Saturday, December 3, 2011

Some Armchair Travelling

The wind is blowing! (Notice that fed-up Mitzy!) This is the wind that was the terror of ships along the West Coast. The ocean is covered in those white foamy choppy waves we used to call "horses". On Facebook my Cape Town daughter and her friends are debating the wisdom of wearing skirts in the Cape during this season! I think this is the ideal time for some armchair travelling! Or cyber-travelling!

So if you want to read and read and read about our wonderful country, I can recommend some websites (whether they mention early summer windstorms is another question!)

These are the blogs who won the public voting part of the South African Blog Awards. They are big Tourism giants and they know how to promote the country! I have no regrets about entering the Blog Awards as I received many visitors during the week of voting. So without further ado, here are the Best of the Best: Congratulations to them!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Nuweland - Barrels, Baskets and Bottles

Oil on Canvas
(457 x 356mm)

Farm stalls are popular out in the country, and here on the West Coast, such stalls are found along the R27 coastal road . My nearest farm stall is 11 km away and such a treat! Here we can buy fresh home-made bread warm from the oven. On the shelves there are many wonderful preserves, like my personal favourite: green fig preserve, and would you believe, you can also buy farm butter here!

The owner of Vygevallei Farm Stall and Wine Cellar is wine-maker Juan Louw. After experiencing wine-making everywhere in the country and even as far as California and New Zealand, Juan decided that their farm, Nuweland in the Swartland district between Malmesbury and Darling would be ideal for a cellar. Also that Route R27 would be a good position for a wine /farm stall!

It was here that I saw my next painting subject, the beautiful barrels, baskets and bottles, while the family tasted and fell in love with Juan's wines! I love it when the sharp West Coast light casts contrasts of light and shadow inside buildings, as you can see in the forms which I melted together and allowed some detail to dissolve into the background.

Read more on Nuweland Winery and its owner HERE

If your language is Afrikaans, you will be proud to learn that the labels of these wonderful Nuweland Wines are written in Afrikaans! ( Lees die volle artikel in DIE BURGER )

About the Blog Award Finalists I still have no news, but will post links when I receive notice!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

From the West Coast of South Africa: Happy Thanksgiving!

Y'all are busy with cooking preparations and being sociable and thankful, so from the West Coast of South Africa to my dear children and all my friends in the States: HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Work Horses of the Ocean, Saldanha Bay

The Public part of voting in the South African Blog Awards are closed now. Thank you for all the visitors that I have counted on my blog and if you have voted, many thanks. (Late voters, sorry but our Midnight is 8 hours ahead of the USA. Nobody's fault!) I will publish the results on the next post, and provide my readers with links to the 3 best travel blogs.

The painting shows a morning scene in tranquil Saldanha Bay, and the "work horses of the sea", the crayfish trawlers are ready for the early risers who should soon appear to board them.

Saldanha was named after Admiral Antonio de Saldanha, who anchored here in 1503 to look for supplies. He was unfortunately wounded by Khoikoi men. For some time it was thought that Saldanha Bay would become the docking harbour for sailing ships, but water was unobtainable. Thus Table Bay became the major port for ships coming in for supplies.

Now, after three and a half centuries there might be a reversal of roles. With steel and great fisheries there already, Saldanha could begin to play a role in Import/Export of goods. There are plans to expand Saldanha Harbour and give Table Bay Harbour some breathing space.

Back to my painted scene and photos: what a lovely place this is! I wonder if the seagull and the cormorant are eager for the fishing boats to start hauling in their harvest!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The 2011 South African Blog Awards

The first leg of the 2011 South African Blog Awards end 7 days from now! Will you vote for me on that large red icon on the right?

This serene tableau at Saldanha Bay caught my eye. The little yacht seemed quite neglegted and not in use anymore. But how elegant are those lines!!! In real estate one often hears about a house advertised as "a decorater's dream". This could be the yachting equavalent!

We owned a yacht with a Lello form and sailed a lot, as I mentioned before, but don't ask me to count the rigging. I battled so much with those thin lines, there was no way on completing the painting that I was going to go back to see whether they were all there!

Don't forget to vote for me in "Travel" on the 2011 South African Blog Awards! (This is new to me, but we are actually encouraged to canvas for votes.....everyone is welcome to vote but only one vote per e-mail address is allowed)

Friday, October 28, 2011

Even when nothing happens........

The thing with blogging is that it is a true commitment, you start and you have to keep it going. One often sees bloggers feeling just a little bit guilty if they do not blog regularly....and we all admire Nancy Medina and Kelley MacDonald and all those busy little bees who will post every day as sure as the sun rises!

Back at the ranch, being away and having illness in the family, spring cleaning and gardening gets in the way of posting. But "even when nothing happens", things do happen and here are a few for your amazement and amusement:

  1. My "blog book" arrived, beautifully printed with the first 160 posts. How does one feel when you unpack it? I thought that I felt fairly flat, like a student who made a nice little assignment and now what? Send me an e-mail if you would like to page through it online!
The little sapling of Sutherlandia (see previous post) had so much rain, and as I went out this morning this tiny plant had flower buds all over, so we may be drinking a health brew in future!

We visited my children in Durban for 10 days and spend a weekend caring for the menegary of 3 dogs, 5 hamsters and 8 rabbits. What fun! The black rabbit, Benjamin, stays in the girls' room in the day and goes out in the garden at night, being nocturnal! Snowball, very white, is the mom of 5 girls. They live with Dad Peter in the enclosed and sheltered rabbit garden. My daughter was happy about the female rabbits, as sterilizing males are very expensive ! I painted some bunnies in watercolour.

My friend Tatyana Binovskaya has been wanting to paint me for a long time. The end result was a wonderful surprise! Tatyana is so talented!

There is an oil painting of boats on my easel.....if one cannot travel, there are always older photos to work from! So the next post will be about the real West Coast again!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Sutherlandia frutescens or Cancer Bush

A wonderful perk of travelling is getting to try the food of different nations! I think armchair travelling is the same and I found much joy in all the comments I received about waterblommetjies, a traditional dish of the Cape! Now, from food to medicine as I introduce the amazing centuries-old cure, Sutherlandia frutescens, locally known as cancer bush.

Having heard so much about this bush and having noticed it in health tablets, I set off to !Khwa Ttu to buy the plant for my garden. I was lucky, there were saplings for sale! Not only that, but in the indigenous garden the plants were in bloom. The restaurant at !Khwa Ttu also had pots of them as flower arrangements, nicely labelled with info about the plant.

According to the booklet "Gathering Fynbos" written by San experts 2 handfuls of dried leaves and young stems should be added to cold water and boiled for half an hour. One should drink a small glassful once a day. It is claimed to be a great immune booster and beneficial as preventative or cure for pancreatic cancer, aids, kidney disease, diabetes 2, arthritus, fever, gout , urinary tract infection and for treating the mother after delivery. Remember, the San and Khoikoi people for centuries survived without Western medicine!

I needed some good neutral opinion and was pleased to find a very informative website official-looking and honest and never trying to over- glorify the plant. I took this paragraph from their site.

Quality-of-Life Tonic

There is preliminary clinical evidence that Sutherlandia has a direct anticancer effect in some cancers, and also acts as an immune stimulant, but Sutherlandia should not be recommended as a so-called “universal cancer cure”, but rather as a quality-of-life tonic.

  • Mood
    Sutherlandia decreases anxiety and irritability and it elevates mood.
  • Appetite and weight
    It is an established fact that up to a third of cancer patients succumb to the wasting syndrome, rather than the actual tumor mass. Appropriate doses of select chemotypes and varieties of Sutherlandia dramatically improves appetite, and weight-gain can be expected in wasted patients. The first 5 kg gain is common after six weeks of treatment. In patients who are not wasted, weight-gain is not usual.
  • Energy levels and exercise tolerance
    Sutherlandia typically improves the energy levels and exercise tolerance of patients, and gives an enhanced sense of well-being.
The website has all the newspaper and medical reports one can wish for, for those interested in more info about Sutherlandia. If you come across it in health tablets in the States or UK or anywhere, I would love to know! I hope my little plant will thrive so that I can brew some elixir!

The painting was done in watercolours on 300gms watercolour paper. Those rhythmic little stems and the large pea-like red flowers were a tempting subject, tempting enough to make me reach my watercolour paints.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Waterblommetjies (Aponogeton distachyos)

Waterblommetjies also known as Cape pondweed, Cape hawthorn or Cape asparagus, is an ingredient in one of the most loved traditional dishes in the country called waterblommetjie-bredie (This word is a mouthful!!!!) While I lived briefly in other provinces of South Africa, I had to rely on the tinned products to make the popular stew. Here, of course, I am so close to many traditional food sources: only 90 km from where the bokkoms are harvested and a 3 minute walk from crayfish and other seafood. The nearest dams for harvesting waterblommetjies are on Lelieblom Farm in the Darling district. (The farm where I get so much material for my blogs!!)

I find that they appear in the markets more and more and this might mean that they will soon be available in fresh form all over the country. The ones I painted here were from a large fruit and veg market. The first people to utilize these greenish hard little flowers growing on long thin grass-like stems, were the Khoikoi people. They used it in stews, mostly with mutton, onions and potatoes and flavoured with salt, pepper and sorrel. Sorrel, of course grows in springtime so it is available at the same time as the waterblommetjies, and it is used to give a slightly acidic taste to the dish. I do not use the common garden sorrel at all, as it is much safer to have the plant positively verified by an expert. In fact, we will only eat it if three experts point them out! The little sorrel flowers on my cooked dish was placed there briefly for the photo!

Recipes? Just do what comes naturally. I always fry some onions first, then some lamb knuckles, add cubed potatoes and water, stock or wine and prepare for a slow simmer. Add the sorrel only if you know your garden weeds! The waterblommetjies are added last and steams on top of the dish as they soften and break up quickly. Mixed herbs, a little salt and some white pepper are a must. We find this dish filling and would eat it with salad things only, but rice is the traditional accompaniment.

For soup: Steam the waterblommetjies with potato and onion in a little milk and vegetable stock. Flavour with garlic and the usual dried herbs/salt/pepper. Liquidize, serve and enjoy this healthy vegetarian soup with some warm crusty bread.

I was unable to visit a waterblommetjie harvesting, but in the background I painted a man, knee-deep in water, harvesting the plants and putting them in a floating dish.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Master and Commander

A large part of the West Coast consists of farm lands and countryside. In between you will find our beloved small towns, fondly known as "dorpies". The atmosphere is rural, to say the least! I often visit Lelieblom Farm and there I have met some other farmers too. I need to see the milk farms especially because the products from Darling Dairies are well known all over the country in food stores. I also needed an excuse to paint a colourful rooster, so here it is!

The picturesque roosters at Lelieblom Farm are known to rush through the house to reach the front garden as soon as a door opens! I chose to paint this colourful red guy! In the painting I placed him in the foreground so that all else will seem small. Look at that assertive stance! As a little girl I was chased by a ferocious rooster, they do that, don't they? I call my painting "Master and Commander", because of the bossy attitude!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

My West Coast Calendar and some Websites

My WEST COAST CALENDAR is now available in the year of your choice and can be ordered from RedBubble.

Here is the link, and for book readers, here is the site to find it: RedBubble calenders are printed on excellent paper and the images (all 13 of them) may be framed afterwards.

Here are some websites where my work can be seen:

To find my blog:
My fashion fun blog:
Viewing or buying original art:
Calenders, cards and prints:

Monday, August 15, 2011

10 Questions for West Coast Artist Marie Theron

Great excitement today as I have finally decided to have this blog printed in book form up to the 160th post. I decided to include this interview in the book:

Posted on PORTFOLIO Mon, 14 Dec 2009

Marie Theron (whose work was featured on our blog last month) agreed to answer 10 Questions in this month's edition of "10 Questions for South Africans."

This South African artist was so enamoured of the West Coast that she upped-sticks and moved there to be close to her source of inspiration each day.

Don't be surprised if you feel the urge to move to the West Coast yourself after reading what she has to say about this unique region of South Africa!

10 Questions for Marie Theron

1. What place (in SA) do you call home, and why?

I live in a private nature reserve with my studio 80 m from the sea. This position was full of surprises when I first moved here and I slowly got used to the intensity of Nature. Storms are so totally overpowering that I am always reminded of the ships that were wrecked all along the West Coast. On the other hand one can experience a field of colourful wildflowers starting from our garden and stretching as far as the eye can see.

Close to home...

2. Favourite place to have breakfast near(ish) where you live?

Definitely SimonĂ©’s in Darling. Our attractive young restaurateur is always there to welcome you, smiling and chatting and busy as a bee, and the food is superb. The coffee is very good (important in the morning). Edit 15/08/11:This place is no longer in existence, but now we go to !Khwa Ttu, of course)

3. How does a working day in your life look?

I wake up with thoughts of a painting I am working on. Sometimes I will prop up my latest painting in the bedroom while I drink my coffee, to make sure everything is in balance. As my bedroom adjoins the studio I will often start painting whilst still in my night-clothes. A good day will have two sessions of three hours each for painting. I rest and read between sessions. Housework, gardening and blogging are all done in the periods in-between.

Outside Marie's studio

4. What is it about the West Coast that appealed to you so much that you decided to move there?.

The absence of traffic, the proximity of Nature; and because there are no high-rise buildings and few tall trees, the openness of the West Coast has a very special appeal.

A recent painting: 'Workers in Vineyard' - (near Malmesbury)

5. Which SA artists work do you admire?

Peter Midlane’s paintings always stop me in my tracks. He has a true understanding of the South African landscape and puts it down without the sweet sentimentality one often sees.

6. What inspires you (in your work, every day, in life)?

I think to even become an artist in the first place; you have to be inspired by the lives of the Great Masters of Art. Whether they worked unrewarded and unacknowledged or found themselves prosperous, whether they died young for their country or lived to their nineties; whether weak and sickly or full of stamina and health: hardly anyone of them were idle or sat on their laurels! It was work at any cost!

Marie's latest work - 'Arriving in Piketberg'

7. When you’re away from SA what do you miss?

I determine to enjoy travelling and not spend my time longing back, but of course our ocean, our clouds, blue skies and indigenous flowers are the most beautiful.

8. Tell us, briefly, about a positive or unique South African holiday / travelling experience.

There are many of course, depending what you are looking for: the peace of the Highveld of Mpumalanga or the culture of the cities. I think Lamberts Bay is a lovely experience. The birdlife and sea and boats are magnificent. It is impossible to tire of the gannets. Who can ever eat too many crayfish? And for a Saturday evening with the sun setting way past eight, the Muisbosskerm is such wonderful and relaxed eating experience!

Lambert's Bay - a lovely destination

9. Who is your South African hero, and why?

Can I change that to a town I admire? Then I will choose cheeky Darling, full of breezy confidence. They are as hard hit by the slump in the world economy as anywhere else, but there is no letting up, no slacking. A visitor can find something pleasant to do, somewhere to go almost any night of the week! You will always find smiling, positive people there.

10. Once you’ve run out of inspiration along the West Coast where will you be heading?

It is impossible to run out of West Coast material. I have hardly touched the sea and all it has to offer in critters, birds and boats. There is the San history and the Moravian missions. There are so many fynbos species (a painting of a special plant is coming up on my blog on Christmas morning.) The more I speak with people the more stories, places and legends of the West Coast are revealed, so hopefully I will just paint on and on…….

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Awesome Sunsets

Sunsets at Kabeljoubank!!! Having lived here for so many years, our sunsets still remain a spectacular phenomenon! Is there some science, I often wonder, like the science that can measure sound to measure this burst of colour? Should there not be a formula by which I can measure the variety and intensity?

There are evenings when the waves stubbornly "ignore" the sunset and remains unmoved! Then again, like some weeks ago, everything was tainted pink, right up to the pebble-stones at my feet.

I posted some photos of our sunsets and by contrast, the sunset photo I took on the East Coast of Zanzibar last week! I realise that "Bambi Boerbok" has been on show on my blog far too long! Now you know where I've been! :-)

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Bambi Boerbok

What a strange title, you may say! But our true South African Boerbokke or Boer Goats are a strong and healthy breed, world famous and already bred in places as diverse as Norway, Texas, New Zealand and Australia. I am fortunate, because for me to see a true farm on the West Coast, I need only need to head for Lelieblom Farm near Darling. The wonderful thing about Lelieblom is it's realness, maintained in a natural old-fashioned style by Mike and Karen Basson! This is not a farm bought by investors and turned into a pedicured and rebuilt 5-star international resort (as happened to many farms the last couple of years); but a real-life African farm reminiscent of the earlier settler days.

I love the earth, the barn-turned-home & farm restaurant, the poultry running around and all the farm animals - an artist's dream, as Maree would say! Most of all, I love the sight of these Boerbokke! I asked Karen about their natures and had to laugh at the answer I received: "friendly, curious, and extremely naughty! No garden, fence or tree is safe with them around!" (In vain I asked Karen for some wild aloes- they were all eaten! Ouch!)

Today I present TWO paintings. Pretty Bambi Boerbok is so sweet! Those pink lips turn into whiskers and he will sport a beard later on! Lucky are those with black or brown faces as the colour protect their eyes! I painted the background all white and quickly dabbed and in the stones, grass and foliage, all wet-in-wet.

The second painting is a large fantasy scene, which I later want to paint larger still! The animals and background belong to Lelieblom Farm but the girl and fence were imagined. It is called Sweet Sleep at Noon, based on a poem by Virgil. This work is an oil on canvas board and I used the little wooden artist's mannikin to work out the proportions for the girl.