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!

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Two daisies

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

Acrylic on primed canvas panel – 9″ × 12″

Some left-over blue paint from my palette when I did the lighthouse. I couldn't just waste the paint so  I was off on a new adventure again with my acrylics! 

Two daisies from my garden (Tarlton, Gauteng, South Africa) in a blue bottle on my kitchen table.


Friday, September 27, 2013

Light after the storm

There are some things you learn best in calm, and some in storm. 
- Willa Cather

Acrylic on Giverny 240gsm acrylic paper

One of my few forays into acrylics.


The duel of the warring clouds
Hath ended with the day
Their scintillant, electric blades
Have ceased their fearful play;
The pent up fury of their hate.
Hath found at last release,
And o’er the tempest-stricken earth
Broods now the hush of peace...
- Unknown


Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Winter in Summer

“When you are older, you realise that everything else is just nothing compared to painting and drawing.”
— David Hockney

W&N watercolour in my Moleskine 200gsm nature sketchbook

Just as we thought winter had finally ended, we had freezing weather come up from the Cape with temperatures dropping to 12℃. That was on Saturday. Today it's starting to return to normal with beautiful sunshine and no wind. Nature certainly can be unpredictable...


Thursday, September 19, 2013

An African moon

Black ink sketch using Pilot Calligraphy Lettering pen and Artline200 black fine-point pen on DaleRowney 220gsm heavy-duty sketching paper

It was full moon last night and when I switched off the garden lights, my garden was bathed in a golden glow… and I could’ve sworn I saw the fairies hiding under the mushrooms... 

One website explains the full moon thus, “The moon and sun are on a line, with Earth in between. It’s as though Earth is the fulcrum of a see-saw, and the moon and sun are sitting on either end of the see-saw. Thus as the sun sets in the west, the full moon rises. When the sun is below our feet at midnight, the full moon is highest in the sky. When the sun rises again at dawn, the full moon is setting.”


Monday, September 16, 2013

The first rain

“The rain to the wind said,
'You push and I’ll pelt.'
They so smote the garden bed
That the flowers actually knelt,
And lay lodged—though not dead.
I know how the flowers felt.”
― Robert Frost

W&N watercolour on Bockingford 300gsm
14th September 2013 

Step outside after the first storm after a dry spell and it invariably hits you: the sweet, fresh, powerfully evocative smell of fresh rain. 

We’ve had our first rain of the season here in Tarlton (Gauteng, South Africa), and the world has suddenly turned from brown and dusty to green and sparkling clean! And nothing on earth smells better than rain on our African soil!


Saturday, September 14, 2013

A Tabby superb!

“With their qualities of cleanliness, discretion, affection, patience, dignity, and courage, how many of us, I ask you, would be capable of becoming cats?”
- Fernand Mery

W&N watercolour and Parker Fountain pen, Black Quink ink, on Visual 200gsm

 – In memory of my cat “Smewsy”, whom we were honoured enough to have in our lives for 13 years 

We all know the superstition about a black cat crossing your path. It is said that, to reverse the bad luck curse of a black cat crossing your path, first walk in a circle, then go backward across the spot where it happened and count to 13! Here are some more superstitions about cats.
  • Dreaming of white cat means good luck – American superstition
  • To see a white cat on the road is lucky – American superstition
  • It is bad luck to see a white cat at night – American superstition
  • If a cat washes behind its ears, it will rain – English superstition
  • A strange black cat on your porch brings prosperity – Scottish superstition
  • A cat sneezing is a good omen for everyone who hears it – Italian superstition
  • A cat sleeping with all four paws tucked under means cold weather ahead – English superstition
  • When moving to a new home, always put the cat through the window instead of the door, so that it will not leave – American superstition
  • When you see a one-eyed cat, spit on your thumb, stamp it in the palm of your hand, and make a wish. The wish will come true – American superstition
  • In the Netherlands, cats were not allowed in rooms where private family discussions were going on. The Dutch believed that cats would definitely spread gossips around the town – Netherlands superstition
The pencil sketch before I added colour


Wednesday, September 11, 2013

This Blue Gum

This blue gum tree greets me every morning as I open my studio curtains. She is always there. She has always been there, for the past ten years. She's the one I sit and stare at when I'm pondering or deep in thought. I've watched her swaying in heavy winds, watched as limbs have broken off and watched as veld fires have swept her base.

She stands across the road from our property, probably about 20m tall and offers a safe haven for all the birds in the area. I've watched as baby crows have fledged from her branches and yet, I've never looked at her properly.

Today I decided to look at her, with new eyes, and paint her.

I think she's wonderful. 


Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Morning is my favourite time

W&N watercolour on DalerRowney 220gsm heavy-weight sketching paper 

Morning is my favourite time when everything is new; 
flowers drink the morning dew and skies are painted in a golden hue. 
Each tree stands tall and stately – different shades and different face. 
I’m viewing morning’s painting, done with Nature’s brush of Grace. 
The sun peeks slowly in the East, then rises with its smile;
Another morning greeting and we walk another mile.


Thursday, September 5, 2013

The way of the crow

“If men had wings and bore black feathers, few of them would be clever enough to be crows.”
-Rev. Henry Ward Beecher mid 1800’s

W&N watercolour on Bockingford 300gsm 
Black Crow (Corvus capensis) 

There is little wonder that crows are very often the subjects of legends, folk-tales, and storytelling traditions around the world, all of which is very deep-seated and arising from myth and folklore thousands of years old. Anyone that has ever spent time with a crow will know how absurd these myths are and that Crows are no more ‘evil’ or ‘dark’ as depicted in these legends than a canary in a cage.

I make those remarks in light of the life I shared with Coco, a Black Crow (Corvus capensis), over the span of twenty years. She was keen of sight and hearing, and her other senses were no less acute. As was her sense of humour! She loved to mimic men laughing, producing the exact deep resonance of the male voice. She would also have a conversation with herself, changing voices as she went along, which she reproduced from the garden staff talking to one another. Another favourite of hers was hooting like a car, getting everyone in the household to go outside to see who has arrived. She would also call someone by their name at the top of her voice, also getting that person rushing outside to see who was calling, then uttering a long, low laugh, as if enjoying the havoc she’s causing.

She loved to play tag, pretending to peck your foot, getting you to chase her around the garden. And of course, one ‘myth’ that is absolutely true, is a Crow’s love for shiny stuff. No tea tray was safe unattended outside, as all the spoons would disappear and any jewellery lying around the house was at great risk!

A valuable lesson we could all learn from a crow is that they never “stuff” themselves with food. She would only eat until she was satisfied and then take the rest and hide it all over the garden, ready to be picked up at a later stage.

It is this kind of sensitivity that makes crows and other corvids legendary birds.

Coco passed away at the age of 27 in my garden (Tarlton, south Africa) after a stroke and I can honestly say no other animal enriched my life like she did.


Monday, September 2, 2013

Gemsbuck (Oryx gazella) Gemsbok

Watercolour on Bockingford 300gsm 12″ × 8″ 

Nothing belongs to you
of what there is,
of what you take,
you must share. 
- Chief Dan George

The Gemsbok or Gemsbuck (Oryx gazella) is a large African antelope, of the Oryx genus. The name is derived from the Dutch name of the male chamois, gemsbok. Although there are some superficial similarities in appearance (especially in the colour of the face area), the chamois and the oryx are not closely related.

There are two “types” of gemsbok: a northern and southern variety; the only difference being that the northern gemsboks have black-fringed ears while the southern ones have longer horns and more rounded ears. Southern Gemsbok are more numerous and live in the Kalahari Desert of Southern Africa, while the northern variant can be found in Tanzania, Zambia, Kenya and parts of northern Namibia in the Khomas Hochland area.
- Info from Wikipedia

This Gemsbuck is listed as Least Concern as the species is numerous and widespread, and populations are currently stable or even increasing. The Gemsbok’s future is secure as long as it continues to occur in large numbers on private land and in protected areas in Southern Africa. Its high value as a trophy animal should ensure further increases in its numbers on private land.