Another woodland painting and another repeat – I have put versions of this on the blog before. Certainly a little tighter than the previous blog of the woodland scene with no splattering; using brushes only, but I am pleased with the luminosity resulting. This is down to the layering of washes.
If I remember on my previous attempts I tried a loose approach which lost the constant tonal changes throughout the piece and resulted in taking out and scratching back. Slowly building up those changes this time seems to have paid off without it becoming overly fussy.
I must admit that I was inspired by the texture I got on my previous painting that I put out on my last post and so I decided to try and apply the splattering techniques to a scene I had done before in the hope that I would get a less staid outcome.
Well there is a lot of splatter on this but the outcome was less than I had hoped for. Perhaps I could have put the tree trunks and branches in whilst the paper was wet. I also did the splatter in two sections, one for the canopy leaves and one for the undergrowth. I also lost the translucency and the light coming through which I had in the earlier watercolour. So back to the drawing board – sorry about the pun.
Finally back to Cape Town for a few days before departure. In the sunshine on Camps Bay with the sea smoothed boulders which at some time must have come down from the hills above. It would make me a bit wary of living there. The beaches seemed a bit empty, possibly in the weekdays running up to the school holidays.
We had a day out at the Kirstenbosch botanical gardens in Cape Town. They are set beneath the dramatic drop of Table Mountain so you could just put a lawn there and it would look stunning. I found painting the amorphous masses of folliage and obtaining a sense of depth difficult as even the mountain slopes are covered in vegetation. Sitting in the pelargonium garden I was offered some colour to pull the foreground forward and as I worked I noticed the background slopes get bluer so that offered more of a differentiation for the background. As the day progressed the hills grew a mysterious darkness which really set off the gardens.
Starting our return journey back to Cape Town we stayed at a place just north of Mossel Bay which was at the foot of a mountain range with fantastic views everywhere. This was the view from one of the room’s windows.
There was riding as well as flat green bowls and squash available at this place. I sat in the morning light and sketched some of the horses in the paddock.
Then into Mossel bay which didnt look very promising at first with its oil refinery and business quarter but the old town was very pleasant. Sitting at a beach side cafe under the old lighthouse watching the dolphins surf the incoming waves in the bright December sunshine was better than Liverpool in the snow.
So on to Stellenbosch to taste a few wines. I must admit I thought that the vineyards would be on the northern slopes in the southern hemisphere, but apparently not as I sat here facing north with the vines behind me, but I felt the mountain backdrop, with the grassland in front, was a better subject to paint .
Then on to Oudshoorn, further east. Here I sat at the gates of our hotel facing up to some of the shacks many of the black community live in. Some people’s housing in South Africa is appalling, although the whites seem to live in opulence, surrounding themselves with razor wire and electric fences. We have some pretty bad places in the UK, but nothing to what I have seen in South Africa. Someone said to me that they stable their horses in better conditions
So on to the Etosha pan and the Okaukuejo waterhole. Our room was yards from the actual waterhole which to my dismay was artificial, but boy did it attract some wildlife. The others went off on a game drive but I just sat in the shade and watched the animals come and go throughout the afternoon. I sat and sketched them in pencil, somewhat difficult as they kept getting spooked by flocks of birds flying off the trees. A couple of the pages are below.
I then did the watercolour at the top.
After this we went to another waterhole at Namutoni, this time real, but it only seemed to attract birdlife, so I decided to paint the old German fort, incongruously next to the waterhole.
It was very sad that they were doing very little with the fort, as opposed to the old German Police station at the Waterberg Plateau park which was used as a restaurant and had a very elegant veranda running around it and where you could breakfast. Why they needed a police station in the middle of nowhere was beyond me.
I quickly did a view of the sandstone cliffs you had to climb to get onto the plateau. It needed to be fast as a patrolling baboon was
likely to return after inspecting the rubbish bins for food and make off with my painting. Unfortunately for you readers he wasnt successful.
Anyway next stop Cape Town and, hopefully, a little less rushed itinerary, which may improve the sketching.
The tour continues moving inland to the Brandberg Mountains which contains the highest peak in Namibia. This basalt plug, the remains of an extinct volcano glows red in the morning sunshine giving the impression of it being alight. This was painted in the afternoon in the manicured grounds of the lodge.
Still further inland towards the Etosha salt flats in the evening light as the distant hills constantly changed colour in the decaying light.