Thursday, December 24, 2009

Modern Art

Here's something a little different from my normal ethnic or wild life paintings. I have always like underwater scenes and thought I would try and paint some fishes under water. This one was painted with acrylics and I must say I still prefer oils but the current market I am painting for dictates that I use a cheaper medium as Oils are more expensive and take longer to dry.

The next one is also an acrylic on stretched canvas depicting a modern art city scape. This is also not my normal choice of subject but there is a fair demand for the more abstract typ of art so I thought I would have a bash and it turned out pretty well.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


I am still trying to master working with acrylics and recently painted a picture of this young leopard lying in the grass. I got the impression that the grass was more of a distraction and did not do much for the painting. I then proceeded to remove the grass and give it a more dense background.

The problem with acrylic paints is that they dry so quickly and are far more difficult to blend than oils or even water colours. After much battling with different shades and tones I finally came up with this second painting.

I am still not sure I like the result and will probably leave it in the work in progress rack until some other idea comes along and I change it again.

I love painting wild animals and the shy secretive African Leopard is one of the commonly referred to African big five animals along with the Lion, Elephant, Buffalo and the Rhino.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Resting Post

Plains Zebra

The Burchells/plains Zebra with its distinctive upright mane is the most common species of Zebra found in Africa. A relative of the horse, this stocky animal with its wide black and white stripes that are as unique to each animal as finger prints are to humans roam the African plains in huge herds.

Zebra's are sociable animals that roam freely with other herbivores such as antelope, buffalo, wildebeest and giraffe; feeding exclusively on many different species of grass.
They are found in the grasslands and savannas from East Africa to Southern Africa generally close to a permanent water source.

Zebras can live for about 30 years but only have a life expectancy of about 12 years in the wild due to the presence of their main predators like lions and spotted hyena’s.

Males can weigh as much as 300 kg and generally only mate at 5 to 6 years of age. Female are slightly smaller and give birth to their first young at about three years of age suckling them for about 6 months.

Acrylic on stretched canvas

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Mother and Child

A Kenyan artist friend of mine recently approached me to do some paintings for him to sell at some of our local flea markets. He sells his and other artists works at various markets around Durban.

These venues are normally quite busy tourist destinations, many of whom look for African art to take back with them.

I have visited these markets on many occasions and the sheer number of artists displaying their work always surprised me.

On any given day there could be 20 artists at a single venue with hundreds of paintings to view.

The average price of the paintings seemed to range between $50 and about $200 per painting.

I did not think I could ever compete in that market as the prices were very competitive with some heavy bargaining and haggling over prices. My challenge therefore was to be able to produce some competitive pieces suitable for these markets.

In the end I decided to do some paintings in acrylics, on canvases that I had made rather than the normal high quality ones I buy. I have never painted with acrylics before and found the medium difficult and unforgiving to work with initially. Totally different from working with oil paints.

This was my first effort, which I have called "Mother and Child." Somehow I managed to mess up the photo and by the time I downloaded the photo and realized it was not a good effort the painting was sold.

This new venture has kept me fairly busy as all the paintings seem to sell fairly quickly and my friend is requesting work at a faster rate than I can paint them. I was hoping to open a stall of my own but I just cannot paint fast enough to build up a decent stock.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

The Watering Hole

Finally I have managed to complete, this 1.5m x 1m oil painting of Gemsbok (Oryx) "At the watering hole."

As an artist I try to concentrate on and paint about the beauty and wonder of all the good things that surround us. My love of nature and the abundant wild life in our country inspires me to capture these marvelous creations on canvas and share my joy with others.

I had hoped to have the painting finished earlier in the week ready for display in a local gallery prior to the Easter weekend. This however was not possible due to an incident on Monday evening that prevented me from finishing it till this morning.

When afforded the privilege of traveling abroad and people asked where I came from I would normally answer "proudly South African." However recent events in my personal life have changed that attitude and I no longer feel that sense of pride and belonging to a country terrorised by criminals.

The following incident is a stark reminder of the day to day reality that is the norm in this crime ridden country of ours.

Every evening my partner and I go for a walk along our beautiful beachfront to get out of the apartment and relax away from the work environment. We normally walk for about an hour then go home and have dinner before continuing to work or relax in front of the TV.

We were about 5 min away from our apartment on the way back when it suddenly started to rain. As we were so close to home we decided not to seek shelter but hurry on home instead. The sun was just starting to set and although it is a busy area with many locals and tourists out walking at that time we normally don't like to be out after dark.

Suddenly 6 thugs appeared out of nowhere, two were armed with knives. There was no demand for money or jewelery. Two of them threw me to the ground and my vision exploded into a million stars as as my head hit he pavement with a loud thud.

One of the thugs sat on me and started prying the rings off my fingers and the bracelet off my arm whilst the other held a knife to my throat and grabbed my cell phone and shoes that had come off when I hit the ground.

As suddenly as the attack started they disappeared and I lay barefoot in the rain on the pavement crying from the pain in my head. My only thought was that my partner was dead as four of them had attacked him and through the commotion I could hear them shouting that they were going to stab him.

Suddenly he was at my side to help me and though I could hardly think straight from the pain, shock and fright I was relieved that he was alive.

Of the four who attacked him one was armed with a knife and kept lunging at him whilst the other three tried to empty his pockets and throw him to the ground. As the knife wielding thug lunged at him he stood his ground and managed to punch him to the ground. This caused the rest of them to turn and run.

The violence of the attack caught us both by complete surprise and separated us, each to fend for himself as best he could. Had they surrounded us and asked for the jewelery and cell phone and whatever money we had on us we would have handed it over. There was no need for the violence. Muggings are commonplace on our beachfront with many tourists being attacked on a daily basis.

We had previously discussed the possibility of being mugged on our own doorstep and agreed that we would not resist but hand over the goods rather than risk our lives.

The perpetrators however were obviously intent on violently disabling their victim's before robbing them. As I lay across the pathway in the pouring rain a passer by stepped right over me whilst another went around me and hurried on without offering any assistance.

The numerous security guards, and police who normally patrol the area across the road from the Southern Sun Elangeni hotel, where the attack occurred, were conspicuous by their absence. Eventually my partner had no choice but to lift me up and help me home as we had no means of phoning for the police or other assistance. The appalling apathy of passers by, motorists and others who witnessed the attack leaves me in abject despair for the future of our country.

I know that every big city round the world has its share of crime and muggings but few can compare with the abominable statistics on South African crime.

On this the eve of the elections in our country, and it being almost a foregone conclusion that the ANC will once again sweep to victory, I am reminded of their appalling record of dealing with crime and violence. The acronym ANC no longer stands for African National Congress but is more commonly referred to as "Abuse (of power)
"Nepotism " "Corruption and crime"

The soccer world cup 2010 is just around the corner and I do not believe that the government is either willing or able to control the crime in our cities, ( and why should they when convicted criminals are amongst the ranks of their parliamentary candidates).

For a few days I was not able to do any work, my body ached all over and my wrist must have been sprained when I was hit to the ground. Though poorer for my ordeal I have recovered sufficiently to continue with my normal life but the mental scars will remain for some time to come. Sadly I am now counting the days till I can leave my country permanently and return to NZ.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Work in Progress 2

I was hoping by now to have this large Oil painting of Gemsbok (Oryx) finished by this weekend.

The reflection in the water is proving quite a challenge to get them exactly the same as the others.

In the photo I am working from the sun is glinting off the animals so I have to try and match that gleam in the reflection which I have not quite got right yet.

I suppose it would have been easier if there was a ripple on the water creating a distorted image then the reflection would not have to be an exact image.

The water in the desert oasis is very still so the reflection is almost a mirror image of the two animals drinking.

Fortunately this is not a commissioned work so I suppose it won't matter if I take another week to finish it off.

Friday, March 27, 2009


One of the Trogon species these beautiful birds range from South eastern Arizona to Argentina.

The Quetzal's habitat is rain forest from southern Mexico to Bolivia. The Quetzal was the sacred bird of the ancient Mayans. It is also the national emblem of Guatemala who's currency also happens to be the Quetzel.

For sheer beauty and gorgeous plumage few birds surpass this one. This is also a water colour painting from my 2009 series.

I suppose whenever I lack inspiration or cannot think of something to paint then I will always revert to painting these beautiful creatures. I get a lot of personal satisfaction and enjoyment out of painting birds.

The sheer number of them with all the amazing colours will ensure that I always have plenty of material to paint.

Work in Progress

This large painting of a Gemsbok (Oryx) drinking at a water hole is my current project that will probably keep me busy for the next week or two. The Southern Oryx is mostly a desert antelope found mainly in the Namib Desert of Southern Africa.

After doing a rough sketch from a small photo, you can probably just make out the sketch of the reflection of the two antelope in the water. I am now doing the background and will fill in all the details later. In this case the background details are mainly small rocks and stones which are not my favorite subject to paint so I will probably do them last.

Sadly!! because of their magnificent horns they are also a sought after hunters trophies. The female is often targeted for her longer thinner horns which is the only way to differentiate between the male and female. The male has long straight horns that can grow to about 85 cm, whilst the females thinner horns curve outwards and then inwards at the top.

About 100 of them were released into the Tularosa Basin in New Mexico in the United States in the late 60's and have multiplied to about 3000 antelope. So if ever you get to New Mexico then this Beautiful Antelope is worth seeing.

Blue Winged Pitta

Hi To All

No I have not just disappeared off the face of the earth, I am back in Africa and don't have a permanent Internet connection. Our local service provider can only provide me with adsl at the end of April.

I suppose that's Africa for you!!! No amount of begging or pleading can get them to install any quicker. So until then I just have to be patient and hope it arrives on due date.

Thank you to all of you who have continued to support my blog by dropping your ec cards.

By end of January 2009 I reached my 100k milestone in my first year of blogging and that is mainly due to my friends at EC. Thank you all very much!!!!

That does not mean I have been idle, so I am posting some of my recent works and one of my works in progress.

After a months break I have started painting again. As usual my love of birds was my starting point and these three are my most recent ones.

This is a small water colour about A4 size. I find that by starting with a subject that I love to paint it helps me get back into the swing of things.

The funny thing is I am not a bird watcher and most of my bird paintings are from photos either taken at a bird park or from books and magazines.

This little bird is called a Blue Winged Pitta and is generally found from South East Asia to Australia. They are forest dwellers who spend their time hopping around the dense forest floors foraging for food. They avoid flying as much as possible and only take to the air when they are forced to.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Serval Cats

Water colour painting

The Serval cat, an animal about twice the size of a large domestic cat is distributed widely throughout Africa. They have unusually long legs, small heads, very large ears and short tails. Their coats are a yellowish sandy coulor with buff to off white underparts.

They have black spots on their bodies that in certain parts merge into stripes. Adult Serval cats can weigh between 8 and 20 kg's and grow to 3 feet long and stand 24 inches at the shoulder with the female slightly smaller than the male.

Wild Servals are more common on the open savannas in tall grass near wetlands or rivers. Their large ears can apparently hear the slight motion of a rodent up to 20 feet away. Their characteristic pouncing in the long grass allows them to also target birds in flight and have been recorded leaping 10 to 15 feet straight up and pluck a bird in flight out of the air.

These mainly nocturnal, terrestrial cats are also good climbers and are equally comfortable in water fishing for a meal. Their amazing adaptability has aided the survival of an animal that was once hunted for it beautiful coat.

Serval cats have long been held in captivity as domestic cats dating back thousands of years to the ancient Egyptians. More recently they have been bred in Europe and the USA.

So for all you cat lovers looking for the ultimate exotic cat, Servals although still a wild cat can
make a good human companion.