Monday, September 26, 2011

Rhino Revisited

The other night in my deepest slumber, I must have been dreaming about our wonderful rhino who are in desperate need of intervention by us from the incensed poachers and users of rhino horn. Seen we had just celebrated World Rhino Day, I thought it might have been the reason that these shy, prehistoric looking beasts were playing on my mind. I made a concious effort to hold onto my vision so that I could portray the idea on paper the next morning. 

I did something out of the ordinary and rummaged around for a box of willow charcoals I have had around for about 40 odd years. I think the last time I picked up a piece of charcoal was 38 years ago but I knew I had to use with them for my idea. A few weeks ago I attended a fantastic demo on 'Using Blacks" with South African artist Meriel May in which she showed us various mediums using only black. One demo was with charcoals which I thoroughly enjoyed and thought I'd try my hand at my rhino subjects with this medium.

I am still a bit rusty at this, but was so please when my rhino came to life on my paper. I need to play and experiment a little  more with texture, but all in all, I think these are pretty neat for someone who hasn't held a piece of charcoal in all these years. I'd also like to try and mix this medium with watercolour and see what effects I achieve. But for now I'd like to just sit and admire this work for a while and think of how I can make it more appealing!

First attempt, without a preliminary sketch of a rather long rhino

No pre-sketch, just straight in with the charcoal.

Bye for now,I'm off to sketch another animal......!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Picking up my Bushes!

I was a bit horrified to see the date of my last post!  I can't believe it's been this long since I added something on my blog. I've really neglected my wonderful blogger friends and owe you an apology.

Shall I just say that I had an extended hiatus. Life off-line has been somewhat busy, besides the day to day distractions, ailments, home and family matters, I"ll spare you all the details.

Although I have managed to stay in touch via Facebook, I simply ran out of hours and days to paint and post my work here. I have also been a bit distracted with other on-line matters involving the Watercolour Society of South Africa. I'm thrilled to be part of this terrific organisation, as an artist and and member of the executive committee. Being involved with the 'behind-the-scenes' running of this organisation has been quite enlightening and enriching. Managing the social media division and Website are a few of the tasks I've been allocated to help with.  The WSSA is in the throws of some exciting changes and are expanding their horizons. With this, come a few challenges, hard work and  time. In addition to this, I set up and policed a blog for my son's school rugby tour to Argentina this month.  So, all in all, this deluge of  events has resulted in information overload, something I'm not used to as a stay-at-home mum!

Snow capped mountains of the Maluti's.

Welcoming a much needed break, I decided to take a trip to a gorgeous part of our country where many artists have settled and made their home. Clarens, a small town with plenty of galleries, restaurants and craftshops, it"s situated in the Clarens valley in the Eastern Free State Highlands and nestled in the foothills of the great Maluti Mountains. Many artists and photographers have marvelled in her beauty which boasts an 'all season' wonder. Spring and summer is aglow with light green willows and colourful blossoms. In autumn the Poplar trees cast beautiful yellow contrasts against the orange sandstone formations of the mountains. The winter months might encourage visitors with the possibility of snow, which I was fortunate too witness. The Golden Gate Nature reserve is situated close by. This spectacular mountain range derives it name from the breathtaking glow of gold from the sun against the sandstone cliffs. Clarens is a quiet town and possesses an air of tranquillity which is why it's named the 'Jewel of the Freestate'.

The rich colours of the sandstone cliffs.

I stayed in a Bed and Breakfast called 'CottagePie'. The little cottage is situated below the cliffs of the mountains alongside a stream. I enjoyed the peace and quiet of this wonderful place but found it incredibly cold once the sun had set!

A sketch of the little stream at Cottage Pie BnB in Clarens.

If I wasn't sipping warm cappuccino's at the local coffee shops and restaurants sketching , I was out driving around experiencing the sights and spectacular views of the area. I have never been fortunate enough to experience a snow fall, so, my highlight was finally seeing it, driving in it was the eeriest experience too. Such a novelty for me! It was so quiet as the snow fell on my windscreen, so unlike rain. Sadly there was no snow in Clarens and I had to drive into the mountains to see it.  It had started snowing there the morning I left Joburg, but by lunch time it had stopped. South Africa has a very warm climate and rarely sees snow except in a few high lying mountainous areas in winter. The occasional snow falls don't really last long and the snow had already started diminishing the next day. By the time I'd left Clarens 4 days later.... there were only small patches of snow on the highest peaks. I have to say that these will be special memories for me, cherished for many years!

A quick sketch of the first little friends who welcomed me to Clarens.

Driving towards Golden Gate where the peaks were covered with snow.

A little scene next to the Post House Restaurant 

Another sketch (on Moleskin) of the formations found in the Maluti Mountains.

So, with these few sketches, hope I made up for being so scarce around these parts.

Till later.......

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Bo Kaap Bargee

I completed this painting today...... 'Bo Kaap Bargee ' (Cape Malay Sailor). This gentleman was just a site walking around with his 'gummy' smile in the streets of Cape Town.

I was fascinate with his facial features. The Cape Coloureds of the Western Cape have their front teeth surgically removed, and the real reason has long been forgotten. Coloured people have been doing it so long that they forgot the real reason why thay do it. "You know when you do something that your parents and your grandparents where doing and you ask why are you doing it, they answer, I don't know, because my brothers did it! " Was a quote from a Coloured Man! Some say its a sexual myth or fashion victomhood! It portrays their identity and is called the 'Passion Gap' or Cape Flats Smile'. I certainly don't think it's attractive at all!

The "Bo Kaap" or "Cape Malay Quarter" belongs to the culturally and historically most interesting parts of Cape Town. Many of the inhabitants are decendants of the people from Indonesia (Batavia), Sri Lanka, India and Malaysia, who were captured in the 17th and 18th century and enslaved by the Dutch-East Indian Trading Company. Many were Mulims and others were converted to Islam by the Cape Muslim community.
The Cape Malays and their religious leaders played an important role in the development of the language and culture of the Cape colony. The Afrikaans language evolved as a language of its own through a simplification of Dutch in order for the slaves to be able to communicate with the Dutch and amongst each others, since they all came from different countries and cultures. Educated Muslims were the first to write texts in Afrikaans.~

Hope you enjoyed this little bit of fascinating information and the reason I find them an interesting race!


Sunday, June 12, 2011

Making up for Lost time.

Oh my Word! Has it been 3 months since I posted here on my Blog? I sit here and wonder if any of my wonderful blog friends will forgive my absence!

I have been been online but doing things for another blog which has kept me away from painting. A few months ago I was elected a National Committee member for the Watercolour Society of South Africa. With it came my task of keeping the website, blog and facebook pages updated. This has been a time consuming process but have loved being involved. The website was outdated and needed updating with the new committee members. Our blogs were asleep and have slowly got one running to schedule now with the latest news and happenings.

Last week I decided that I WAS going to paint no matter what, and started this painting "Morning Nap'.

 Morning Nap

I thoroughly loved the subject but I was a bit disappointed with the paper I used. It was a piece of a full sheet of Fabriano 300gsm I cut up. I bought a couple of sheets a while back which I was saving to do a large painting at a later stage. It didn't allow me to be loose and wet as I'd wished and I ended up overworking some parts to get rid of the lines made by the first wash.

I'd love to hear your feelings on using this paper as I don't think I am enjoying it at all!!

I also managed to complete a commission for someone whilst I was busy with the WSSA. Something I am embarrassed to say took a bit longer than intended. But the owner is thrilled!

These are a few sketch studies I did for her. Silly me, I forgot to take pics of the final two I painted for her! Will have to ask her to take some for me!

A few of you might have seen the next painting on my FB page. I played around and had fun with the idea of little goats. This and the painting above were photos I took at a wonderful farm I visited last year in the Swartland near Darling called Lelieblom, English translation - 'lily flower'. This farm is a restaurant farm which is run by a friendly warm lovely lady, Karen and her husband Michael. The oldie worldie shabby chick style old barn is the setting for this wonderful restaurant.


Hope to post here again soon and not neglect my painting so much.

Till then....

Monday, March 28, 2011

All Pretty Maids in a Row

Over the past few weeks I've been getting ready to host an Open Day which is taking place on Thursday. A friend and I have decided to put our talents to use and start a little venture. She makes jewellery and has wonderful contacts for hand made frames, sterling silver jewellery and dresses. I have mountains of paintings and have also started a small handmade jewellery line. On Thursday we have invited a few other girls to sell wonderful goodies with us and will bring along their gorgeous pewter home-wear, sea-grass mats, throws handbags and designer clothing. I hope it'll be a success as I enjoy ladies events like this where you can breeze around with a cup of tea or champagne and enjoy a lovely afternoon in a relaxed market feel environment. At the moment I need to work out prices for my art which is not easy as I have no idea how to charge. But I'm sure I'll work out a formula which will be appealing to the ladies.

In between pricing and labelling my jewellery the other night, I painted a painting of an idea I've had in my head for a while and thought I'd get stuck in and paint it. Not too sure that it's exactly what I wanted to achieve but, but I thought I'd post it anyhow for you to see and comment on. I was hoping for messier loose strokes, but the style of art I do - wasn't able to achieve it!
This might just be a good exercise for another.

Have a great week every one.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Under the sea Treasures

Well, I'm having a break from painting mini paintings for my upcoming Open Day at the end of the month. The other night I was just splashing around with three colour pigments and salt on a scrap of paper I had left over from the full page I had. I let it dry overnight and was surprised the next morning to see how it had dried. I'm sorry that I didn't take photos of the different stages I painted - as you would have been amazed at what it looked like before I added structure to it. Not knowing what I was going to do with this sheet of paper, I put it away.

Finally, I found shapes that looked like a reef in a way..... fishes eyes and coral shapes appeared out of nowhere. So I set about creating an underwater theme using all the negative shapes to make it look a bit realistic I thoroughly enjoyed painting this although it took me ages to capture the scene, making sure that it didn't end up looking like I had stuck the subjects on paper. I tend to work quickly and like to finish paintings within a few hours normally, but I found this particularly therapeutic and didn't want it to finish!

Love to hear what you think, also how many little creatures can you find?

Monday, March 7, 2011


For those who are a somewhat confused by the missing images in your bloglists in your sidebar of your blog..... An on the ball fellow blogger friend Rhonda Carpenter has posted a good explanation as to why and what you can do to alleviate this. Thank you Rhonda.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Done and Dusted

Why is it that some artists do not feel brave when choosing painting submissions for a juried exhibition. I find this the most daunting and nerve-wrecking part of painting, I'm so critical of my own work, as most artist are and can never decide which one to submit!!! Choice of subject is also a factor I believe, if you choose an exciting subject and one hopefully that the judges can relate to, then half the battle is won. The last two months have seen me feverishly painting for the upcoming 85th National Watercolour Exhibition, but not all of them were (in my eyes) good enough. I put myself under such pressure trying to paint 'thee' best paintings and end up being disappointed, specially when I have left it to the last minute. But supposedly, that is my own fault as I dabble too often in smaller sketches and studies and not expanding myself and pushing the boundaries. I don't spend enough time painting larger completed paintings.

Much to my surprise this morning, I was informed that all three of my paintings were selected. Two of which I thought were mediocre and one of those I had no hope for.... Time forced me to make a choice which thankfully worked in my favour. Don't get me wrong, I am over the moon and I'm slowly getting closer to my associateship with all my submissions.

I can't wait to take my paintings to the framers now,  ready to be hung for the exhibition.

Here is a sneak preview of the paintings........

Friday, February 11, 2011

Trip into Town

I've had a lull with watercolours of late, but have found some inspiration to get some paintings ready for the 85th National exhibition coming up in March. The paintings have to be submitted next week!
This is a sneak peek of one I'm quite excited about. Have a long way to go but I'm taking my time on this as I'm enjoying it so much.
Started of with a wet in wet wash of FUM, Indigo and Y Ochre. Let that dry and have started adding details to the subject.

Have a great weekend every one and catch up with you soon!

Till next time.....

Monday, January 24, 2011

Zany Zebra

Zany Zebra

With the WSSA 85th Open Exhibition approaching I'm feverishly painting for submissions to this event.  
I have a painting under the belt for now and need another two. This is one I started painting last night.... just a bit of fun and enjoyed the colours I used. At 2am this morning I called it a day and left it to complete later when I could concentrate with a clear head. On looking at it this morning, I was dissatisfied with the construction of his face. His muzzle looked too long, the eye was a bit small and just wasn't
sitting in the correct place! 
A bit frustrating at times when paintings don't do what they are supposed to do, you can't win them all I suppose, specially when you have a dead line! It's just a piece of paper after all and we are 
supposed to enjoy painting, don't we? But I think that's part of the fun.... or is it? 

Oh well, what can I say but back to the easel!

I'm not too disappointed with this as I'll keep it as a reference for colours used, but this 
Zany Zebra will not be part of the show!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Go and get your Glasses!!!!

Well, at least I had fun with this one!!!! I know, I know! the colours are all wrong. The background is too warm and far too busy but boy was I enjoying myself with this one. My son looked at it and said instantly... "the colours are too bright in the background but has a great feel, almost abstract, but I like it mum!" Well, I think he is right and apart from it being far to busy it looks gaudy in real life. In order for the subject to be prominent, the B/G colours need to be cool. Cool colours help recede the B/G and bring the subject to the fore.

On looking at it again, it could always be a rhino running from a fire, couldn't it? What say you? I would love your honest constructive criticism on this one please! Oh, and by the way, it's painted on a huge piece of paper, bigger than my comfort zone and is quite dominant in my studio!!! Ha ha!

40 x 56 cm

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Practice, Practice, Practice

 Another small sketch of a rhino... WOW,  not that easy.. but will keep trying!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Sketches on Holiday

A very Happy, Creative and Inspiration year to you. May this, the first year of the decade reap huge rewards and positive attitudes for you all. After settling back at home after a 3 week break, loads of washing done and unpacking out the way, I decided to look back through my sketchbook I took with me and thought I'd share some of the very rough sketches I painted whilst down at the seaside in St Francis Bay on the East Cape coast of South Africa.

Study of Penguins after I watched Penguins being re-introduced back in to the ocean

I acted on a whim just before I left for my holiday and got wrapped up in the huge global Anti-Rhino poaching issue. I flew in 'horns and all' and suggested a campaign called Artist Campaign to HELP Save the Rhino on Facebook. This campaign is for artists of all genre world wide to stand united and paint, draw, sculpt, write, photograph rhino's. Some or all proceeds of sales can be donated to a worthy organisation who support  rhino conservation.  So far the interest is there, I just need to fine tune the logistics, get support and spread the word. This is where you can help too if you feel the need. The more the merrier and the greater the reward for the salvation of the rhino.

I am absolutely appalled by the behavior of some people who have senselessly maimed and slaughtered innocent rhino's for their horns and left some babies orphaned or dying from starvation. The horns are been sold to the East for medicinal and healing purposes and fetch incredibly high prices. Studies show that the properties in the horn are the same as your fingernails....Keratin, Calcium and Melanin. The horn has been prized for centuries and will take authorities a hundred years to eradicate a myth.

The shocking statistic is that last year alone, over 300 rhino's were killed...... that's almost 1 a day!!!  I want to cry when I read these stats! I so want to help in some way to stop the barbaric slaughter but cannot do it alone, this is where you come in. If you are keen to join me in the fight to help this shy, strange almost pre-historic animal from extinction, please pop over to my link above and show your support. I have more information on the Campaign there.

I did a few studies of rhino's on holiday just playing with ideas for a larger painting I'll do for the Campaign. Hope you'll join me!

Till next time.......