May 17, 2017

asante sana watercolours

This little sketch was done in watercolour on the side of the road with my straw hat on and, I think, a mixture of tubes and cakes on stretched paper. That might make more sense to fellow watercolourists though!? Honestly I use both, of course each has its advantage and I quite like that the old masters were confined, for the most part, to the 'cake'. I have lots, of full and half pan ones as well as other sorts in different grades of expertise and 'light fastness' all depending on what its constituents are. 

Whatever paint you cant use on the spot ultimately dries and becomes a cake anyway, especially out here in our climate! Some of these pigments and binders need to be splashed around and experimented with at least once to experience them first hand and notice how they all vary. I quite enjoyed painting this majestic scene, and rather hope the subject and the composition conveys that . 

I enjoyed it so much I went home and did a painting in monotone, that is; one tone only, using two tubes, however; this time (sepia and titanium white) to achieve a more considered piece limiting my pallet so as to really understand my mediums. My focus was on the depth, of course values and the overall mood, that to me is vital in my expression of the landscape. Now for the same with snow!

bonus 'process shot': first transparent sepia wash

May 06, 2017

Colours on the road

watercolour on paper

Welcome to the wilderness of Africa!

Photos can be so dissapointing, but I include this one because a panaromic can atleast be inspected closer, and seeing the sum 180 degrees at once is also sort of close to describing the impact of the location.

I have traveled a bit up and down, within our borders. Not nearly enough, but I have seen some of it, and enjoyed it. And to me its quite important at the moment in handling the landscape. My point is that it is so extraordinary to see these landscapes, and feel the mood of them. Of course light and thus time of day, everything considored, I am not sure that many greater pleasures await me ahead, than getting down to it and painting, on location, in whatever medium.


Recently, I had a good deal of fun and did some painting at ‘Asante Sana’ (of Lion King fame), a Swahili word for ‘thanks, or thank you very much’. Also ‘jambo” as in howsit! or habariaco is ‘how are you’. Anyway, Forgotten St. Petersburg (renamed Asante Sana), which in part turns 200 years old very shortly is just three hundred stone throws from the (R63) gravel road, as the crow flies going north. This area is a constant inspiration. It is peace and quiet and a blanket of beauty.

Here are the co ordinates.

The park is nestled at the very end, in a cul-de-sac of mountains, right under the Sneuberg range, who's peaks are laden with snow come the winter time, a famous landmark of the old frontier. It is a timeless and present place.

I was kindly taken into this lovely setting by the most unlikely of people, a household of very proficient creatives and friendly conservation enthusiasts, monkey and baboon types and some normal ones. All very hospitable and awesome. It has been so wondeful, so just in way of thanks as well to those who may read this, Asante sana!

photo by Kitty Viljoen

Now on to art.
Feeding grounds

This sketch is done plein air, fairly saturated washes of colour, from the tube this time, but quite soft due to my working it more and more wet, making the most of the atomizing spray-bottle I had on hand. A very crucial watercolour outdoor or anywhere painting tool to be sure. 

I thought about just adding maybe; a Rhino but then decided it was better left as said!

18.5' x 10'
Reserve view at Dusk

This one was done very much on the spot, and that was at the top of a little elevation overhung by trees (for neutral light to paint under) on the side of a road, and looking streight across at the Sneuberge. It was framed in leaves although I didnt include those, licence they say!

This view and composition was so beautiful to my eye, I simply got stuck in. It was really one of those thrilling moments.

6' x 5'
Peppertree house

On the right, done from photo reference back in the studio of
one of the old cottages.

It was so much fun and in happily recounting it I only hope Ive conveyed at least some practical information, my intention as
always the art and that certainly makes it worth my while!


More on the region and landscapes of the karoo next time.