On Friday I drove up to George to work with a new client. I left Somerset West just after 05:00 and just made it to my 09:00 meeting to begin the work. I was too tired at the end of the day to drive home so I slept over at Ebb and Flow – the Nature Conservation campsite at Wilderness, the next town East of George, after a pizza from the good people at Pomodoro they make quite the best pizza – if you ever pass through Wilderness have a Qattro Stagioni – mmmm mm. However – on with the post.
This morning I did two watercolours looking up the Touw River from the campsite and then walked up the other side of the river to a picnic spot and did two watercolours looking downstream.
There were LOTS of greens (it is after all forest) so I took a while to get the hang of it. Here is the first one:
The sun was just coming over the mountain in the background when I did the second painting:
The wind dropped as I started and for about 10 minutes the river was like glass, showing all the reflections. But as I started painting it came up in the other direction.
I walked up a trail on the other side of the river and did this watercolour looking down-stream, after a cup of hot chocolate:
I felt I was getting the hang of the colours and textures and was about to pack up and go when I thought I would give the reeds one more shot. So I did this painting:
As I was painting the birds were calling all around me. I saw a few Malachite Kingfishers and Giant Kingfishers flying up and down close to the water. And a few times Knysna Loeries flew across the river into the massive Milkwood underneath which I sat. They have the most beautiful red flash under their wings. It was a very special morning. Just what I needed to prepare for the drive home.
We have just returned from a night-over in ‘Beddies’. Thats what the surfers call it “hey man I was in Beddies yesterday – and it was sick”. Betty’s Bay. We have friends with a cottage just below Luiperdskloof. We got there in the late afternoon yesterday and while the boys went off for a surf I sat and painted a watercolour. Actually it was from about the same spot where I had painted in the pouring rain last year and the watercolour had suffered the same treatment as I. W. Spider. Here is how it looked yesterday:
While I was painting the wisp of cloud over the mountain developed into a dense blanket obliterating any view above a few hundred feet.
The next morning I got up early and painted the from behind our friends cottage.
Their back-garden is a riot of fynbos and indigenous trees, with a small patch of Buffalo Grass – a broad-leafed lawn grass that is indigenous to the area. What a pleasant way to start the day. Later the wind picked up and though we went for a surf it was not very much. We went to Pringle bay, which is tucked away between the two peaks I paint on the far right in the mountains I paint from “The Pipe”. I wanted to do a quick sketch but was outvoted by the boys.
Later in the day I painted Rob, our host as he read the paper and chatted:
And then we went down to the break at Betty’s a last time to see if the break was working. There was a strong South Easter blowing on shore so no-one surfed but some of the group went for a walk down the beach which was quite wild in the wind. I found a vegetation covered dune and got my stuff ready to paint. I had to tape everything down but even so the wind kept lifting the paper from the sketch book to which it was taped. Julian took this shot of me painting:
Gives new meaning to “whatever blows your hair back” heh heh.
And here is the painting I did:
All quite rushed but there it is.
There was not a breath of wind this morning at the pipe. The sea was almost glassy and there were some good sets coming in earlier. After a while all the waves seemed to disappear so I came out and did this painting:
By the time I had finished there were many people lying on the beach, closer to the sea so I went down and did these two watercolours.
Why don’t they sit still? By the time this was done everyone was out of the painting!
This woman was chatting with a friend standing next to her which would have made a great composition but then her friend wandered off to the water. And I ran out of time to finish all of their stuff lying around.
On Tuesday evening this guy sat in the tree in our driveway. I took some photos and then my daughter climbed on the car and took a few more before he flew away. Here is how I have started:
here is the next wash
This is a Cape Eagle Owl, a large capable raptor and like all owls dead quiet in flight.
I noticed as I painted this watercolour that they have long needle sharp claws and incredibly powerful talons.
And here is the final – I see the paint is still wet so I may redo this later.
Yesterday I was working in my studio to complete a document for a client. The chicks were scratching in the bush outside the door. I heard a shriek and looking up saw the owl taking off under the tree. I ran out to be treated to the heart-rending sight of the owl flying off with Pikachoo in its talons. Over Debbie’s wall, then back over the open plot behind our house. Within two seconds she was gone. So… this is processing.
This afternoon I took Ethan down to the surf school and although there was a stiff on-shore breeze and the water was quite choppy I went in for a quickie – as Andy the coach says “it’s always worth getting wet”. I came out with enough time to do this watercolour of the mountains before we had to leave:
there was a fresh north-west wind blowing at the pipe this afternoon – the waves have been really big in the last couple of days but the break has been messy and I have had too much work to get out there.
I sat looking at the sea in a fog of exhaustion before perching on the highest dune to try to escape the flying sand. And I did this painting:
Those are the kites used by the kite surfers who are enjoying the slight onshore wind. And there were low, grey clouds hanging over the mountains -
Tonight when I got home I took the boys down to the pipe for a surf. There were some good swells coming through but later it got quite busy so I decided I would rather go and paint a watercolour rather than compete with aggressive aliens – heh heh – locals rule… No just kidding.
I wanted to paint the poles with dune vegetation in the foreground and found a comfortable dip behind the dune where I normally sit. I sketched the scene. As I started to paint Ethan came out of the water and took the car keys to change. I painted from the top down for a change. The painting was about half way down the beach when Ethan came and told me he had locked the keys in the car – something of a distraction but not a major crisis. When he went off to get a wire coat-hanger from the surf-school I finished the wash.
Eventually the door opened and I returned to paint. By then an on-shore wind had sprung up and I completed the painting with sand blowing straight off the dune into my eyes, brush and palette. Also the light had completely changed over the mountains. Too bad. Anyway here it is:
By the time I had finished I just wanted to get out of the wind and sand. But this is a scene I will consider doing again.
Long long ago – in a kingdom far far away… Actually in 1982, as I studied for a Masters in Materials Science (well OK I was off-track but it was interesting – and I got to eat my lunch on Jammie Steps – heh heh (Jameson Hall – main hall on UCT campus) – anyway – no red herrings today. At the time I shared a flat with my sister Margie who was studying architecture at the time. She had a watercolour project to do and way back then I I felt the wisps of the spell. I asked her for some paper and some paints and headed off to Olifantsbos (Elephant bush) in the Cape Point nature reserve. This was a place where I often used to dive for crayfish with a mate of mine and I particularly loved the coastal fynbos and fresh salty air. mmm – again the pull.
Anyway I sat in front of the car park and did this little painting looking across the bay towards the wreck of the Tommy Tucker:
See how I drew a border around the page as Margie instructed. Then I walked around the bay and did this painting looking back:
See the rocks in the foreground and the kelp beds in the water. That kelp is full of crayfish, though we used to walk an hour down the coast where the diving used to be much better.
So – I remember even now sitting painting – what a thrill that was. I still had not formulated my rule that” it is more important to be sitting painting than how well the painting looked” not very good English I know – but a useful mantra none the less. And the seeds were planted, though they took years to germinate before I was enthralled.
Here is Margie’s project from back then – kind of rattled off in an afternoon and left to gather dust till I rescued it for myself:
Well I am trying to finish off a version of Animus – someone is keen to buy it but I found a blemish in the sky so am doing another version. Here is how it looks now:
The painting is 1000×700 mm on Fabriano which as an interesting horizontal grain which picks up dry brush strokes. This would have been a good sheet to stretch I suppose but anyway -
Oh yes and I have a great idea for a series of paintings for which I need surfers to model for me. The first will use something like this – modelled by my son Ethan in our verry grrreeen pool and taken by me standing on the roof of our house:
watch this space – heh heh – all I need is to make some time and practice a bit with my airbrush – oh oh oh now I shouldn’t have said that…
Here is how the Animus painting looks now – time to take the dogs for a walk up the hill:
The pipe was working so nicely this morning, in spite of an off-shore fresh North Westerly wind. I had one really nice ride. But then the wind picked up and the waves flattened out. So I sat on the beach and did this:
I sat nearer the water to get out of the flying sand and intended to paint the people as they walked past. However there were not so many strollers today so I concentrated on the mountains. I feel like I am getting the hang of the colours up there. Eventually the wind picked up so much that I was getting sand blasted. The sand was creating paint-effects on my page (o: -. So when Calvin came up from his lesson I was ready to vamoos.