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.......