Saturday, October 31, 2015


Whenever it is misty outside, I take the opportunity to explore the surrounding landscape as often times, what was usually a walk through the woods becomes something completely different. I came upon this scene not far from home in a part of the reserve that we don't usually visit. I was surprised to see this hill and the descending area on the right fading through the fog. A small study followed which has helped cement a few ideas in mind for a much larger work of a quiet and misty scene down by the lake which also had the same amazing atmosphere. This painting is an oil on board, size is 5" x 7".

Tuesday, October 27, 2015


I saw this scene not far from my home and worked from direct observation - the painting has become one of M's favorites. I wanted very subdued colors with rich tones and feel I did get close to my goal. This small work sat around in the studio for some time and actually only needed a little attention to the foreground and some subtle modulations of tone around the buildings to complete it. I'm really glad I did this one though as the farm and surrounding trees are now all gone due to development. I have been somewhat lucky to have been able to get to a lot of farms in our surrounding areas to do studies and take photos of them before they too were taken down. The finished painting for me represents a changing world - one in which I am not always happy to see progress.
This painting has proved very difficult to photograph though so might have to go back and re-do this one. Size is 8" x 10" (20cm x 26cm), oil on canvas.

Friday, October 16, 2015


Driving around the mostly dry and rocky terrain, most time was spent bird watching but I was also looking out for areas that could use in my landscape paintings. Stunning is the word that came to mind again and again as we moved deeper into the mountains. More birds were found including a key species for the area - Bearded Vulture! This was one of the birds we were most desperate to see so thanks to Paul for spotting it and to Steve for the photos.

We were a little surprised not to see more African animals but the birds more than made up for it. Along with Cape Vulture spotted above the ridge was a soaring Lanner Falcon which I later did a painting of.

Relaxing back at the Chalet, time was spent mostly birding from the porch and it was surprising how many birds we saw!

Later a short walk along the shore turned up an African Harrier Hawk (Gymnogene) along with other birds - including quite a few annoyingly unfamiliar cisticolas!!! Well we can hope for better luck next time! All in all, an amazing trip at Qwantani.
This concludes my African adventure for the moment although I may come back to my SA visit later on (as I finish more paintings) - for now it is on to new things!
Lanner Falcon painting above, watercolor on Arches paper, 7" x 11". Bearded Vulture, Buff-streaked Chat and Cape Weaver photos by Steve Pearse.

Thursday, October 1, 2015


It is barely light as I ease myself out of the door of our chalet and step into the cool dawn. Red-winged and Pied Starlings call from the tree outside and I hear the chatter of weaver finches nearby. Walking down to the headland overlooking the water, canaries sing in the trees as I pass and across the dam, distant calls of Hadeda Ibis.

High up, cirrus clouds glow in the morning sun, a faint pink etched against the blue - the sun has yet to crest the hill to the East. Fiscal Shrikes are already active and in the reedbeds, Long-tailed Wydowbirds (the males still in Winter plumage) flutter to and fro. The air is full of bird calls and as I gaze across the distant landscape, a lone Blesbok lopes away. Up on the ridge nearby, I spot 3 Ostrich - two males and a female - they would soon join us below! A cool breeze called for a jacket this morning but as the sun rises, it soon warms up. By now I have reached the hillside overlooking the water and the view is magnificent. A White-breasted Cormorant flies along the shoreline heading for deeper water and close in are hundreds of Red-knobbed Coots. The surrounding landscape is simply stunning - more so when coloured by the rays of the sun as it crests the ridge. I am already planning paintings in my mind and am almost overwhelmed by choice. Yet another spectacular morning in Africa.

Painting above - Wattled Crane, watercolor on Arches paper, 12" x 9" (30cm x 23cm). Notes above from my Qwantani diary. Photos: (1) Looking across Sterkfontein Dam, (2) Pied Starling and (3) Red-winged Starling (both these species along with Black-eyed BulBuls, weavers etc were hoping to join me for breakfast).