Touw River watercolours

The Touw River flows through Wilderness, a small town East of George. The town is surrounded by rich forest. There is a Cape Nature Conservation campsite called Ebb and Flow on the Eastern bank of the Touw River. It is just a pleasant environment. Cape Nature have also created a hiking trail, The Half Collared Kingfisher Trail, through the indigenous forest up to a waterfall on Touw River.

It is just a very pleasant place.  As long as I can remember I have drawn restoration for my soul just by being there.  Here are five paintings looking upstream from the campsite:

Light is Sweet

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A few years ago I worked with a client in George. I would drive up from Somerset West on a Thursday afternoon, set up camp at the furthest tip of the campsite, where the forest takes over. Then I would have a pizza at Pomodoro in Wilderness (best pizza in the country).

Later I would return to the campsite which was usually deserted and fall asleep to the sounds of the nightjars and other night birds.  There were times when I was totally alone at the far end of the camp site and I heard some quite big animals moving around.  Apparently the wild pigs would come into the campsite at night.   And once my client said they had seen a leopard in the road going through Wilderness.  Actually she said they had to stop because it was sitting in the middle of the road.  Very cool.

In the morning I would have a shower, put on my consulting costume and head into George. Sometimes I would work with the team on the Saturday morning, spend the weekend in Ebb and Flow, work with them on the Monday and head back to Somerset West on Tuesday morning.

I therefore had time to wander up the river to paint. Here are three paintings of the view downstream from the pont on the Half Collared Kingfisher Trail:

One thing is for sure… Painting here cured my hesitancy for Greens! I read that the human eye can perceive are far broader range of green than any other colour. Bought greens just don’t come close here.

There also used to be a hiking trail along the river from the top end of the campsite. But for some reason the CNC fenced it off. I think it was difficult to maintain. But you can step around the fence to follow the trail for a couple of hundred meters. There is a small platform just above the river, made by a rocky outcrop. This became my favourite place to sit and paint. And make cocoa on my stofie.

Here are some of the views I painted looking upstream.

And here are two watercolours looking downstream from the same platform.  

The ‘Featured Image’ for this posting is also done from this platform.  It is a lovely place to sit.  Now and again someone will paddle past in a canoe and once I watched a flock of cormorants working their way up the river.  And a watched one of them swimming below the surface, under the ledge, looking for fish.   

Looking across the river from the rock ledge there is a picnic spot called “Milkwood”. It is just off the hiking trail.  This is also a great place to watch the river.   There is a rough table and some benches.  Another place to make a pot of cocoa on my stove.   Here are the two places on either side of the river:

These paintings are a reminder of those times on the river. Peaceful times sitting listening to the Sombre Bulbuls and painting.   But also the time when someone broke into my bakkie in Wilderness, while I was having a pizza with my friends.  They stole my camera and my stofie and pots, companions for decades of hiking trips.  The pot still had a ding in the top from the time my pack slipped off a rope and fell down a cliff the night we camped on Table Mountain.  And the pot-holder had a brass rod put in by my friend Wally the electrical foreman on the mine.  Small memories that can only be collected over time.  And the camera was going to be my big break into internet video and was very very expensive.  One of these setbacks in life that make us sit up and pay attention.  

The paintings also remind me of how I overcame my fear of GREEN.  As humans we perceive a far broader range of greens than any other colour.  So we look at a landscape of trees and are able to be delighted by the beauty of all the nuances in yellow and blue.  Just another gift in our creation.  But this can make painting greens a challenge.  Winsor Newton provide a range of greens in their Artist Watercolour series but I seldom use these for greens.  I like to mix Winsor Green with Alizarin for my darks (I don’t use black).  And I like to mix greens using Turquoise, Cerulean or Antwerp Blue with Aureolin or Quinacridone Gold.  I also use other blues and yellows as required. 

So… There is a little tut in watercolours for free.  

I would love to hear your thoughts on this post.