additional, inert, white pigment such as chalk is also present. Like all water media, it is diluted with water. (Gum Arabic is also present as a binding agent, just as in watercolour.) This makes gouache heavier and more opaque, with greater reflective qualities.

Gouache paints come in many colors and are usually mixed with water to achieve the desired working properties and to control the opacity when dry.

Friday, May 14, 2010

On the Border of the Game Reserve

We need the tonic of wildness…We can never have enough of nature…We need to witness our own limits transgressed, and some life pasturing freely where we never wander.
- Henry David Thoreau

"Border of the Game Reserve" - watercolour on Ashrad hot-pressed 300gsm - 8" x 6"
- Maree©

Much of Tarlton in Gauteng, South Africa, is flat farm land and renowned for the many vegetable and flower farmers in the area. But we do have our fair share of hills and rocky outcrops, making it an artist's paradise for the variety of landscapes it offers. This scene is on the border of the Krugersdorp Game Reserve, where the landscape drops steeply into a little ravine with a stream and little waterfall at the bottom.

I had to access this area with my Land Rover as it's quite far off the road (hubby driving, I DON'T do off-road!) - we were actually on our way to the shopping mall that Monday morning and hubby said he just had to show me something - took a short detour and was it worth it! Unfortunately the stream was dry, hubby says it's spectacular when it tumbles down the little waterfall, but the rocks and shrubs provided a beautiful setting. We spent almost one and a half hours here while I did this sketch. When I can summon up the courage, I might take a drive to the area again for another sketch.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Daisies and weeds and crab spiders

"The Rose has but a Summer reign,
The daisy never dies."
Author: James Montgomery

Daisies and weeds - watercolour in Moleskine Watercolour sketch-book - 8" x 6" Maree©

My Shasta Daisies have now been over-taken by the weeds and I decided to do one last sketch before I trim them down for the winter. Come Spring, they will once again bloom in abundance, and be home to the white Crab Spider, which changes its colour depending on the colour of the flower it is sitting on.

Crab spiders are not active hunters. They make use of camouflage techniques and remain quite still until the prey arrives and then catch it. With a poisonous bite (not dangerous to humans) they kill their prey and suck it dry. Every season I love inspecting the daisies close-up, seeing how many I can find on a bush. I also refrain from watering the daisies with a hose pipe from the top in case I drown them!

A white crab spider on a daisy

Here's a crab spider in yellow form on a daisy

Here the crab spider is half green and half brown, blending perfectly with the flower it is sitting on

(Pics from Wikipedia)

Buy a Greeting Card, Postcard or Framed print of this image on "RedBubble"

Greeting card from my "Flower Series"

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Daisies in my garden

Earth laughs in flowers.
~Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Hamatreya"

"Daisies in my garden" - watercolour on Bockingford 300gsm - 11" x 15" - Maree©

Inspiration taken from my garden - the Shasta daisies are still going strong, but are now long overdue on trimming and rather tall and lanky, but they made an ideal study for a quick sketch on a cold and windy day.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Daisies in the rain

There is a flower, a little flower
With silver crest and golden eye,
That welcomes every changing hour,
And weathers every sky.
Author: James Montgomery

Rudbeckia "Echinacea purpurea" - watercolour in Moleskine watercolour sketch-book 17/04/2010 - 8" x 5.5" - Maree©

When it's freezing outside and threatening to rain any minute, and I can't make a field trip to do some sketching, I always turn to my garden for inspiration. Even under the most dismal conditions there is always something to be found - some flower left-overs, a few Autumn leaves clinging to a branch or the birds and insects who seem to cheerily carry on, no matter what the weather.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Acceptance - on Mother's Day

"I accept my human imperfections as an expression of beauty;
I accept my struggles and rough parts as my teachers."

The magic of affirmations and visualizations has come a long way with me and has formed a large part of who I am and where I am today.

The above affirmation is the latest to join the list on my mirror, as I've been finding myself bemoaning my "fate" quite a bit lately, albeit only in my own mind. One so easily falls into the trap of dissatisfaction, wanting 'perfection' in everything, not realising that everything is perfect and beautiful as it is.

Letting go of insecurities and worries is important for me to move forward, both as a whole and complete person as well as an artist.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

African Storm Brewing

"Sunshine is delicious, rain is refreshing, wind braces us, snow is exhilarating; there is really no such thing as bad weather."
- John Ruskin

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

African Storm Brewing - watercolour on Bockingford 300gsm - 11" x 7.5" - Maree©

It's already April, way past our rainy season, and on one of our recent trips to Harties (Schoemansville), I captured this Autumn storm brewing over a farm on the banks of the Crocodile River, which flows through Broederstroom on it's way to Hartebeespoort Dam in the North-West Province of South Africa.

When a storm is brewing (in your mind or in your life), embrace it as just another delicious experience, like a summer shower. See what you can learn from it, take a lesson from it, because soon the clouds will have a silver lining again as the sunshine bursts through. Nothing lasts forever - not the rain, not the sunshine, not the storm - so might as well accept it into our lives as just another "bad weather" phenomena.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Tulips from South Africa ♪♫

in the shady garden | one tulip

A Twitter poem from WATERMARK

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

Tulips in a Vase - ink sketch and watercolour in my Daily Journal - Maree©

I have this vintage, white enamel jug, which I love to fill with flowers, even grasses which I gather from the road-side, and recently a friend who owns a flower farm here in Tarlton brought over some Tulips, which they export to Holland. We all equate Tulips with the Dutch, but according to my friend the tulips were brought from Turkey and introduced to the Dutch in 1593, and the Dutch have certainly coined the phrase "Tulips from Amsterdam"!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Greedy vs. Needy?

"Here you are, on the same planet that you've been on for more years than you have the ability to count. And just in the last 400 years, look at the difference in your economy. And it's the same exact planet. Nobody has been trucking in or piping in any resources. There are not more resources present today. You are just vibrationally lining up with the utilization of them.

And, oh, this planet's ability to yield to you: you have not even scratched the surface of it. It is a continually replenishing environment. And you would never be able to get your planet imbalanced by utilizing more of its resources than it could produce. It just cannot happen. "

Scene on Spring Farm - watercolour on Bockingford 300gsm 8" x 6" - Maree©

While sketching this wonderful scene at Spring Farm the other day, it reminded me of an article I read on someone's blog, saying, "We have been guilty of taking more than our share and expecting more than the Earth could provide for all the people in her care."

This is not possible - Earth and her resources cannot run out or be finished, although that is what mass consciousness would have us believe - the supply in the Universe is unlimited, it is there for us to tap into.

If you want more to come (money or anything else), you've got to find some way of getting off the subject of "not enough", and the easiest way is appreciation of what we have. The "allowing mode" feels like fun, feels like joy - the "resistant mode" feels like tension, feels like hate.

There are enough resources for everyone to have everything they want.

Mohandas K. Gandhi got it completely wrong when he said : "There is a sufficiency in the world for man's need but not for man's greed." It is mass consciousness thoughts like this which disallows all the abundance we deserve, and which the Universe supplies in endless abundance.