Categories: Annual Projects


Stephen Quirke


Since 2020 I have created a calendar based on the watercolours I have produced in the year.  Last year I offered my calendar to businesses to brand it and give it to their clients as a year-end gift.

For the last three years I have been creating a calendar based on watercolours I have painted for a particular topic.

Actually this started in 2019.  I was approached by The Friends of Radloff Park to offer watercolours for their annual calendar.  Which I did.  I send some jpgs of work I had completed along the river.  And I set out to create a few more paintings before the calendar was to be produced.  I remember walking along the river with my mate Mike, taking photos for watercolours.

Here is some of the work I offered to the Friends:

OK – I think these are quite neat.  And I was excited about the prospect.  But the Friends chose not to use my work.  In fact they did not create a calendar that year.  And this triggered an “OK I will create a better selection response”

So, over the course of 2020 I spent my time looking at scenes, painting at the river and taking photos to create a portfolio of watercolours for a 2021 offer to the Friends.  This was the year we were locked down.  I had completed some consulting projects at the end of 2019 and in early 2020 was up in Lesotho for a session.  At this time I still considered consulting my core calling in life.  And Then…

Two weeks to flatten the curve turned into three months.  I had re-designed and rewritten all of my material for the strategy workshops I run.  I was ready to launch “The Works”.  My consulting offer is called StrategyWorks and I was saying “Do you want ‘The Works’ well – here is ‘The Works'”  – my little marketing joke.  At the same time I had realised that, without all the will in world I cannot facilitate the workshops I do online.  Of course there were tools for this.  But it would require my clients to buy the package and still it would be tough.  In my workshops I spend much of the time walking to the different tables in the room, listening to the conversations, suggesting directions and being called across to other groups to answer questions.  In the best zoom sessions, there were sound problems, disincarnation issues and I saw people dissapearing because of local bandwidth issues.  So I said to Aura, “I can’t do this online – let me build my brand as a watercolourist”.

And I focussed intensely on a set of watercolours about Radloff Park.  My thinking was towards a calendar.  But really I created a collection of watercolours.  This is a great collection.  Some of the watercolours are of my best ever.  You can see the collection by gently pressing the button below:

When I had created the watercolours I sent a note to the Friends of Radloff Park.  I let them know that I had a portfolio for their 2021.  I tired different avenues but heard nothing from them.  Eventually, as October drew to a close I realised I had better take matters into my hands.  So I created a calendar in PowerPoint.  I found a printer who gave me a quote for 200 calendars and put in an order.  As we paid the deposit Aura sent me off to Radloff  with a sign-up list to sell my calendars.   I remember walking along the river with my draft calendar and sign-up forms praying “Lord I can’t do this – I hate selling – please help me”  (but in angry, frustrated voice).  Eventually I found an ideal place to set up – in the painting about the poplar copse, down a gabion slope and behind the willow tree in the painting.  I suppose I could have found an even better hiding place, but this was quite good.   I was putting up my easel to lay out my wares when I heard a voice “Vot are you doing there????”  I looked up to see a spritely and imperious older lady.  She asked again “Vot are you doing?”  So I said I was selling calendars and she started down the bank.  So I said I would rather come up (to where everyone was passing as they walked their dogs).   She saw my calendar model and ordered a whole lot of calendars.  She also buttonholed all the passers-by and got them to sign up.  So that is my selling story.

Oh yes she also said “I thought you were fishing”.
I was going to say “I was” but chose not to.  I guess I am at last developing some humility.  And wisdom.

And here is the cover of the calendar.

Cover of a calendar with a watercolour

As the calendars sold I started to think about a project for next year.   I recieved a very nice email from Amanda who said she was doing marketing for Patch Helderberg Child Abuse Centre.  I had a look at their site and was horrified by what I read.  Child abuse is rampant.  So I called her for a cup of coffee.  We decided to put together a calendar project for the next year.  Amanda selected a bunch of watercolours from my stock and I worked to complete some centre pieces.   Amanda turned out to be something of a mover and shaker – something like a mix between a ship in full sail and a whirlwind.  I sometimes referred to her as Amandla.

We had an exhibition to launch the project and at the end of 2021 an exhibition in two venues (ja I know – not a brilliant strategy) to launch sales of the calendar.

Here is the cover of the calendar and below that button you can select to see a posting about the paintings in the portfolio.

Render in watercolour - make

Aaannd then.  Last year.

As 2021 drew to a close I found myself standing at the river selling calendars again. But I also began thinking about the next calendar project.  As 2021 was drawing to a close I started talking with the Lourens River Conservation Society about a watercolour project.  I had been chatting with Jan Tromp whose father had established the society back in 1980.  As we put together an agreement I started work on the watercolours.

Here is the cover of the calendar I created.

cover of a calendar

To sign-up for "Light is Sweet" enter your name and email address below

* = required field

powered by MailChimp!