Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Beauty of Silence

The appeal of the West Coast lies in the great expanses of the landscape, the stark simplicity that is so easy to find around here. Follow our coast and you will see long stretches of pristine and lonely beaches. Sometimes there might be a man and his dog, a solitary angler, a backpacker!

Because it is winter here, I make use of photos taken by guest photographers. Today you meet the vibrant and well-known Yzerfontein personality, Mary Ann Bosch. She is an elegant and charismatic lady, darting around chatting, cooking and serving diners in their restaurant, Kaijaiki! She runs a B&B too. Because of her deep empathy with the human condition, she studies hard to be a life coach and will soon graduate in her course in Counselling and Communication. Her plan is open her own clinic in her peaceful seaside home near Yzerfontein. Also, with her first professional assignment as photographer, a Saldanha Bay wedding within a few months, she will once again have her hands full!

Busy, busy!!But to bring her whole being into balance , Mary Ann steps out on the beach with her camera, loving the early mornings and the time of dusk. She replenishes her soul in line with her motto: "I cannot give when I am empty." I thank her for the inspiration for this painting, from her photo of Langebaan lagoon that speaks so well of the "beauty of silence".

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Paternoster Wedding

Anri was born on the West Coast and was fortunate as a young adult to spend five years on a farm outside Paternoster. She knew then that she would like to get married here one day. Young people almost always leave our quiet shores and Anri worked in both the Netherlands and then settled in London. Here she met Rodrigo and the dream took shape!

As I painted Anri, her feet grounded in the soil (ah, in fact it is very clean sand!) of her birthplace and her eyes on the wonderful Rodrigo, the painting started to become very symbolic. They are turned away from us, towards their future overseas. The little boat points to a distant place too. I chose very controlled colours so that everything would echo the sea, sand and sky. Don't you just love the eye contact of the couple, fingers entwined and the groom's pants gamely rolled up?And of course, that lovely dress that leaves us speechless!

My thanks to West Coast photographer Marie Malherbe for the use of some of her material for the painting..

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Chimneys and Saplings

150 x 200 Acrylic on canvas board.

I am still finding lovely details in the homes of Paternoster, details that salute the cottages of the past. A chimney, of course is most important. All the fishermen's cottages used to have enormous wood-firing ovens inside with plastered outside chimneys. I showed many of these chimneys in cottages in my earlier posts last year. Here you see a modern version.

Then there were saplings, the almost straight thin branches used for ceilings, and in my painting used as veranda coverings. In my own home saplings give a cozy atmosphere to the main bedroom. There are 3 paintings in this little set now, and I will leave it at that. The photo shows the set together.

It is shiveringly cold in the Cape at the moment. Not being able to leave the house or to travel at all, I have rounded up some friends who gave me photographic material for the next three West Coast stories. There are some paintings taking form at this very moment. The first of these: another West Coast bride! Remember Canadian beauty, Melissa in my older blog The Bride and the Sea? So I am painting my second wedding painting!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Boat Planter

I am still captivated by the detail that makes up the brilliant white, postcard pretty Paternoster! So, what is in fact happening here is that another set of paintings is developing.

The town's historical role of fishing village is nowadays also echoed in the newer homes. Here we see an old boat painted, anchored with some rocks from the ocean and turned into an attractive planter. This is not a one-off idea! I love the fact that there are street upon street of these boats in front of the cottages. In my painting, the flowers are once again orange, the complimentary colour for the blue shutters.

p/s I am reading through this post many months later! Strange that this little painting remains in the Top Five most popular posts of all my work! It was sold in Pretoria during my exhibition.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Windows and Walls

Driving through the small town of Paternoster, I am starting to concentrate on the lovely details that make up the whole of this successful architectural venture. Of course, because this is a rather chatty sort of blog, you must refer to the experts if you want to build a proper West Coast cottage. The information will be available at VASSA ( Vernacular Architecture Society South Africa).

The walls should be roughly plastered. As the first freed slaves and early fisherman a few hundred years ago did not have all the tools, one should try to emulate the true texture of early West Coast cottages! The cement was made in lime kilns as I have explained in an older blog. This lime was also mixed with salt to "paint" the walls white.

Windows and doors were made from the salvaged wood from the many ships that met their ends on this coast. As the ships were painted for protection, the locals would always try to get hold of paint to repaint their woodwork. Blue and sometimes green were the preferred colours. Today the (mostly new) blue shutters, doors and windows give unity to the street scenes. I loved the way the orange aloes complimented the blue shutters in this scene. And please do not miss the rocks on the roof placed as if they are anchoring the corrugated roof and chimney. Ah, detail is everything!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Cape Columbine Lighthouse

The Cape Columbine Lighthouse is on the South side of Paternoster where it is built high on Castle Rock in a nature reserve. The rewards from spices and porcelain from the East must have outweighed the dangers for many merchant ships from Europe. How else would they sail along the treacherous West Coast of the Cape with its offshore reefs, knowing that they could easily share the watery grave of in excess of 200 ships?

This very attractive lighthouse is unusual in shape as it was built in the popular Art Deco style of the 1930's. It was the last manned lighthouse in South Africa and was a sensation because of its flashing lamp that replaced earlier oil- and- wick systems. It is visible for 32 nautical miles and the safety of current-day ships is also assured by radio signals and a foghorn.

I finished this scene some days ago. I added these close-up seagulls to the composition. But now I am somewhat puzzled and doubtful....can such a scene where the artist is supposed to be on ground level, but a bird's eye view prevails, really exist? Nevertheless, we will let it pass!

As I write this last paragraph prior to having my blog printed, I have to marvel at how difficult it is for an artist to appreciate a recently- finished painting. Now I am able to call this work successful! It was featured many times on RedBubble where it is available as a card or print!