I am staying with family in Pietermaritzburg. My sister held an informal art class this evening with my nephew John posing ever so patiently. This was my version:
There is something going on with his left eye – but this is OK for now.
I am staying with Margie (my sister) and Tim (her husband who has written a book about expeditions on the Amazon). Okes are a bit backward up here and I am using this as a demo to show Tim how to blog – heh heh….
And here is the card I did for my sister this morning:
Guess where this came from?
It was another lovely warm evening and I sat at the pipe while Ethan had a surf. Here is what I did – mmm – OK but…
The last two weeks have been a time of extreme highs and lows and painting just fell off the agenda. But last night I went to the pipe where there was a chilly wind blowing and rough sea. Calvin and his friends went out but I sat and painted the path going through the dunes to the sea. A different view of the poles. The wind filled my pallette and eyes with sand but it was great to be down there.
Later that evening I made a fire in the stove and waited for Mia the fat porker to come an lie down and had another go at that scene. I was a bit distracted but it went OK I think.
Some real steps forward I think. I may fill in some more colour in the top of the painting. She shuffles around a lot. And Ethan came and pulled some ticks off her which didnt help. The stove is a much better shape and I like what happened behind the open door and I got the potjie quite well – I must think through the shadows a little.
So – there we are – back in the saddle…
Here is a painting of Mia lying in front of the stove. It is an old design which we use to keep the house warm in winter and which we use to make pizza and tea. The first watercolour is on Saunders Waterford paper which is completely different from Arches which I normally use. It is almost like blotting paper and the colour fades radically as it dries. I find it almost impossible to soften edges and really easy to get ugly back-runs. Not my first choice at all. In fact I used it by mistake.
And here is the one I did on Arches which is nicer paper but I am not so wild about the painting – I will look again tomorrow.
Perspective is very important in this sort of work and it may be worth doing this again mre carefully.
The sea was quite rough tonight so I decided to sit and paint instead of surfing. I was keen to have another go at the poles. It started OK but the light changed radically half way through. Also I had a long chat with a friend in the middle which was actually quite lekker but I lost track of where I was going a little. Anyway the mountains started light and I glazed over them with a darker wash. Two guys came to look at the waves while I was there. I managed to sketch one of them who was wearing baggies over a tracksuit and a hoody – then they walked off so I left the other guy off. Here it is:
Another one of those curate’s egg paintings I think. I sometimes wonder why the curate’s egg should have been good in parts. Anycase. The storm we have just had was pushing the waves up almost to the poles which is what the dark patch is about and I showed some of the buildings in the background.
Here is a painting of a pool in Newlands forest that I did long ago. I found these 6 versions, but there were more. I was battling to show water and leaves and rocks.
Version 3 – here I got frustrated:
version 4 I like the saturated French Ultramarine in this one.
And here is version 5:
And here is version 6. The previous versions were all 12 x 15 inches and now I decided the way forward was to go bigger (double size):
I did at least two more of these but I could not find them in my tidy up. I think I painted on the other side. I think there is progress but there is a lot of the same sort of stuff. I remember sitting down to reflect on what was working and what was not – I think there are some lessons on the learning process here like Quantity has a Quality of its own and the need to look at the body of work. This was a lot of work and I suppose I worked hard. But painting never feels like hard work to me. Which is the gift – I think. I think talent takes a lot of work.
Long long ago in a country … the company I worked for gave me an award for being a good boy and I got to go to a really upmarket game reserve in the lowveld near Nelspruit (whatever it is called now). I got flu which was a shame but not really because when they all went hairing off into the sunrise to see game (which I don’t enjoy doing much) I wandered to the edge of the camp with my watercolour kit and did these paintings. The Camp was perched on a koppie looking across a valley. As I watched giraffe wandered about below. And a leopard somewhere in the valley “sawed” his displeasure at my presence. For a few hours it grunted and coughed while I painted. In those days I did not paint much on site so it was a great way to spend the morning. And the paintings were OK too I think – though I would handle them slightly differently now. The granites on which I sat were covered with green lichens and aloes which I tried to capture.
In those days I used a half inch flat sable brush A LOT – then my brother Tim who is an artist of note (or so he tells me – no kidding he is – I would let you see his website or blog if he wasn’t such a Luddite) told me it was lazy or affected or something and I went back to rounds.
and the next:
and the last -
this is quite promising I think. I almost gave these away but I am glad I have the referrence – I am so keen to go back to the bush to paint soon.
I spent time on Saturday and Sunday tidying out my studio which was looking like those scenes in movies where someone has searched ransacked someone else’s place to look for something. I added more shelves to the unit in the corner so that I could manage my stuff better. Check them out:
That is Mia and Sprocket who come and join me when they are shut out of the house – especially when it is cold. While I am there I might as well show the rest of the space. Here is my studio – looking neater than usual:
My table is behind the sheets I have bought to make a portfolio for the bigger watercolours I paint. I put my pallette and water bottle on the tea trolley when I paint. As you can see I have not started on my next big painting. Don’t you love the rocks. Our house used to be the stables on a farm in the Lourens river valley. When they developed around us they dug up all these beautiful river boulders which I collected in a wheelbarrow (that has since been retired to become our braai (barbeque). And I made pathways all over the place which are quite beautiful but not all that practical – such is the life of the dreamer. One day I will show you my rock wall. Oh yes. While I was cleaning up I came across a number of old paintings which I hoped would give me a sense of growth. I will show them here for comment.
After all my labours I took the boys for a surf yesterday. It was OK but I got out to do a watercolour. I wanted to focus on the poles but ran out of time. I decided to try to finish it here in the studio. Not sure if that works for me. But here it is:
I had a little more time to paint this evening as I did not surf. It was a still evening with a heavy, mute sky. But the light on the mountains changed each time I looked up. I spent time sketching the design in pencil. Then I started with the sky, then the beach, the mountains, the sea finishing with the poles and plants in the foreground. At the end of it all I had time to do some calligraphy in the mountains. So here we are:
There is so much detail in those mountains. There’s detail in them thar mtns!!
Next time I will put a band of cool colour between the line of posts and the foreground dune and vegetation – just a sliver.
And then I looked up the sky had gone wild with textured colour, great sweeping strokes of pearly grey over a cerulean blue wash. A yellow glaze just above the horizon, mauve mountains and a light turquoise sea. Now there is something to aim for.
On the way home from Tshwane tonight I had a little time to sit and relax in Oliver Tambo Airport in Joburg. Carol had set me a project to do some paintings of street scenes in JHB but I did not have a chance so I did these. I am not sure I like the risk of rude people. I asked one group if they would be offended if I painted them and they were so patronising and off-hand that in the end I didn’t. I don’t suppose they had the free emotional energy for such a request. So I felt put off by the whole experience. Anyway here is the first one I did of people across the way:
And here is the second one I did after asking the group – the nearest figure is lost in my finding my balance after their response. The second figure is quite fun I thought.