Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Where will the road take us?

I suspect that all maps are copyrighted! So even though I am looking at an attractive little map of the West Coast region, I cannot post it here. I do have a longish canvas, though, and maybe I should just paint a map as well! The road in my painting is the road between Yzerfontein and Darling. We are still in the season of clouds, not quite winter anymore and not what we would call warm enough to venture out without something warm to wear. The windmill is a well known landmark as it is suddenly visible on the top of a blind rise, complete with its dam and awesome clumps of arum lilies.

In my next blog we will follow this road and beyond to visit the very picturesque Riebeeck Kasteel, where beauty abounds around every corner. It is connected with some very old South African history. I am going to do at least five paintings, and I expect having a difficult time choosing the images as there is so much to experience! You will love Riebeeck Kasteel!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Gathering Rain Clouds

Something we love about the West Coast is that without buildings to obstruct the view, there is a lot of sky! Three mornings ago, I looked out to see what the day would be like. Oh, oh! (to quote my grandchildren.) A bruised-looking sky held the promise of a day full of chilly spells and outpourings. For the first time on this blog, I picked up a large canvas as my usual 9 x 12 format would not be able to tell the story. This is the resulting easel painting. The mass of a neighbour's home in the lower right hand corner anchors the composition.

The Western Cape Biosphere is a Unesco protected area. The natural fynbos are kept in its pristine state. Therefore we do not plant trees, roses or anything that will spread its seeds through the fynbos. As the early morning sun catches a few cloud borders here, the abundant sprays of the wild purple pelargoniums are also highlighted.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Rocky Outcrops at Kabeljoubank

We have an unpredictable spring season on the West Coast, today was sunny but cold. On such days I do not drive the 30km to Darling, but find something to paint close to home. Kabeljoubank offered this flower-scattered scene which is not far from where I painted the snoek guy and the old gate on previous occasions. I love to take my visitors here as it is a small distance from my home. Every boy and his dog will always climb the outcrop on the left where you can see the footpath going up.

After the rain the sea will hit these rocks with such force that you can see the massive surge of spray over the top. It did not bode well for passing ships in days of old. This is where The British Peer met its end in 1896. We still pick up rounded red pebbles which are really wellworn pieces of the bricks which were used as ballast on the ship.
In the distance in my painting is the little campsite of Ganzekraal, with a 350yr old name. Here on the fence the snoek are often hanging in their hundreds to dry out. There are wild ostriches living here and the trick is to photograph them when they are standing with Table Mountain in the background. Well, maybe I have done that far too often!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Coffee and Books

If you need coffee for the shot of caffeine, you can drink it on the run. If you like books that are page-turners you can rush into a news agency in a large shopping centre and grab your books, then read them in a weekend! Not for me! I loooooove coffee and I have to drink it in a pretty peaceful place. I also loooooove reading: the slow sort of book, choosing it, discussing it with a knowledgable shop owner, taking it home and finding a place for it on my shelves, that is all part of the experience.

By now I know what you are going to ask: Is that the West Coast way of doing things? It is, and I am guiding you through two large maroon gates near Evita se Perron in Darling to see beyond. It is the Mantis Mall again, and this time I have painted some of the outside coffee tables and the pretty Book League, where Anne and Wendy will always find what you need or order it, tell you who has written a new book and when will it be on the shelves.

The feeling here is so much like some small places in Europe, in the Central Coast of California, and certain towns in Australia. Let us hope that modernisation will not take over such peaceful lifestyles.

Monday, September 7, 2009


"Nothing in Nature is more beautiful than a wildflower. Every smallest one of them has grown in perfect symmetry" Asteraceae, daisies, gousblomme, whatever you prefer to call them, lead the pack of wildflowers in the Cape Floral Kingdom. Nothing at all is visible during winter. They leave you worrying: will they bloom this year? And then one sunny morning you have a blinding display which continues for about 7 weeks through August and September.

Do you remember the snoek drying on the fence at Kabeljoubank in the cooler months? This scene is also up there.... to the south is Table Mountain, to the west is the ocean. Have you noticed that old fences, wiring and gates that are no longer needed are just left where they are? I love this old gate here. It provides a focal point to the composition.

(quote in the beginning from: Dr Winifred G Wright - Natal, a Rambler's Pocket Guide)

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Showtime in Darling

It is the month of September and visitors from all over descend on the surprisingly small but so significant town of Darling. In my attic gallery I have sold paintings to people from Pretoria, Moqambique, Namibia and France, all coming here to experience the wonderful Cape Floral Kingdom. Darling is a little distance from the sea, close enough for the sea air but far enough to miss the salt spray and the flowers are magnificent!

I am painting the arum lilies which I obtained legally.....the fines for picking these treasures are extremely heavy. On the radio, television and in the papers there are warnings not to buy them from street vendors. I am talking lilies, but visitors should park and walk the routes where the world's most beautiful and very colourful smaller flowers are hiding in marshy areas. If you want to take in all the flowers together there is the annual Darling Wildflower Show and the annual Orchid Show later this month.

There is a nest of wonderful guest houses, restaurants and very original entertainment. Leading the program is the Voorkamerfest, where live shows and plays are performed in various private homes. There are seven different routes. For each ticket the visitor is transported by minibus taxi to three very different surprise venues. (all routes fully booked out for 2009). And in between theatre-going and dining, guests can follow the Darling Art Route, visiting 13 different homes and galleries in town. Visit me at no 3 ......

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Churning Them Out

The idea to paint some of the arum lilies brought to the studio by Karen of Lelieblom, was a good idea and it tends to relax my visitors when they watch me doing it. I was so pleased with all the comments I received after the last blog. Many interesting facts regarding these flowers came forward, especially regarding the edibility. MacTeddy dared me to try a dish made of the young leaves, suggesting that it may taste like baby spinach. Theresa from Geneva had already enjoyed a delicious dish in Japan where the stalks were used, and in Texas, 'rianreyneke' can buy a spicy filled leaf, a sort of wrap!

Arum lilies are standing thick along our roads. On a cold day like today when all the other flowers in the Cape Floral Kingdom close up, arums still stand in glorious display. The most beautiful scene year after year is seeing black/white cows lying down on top of large patches of lilies, always on a spot where it will be dangerous to stop the car for a photo!!!! After learning of the medicinal use of the flowers, I begin to suspect that cows by instinct do something good for their bodies. "I say, Daisy, shall we take The Cure this year?"

I forgot to tell you that the preferred name among Afrikaans people is the lovely-sounding 'aronskelke'. Maree mentioned in the comments that she used to have a black arum lily in her garden, and sometimes I have come across a rather sharp yellow example. I wonder, did nature produce them, like the creamy white ones here in our fields, or was man in an experimental mood?