Categories: Light is Sweet


Stephen Quirke


Categories: Light is Sweet


Stephen Quirke


Covered in ‘Light is Sweet’  –  January 2023

The 2023 Lourens River Calendars are still selling and I am printing as required.

And I have an arrangement to start teaching a watercolour class in the local art centre – which is in the process of being set up.
My intention is to hold my first class before the end of February.

I started doing a watercolour a day again.
I have spent so much time working on my website and calendars that I have not painted nearly as much as I want.  So this is one way to get back on that horse.


Paintings of feet and hands usually means ‘watercolour of the day in hotels’.

But as we begin, as usual:

This is your opportunity to pause…
Stop what you are doing.
Put aside the work.

Sit back.

Close your eyes and take a deep, breath.

Now open the mail.
Download the pictures.
Enjoy the read.

Watercolour of tools and tomatoes

Tools, Tomatoes and – mmm – Taps:   Watercolour of the Days from January.

Last year calendars, website and consulting took up most of my creative energy.  Therefore it feels good to have started the discipline again.  On full days it feels good to stop everything and find a subject.  I have also been looking through the second-hand stores, like Animal Welfare for interesting subject matter.  Last week I found a great, old piece of equipment.  Something to present in the February edition of Light is Sweet.  Who knows I may start posting my work on Instagram again.

And here is a newsflash!

The good people at Bizweni Campus have steered their strategy strongly towards art.  I am talking with Leigh-Anne about holding an exhibition of the Lourens River paintings there.


I am starting a Watercolour class

I am in final contracting with Tiana at Helderberg Fine Art studios to host a watercolour class on a Wednesday or Thursday evening.  My intention is to start this month.

If you are interested in joining us please leave me a note in the comments below.  Let me know which of those days would work for you.  I am leaning towards Thursday – 18:00 to 21:00.

My plan is to host a Three Month course with a pause for review, redesign and refocus if necessary.  I plan to cover some of those timeless topics for the watercolourist, including:

  • Applying colour to paper:  I find flat washes difficult.  One of my favourite watercolourists, John Blockley, said the same.  Therefore I take heart.  At the same time I always find a well executed flat washed sky so attractive.
  • Colour Strategy:  A palette based on a few carefully selected colours is more manageable, affordable and enduring.  Knowing how to mix for mute greys and vibrant colour is a key to success.
  • Greens, Browns and Darks: As humans we perceive a far broader range of green than any other colour.  As a result we can more easily spot false (usually from the tube) greens.  In the same way, Umbers, Siennas and Ochres are great, but you can create more lively browns by mixing.  And there are far more lustrous darks than Ivory Black.
  • Colour in design:  How you knit your colours together in your watercolour design can make or break your painting.
  • Composition:  Charles Reid wrote that ‘composition was created by people who had too much time on their hands’.  He had a very simple formula.  But I must say my work improved when I gave more consideration to planning shapes and patterns in the picture space.

I don’t want this to be a long drawn out lesson in theory but a fun and practical learning experience.  So there it is. – I am very excited about this venture.

If you are interested in hearing more, please hit the button below to leave a message on my website.

Watercolour a day  – a sampling

At the beginning of the year I wanted to start my work as watercolourist again.  Therefore I started doing a watercolour a day.  Here is a sampling of the work:

watercolour of a baboon skull

This is my chacma baboon skull that my friend Nelo harvested from a poor creature that died on an electric fence on the mine – long ago.

This is a wheel puller my dad gave me when I drove the boat he built down to Cape Town.  I had to use it when one of the wheels on the trailer disintegrated before I got to Bloemfontein.  This tool has a special place in the tool hanging cupboard although I have not used it since then.

Painting of the Day

Some days are apple or hose-clamp days .  Other days are for careful draughting and colour selection.

watercolour of an awl

The Awl for All that I used to make my boots and jacket when I rode and XT 500.  Leather is a very special material and the tools required have this Old-World manularity about them.  (I made up that word).


Another Ladybrand watercolour from my termite mound.
I had just started painting when there was a downpour.  Large fat drops.  When it cleared I took my place on my anthill.  When I finished the painting I sat in the grass and weedy flowers with my back against the mound.  There was this lump in my back so I slid lower down and rested my head on the bump – and had a pleasant snooze.  When I woke I sat with my feet in the stream that was flowing over the low-level bridge in the trees in the middle ground.

I have been in Lesotho again and have done another watercolour of the little mountain on the Caledon River.  I have now learnt that it is called ‘Platberg’ which means “Flat Mountain”which sounds more picturesque in the vernacular.

Sophie the Woaf – BDE

Sophie the Woaf – BDE (Best Dog Ever).  She lies on the mat in my studio while I work.  Sometimes in the early morning I take her for a walk down the road at Bizweni Campus to bathe my body in the early morning light.  She is quite self-conscious and does not really like being painted.  (o:

watercolour of tomatoes

Tomatoes from Aura’s garden.  Some days Aura brings in much more than a handful.  I stole these while they were still green.  It is just nice to watch them ripening each day as I paint them.

Well there it is:  The first newsletter of 2023.

Please pass this around liberally and with abandon.

And have a great start to February.


      1. Stephen Quirke 2023-01-31 at 1:57 pm - Reply

        This is my test comment on the field I have just created

      2. Joanne Van Zyl 2023-05-05 at 4:31 pm - Reply

        Hi Stephen,

        These are really beautiful and very inspiring.

        Thank you!

        • Stephen Quirke 2023-05-08 at 8:42 am - Reply

          Thank you so much for leaving a note here
          And for your positive feedback

          All the best

      3. Chelene Sounes 2023-06-28 at 2:46 am - Reply

        Hi Stephen, I was hoping to find out some more about your 3 month watercolour course. Have you decided to begin teaching it, and if so, when? I’d be grateful to hear more about your fees, and all the necessary details. Thank you so much for inspiring us beginners with your stunning work!

        • Stephen Quirke 2023-06-28 at 9:00 am - Reply

          Hello Chelene
          Thank you so much for your note here
          Your appreciation is most inspiring

          Yes – I a have begun to teach a course – in two parts
          There are some very basic skills worth practicing from the beginning
          I have a class meeting once a week to wrestle and rejoice in this wonderful medium
          And I am setting up another beginners class
          I will send you the leaflet I have created to advertise the courses

          All the best


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