My newsletter for April 2022
Well at last the Apple harvest is over. That was hard work!
OK – I did not pick a single apple but getting the watercolour to work for my client was a mission. I did the these two versions since the last newsletter:
Here is the one I did of the team:
The client was keen to highlight the texture of the wooden bins. And that was the intention of both of these paintings
I also started work on a third:
One day I will complete it but for now I have had apples up to “here”. So to speak.
The design and the drawing takes for ever. I drew the guy standing there based on bits and pieces from photos, to fit the composition. Which I think is quite neat.
In the heat of finishing the commission I had a phone-call from a customer who had bought a painting from my website. My PayFast service had been switched off when I updated my banking details, so she could not pay. When I checked what she had bought I realised that the size of the painting on the gallery was incorrectly specified so I redid the watercolour at the specified size.
Here is what she ordered:
And here is the redone version which was more or less twice the size.
I have also been contracted to create a 2023 calendar for a client. He wants scenes from around the country. Here are the first few for the project:
And then last week I got sick. My PCR test came out positive but as we are finding out these tests show an 85 % chance of false positives. So who knows. But I was very ill. And while I lay there I read two books:
The first was The Gulag Archipelago by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. This is harrowing material. However I think anyone enjoying the fruits of our freedom should read this at least once. I got about halfway.
I also read Jordan B Peterson’s new book “Beyond Order – 12 more Rules for Life”. This is another JBP masterpiece. In the book he has a rule about making one room in your house as beautiful as possible. This chapter is a comment on the critical role of beauty in our culture. It is also a comment on the as well as just how important it iartist. I felt so encouraged as I read. This desire to paint has often been quite confusing to me. There really are more effective ways to make a living. Here are some of the gems from the chapter:
- Studying art “… is a good idea, a veritable necessity – people have been working out how to live for a long time. What they have produced is strange but also rich beyond comparison…”
- “Buy a piece of art. Find one that speaks to you and make the purchase – it will invade your life and change it”.
- “Art is the bedrock of culture itself”
- “Art is exploration. Artists train people to see
- “In the absence of beauty life is too short, too dismal, and too tragic.”
He includes poetry from William Blake, William Wordsworth and Walt Whitman.
- “Beauty leads you back to what you have lost. Beauty reminds you of what remains forever immune to cynicism. Beauty beckons in a manner that straightens your aim. Beauty reminds you that there is lesser and greater value. Many things make life work living: love, play, courage, gratitude, work, friendship, truth, grace, hope, virtue and responsibility. But Beauty is among the greatest of these.
I find that so inspiring.
But these are not idle thoughts – He also has a number of videos dedicated to the difficulties associated with art as an endeavour. And as he puts it in this book:
“… are we helpless prey animals, cowering and protecting ourselves, hiding and camouflaging, or are we Human Beings?”
This is all challenging. But I keep experiencing this deep desire to paint in watercolour. Rapids in the river, dunes and bushes on the beach, and the peaks in our pretty little mountain. I find it so hard to explain. I am caught up with the beauty of these little scenes. It feels good to have the message of support. Life as an artist can be very lonely.
A page from History
I have just republished a note I wrote about a trip I did in Malawi.
Here is a link to the first post – there are links to the follow-up paintings in the post.
In 2009 my consulting took me to Lilongwe in Malawi where I did an intervention with the US Govt there. It was a such an interesting event. After grappling with the issues, preparing and delivering an intervention, I took some time to walk down to the country club in Lilongwe. Years before, Aura and I had stayed there when we brought mountain-bikes over to Malawi and rode around the country. At the country club I did the following sketch using my new little Windsor Newton kit with two horse hair ink brushes, I did a sketch of the cricket pavilion. Just being there brought back the memories of our trip in the late 80s.
I did not hang around though as it was a long walk back to my hotel and the end of the day brought out a pack of hyena that lived in a central park in the middle of the city. When the whole intervention was finished I took a drive down to lake. I spent a night at Cape Maclear where I did this little painting of two little kids playing in the water.
While I was there I took a photo of the workers heading up-river at the end of the day, from which I did this painting on my return to the studio. This represented a big step-up in skills for me. Man! That little boat was packed. The one chap in the middle was carrying a rifle. I think it is quite a dangerous place to be on the river.
That night I was the only person camping in the campsite and was visited by hyaena and a hippo. And in the morning – before catching the ferry back to where I had parked my car I did this painting on the outskirts of the camp site: