Why are we so attracted to waterfalls? We will travel miles just to see water tumbling over a cliff. Long ago I did this tour around the country on my BMW R60 that I had just rebuilt and I recall jumping over the rocks below towering cliffs in the Transkei, looking for the waterfall that poured directly into the ocean. On that day I had run ahead of the others who were there to scout around the corner. And as I launched off a rock to jump onto the next I saw to my horror two massive black mambas draped over the rock on which I was going to land. Fortunately for me, they saw me before I saw them and in a split second they had unfurled and dissapeared into the rocks. Anyway – just like in the cartoons I think I changed direction in mid-air and ran back in the other direction. So I didn’t ever see that waterfall. But there is something about the movement and the power. I also remember sitting with Calvin next to the waterfall just above Algeria Campsite in the Cederberg. It had been raining the whole way from our home in Somerset West and we had hiked up for about two hours. The downdraft from the water was shaking the trees and we sat and watched before hiking back to camp. That night as we slept in our tent near the river through the campsite I could hear massive boulders rolling downstream as the river rose.
I have painted waterfalls a few times and as I write, I wonder why I don’t do more. In fact I will. But here are three that I have done:
The first is the waterfall in the Harold Porter Botanical Gardens in Betty’s Bay.
The painting features in my post about my first ever exhibition.
And here is a painting I did of the waterfall on the Touw River at the top of the Brown Kingfisher Trail in Wilderness.
The posting shows the steps I took to paint the watercolour.
And here are the two watercolours I have left from a trip to Victoria falls – long long ago. When I worked in the oil industry I was invited to do a talk at the Zimbabwe business conference all about the potential in the internet. (yeah who remembers that time?) The conference was held at the Elephant Hills hotel at The Victoria Falls. Just before lunch on the first day I asked the MD if we were seriously going to do this whole conference without taking a trip to the falls. So he organised some buses to go down. I remember rushing around taking photos.
But also I had arranged to take a later flight home and spent an extra weekend in a campsite at the falls. I had one day to sit and paint watercolours at the falls. Some of the sketches I gave away but these two I kept. This was back when I was just starting to paint in the field. So I am pleased with what I produced.
It was lovely and hot. I climbed over the thornbush hedge and sat doing watercolours. I found it quite easy to tune out the chirps from the Tourists.
After this watercolour I moved over a little and did this watercolour of The Devils Cataract, just below a statue of David Livingstone.
This was a somewhat unnerving experience. I had been in the same spot when I was about four or five. We had a family holiday there when we had lived in what was then Rhodesia. I had an elder brother who used to rough me around a lot and I remember backing away from him on the bank of the river. I looked up and saw my dad (who I think was painting a watercolour- there’s a thing) and he motioned slowly with his hand for me to step towards him- which I did. Another step or two and I would have been over this fall. For the next couple of decades the thought gave me nightmares.
That was Devil’s Cataract.
I gave the other paintings away – in fact my friend Peter has one of them and I will ask him for a good photo that I can edit into this post. I also started a large scale painting sitting right across from the main falls. I got about half way when the wind changed and shower of heavy mist washed all my work off the sheet.