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Saturday, December 18, 2010

West Coast Wishes

This will be my last post of 2010. For me it was a lovely year with many West Coast paintings sold both locally and all over the world, thanks to the Internet.

To wish you well, I am using a framed effect I made in watercolours, containing our most popular images: the boats, the cottages, fisher folks, a gull and a delicious pot of mussels!


Thursday, December 9, 2010

Diamonds on the West Coast


Diamonds, like all other products, have been given to man to utilize and create jobs. If you are not into the romantic side of these blingy bits, consider that they are also very useful in industry because of their hardness and strength.

I found these lovely colourful diamond trawlers at Lambert's Bay, the best area for maritime diamond mining. This industry has only been commercially viable since the 1990's. Seabed crawlers can be remote controlled but mostly divers are needed. These divers, who can only work about six days per month because of our famous stormy waters, have to work in the cold of the Atlantic Ocean for up to 8 hours. When they spot diamond-bearing gravel on the seabed they direct the suction hoses towards it.

The gravel is then pumped onto sorting tables. When the boats return, the diamonds are taken ashore. What I loved about this scene was the hollow hoses floating on top of the water, providing seating for hundreds of Cape Cormorants.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Purple Ragwort (Senecio arenarius)








I am painting the last of the purple ragwort flowers of the season! Because I water my garden twice a week some of them survived a bit longer than they would in the field.

Ragwort make a wonderful display in springtime, colouring the fields around us to a purple landscape. The flowers are pretty but poisonous to humans and livestock as it is said to affect the liver. Yet my beloved voles, which I painted a few months ago, are vegetarians and find ragwort such a treat. It is just too cute to see the flowers in those little hand-like paws! I have found that if you move past a window or stir a curtain the voles are gone! They are extremely sensitive. Maybe the early morning sun blinded them a little this morning, so I stood behind the glass and got the photos I have been yearning for. I hope to invest in a telephoto lens for my camera, to catch some better shots in future. In the meantime I present Mr and Mrs Vole eating their purple ragwort breakfast.

I also paint these purple flowers to celebrate my brand-new purple blogspot : French Belles by Marie Theron. (http://frenchbelles.blogspot.com/) Be sure to visit this blog and see me having fun with small paintings and fashion!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving






A year has passed and again I break away from the West Coast theme to wish my American children and friends Happy Thanksgiving. My daughter Helen in Texas is cooking up a storm for her family and friends. I enjoyed Thanksgiving so much when I was there in November 2000. Ah, the yams, oven-baked with layers of apples in between, really complemented the turkey which my sun-in-law baked in an outside oven! Spending very little on "props and flowers", she always creates a most beautiful table setting. Yesterday she told me: " Mom, we embrace this holiday, because there are always so much to be thankful for!"

The friends I want to send these wishes to are the few I know in person and the many kind people I have met and chatted with in the blogging world and the social media. I include the over 1600 secret and very silent US people who have visited my blog the last eighteen months. Enjoy, everyone!

This painting of a very South African-looking pumpkin farm is part of about 10 paintings I made when I was still planning my blog, then of course I decided on another formula of smaller and historically correct works. So these paintings have not been framed or exhibited. They fit nowhere in my oevre, but Mitzy the Maltese thinks that they do give some colour to her corner!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Darling Angels










We could not believe that such a day was possible in the middle of summer: cold, wet, windy, the Full Cape Treatment! But, it was the day of the opening of the "Angels" Exhibition in our closest little town, Darling. I thought I would say very little (only this: The glass of Ormonde wine was very welcome!) and rather show lots of photos of the work of my closest artist friends and myself. My own contribution was two very sweet angels, first and second photos and one serious one. There is also a photo of the Mantis Art Gallery where it was held.

I need to say more of my serious angel. I saw this image as a large sculpture in Budapest when I had a solo exhibition there. It was midday and my photo showed a shadow so dark, it looked like a sharp gash through the sculpture. I loved the idea of going against all the rules in art to show a very strong vertical like that through the painting. It can resemble a Cross....and with it evoke some inner emotion and loneliness.

For this exhibition we concentrated on small 8x8 affordable artworks.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Fiscal Shrike




I took a photo of the lovely program for the Slice of Life Exhibition. How neat the gallery looks! This show with it's mass of even-sized paintings will run until the 21st of January 2011. I hope to receive some news about my set of birds! I could have painted 5 gannets and 5 of seagulls, but am so fond of sets of four, that I filled the remaining two blocks with something different. So here is the image of my little shrike.

As you know, there are no trees here on the West C0ast, so all the small birds around here perch themselves on top of the bushes that we call "fynbos". The fiscal shrike is such a cute round little creature as he scans the world all around for insects. I have never came upon a fiscal shrike larder here, but as a child we had a barbed wire fence and my dad would call us every time he found a larder....oh my, what a grizzly experience that was for a little girl!!! But I never missed a chance to see crickets, worms and grasshoppers impaled on pieces of barbed wire, left there to dry in the breeze like our fisherman do with the snoek and bokkoms!

Do you know the Fiscal Shrike? It lives all over our country, but this little one was sitting only a few meters from the ocean.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Chincherinchees (Ornithogalum thyrsoides)





With the end of the wildflower season in sight, I want to tell you about the flowers you probably know as "chinks". Summer is getting warmer and all over the fields they are now drying off.

The Greeks, and some sources say the Romans, would describe something that was amazing, incredible and wonderful as "birds milk" which in translation would be ornis + gala. From there the scientific name Ornithogalum. South Africans claimed to have heard a ching sound when picking at the stems and that gave us the common name for this flower: Chincherinchees.

You know by now that Kabeljoubank where I live is absolutely steeped in history and culture. Here the British Peer and her crew perished in 1896, and we still see pieces of their red bricks ballast, rounded and shrunk by ocean movement to the size of pebbles. Here, also, if people will look where I direct them, (a photographers dream....but nobody is interested) the process of snoek drying in the seabreeze can be seen.

But this is the nicest Kabeljoubank story of all: Between the two world wars, tourists who had travelled to Cape Town by ocean liner or train, would sometimes in spring and early summer hire a horse cart and travel the distance to Kabeljoubank for a picnic. They admired the beautiful views, the bluest ocean, the fields of spring flowers. One of the sights they saw was the picking of chincherinchees (in bud form) to be exported to Covent Garden where they were sold, a popular flower which can last for weeks in a vase.

Of course my vases at home bear nothing of the sort, as all our flowers in the Cape Flower Kingdom are now protected! To be admired, photographed, sketched, but never to be picked! The first image is my painting, the second the veld next to my studio with ragwort and chinkerinchees, then a bunch I photographed at the annual Wild Flower Show and lastly a little macro photo I took. Do not forget to let me know if you have ever seen or grown "chinks"!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

A Slice of Life Exhibition







After all the anticipation to attend the opening, the day of week, the time of day and the great distance prevented me from attending the opening of the exhibition. Avril who owns the gallery wrote so well about it on the morning after that I am going to quote him here: " Difficult to describe unique events like these. Crazy, ridiculous, exciting, enjoyable, all at the same time. Maybe "memorable" is a fair description. Many, many guests and few serious problems. One of those events one has to attend to really appreciate.
Since the gallery opened for business on 20 September 2007 I always wanted to do a real "opening", where the paintings are "unveiled". And this was the golden opportunity to do it. Imagine the curtains coming down and 600 paintings becoming fully visible all at once. I enjoyed the exercise, and according to all accounts most guests did!

In my photos this week I show my ten works together, followed by all my seagull paintings.

Living here next to the coast, I can see a lot of individualism in the seagulls. The leaders, the lookouts, the extremely young and the old and overweight birds all represent themselves...Again I "humanize" them, which I cannot help. Look at the gull I was able to get very close to....he really thought the rope was a safeguard against an approaching human. Then there is the group who seems to wait for a signal from their leader, something like: On your marks, get set, GO! I hope you enjoy my seagull paintings!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

More and more Gannets!






By now I think everyone must realize that I cannot let go of the gannets of Lambert's Bay. Suddenly I see seabirds in my future as an artist: going into more and more detail and entering the world of Wildlife Art by painting the precious and protected birds of the West Coast.

The great exhibition of 630 works by 63 artists, called "A Slice of Life" opens this week in Somerset West. On the 10 wooden blocks I received, I used 4 for my gannets. I showed one piece last week, and here are the three others. You can see how they all look together in the first photo.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

To Market, to Market




This gannet painting sized 8x8 is one of the ten paintings I created for the exhibition I told you about last week. How to describe this amazing concept? The show is called "A Slice of Life" and will show 630 works by 63 South African artists, picked by Avril Gardiner from all corners of the country. Our opening is Wednesday 3rd November 2010. The 630 'slices of life' will be displayed on one wall and will be revealed at 6pm sharp.

Let me assure you, not one of us artists are even allowed to view THE WALL before opening night.I have seen photos of the work of Salome Briers who painted scenes from the Bokaap and District 6, very colourful and beautiful!

My viewer counter here on the blog show that nearly over 2600 unique South Africans have visited my blog. Who ARE you? (like they say in almost every Hollywood film)....you are invited to The Liebrecht Gallery to attend this event! For my friends who cannot attend, I will keep you updated!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

The West Coast at Springtime




I have been working on 10 paintings for an exhibition and finished the last one yesterday! They are all West Coast themes and meant for an invited show of 63 artists each doing 10 paintings of the popular 8 x 8 size. "A SLICE of LIFE "Exhibition will show all 630 paintings on one gallery wall!

Before I start blogging and chatting about these completed works, I would love to show my favourite photos of the coastal flower displays not far from my home during Springtime.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Gardening on the West Coast







In planning a West Coast garden, I decided to take my cue from the surrounding veld. There are no trees in the pristine fynbos, so I did not plant any. This is not a coast of waving palm trees and huge tall plants, and I often see people planting them because they love trees/want shade/want birds/need something tall as a focal point, or for whatever reason. But surely one would then attract the wrong sort of birds, because our Cape Robins, Francolins and Black Oystercatchers sleep on the ground or in low vegetation.

Another rule would be to have no flowers that will self-seed and start spreading into the fynbos. Nasturtiums are a no-no! I plant so that there is always a great display of colour. This is a long narrow garden and I want colour as far as the eye can see. By not trimming and allowing plants to grow together there are never any weeds as there is no room for them. Because of harsh rainless summers you need plants that do not need a lot of water. We are planning to make some "green" plans this year to water the patch of lawn.

In the photos you will notice that I allow the wild pelargoniums, sorrel, watsonias, Livingstone daisies (bokbaai vygies), all types of aloes and ragwort to grow where they want to. I make no division between wild and cultivated plants.

My garden has been photographed by many people who can see it over the walls, and are thrilled by all the colour! This is a garden where I only spend about 4 days working in a year, while the buffalo grass grows vertical and needs trimming about every third week only.

Monday, October 11, 2010

A Wish for the West Coast


When you have been away for a month, you will always look anew at your home turf. In Pretoria, I was charmed by the very positive outlook of people, the lovely climate, the lush parks and gardens. Something that is almost a phenomena is the ability of people up there to create! The markets, whether they are permanent, or held weekly or annually, just have so much that is beautiful and of a high quality.

Back home, I need to make a few fast sketches of some boats at Velddrif. There is a large hall, quite spacious at the little harbour and it is divided into market stalls, but the spark is not there and the visitors are scarce. Seeing that the West Coast is rather poor, it would have been lovely if the same quality home bakes and crafts that we see a few kilometers further in Paternoster could be offered here. This prettiest and most historical of harbours just do not see the visitors it could receive.

Lately, we have seen far too many impersonal malls appear on the West Coast, it would therefore be so meaningful to see this great space at Velddrif become something much more craft-friendly.

Here, once again, I have painted a colourful little boat in the mouth of the Berg River at Velddrif. As you can see it is not seriously realistic! I preferred to play around with some designs, like those repetitive rings!

Monday, October 4, 2010

A West Coast morning exhibition in Pretoria










The moment that I met a new friend, Zelda, on Facebook a year ago, she enthusiastically offered me an informal morning exhibition in Pretoria. To make things easy, I packed mostly smaller and unframed paintings. We could not wish for a lovelier Pretoria spring morning!.

1)The first photo shows the imposing gates of Zelda's home with a mass of sweetpeas in bloom.

2)Soon I had some flowers in my hand for a playful photo-session with my graceful hostess.

3)The paintings stood everywhere between roses, silver bowls and in the pretty garden. This painting of a lighthouse was the first to sell.

4) The cupcakes which the guests had with long girly-type drinks or champagne.

5) More artful cupcakes, as delicious as they look!

6) The antique roses that filled the house.

7) Gentle background music and French songs by Esperance.

8) A tearful meeting with Debbie whom I have met on blogging, Facebook and RedBubble! (The tears of emotion were mine!) And Debbie bought a Paternoster painting of mine!

At the end of the day, I have sold 9 paintings and gave away two little ones as gifts. And of course, Zelda got the autumn doll painting that she loved.