Friday, November 28, 2008

Painting at the Yacht Club

On Monday we painted at the local yacht club, I am trying to simplify, abstract and reduce to the essence of the subject. This is my attempt using oil paints.

I had quite a scary experience and I wonder if anybody else has had this experience:- some of my friends are using Liquin, a fast-drying medium with their oils. I used it once before when painting in my studio and I had a horrific headache after a few hours of painting. I was not sure then that the headache was due to the Liquin.
This time, I thought I would be okay out in the open, but of course I had to pack it all in my car to get home and the smell was very strong. After an hour or so my head started pounding and I became very nauseous, well it got worse and I felt really horrible. This went on for 18 hours! I phone my artist/doctor friend who said that these solvents can be incredibly toxic and I probably have an efficient body that raises the alarm when exposed to toxic products. I still feel woolly headed even after 4 days!
I don’t get any adverse reactions my acrylic paints so I think I am going to stick to using them.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Premio Dardos Award

My dear blogger friend, Kim has sent me this award, I feel truly honoured!

This award is given for recognition of cultural, ethical, literary, and personal values transmitted in the form of creative and original writing and art work ...that's the general idea. I am truly honored to receive it. Thank you millions Kim.
The rules of this award are as follows:
*Show the image of the award on your blog.
*Link back to the blog that gave the award.
*Nominate 15 other blogs that you consider deserving the same. (What? 15?)
*Leave a message on the blogs of those you’ve selected.
So here is my list of nominations:
Some of you may already have this award, isn't great that you are being nominated more than once!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Painting at Oude Molen

Plein Air painters are often a fascination, attracting interested visitors with many questions and well-meaning advice! This four-legged nosy-parker fairly startled my friend, Lyn Northam while sketching at the Oude Molen farm near Pinelands in Cape Town.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Weaver Birds at Die Oog

Just thought I would share this photo with you. Recently, my painting group visited a tiny nature reserve in the heart of Cape Town’s suburbia, called “Die Oog”, (The Eye). This tiny patch of wetland is preserved by the local residents and has become home to many species of birds. It is almost too beautiful to paint!
I was watching a few Weaver birds building their nests in a Willow tree, over the water. These little birds were so industrious, coming back and forth with bits of foliage in their beaks, sewing the bits into their beautifully created homes. I caught these two neighbours stopping for a break and chat. I do wonder what they were saying to each other, the conversation was very animated.
These birds build apartment-like nests, often 100 to 300 in a single tree, often over water for protection. The male builds the nest and tries to entice the female with his wonderfull building skills.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


I few years ago, I attended two workshops conducted by a well-known South African artist, Judith Mason. Our project for the second workshop was to create an oil painting, called legacy. Our painting had to show something about our lives at the time, so that our grandchildren may in years to come, have a glimpse into the year 2004.
Initially I placed a large tree with huge roots predominantly in the painting. My newly deceased dog also was centrally placed, with images of my significant others being reflected in shards of a broken mirror. This painting is about the changes that occurred in my life at the time of the workshop. Both my children decided to live permanently in the UK, my lovable, faithful dog died and we moved out of our large family home into something more suitable for two people. On the fourth day of the workshop, I became so choked up with emotion, I couldn’t complete the painting. Looking back, I was not used to painting such emotive subjects; I painted boring landscapes and still life’s that were devoid of any special meaning to me. I wanted to destroy the painting, but couldn’t throw away the images of my loved ones so I merely cut that part of the painting from the stretcher and kept the piece of canvas in the cupboard of my studio.
Recently, I have taken a more intuitive and personal approach to my painting. I retrieved what was left of the painting and decided to complete it. I moved the image of my dog to the right side with him looking over us as he always did. I painted a self-portrait in the centre shard, since this painting is really about me; and painted an image of our family home over the roots of the existing tree. The sky above the house turns from sunny to menacing, shards of a broken mirror fall to the left of me, completing the circular composition. It is strange to try and remember how I felt at that time and how my life is so different now. It has been extremely therapeutic completing this painting!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

I have been Tagged!

I have just been tagged by Kim!
This is a really fun way to get to know your blogger friends! The rules of this great game are:-
1. Put a link in your posting to the person who tagged you.
2. List seven (7) unusual things about yourself.
3. Tag seven (7) other bloggers at the end of your post and comment on their blogs to let them know.

Have a look on Kim's site to see her seven unusual things!

Here are my seven things about myself:-
1. I went to school in three different countries by the time I was nine.
2. I am hyper-sensitive!
3. I was a chorus-girl! I met my husband on the stage, he was my partner in the operetta, Pirates of Penzance.
4. I have brought about 80 babies into this world! I bet I had you worried there for a minute – I was a Midwife/Registered Nurse.
5. I drove a mobile clinic around the dusty farmlands of the Eastern Cape, three of us being the only health care the farm workers had easy access to.
6. I am an army Mum; my son is in the British army and is serving in Afghanistan at the moment.
7. I spent 8 months in Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates last year, while my husband was consulting to a Sheikh.
The seven (7) bloggers that I am tagging are:-

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

A Painting Sold!

Let the Winds of the Heavens Dance between You

I am so thrilled! I sold my Kahlil Gibran painting at the Kirstenbosch exhibition to a lady from Finland! This was one of the paintings that was rejected at a recent selection day - I have dabbed on it since, I added a shawl on the woman's shoulder, which makes a strong triangular shape and played down the face of her partner. I had varnished the painting and had to go out and buy a varnish remover so I could make some changes!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Exhibition at Kirstenbosch

I am participating in a group exhibition at a gallery in our National Botanical Gardens. The thatched exhibition hall is well lit and can fit about 220 paintings.
This photo is a view of the gallery with the back of Table Mountain behind.
We spent the whole of Friday hanging the paintings, each artist gets a space where he/she hangs their own paintings and then we hang a mixture of everyone’s work in the front veranda of the hall. There is always a wonderful buzz and a sense of expectation on the hanging day. The artists all come out of the woodwork and we have quite a social day together.

At midday on Saturday, we held an Opening party, with a good deal of food and drink. My family and friends are great supporters of mine and always enjoy the day. My anxiety levels were sky-high before the Opening, when will I ever get used to this? I think it relates to my putting up new experimental work. I have moved away from painting what might sell, I now try to paint just for myself. When you hang paintings up for a public viewing, you can’t help but wonder what people are going to think, you are bareing your very soul. My poor elderly parents look quite bemused at what I am producing, they think I have a screw loose! My work looked very different from all the other paintings; I am used to blending in and being one of the crowd. They kind of stand out; this is incredibly scary, a bit like running around in your underwear in public!

Me with my 80-year-old Dad at the opening!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Creativity and Self-discipline

You must be wondering how I can link the above two concepts? I have found that if I am to live my life creatively, I have to have some sort of self-discipline. In order to work on my creative projects every day, I have to organise my time and show up in the studio, even if I am not feeling particularly creative.
Although I love painting with a passion, I can be very easily distracted, since having no immediate boss to take note of how much time I spend at the coal-face, a million other things can come between me and my work.
I need to plan my day carefully if I am to get a good bit of painting done. The other distractions come from phone-calls with friends and a husband who also works from home and is a great one for taking a break and having chats over regular cups of tea.

Below are two interesting quotes:-

“Self-discipline without talent can often achieve astounding results, whereas talent without self-discipline inevitably dooms itself to failure”.
Sydney Harris (newspaper columnist)

“I know quite certainly that I myself have no special talent. Curiosity, obsession and dogged endurance combined with self criticism have brought me my ideas”.
Albert Einstein

I am participating in an exhibition at Kirstenbosch, our National Botanical Gardens, from Saturday for a week, so wish me luck!
Due to the current economic climate, I am not sure if the sales will be any good. A painting is a luxury purchase and everyone is being careful in these uncertain times.

I have a lovely new concept for my art journal, I now print out all the wonderful comments left on my blog and paste them in my journal next to the relevant entry.

Monday, November 3, 2008

"Dance with Passion" Acrylic 122 x 45cm

I have been working on this painting, along with a few others for a few months now, I think it is resolved and finally complete. I keep changing its view point, on its side, it makes quite a gentle forest scene!