The Proteas

This was so hard, I started it last year and finally finished it now in June!! Wow, why so long?

I don’t know it’s part of my art struggle and life struggle I guess…maybe I expected too much of myself, and I exaggerated my capability. I was slow, I wasted a lot of time in art class and procrastinated and I also had many missed hours.  Life just got in the way and it certainly affected my creativity.

BUT and this is a huge, but – I finished it. I never gave up although I wanted to many times.

Sixteen proteas (what on earth was I thinking) and lots and lots of greenery intertwined and arranged in a blue bowl and here it is.

Ta da – The Proteas








What a year!

What a year this has been.

Possibly one of the worst years of my life, I don’t know if I have said this before about other years, have I?

I know for sure this was the worst one for me.  I remember sometime in October, I saw one journalist comment to his colleagues “what a week!”

That was after four weeks of violent university protests and the start of state capture news and there was something else big going on.  It was crazy hectic.  I know I kept thinking it must be great being a journalist here in SA they don’t know which way to turn, they are so busy, it’s exciting if you work in their industry.  It’s a merry-go-round-of-dizzy.  It was really one of those what a week moments.

I feel like that about this year.

I know that to be sort of balanced in life and healthy we all need to have some kind of balance: physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually and financially. So if this is so common and so needed then I am not balanced at all not even in one of them, it’s all just a total mess this year.

I haven’t felt like talking to people.  I have locked myself in the bathroom or in my car countless times crying.

It’s small things but many times it’s the small things that make a BIG difference.
It’s the please wait and be patience feeling and the flower does not bloom in a day thought…but the seeds I thought I had sown are not just taking their time I think they were eaten by a bird.  So I feel quite messy.

Emotionally I’m done, mentally I’m drained, physically I smile. Just smile because I know I have many things to be grateful for even if I’ve been feeling so very blue lately


The good, bad and ugly of plein air

At the end of August I went away on a plein air painting weekend!  It was a wonderful opportunity to be out in nature painting and learning something new and quite honestly we needed a weekend away and if I had not committed to this I guess we would have just sat around at home…hubby and I have not had a weekend like this in a long time. So as that famous idiom goes – with one stone we kind of hit three or four birds. It was a bonus!

I have been on an art retreat before, and painted outside, but our studio was set up and we spent a couple of hours outside looking for the ‘painting’ in the scenery and started outside but then it was completed in the studio again.

So this weekend was a completely different experience, that’s why I call this the good, bad and ugly. 

I really enjoyed it. It was humbling, and scary.  I felt both overwhelmed and stressed at the same time.  Just as the breeze changed or the sun started feeling warmer I felt uncomfortable and quite happy and excited all at once.

On the first day after the morning session I went to the room happy with my progress and surprised with what I had painted.


It’s lovely to be outside and I imagine myself painting in this peaceful place and creating something really beautiful….but at the same time there were bees and the sun started burning into my back and I was wishing I was back in art class.


The afternoon when we finished I felt just as happy with my painting and equally surprised with what I had accomplished that day.  But I didn’t quite enjoy that experience as much as the morning one. Finding the ‘painting’ in the scenery in front me was a lot harder in the afternoon.


Painting outside sharpens your memory, I learnt more about really seeing what was in front of me, about natural light and shadows and the real colour of things in the scenery. 

Painting in art class from a photo and with controlled light is a bit like painting in 2D, being outside is more like 3D. I was forced to see real life and real colours. Also the photos are as good as the printer or the ink in the machine so the colours are not always exactly the same as what is outside.

I felt like a part of the scenery.  Although you can’t touch the scenery (well I could actually touch everything in mine if I wanted to) being outside made me feel more connected with my art and with nature.  With the breeze and the sunshine its a romantic scene in my artistic mind. 


I wonder about Van Gogh…and I remember a book I bought, I don’t think I ever intended reading this book but bought it because it was about Van Gogh.  I searched for it at home, it’s a book of letters that he wrote to his brother.  Looking through his letters I  wanted to find something where he complains about the wind or the sun or the cold or anything. Maybe he never complains and that was why he just created beautiful masterpieces!

But then I found this, and it had me in hysterics – 

The politeness of the populace of the Hague towards painters is, however, demonstrated by the fact that a fellow behind me, or probably at a window, suddenly spat a wad of tobacco onto my paper – life can be very trying at times. _ Letter 262

Loud laughter from me, there I found something he moaned about.  He sounds very funny and I might not read the whole book but I must really make an effort to go through some of his letters.

And what about Monet, did he perhaps complain about painting outside?

Now that I am home with my two finished paintings I feel I don’t like them as much, like they need to be fixed, like something is missing, maybe it’s the magic of being outside that has faded and gone away.

None of my paintings are a masterpiece but I feel the ones I do in the studio are more a masterpiece than these two that were painted outside.


The actual process of painting outside was too quick due to the changing scene and shadows and time just runs away!  I feel like I should have stayed outside longer and persisted and continued painting, but I know I would not have coped with the heat and longer hours. All those hours painting I tried maybe 3 different brushes but that weekend only one brush worked for me, soft eve series size 1, I’m not even sure how that was possible. 

It was a good learning experience and I really did enjoy it. I will do it again and will paint in oils again or try water-colour, hopefully be more prepared for the challenge next time.  I would like to try this near water, near the ocean it won’t be bees it will be sand flying into the canvas giving it a real 3D effect.  

a huge thank you to Sanchi for teaching me

or rather let me sign off the way Vincent used to, which was usually –

With a handshake, Yours sincerely,


Sharing my ‘selfie’

I don’t normally do this… SHARING

When I’m painting I don’t share my progress on FB or with anyone else, except the people in art class, no one really sees what’s going on and how I’m coming along. Until the last day when I finally sign the painting, only then do I post a pic on FB or blog about it.  But this one is a bit different. I though I was crazy to even attempt it, but the idea had been on mind for so long. I forgot about it and then this year decided this is it I’m going to do a self-portrait!!

So it’s a little different from the conventional self portraits, my one involves a bit of mixed media and it started with sticking pieces of paper with quotes and words.

This is what I had to work with…something I found and I immediately fell in love with this pic. I just didn’t want to paint her


So in came ‘me’ and the pieces of paper are quotes that I just love and resonate with, words that have special meaning and somehow affect me and appeal to me. Some of them in a personal or emotional way.

Some pieces are from old blogs posts (the ones about my boys) and then the titles are a mix of things special to me. Little bit of tearing here and there and they were all randomly glued down

and then came the drawing….this was hard!! And not my favorite part. But it had to be as perfect as possible, at least in the size of eyes and distance of eyes, nose and mouth etc. It’s quite complicated and a bit of a ‘science’

…and there you have it! Now for the painting and the continued tweaking and science behind the distance of all things facial 🙂 I have definitely learned a few interesting things…Like did you know that the distance between your eyes (middle of your face) or the bridge of the nose is the same size in centimeters as the size of your eyes? (not sure if I’m explaining it correctly) but anyway I have started painting and hope to finish my selfie soon. Hope it looks like me when I’m done!

And so here is my first layer of color. Will share the final painting as soon as it’s done