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, March 28, 2012

I smile...

Waking up this morning, I smile. Twenty-four brand new hours are before me. I vow to live fully in each moment. 
- Thich Nhat Hanh 

W&N watercolour on Amedeo 200gsm 

I bought a No. 26 (3cm - 1¼") Hog's hair flat brush and, of course, I just had to try it out! My No. 12 round brush is my favourite, and next in line is my No. 10 Round. I very rarely use a flat brush unless it's a big painting and then I use a large flat brush to fill the back-ground. Painting this entirely with a flat brush was totally strange to me, also resulting in a different style and outcome for me. So I smile! 



Saturday, March 24, 2012

Bamboo Flower arrangement

One sure way to lose another woman's friendship is to try to improve her flower arrangements. 
- Marcelene Cox 

W&N watercolour on X-pressit 300gsm 

A wonderful artist and friend of mine needed an idea for a flower arrangement she had to do for one of her flower arranging classes and this is what I came up with. She did indeed use Bamboo in her arrangement, but with a flat bowl filled with water and pebbles and it turned out beautifully! 


Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Nature's Peace

Nature's peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves.” 
- John Muir 

W&N watercolour on X-pressit 300gsm 

I bought a No. 26 (3cm - 1¼") Hog's hair flat brush and, of course, I just had to try it out! My No. 12 round brush is my favourite, and next in line is my No. 10 Round. I very rarely use a flat brush unless it's a big painting and then I use a large flat brush to fill the back-ground. Painting this entirely with a flat brush was totally strange to me, also resulting in a different outcome to what I expected. With Autumn just around the corner, my palette naturally leaned towards browns and yellows. My two favourite colours. 



Saturday, March 17, 2012

Engraved in my memory...

W&N watercolour on smooth cardboard

 On our previous property, also an 8.5ha smallholding in Tarlton (South Africa), we had a low rock wall surrounding the 1-acre garden, which gave us a measure of security but also allowed the flocks of guinea fowl roaming the area to visit for a snack. I used to put out seeds for them and would watch their antics and paint them whenever they came for a visit. They got quite used to me and didn't pay much attention because, after all, they had their sentinels posted on the wall, keeping an eye open for danger! 

That smallholding gave me such pleasure for the 27 years we lived there that each detail - trees, flowers, plants, birds - is still deeply engraved in my memory.... 



Friday, March 16, 2012

Deep Summer

“Deep summer is when laziness finds respectability.”
- Sam Keen

W&N watercolour in Moleskine 200gsm watercolour sketch-book

Hot days, summer showers and cool breezes - what more could one ask for?


Tuesday, March 13, 2012

You ARE free

“Come along then.” said Jonathan. “Climb with me away from the ground, and we’ll begin.”
“You don’t understand. My wing. I can’t move my wing.”
“Maynard Gull, you have the freedom to be yourself, your true self, here and now, and nothing can stand in your way. It is the Law of the Great Gull, the Law that Is.”
“Are you saying I can fly?”
“I say you are free.”
- From Jonathan Livingstone Seagull

W&N watercolour on X-pressit 300gsm

I've just read "Jonathan Livingstone Seagull" again for the third time, and every time I discover another lesson... It's such an amazing story, full of heartache, bravery, uncertainty, positivity, the empowerment of believing in yourself and, above all, the realisation that we are all truly free...

  • You are free.
  • You’re so free, you can choose bondage.
  • You are so free, that no one can do anything to you.
  • You are so free, that you are the only one who is causing anything to happen in your experience.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Survival in the African Bush

“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.”
- Charles Darwin

New-born antelope calf hiding in the grass in the African Bushveld.

The antelope is one of the many medium-sized mammals holding the African food chain together. Unlike deer that renew their horns annually, the antelope has strong permanent horns, that antelope mainly use to defend their herd or to fight other antelopes.

After mating, female antelopes give birth to a single calf or, more rarely, twins, after a gestation period that can last up to eight months. A mother and her newborn calf are vulnerable to predators, and antelopes have had to evolve different strategies for surviving this period. For most antelope species, the female gives birth in dense cover and leaves the calf while she feeds. The calf comes to its mother when she calls it, and once fed, the calf will hide away again. Once in its hiding place, the calf remains completely still, blending into the surrounding landscape becoming almost invisible. It will run away only if it is on the verge of being discovered.

Did you know that small antelope, such as dik-diks, tend to be monogamous? They live in a forest environment with patchy resources, and a male is unable to monopolize more than one female due to this sparse distribution. Larger forest species often form very small herds of 2–4 females and 1 male.


Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Rhino horn myth

Ink sketch and colour wash on Bockingford 300gsm

As part of continued efforts to set the record straight on rhino horn’s so-called curative properties, three scientific studies were re-introduced, confirming that rhino horn has no medicinal value. The studies were conducted by different teams of researchers at separate institutions. In each case, the results were conclusive: There is no scientific evidence to support claims of rhino horn’s usefulness as a medicine.

With today’s network of communication tools, such as social media, it is now possible for these findings to reach a global audience like never before – and we can move closer to busting these persistent myths about rhino horn, which are indeed the root of the rhino crisis. By raising public awareness and educating others about the truth behind rhino horn, we can make a difference.

The studies “found no evidence that rhino horn has any medicinal effect as an antipyretic and would be ineffective in reducing fever, a common usage in much of Asia.” Testing also confirmed that “rhino horn, like fingernails, is made of agglutinated hair” and “has no analgesic, anti-inflammatory, anti-spasmolytic nor diuretic properties” and “no bactericidal effect could be found against suppuration and intestinal bacteria”,. And medically, "it’s the same as if you were chewing your own nails”.

When there were still at least 15,000 Black Rhinos on the African continent, WWF and the IUCN commissioned a pharmacological study of rhino horn, hoping that science would trump cultural myths. Tragically, by 1993, ten years after the study was published, Africa’s black rhino population had plummeted to just 2,300.

Conducted by Hoffmann-LaRoche, the research was published in "The Environmentalist"
Info from "Rhino Conservation"


Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Technology and Country living

W&N watercolour on Bockingford 300gsm

A track leading up to a friend's farm - dodging the rocks and ditches in the road is quite a feat. The Roads Dept. has long since stopped grading most of our farm roads and it's up to the individuals living along that stretch to maintain the road. And the telephone poles don't actually have any wires, that's artistic license - those have been stolen long ago and not been replaced by Telkom. So, the general mode of transportation around here is 4 × 4 and the general method of communication is the iPhone as technology meets up with Country Living.

Location : Hillside, Tarlton, Gauteng, South Africa


Saturday, March 3, 2012

Marigold (Tagetes patula)

My Marigolds (I have the French Marigold (Tagetes patula) have grown in utter profusion this season. Some I planted in one corner, the rest sprung up from last year's seeds.

Annual Marigolds can be used anywhere to deter beetles and many harmful insects. They are also known to repel harmful root knot nematodes (soil dwelling microscopic white worms) that attack tomatoes, potatoes, roses, and strawberries. The root of the Marigold produces a chemical that kills nematodes as they enter the soil. If a whole area is infested, at the end of the season, turn the Marigolds under so the roots will decay in the soil. You can safely plant there again the following spring. The flowers are hermaphrodite (having both male and female organs) and are pollinated by insects. They are noted for attracting wildlife and the wild hares visiting my garden often eat them. And for some reason, the rats like biting off the flower heads and spreading the petals and seeds all over the ground! The leaves of the marigold are coated with oily glands that produce a pungent scent.

Did You Know? Marigolds, which are from the Aster family and the Calendula genus, were first discovered by the Portuguese in Central America in the 16th century.

Some interesting info :
"In addition to colouring foods, yellow dye from the flowers is also used to colour textiles. The whole plant is harvested when in flower and distilled for its essential oil. The oil is used in perfumery; it is blended with sandalwood oil to produce 'attar genda' perfume. About 35 kilograms of oil can be extracted from 1 hectare of the plant (yielding 2,500 kg of flowers and 25Link,000 kg of herbage). The oil is also being investigated for anti-fungal activity, including treatment of candidiasis and treating fungal infections in plants."
This info from Wikipedia


Thursday, March 1, 2012

After the rain

All was silent as before -
All silent save the dripping rain.
~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

W&N watercolour on X-pressit 300gsm

We've had some beautiful rain to end the season - for the past couple of weeks we've had heavy afternoon showers virtually every day and the ground is so saturated that puddles collect next to all the farm roads. We've had this before, with rains carrying on well into May and even June, which is peculiar for us, as Gauteng (South Africa) is a summer rainfall area.