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!

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.