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!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

A Forest Path


Mixed Media - Coffee and W&N watercolour on Amedeo 200gsm

The sound
Of silence

::

Multiple
Shades
Of green
And other hue

::

An
Approaching mist
Above a forest path
- Liam ó Comáin



Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Pippin, the Bushbaby

“Very little of the great cruelty shown by men can really be attributed to cruel instinct. Most of it comes from thoughtlessness or inherited habit."
- Albert Schweitzer

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


W&N watercolour in my Moleskine 200gsm Folio (A4) Nature Journal

This is Pippin, whom I was lucky enough to have in my life for a few weeks after I rescued him from children who were stoning him, as a result of which he lost the use of his left eye. After nursing him back to health, he spent a couple of weeks living in my indoor garden in my lounge, often bounding onto my shoulder for a snack. When I was satisfied that he had fully recovered, I released him in the thickets on the banks of the Magalies River, which was in the vicinity where I had found him. I just hoped and prayed that he had learnt a lesson about people and would stay out of reach of the children ...

I did this sketch from a photograph I took of him, as he NEVER sits still long enough to be able to sketch him!

Galagos, also known as bushbabies, bush babies or nagapies (meaning "little night monkeys" in Afrikaans), are small, nocturnal primates native to continental Africa and are almost exclusively seen only at night.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas 2011 in Tarlton

The best of all gifts around any Christmas tree: the presence of a happy family all wrapped up in each other.
~Burton Hillis

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



Lovely hot weather, a few clouds to keep the temperature just right, and a drive through the countryside on our way to have Christmas breakfast at the Magaliesburg Hotel (Gauteng, South Africa). What more could one ask for?!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Wishing you...

May your home be filled with the joy of family and friends this holiday season!



... the Best Festive Season ever!

Here's wishing all my Blogger friends and family the BEST festive season you've ever had and a stunning New 2012! A real cliché, but I can honestly say this year has flown the fastest I've known any year to do! One of the greatest gifts provided to us by the Universe is the gift of creation. And I've been honoured and inspired by meeting so many creative people this past year and it is something I'm truly grateful for....

Wishing you all a day filled with
wonderful things to be grateful for.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Rhino Study - The Unpardonable Crime

To a man whose mind is free there is something even more intolerable in the sufferings of animals than in the sufferings of man. For with the latter it is at least admitted that suffering is evil and that the man who causes it is a criminal. But thousands of animals are uselessly butchered every day without a shadow of remorse. If any man were to refer to it, he would be thought ridiculous. And that is the unpardonable crime.
~Romain Rolland, Nobel Prize 1915

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


Black Artline Fine-point pen sketch with colour wash on Amedeo 200gsm

Of late I've been inspired to do more and more wildlife sketches and paintings - there's so much in our area to draw inspiration from - the Krugersdorp Game Reserve, The Rhino and Lion Park and many small private game Reserves - to name but a few. These Rhinos reside at the Rhino and Lion Park in Kromdraai and sometimes graze right next to the fence, not perturbed at all by tourists taking pictures or sketchers like me!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Gemsbuck Study - Wear your own skin

We must fight against the spirit of unconscious cruelty with which we treat the animals. Animals suffer as much as we do. True humanity does not allow us to impose such sufferings on them. It is our duty to make the whole world recognize it. Until we extend our circle of compassion to all living things, humanity will not find peace.
~Albert Schweitzer, The Philosophy of Civilization

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


PilotFineliner Blank ink sketch with W&N watercolour on DalerRowney 220gsm (135lb) Smooth heavy-weight sketching paper - small sketch 6" x 8"

The Gemsbuck (Oryx gazella) is one of the most handsome antelope in Africa, with its long rapier-like horns and striking markings. They can form herds of up to 20 - 30 animals. Gemsbuck are grazers but will survive on browse in times of drought. When wounded they can be very dangerous animals to approach on foot. The horns of the calves grow extremely fast and when they emerge from concealment after birth their horns are very evident. This has lead to the myth that a Gemsbok is born with horns.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Winter in Tarlton

“Winter is the season in which people try to keep the house as warm as it was in the summer, when they complained about the heat.”

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


Watercolour on Bockingford 300gsm

Winter in South Africa brings raging veld fires, lands that lie fallow on farms and, in certain areas like Tarlton, frost that wipes clean any memory of green, except for the evergreen Black Wattle trees, which put up a spectacular show of brown seed pods, brightening up an otherwise bleak landscape.

Luckily winter is now OVER and summer is in full swing! I did this painting of a friend's farm in Oaktree not far from us.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Art is Magic!

"Let no one be deluded that a knowledge of the path can substitute for putting one foot in front of the other."
~ Mary Caroline Richards

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


W&N watercolour on smooth inside back cover of Amedeo watercolour pad - no preliminary sketching

The inside back covers of the various watercolour pads are nice and smooth, almost like painting on Yuppo, and it fascinates me how one can wait for the paint to dry and then add layers or, just with a wet brush, lift the paint completely, leaving the clean, white surface again! Makes fixing 'mistakes' a cinch!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The true meaning of life...

The true meaning of life is to plant trees, under whose shade you do not expect to sit.
~Nelson Henderson

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



The above quote came to mind as I was doing this sketch in my Moleskine 200gsm Folio (A4) watercolour sketch-book at Hartebeespoort Dam last year - two beautiful trees at the edge of the dam and I wondered if anybody has ever sat in their shade....

Sunday, November 27, 2011

White-browed Sparrow Weaver


W&N Watercolour on Bockingford 300gsm

A Bird
A bird came down the walk,
He did not know I saw;
He bit an angleworm in halves
And ate the fellow, raw.
And then he drank a dew
From a convenient grass,
And then hopped sidewise to the wall
To let a beetle pass.
- by Emily Dickinson

These White-browed Sparrow Weavers used to be regular visitors to my old garden here in Tarlton, Gauteng, South Africa and, sad to say, I've not spotted them at all since moving to our new smallholding many years ago. My last sighting was in May 1996. I see their environmental status is listed as LC "Least Concern", so I cannot understand the reason at all as to why I have not noticed them lately. They have a general, harsh 'chik'chik' call when they're flocking, as well as a loud, liquid 'cheeoop-preeoo-chop' whistle, which I really miss...

The White-browed Sparrow-Weaver is found in greatest numbers in north-central southern Africa. While this species most densely populates at dry regions with woodland or wooded grassland in northern South Africa, its range includes Botswana, the North-west Province and Western Gauteng, northern and central Namibia, and western Zimbabwe. It is seen very often in South Luangwa National Park, Zambia and southern Malawi. Populations may be found as far north as Ethiopia.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Umbrella Thorn

Should a tree write its autobiography, it would not be unlike the history of a race.
- Khalil Gibran

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


Thorn tree - watercolour on Ashrad 300gsm
Umbrella Thorn {Acacia tortilis}

There are few more striking symbols of Africa than a thorn tree - its gnarled branches, graceful form, jagged thorns and abundant blooms, in many ways reflecting the paradoxes of the continent.

This Umbrella Thorn (Acacia tortilis) stands in one corner of my garden and offers a safe haven for many birds who seek a safe place to nest.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The Song sings itself

In summer, the song sings itself.
- William Carlos Williams

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


W&N watercolours on Amedeo 200gsm

My Swallows (Greater-striped Swallow) have returned and it always amazes me that they've come thousands of miles back to their nest on MY little piece of soil here in Tarlton (Gauteng, South Africa! How great is that!

They've already got their first brood and this sketch started off as one of the youngsters perching in my peach tree, and although they do have a glint of blue on their heads and wings, I got carried away with the blue and now it looks more like a Blue Bird (which we DON'T have here in S.A.! lol!) But I have managed to capture the likeness in his cute little face, so it will have to do for now!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Gone to seed

Pleasure is the carrot dangled to lead the ass to market; or the precipice.
- Robinson Jeffers

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


Watercolour in Moleskine 200gsm Watercolour Sketch-book - 5" x 8"

A farmer friend's carrots have all gone to seed and have formed these gorgeous flowers, not unlike Queen Anne's Lace. Did you know that Carrots are from the Parsley family?

The Parsley Family includes some wonderful edible plants like the carrot and parsnip, plus more aromatic spices found in your spice cabinet, such as anise, celery, chervil, coriander, caraway, cumin, dill, fennel and of course, parsley. But unlike the Mustard or Mint families, the Parsleys are not all safe for picking and eating. In fact, the Parsley family is among the most important families of plants to learn, since it includes the deadliest plants in North America: poison hemlock and water hemlock. Note that the hemlock tree is totally unrelated. The wild carrot is the same species, but a different variety than the carrots we grow and eat.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

An Artist's Sketchbook to make

A (really!) Quick & Easy sketch-book to make

An Artist's Sketchbook - front cover

Here in South Africa there aren't many choices of journals or sketch-books for artists to choose from in our book stores or art supply shops. I would imagine one of the few choices is the Moleskine range - they offer sketching and watercolour notebooks in various sizes, and they are really great to use - I have a full range - but that's about the extent of it. If you would like to make your own, personalised sketch-book, here's a really fun, quick and easy way to do it.

Artist's Journal Open

For this project I used an A4 Bockingford 300gsm watercolour pad (containing 10 sheets of paper) cut in half to form an A5 size (5.5" x 7.5" - approx. 14 x 19cm), giving me 20 pages. You can use any paper you like, but less than 140gsm doesn't give a good surface for painting on. You can also fold and tear the paper in stead of cutting it for an interesting effect on the edges, or use different colour papers.

For the front and back covers I used the backing card of the A4 watercolour pad (cut in half), but you can use any stiff board cut to size, even covers from old books.

Artist's Journal Inside

The next step is to mark where you want your holes and punch the holes into your paper and stiff board covers. You can use ribbon to hold the book together like I have done here, or you can use binder rings found at most craft shops. Two should do the job. I used a leather hole punch to do 2 or 3 pages of paper together, as 300gsm is quite thick. Or you could use the standard office 2-hole punch with the holes in the centre of the paper, but I have found that top and bottom works best to keep the book stable.

Binder rings

Leather hole punch

I punched 6 holes into the pages of this journal as I was going to put it into a leather-bound ring binder I already have, but when the pages proved to be too big, and I didn't want to cut them smaller, I changed my mind and decided to use the ribbon.

And here's the enjoyable part - designing your front and back covers. I have used plain brown paper to cover the stiff boards and glued on some Hessian cut into an interesting shape, using ordinary Pritt Project glue (Ponal or Alcolin wood glue does the same job). You can, of course, use any pretty paper or gift wrap you have lying around as well.

Journal Back cover - you can leave it plain as above or embellish it further with items of your choice, below.


Journal - last page and inside back cover

Optionally, for the inside back cover, I cut a piece of Hessian, glued all along the top, right-hand side and bottom edges, leaving the uneven edge open, to form a pocket for some notes (money or other-wise!). Always comes in handy when you've been out sketching in the heat and you need to buy a cold drink.

Enjoy and happy sketching!

List of supplies :
- 10 Sheets A4 watercolour paper, cut in half
- 1 sheet A4 board, cut in half
- 2 binder rings or ribbon, string, cord of your choice,
- Office or leather hole punch
- Gift, wrapping or any paper to cover front and back covers
- Scissors
- Craft glue

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Country Diary - The Art of Reverence

“Spring passes and one remembers one's innocence. Summer passes and one remembers one's exuberance. Autumn passes and one remembers one's reverence. Winter passes and one remembers one's perseverance.”
- Yoko Ono

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


Ink, wash and collage in a hand-made sketch-book with satin-finish Linen paper.

This satin-finish linen paper has the most wonderful quality of allowing the watercolours to flow beautifully just where you want it to go. The only drawback is that you can't change anything once you've put colour - trying to lift anything results in the paper almost disintegrating and coming of in chunks. You've got one shot at it, and it better be good! lol!

This is the fifth in the series Country Diary, which consists of paintings, sketches and collages depicting nature, rural and farm life.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Country Diary - Pay it Forward

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


Ink, wash and collage in my Moleskine 200gsm "Country Diary"

When we open ourselves to the natural world, we escape the fast-paced bustle of our daily lives. That experience, not only reduces our stress, it also grounds us, reaffirming our connection to the Earth and all its creatures.

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

This is the third in the series Country Diary, which consists of paintings, sketches and collages depicting nature, rural and farm life.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Rhinos unscathed

The only way to save a rhinoceros is to save the environment in which it lives, because there's a mutual dependency between it and millions of other species of both animals and plants.
- David Attenborough

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

Parker pen and black ink sketch and colourwash in my Moleskine A4 Folio Nature Journal

When taking my grand-children to airport, we are blessed to be driving through the country-side in stead of traffic, and these two Rhino were grazing right by the fence, so I stopped and did a quick sketch. They didn't seem bothered by me at all, I was just on the other side of a rather rickety looking game fence, which I'm sure they could demolish with a step or two, should they so wish! And I was thrilled to see that they still have their horns, so many are being removed to thwart poachers in a conservation effort of these magnificent animals.

Sometimes we're lucky enough to see the Lions close-by the fence, but I've never left my car to try and sketch them!

The park’s setting amongst the hills is stunning. The range of plains game is impressive and includes species like Eland and Gemsbuck that are not often seen in the Gauteng province. The park is not ‘natural’ in the sense that predators aren’t 100% free to roam and hunt. Lions, cheetahs, and wild dogs are segregated and fed; but their sizeable, savannah-like enclosures are far closer to a safari experience than visiting a zoo.

::

Friday, November 4, 2011

Birches & Maples

Alone with myself
The trees bend to caress me
The shade hugs my heart.
~Candy Polgar

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


W&N watercolour in small hand-made sketch-book with hand-crafted satin-finish Linen paper

Birch trees and Maples, two of my favourites, which I rarely plant, firstly because they are not indigenous to South Africa and secondly, both the Birches and Maples require enormous amounts of water. Another reason for not planting a Birch, is that, on a healthy birch, the roots will spread to a distance of at least twice the tree's height. This means that the roots of a mature tree may cover an area about one third the size of a football field. I found the roots very invasive, easily penetrating sewerage and water pipes, often causing great damage to our septic tanks, as it is a great source of moisture.

I read on the internet, "To properly water a birch, place a soaker hose upside down around the perimeter of the canopy or drip line of the tree and let the water run very slowly for several hours. The water should be applied slowly enough to filter into the soil and not run off. Once the soil is moist do a depth of 60 to 100 centimeters enough water has been provided. A birch tree should be watered in this way every two or three weeks, and more frequently during hot dry windy weather."

That's definitely not going to happen around here, water is much too precious to spend so much on just one tree. My friend, in whose garden these trees are, has an elaborate automatic sprinkling system, every gardener's dream, but they have Municipal water and are not reliant on a borehole like we are out in the country.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

The Red Bishop 2

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


W&N watercolours on Visual 200gsm

My Red Bishops have just come into their breeding colours and some of the juveniles are a decidedly mottled lot! There's a lot of fighting and chattering going on, trying to establish dominance and vying for the best spots in the garden (Tarlton, Gauteng, South Africa).

This little chap obligingly sat for a session while I did a quick outline sketch and then hurriedly added some colour before he flitted off again on some serious business or another.

What a cunning mixture of sentiment, pity, tenderness, irony surrounds adolescence, what knowing watchfulness! Young birds on their first flight are hardly so hovered around!
- Georges Bernanos

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Coffee with a conscience

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


W&N watercolours on Visual 200gsm

The next time you're ordering your favourite morning cuppaccino, spare a thought for the planet. Here's why.

Most of us are aware of climate change, but don’t always understand its far-reaching effects. Woolworths set out to change this when it undertook an expedition to Kilimanjaro in January.

"Climate change is one of the four pillars of our Good Business Journey," explains Woolworths Good Business Journey manager, Justin Smith. "Global warming results in increasing average air and ocean temperatures, and melting snow and ice. In Africa, Kilimanjaro’s melting ice cap is one of the most visible indicators of global warming."

The aim of the expedition, which was led and filmed by respected guide Sean Wisedale, was to raise awareness of climate change and its effect on coffee farmers in Tanzania – the farmers who grow the organic coffee Woolworths sells in its cafés.

Smith explains: "Kilimanjaro's melting ice cap is directly threatening Tanzania's coffee farmers, who are reliant on the glacier melt for water. These organic farmers grow their coffee under the shady forest canopies on the slopes of the mountain, which means that once the ice disappears, there will be less water for their crops."

Climatologist and 50:50 presenter Simon Gear joined the expedition, along with South African Champion Barista, Ishan Natalie, and a team of passionate coffee and environmental enthusiasts. When the team reached the summit, they used water from the melting glacier to make a symbolic iced coffee drink.

The drink – minus the glacier water – was launched in Woolworths Cafés on 18 January 2011. It costs R16.
Taken from "Woolworths TasteMag"

A mystery wrapped in brown,
A fragile enigma,
Enveloping the senses,
With the earthy steam
Of a bean.
The mind wrapped in warmth,
The essence of dark roast,
Heating from within,
The senses thrill,
With every lingering
Sniff of the aroma
In the mug
- by Drew K.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Red-chested Cuckoo

A bird in the hand is a certainty, but a bird in the bush may sing.
~ Bret Harte

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


Align CenterW&N watercolours on Bockingford 300gsm

30th October 8.04 am and I've just heard the Piet-My-Vrou (Red-chested Cuckoo - Cuculus solitarius) for the first time this season! It's rather late, I normally hear them at the beginning of October, but it's as if they've waited for the first rains before being heard! (We had 20mm of rain last night and 15mm the night before, so the world around here in Tarlton (Gauteng, South Africa) is looking and smelling sparkling clean!) They're extremely shy and very hard to spot, but I managed to get a quick (not-so-good!) shot with my camera before he disappeared back into the thick foliage. Had to use my bird book to complete all the colours.

I have held most bird species in my hands at least once, but with the Red-chested Cuckoo I have not had that pleasure...

In Southern Africa, all cuckoos are migratory (the Klaas's and Emerald Cuckoos appear to be resident in the warmer east), arriving from Central or Eastern Africa at the start of the rainy season in late September and October. Upon arrival, the males establish territories and advertise their presence to females (and birdwatchers!) by calling incessantly, sometimes even after dark.

The Red-chested Cuckoo is mainly found in the eastern half of southern Africa, and is quite common in protected areas, living in a wide range of habitats. It feeds mostly on invertebrates, particularly hairy caterpillars but also grasshoppers and beetles, amongst others. It mostly parasitizes members of Muscicapidae (robins, thrushes, flycatchers, etc.), rushing into their nests, and removing the host's eggs before laying one of its own, all in just 5 seconds! Once the chick is 2 days old, it evicts the host's eggs and nestlings. It stays in the nest for 17-21 days, and is dependent on its host parents for 20-25 days more, before becoming fully independent. (Info from Wikipedia)

This Cuckoo occurs throughout Africa south of the Sahara, but avoids arid regions. In southern Africa it is common in eastern Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Swaziland and eastern and southern South Africa. It generally prefers Afro-montane forest, closed woodland, Miombo woodland, open savannah thickets, stands of trees in human settlements, mature gardens and parks.

Piet-my-vrou [Afrikaans]; Uphezukomkhono [Xhosa]; uPhezukomkhono [Zulu]; Mukuku (generic term for cuckoos and coucals) [Kwangali]; Tlo-nke-tsoho [South Sotho]; Phezukwemkhono [Swazi]; Ngwafalantala [Tsonga]; Heremietkoekoek [Dutch]; Coucou solitaire [French]; Einsiedlerkuckuck [German]; Cuco-de-peito-vermelho [Portuguese]

Jewels from Heaven

Inspired by Elizabeth Kendall's beautiful painting "Abundance", I also dedicate this to the Creator of trees!


Coffee and W&N watercolours on Visual 200gsm - no preliminary sketching

I took a walk down a woodland trail,
without really expecting anything new.
A rustling in the leaves made me pause,
and wonder what was hidden from view.
I kneeled down and spotted a tiny, white flower,
so perfectly formed to bloom for just an hour.
Thank you, Lord, for showing it to me alone,
such a secret I would never have known.
- Extract from a poem by Gina Hatchell


"Abundance" - Elizabeth Kendall

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Burning Desire

“When you discover your mission, you will feel its demand. It will fill you with enthusiasm and a burning desire to get to work on it.”
- W. Clement Stone (American best selling Author - 1902-2002)

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


W&N Watercolour in Moleskine 200gsm Folio watercolour sketch-book - 12" x 8"

Sometimes my work is inspired by a sight or sound, sometimes by a few words. Here I was testing out how the colours flow on my new Moleskine sketch-book's paper and it turned into a bit of an abstract exercise. I very rarely do abstracts, even in acrylics or oils, but I might just try a few more!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Country Diary - From the Forest

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

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


Ink, wash and collage in my Moleskine 200gsm "Country Diary"

This is the second in the series Country Diary, which consists of paintings, sketches and collages depicting nature, rural and farm life.

A couple of months ago I collected some leaves and acorns from a friend's tree (unfortunately I don't have an Oak any more and I really miss him) and it's amazing how well they dry and stay preserved. I actually have them displayed on a wooden bowl and they absolutely last for ever. A bit difficult to dust! but well worth the effort!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Summer at last!

“See how nature - trees, flowers, grass - grows in silence; see the stars, the moon and the sun, how they move in silence... we need silence to be able to touch souls.”
- Mother Teresa

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


Watercolour on Amedeo 200gsm sketching paper - 12" x 8"

Summer at last on our Smallholding in Tarlton, South Africa! Remnants of Winter are still visible, but we've had our first summer rains and the Blue gums (Eucalyptus) are looking spectacular. They truly did this metamorphosis in complete silence - the one minute they were cold and spares-looking and the next they're dressed in their finest summer finery, offering food and protection for the birds once more.

For the white parts of the trunks, I did a few strokes with a candle. I used the ordinary Price's candles (the cheapies in the blue wrapping), but you can also use white birthday cake candles, which actually work very well seeing as they are smaller.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Country Diary - Buyers' Corner

“Art is not a thing; it is a way.”
- Elbert Hubbard



Ink and wash and collage in my Moleskine 200gsm "Country Diary"

I started a Country Diary a while ago, which consists of paintings, sketches and collages depicting nature, rural and farm life. This is my first entry and I'll be posting a couple of them here, and it was a nice break from my regular landscapes and sketching. I'd forgotten how wonderful it feels to play again! This is one of my roosters, Artemis, and he actually makes quite a willing sketch subject, not minding standing quietly close-by as I sit and sketch in the garden.

I sometimes think I'd rather crow

And be a rooster than to roost

And be a crow. But I don't know.

A rooster he can roost also,

Which doesn't seem fair when crows can't crow.

Which may help some. But I don't know.

Crows should be glad of one thing, though;

Nobody thinks of eating crow,

While roosters they are good enough

For anyone unless they're tough.

There are lots of tough old roosters, though.

And anyway a crow can't crow,

So maybe roosters stand more show.

It looks that way. But I don't know.

~Unknown

Monday, October 17, 2011

Someone's life somewhere...

"Use your Imagination, not to scare yourself to death,
but to Inspire yourself to Live."
- Adele Brockman

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



A bit more on the sketching side - a farm road leading into someone's life on a smallholding. Here I used my Parker Fountain pen with black Quink ink and a colour wash.

An artist's biggest problem is how to find inspiration. Once you have a subject, a character, or a circumstance that fascinates you, it’s all anyone can do to keep you from rushing to the blank page and sketching away like mad.

One of the reasons for the elusive nature of inspiration is that we expect finding inspiration to be effortless. More than effortless – we expect it to be nearly magical. One day we’ll open the drapes and look out on the street and there, walking in front of us, will be the character around which our next great sketch will revolve.

Sure, sometimes inspiration happens unexpectedly, at just the right time and in just the right place. However, most of the time, artists have to go looking for it. And we have to have the skills to recognize where to find it.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Sketching more

MOST of the earth is beyond the walls of buildings, and is untouched in appearance by the art of the sculptor or the painter.

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


Quick landscape sketch with my Parker Fountain Pen, black Quink ink and some colour added - done in my Moleskine Folio (A4) 200gsm Watercolour sketchbook

Sketching has always been one of my great passions, but of late I've been neglecting it in favour of doing mostly watercolours. I've decided to go back to basics and sketch a lot more. Sketching forces you to look in more detail, and ask yourself what you actually see. You’ll end up seeing a lot more than you would otherwise. There’s something about holding a pen or pencil in your hand that gets your creative juices flowing in a much different way than holding a brush. When you get used to sketching, the movements of your hand become much more fluid and it becomes really easy and natural. The more you practice, the better you will become at sketching.

Monday, September 5, 2011

A little old barn

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


W&N watercolour on Bockingford 300gsm - inspired by the poem below.

you just gotta love
a little old barn
touched by time
with it’s own charm..
the weatherd wood
shines bright in the sun..
Proud and still standing..
(it’s time isn’t done)………
Think of the tales
that could be told
if barns could talk
of memories they hold..
each one is different
no two are the same..
to see them fading
away, is a shame.
- Connetta

Thursday, September 1, 2011

The Essence of Africa

“I want to live my life so that my nights are not full of regrets.”
- D.H. Lawrence

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


Here I used Coffee, candle wax and W&N watercolour on Bockingford 300gsm

In the past 100 plus years, changes in Africa have been numerous. However, it is the essence of Africa which remains unchanged.

To me the essence of Africa is not just the beautiful countryside, it is not just the amazing wildlife or the abundant bird life or the gorgeous beaches, Bushveld and cities, it is also about the people.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu said, "Ubuntu speaks of the very essence of being human. My humanity is caught up, is inextricably bound up, in yours. We belong in a bundle of life. We say, "A person is a person through other persons."

(Ubuntu is an ethic or humanist philosophy focusing on people's allegiances and relations with each other. The word has its origin in the Bantu languages of Southern Africa and a direct translation basically means, "I am what I am because of who we all are." Ubuntu also
suggests that the person who behaves with humanity will eventually be an ancestor worthy of respect or veneration.)

South Africa is a melting pot of different peoples. Our challenge lies in building a ‘single’ community, united by being committed to the common good of all, in uniting our people from different origins, culture and spiritual beliefs in a form of acceptance and friendship.
With the right motives and the right spirit and by applying the right principles of Ubuntu, a natural patriotism is developing in South Africa.

We think of ourselves far too frequently as just individuals, separated from one another, whereas you are connected and what you do affects the whole World. When you do well, it spreads out; it is for the whole of humanity.
- INFORMATION REGARDING 'UBUNTU' FROM WIKIPEDIA


Wednesday, August 31, 2011

She is Mother Nature

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


Black ink sketch and colour wash on Bockingford 300gsm

LOVE HER AND CHERISH HER

Nature has so much beauty, so much to teach us. Mother Nature has inspired the greatest poets of all time to write unbelievable prose.

Nature, Nature,
Please don't go away...
We over polluted and any day, now, any day
It might die forever
And just go away
We are transmitting from the future
2115, I think
We lost count at 2079
When the world was on the brink
Look Larry
Look Sue
Look Harry
It’s 2011 according to the machine…
Those trees are green!
The sky is blue!
The fields are beautiful
And even the people are, too!
Look everyone!
Look at the screen!
Look at when nature, nature
Was such a fragile creature
With such delicate green features
By John Murray



Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Spring returning

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

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


Watercolour in Moleskine 200gsm Watercolour Sketch-book - 8" x 5"

Some blue gum trees (Eucalyptus) at the bottom of our smallholding (Gauteng, South Africa) - everything is already turning green, but some trees are still showing signs of the veld fires that raged through here just a couple of days ago. These trees provide me with endless hours of sketching pleasure - together, in pairs, singly - and each tree looks different when seen from its other side.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Daisies Postcard 1

Myriads of daisies have shown forth in flower
Near the lark's nest, and in their natural hour
Have passed away; less happy than the one
That, by the unrolling ploughshare, died to prove
The tender charm of poetry and love.
- William Wordsworth

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


Watercolour on Ashrad 200gsm - 12" x 8"

I'm exploring doing some watercolours on textured back-grounds (this one from Boccacino), and find it gives some lovely soft effects. I first of all print out the back-ground on Watercolour paper and, once it's dry, paint over that.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

I wanted to take it home!

"A dead cow or sheep lying in a pasture is recognized as carrion. The same sort of a carcass dressed and hung up in a butcher's stall passes as food."
- John Harvey Kellogg

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


Dorpers - Watercolour in Moleskine Watercolour Sketch-book

I'm sure I'd posted this before, but upon going through my posts, I can't find it at all! Anyway, here it is again!

My neighbour's sheep - a while ago some ewes had lambs and it was the first time for MANY, MANY years that I actually held a little lamb in my arms again - oh my word! I'd forgotten how precious that can be! I wanted to take it home...!

The Dorper is a South African breed of domestic sheep developed by crossing Dorset Horn and the Blackhead Persian sheep. The breed was created through the efforts of the South African Department of Agriculture to breed a meat sheep suitable to the more arid regions of the country. It is now farmed in other areas as well, and is the second most common sheep breed in South Africa.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Kingfisher Daisies

The happy bells shall ring Marguerite;
The summer birds shall sing Marguerite;
You smile but you shall wear
Orange blossoms in your hair, Marguerite.
- Thomas Bailey Aldrich

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 sketch-book

Felicia amelloides, Blue Marguerites, or Kingfisher Daisies, call them what you like, these beautiful little indigenous South African daisies provide colour and light up the winter landscape like no other! Hopefully our winter is starting to recede a bit now, we've had a couple of wonderful sunny and warm days, and then it'll be time for the Nasturtiums again

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Time to Retreat

"You know... they say an elephant never forgets.
What they don't tell you is, you never forget an elephant."
- Actor Bill Murray

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

W & N Watercolour on Bockingford 300gsm

Still on my quest for painting elephants! This one was done from a RedBubble friend's photograph (Alma) and this I really enjoyed! Another RedBubble friend, Sue Nicholl, also did a sketch of the same photograph, and you can see that HERE.

The name "Time to Retreat" stems from Alma's experience with a charging elephant cow on their visit to the Kruger National Park in South Africa.

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Thursday, June 16, 2011

Gentle Giant

“Keep five yards from a carriage, ten yards from a horse, and a hundred yards from an elephant; but the distance one should keep from a wicked man cannot be measured.”
- Indian Proverb

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


I've been on a bit of an 'elephant spree' for a while, and this one is acrylics on a 12" x 8" un-stretched acrylic sheet. I really enjoyed just wildly doing the colour for the back-ground and then did a light sketch of the elephant on top of that, letting it slowly take shape as I added the grey.

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Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Africa's Wonder

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



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

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.

Watercolour on Bockingford 300gsm 16” x 12”

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Daisies on Mother's Day

'Tis my faith that every flower
Enjoys the air it breathes!
~William Wordsworth, "Lines Written in Early Spring," Lyrical Ballads, 1798

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

Asters - watercolour in Moleskine Watercolour sketch-book - 8" x 5.5" Maree©

I did this sketch of some Asters in my garden last month - these Shasta daisies are real die-hards and sometimes carry on right through winter, but require quite a lot of work dead-heading or else they can really look messy.

I received a wonderful Mother's Day card from my daughter in Ballito (on the North Coast of KwaZulu Natal, S.A.), but no flowers this year! so I picked a bunch of these Shastas for the kitchen table and they looked quite perky in my white enamel jug.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Standing out in the crowd

Sometimes I think we may feel that we have to do the big things in life to stand out from the crowd, but I think all you have to do is be yourself.... like this little daisy....


LinkWatercolour on Visual 200gsm watercolour paper done on a textured back-ground by "GHOSTBONES"

I've been experimenting with some textures lately and for this one I printed the texture on watercolour paper first and then painted over it. I had just read an article a few days ago on 'standing out in the crowd', and as the painting looked a bit bland and mono-tone, the little daisy came to mind.