Sunday, February 27, 2011

A West Coast Studio

A lovely week started with a sale of 5 paintings from my French Belles series. Those were the first sales of this year. This event was followed up with a good clean-up! I needed to re-plan my work space and decided to get all my framed works on the wall as the frames get knocked all the time when they lie around. Here are photos of the completed studio.

My large collection of History of Art books are not in this room, only practical books and art magazines. You can see the work triangle formed with two antique tables where I have a small easel for sitting down, and a large one for standing. The tables are also ideal when grandchildren visit. (Alas, they all live far away) I cover them with plastic table cloths and the kids do what they like. Old paintings get a layer of gesso and become their canvasses. I keep all my old brushes for that reason too.

Friday, February 18, 2011

The Restless Ocean - completed

This is the first painting that really gave me heart palpitations. It is both restless and restful! I drag it from room to room in my house. In some areas it looks far too bright, too turquoise, and in a different location it looks serene and calm!

For the last couple of years, I have taken the sea for granted, because every window on two sides of the house have a view. Now, I cannot pass a window without really staring. Since yesterday I have picked up a lot of detail that is NOT in this painting, but will be in the next. For instance: the white foam on the summit of the wave has a shadow of its own, like snow, it is not just white. Also, there is green in the large waves, not my soft peppermint whisper of a colour, but a ferocious darkish green. There is so much to learn!

These photos show the completed painting 1000mm x 750mm. I include some details in the post too, because the seagulls lifting up from the rocky outcrop was such a delightful detail, I had to do it well. There is variation in the colours of the photos too: too much blue sky when I shot them. Our best photos are taken on overcast days.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Work in Progress

I have started a large painting of 760mm x 1000mm. The fearsome white canvas becomes quite tame as soon as it is covered with the first layer of paint! You work different muscles with the broad sweeps of the brush, though, and my upper arm is feeling somewhat stiff at the moment.

As a theme, I decided to do a larger version of my first painting of the year, so this is once again a view of the ocean close to home. The sky looks very serene and has a lot of areal perspective, so I am satisfied with that. But the waves are much too restless. I will not even touch the rocks or birds before this ocean starts "behaving"!

The second photo shows my studio with my work triangle formed with an old table and an old yellow-wood desk.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Salt of the Earth

Salt, at some stage, was a very pricey commodity. Roman soldiers were paid in salt (salaria), which they could then use to trade for other things. Thus salary had its origin in "salt". And a good soldier was inevitably worth his salt (or not). Salt has become common over time and we seldom give it a second thought now.

Here at Velddrif on the West Coast, with its fields of brilliant white salt pans, a lot of salt finds its way into packaging and from there into the shops.This salt is extracted from sea brine which is pumped into pans to dry. There are plain and iodised table salt and some health salts with added spices, as well as coarse salt that is so attractive in a salt grinder.

But wait for it: khoisan salt, used for centuries by the first inhabitants of this country, is truly the queen of salts! It is natural, unsieved, unrefined, solar, hand harvested sea salt. The best product is "the cream of the salt" skimmed from the top and dried in a special way. The end result is Fleur de Sel salt flakes which was named one of the 5 top salts in the world. My painting shows a busy little scene at the salt works. Healthy khoisan salt is sold in all the curio shops, markets and restaurants around Velddrif and Langebaan.

We have recently bought a book with wonderful traditional khoisan recipes going back centuries. I think one has to be somewhat brave to try some recipes, but my first venture will be a rub that can be used on bread before baking, in salads or to rub meat with before cooking. The rub is made from the khoisan salt crystals, wild sage that grows in abundance in the fynbos; and some grated dry bokkoms......ah the sea, field and riverside aromas of West Coast will waft through my home!