Arty update

While I may not have been blogging much, I have continued to paint.  Here are a few of my recent works.

These wet pebbles were for our “Going Coastal” assignment on Free your Art.

and an enamel bowl and jug – this was an exercise on white on white – I really enjoyed it.

I also painted two wall murals at two under-privileged schools for a charity which does really great work with the schools on raising awareness of our ecology and ecosystems and also running food gardens at the schools


Free Your Art – Challenge 3

Click on the picture below to join our Facebook page to participate in this challenge.  It runs from 6 July to the 6th of August 2012.

(written by Vanessa Marais)

The Artful Cartoon

Our third online assignment will test your creativity in your chosen medium and encourage you to think outside the box

Gavin Marais won the vote in the Tree Challenge and he has chosen the next topic to be ‘Simple Toons to works of Art’.

He had this to say,” Sounds silly as a topic, but it could be anything from disney to cartoon network, print-based cartoon or comic book characters to a block buster 3d animated movie character. In essence, I’d like people to have fun interpreting a typically ‘childlike’ genre into an artwork worthy of any wall.”

Choose any cartoon character you like, but make it your own. Who’d expect to see Garfield in Charcoal, the Simpson’s in Pastels, or Goofy in Oils? Bake a cake, embroider, make a mosaic, form a sculpture. Go mad and have FUN!



  • ·         Cartoons are the theme.
  • ·         They must be a personal expression in your style and chosen medium
  • ·         Reference material is to be sourced individually
  • ·         Medium: Open
  • ·         Size: Open


  • The assignment runs from 6th July to the 6th Aug 2012.
  • Final photographs must be uploaded to the appropriate album by 6pm GMT 6th Aug 2012.
  • There will be no time extensions, so don’t procrastinate 🙂
  • Please upload progress and reference pictures to the appropriate  albums. We want to hear from you and see who is taking part. So keep in touch

This challenge may sound confusing to you as it did to me at first so Vanessa has put together some examples so that you can see what we are looking for

We are looking for as many participants as possible. Beginners to  experienced artists are all welcome.  I hope you will join us for this challenge.

A lazy painting day

Sundays on the farm are my best days.  All the housework is done, and I get to do as I please.  I normally take it slow and fiddle in my veggie patch and take Cleo for long walks or I paint.  Today, I have been lucky enough to do all three.  Our weather is beautiful, with the temperatures around 26-28 deg C (not bad for mid winter).

On the painting front, I have been working on painting a collection of fruit and veg for my kitchen wall.  Today I was able to paint two more to complete the collection of four, but now I think I am going to keep going and paint a whole pile of them as it seems they will sell off rather fast judging from reactions I have had so far.

I was really not sure which to paint for this collection but I think my choices have worked reasonably well,

What do you do on your lazy days?

Free your Art – Assignment 2

Heather Leigh Wagner won the vote in our previous challenge, so we thought it appropriate to give her the subject choice as a prize. We also wanted to make this a little more informal and open to personal interpretation, so when she suggested “A tree or trees – and maybe not from a ‘print’ or ‘master copy’ but each person could find their favourite tree in the garden or find a picture to copy…. that way everyone’s will be unique but with the same theme?” – We thought it a great idea! This is our second online assignment, less of a challenge and more of showcase of personal style and taste.

Guidelines: · A Tree/Trees are the main theme. It can be fantasy; macro of a bonsai; a sunset with a tree silhouette, or a perhaps a forest, just stick to the topic · The reference material* is to be sourced individually, either from a photo, or life. ·

Medium: Open ·

Size: Open

Timeline: The assignment runs from 30th May to the 25th June 2012. Final paintings must be uploaded to the appropriate album by 6pm GMT 25th June 2012.

Please upload progress and reference pictures to the appropriate albums on our Facebook page or email them to me on

*This image is not the reference image, please source your own

Please let me know if you will be taking part.  We only had one international entry in our last challenge which was Peter from Belgium. Thank you so much for participating Peter.  We are really hoping for a few more international entries this time.

Why don’t you give it a try? Remember that your entry can be in any type of medium, so clay modelling, photography, any type of painting medium, pencil, scratch board, are all welcome.  Let’s get creative!

Our first group art challenge is launched – Free Your Art

Why the Egg?

Being the first online challenge, we thought that in order to see the various mediums and skill levels at play we would begin with something basic. Don’t be deceived however, as eggs can be rather tricky to get right. They can easily end up looking like potatoes. I am sure it will test your tonal skills, drawing skills and patience levels. Neither of us has ever painted a still life with eggs, so the task will be worthwhile. Starting with eggs will give an appreciation of form and tone (shadows-midtones-highlights), and how the two go hand in hand when creating the illusion of depth and dimension.


  • The reference image is provided. Feel free to adjust the image if need be.
  • Eggs are the “star” theme and if possible stay true to the general layout as far as possible. We are not looking for carbon copies, but rather expression in style and medium.
  • Any medium is acceptable, although some sort of colour and brush work would be ideal for this challenge. Art apps and digital art or photography are also welcome, but please start from scratch i.e. don’t trace or digitally copy.
  • Size guideline  A4/A3

Timeline:  The challenge runs from the 25th of April to the 20th of May 2012. Final paintings must be uploaded to the appropriate album on our Facebook page by 8pm SAST 20 May 2012 or emailed to me by 12h00.

Feel free to upload your progress pictures to the Facebook page whenever you wish. We would love to see how things are going.  If you get stuck, upload a picture to the page wall and ask your question. We are all here to learn and help.


Thank you to Dale Tyndall for taking the photo, and to Vanessa Marais for choosing this challenge, photoshopping and for telling us why we should paint eggs.

Let’s get painting!

Click on the picture below to join our Facebook page

It’s all about food…..

Everything I have been doing lately is all about food and it has been so much fun.  My first batch of vegetables are finally planted. This has been two years in the planning so it’s a big thing for me.  They are all safe and sound, away from browsing animals and the baking sun in their little cool cloth house.  I made raised beds using recycled broken vegetable crates with shade cloth liners.

Functional but not very pretty. I will be cutting off all the excess cloth to neaten things up a bit.

My whole food healthy eating plan is continuing well and I am feeling a difference already.  yesterday we had this super fritata for breakfast

and made some homemade cold drink using rosella flowers and lemon grass.  It turns bright red once it has been in the fridge for an hour or two, sweetened with a touch of honey and absolutely delicious.

so much food on my mind, I even painted a cabbage 🙂

This painting is one of six macro paintings I am doing to hang as a group in my kitchen. They are on stretched canvas so will not need to be framed.  I have also completed one of a slice of lemon but I am not happy with it.

I wonder how many other people have ever painted a cabbage 🙂

Current art projects

I have finally gotten around to finishing my fish eagle painting.

Art group has started up again for the year and on Thursday our exercise was supposed to be a quick study of colour – testing out the transparency of acrylic paint.  As usual I got carried away and my quick colour study turned into a full-scale painting to the dismay of Anne, our very patient teacher.

I never used to like painting still life pictures but things seemed to have changed and I am having so much fun with this one.  Still a bit to do….

Painting progress

I am back home from the mad, crazy city. As we drove back over the mountain after 5 and a half hours in the car we all felt the atmosphere change and my muscles in my neck began to relax.

My son’s wedding was wonderful and it was extra special being able to see my family again but I must say that there is no place like home.

Before I left I did some more work on my current painting and thought you may like to see the progress.  Tomorrow I must get back into gear and get working again.

Update from the middle of nowhere

School is finally over for the Bean after a month of exams. It’s been a long hard year for her and I am so glad that I was able to stop working at the fruit packhouse to give us more time at home to get the school year done. Now it’s the nerve-wracking wait for her final results at the end of December.  Hopefully she will be off to university in Pretoria next year.

We are now holed up on the farm – only venturing in to town when we run out of supplies or for a few social occasions – this is how I want it to be. Things are really starting to come together for me now.  Bookings are rolling in for Jackal’s Den, I am busy on the farm from sunrise to sunset, loving every moment, and I have orders for paintings lined up well into next year.

With regards to the patio, the retaining wall is built

and the floor now filled in with rocks and soil

All I need now are the creepers which I hope to buy next week and then I will be making paving blocks to cover the floor area soon. I am also going to plant some lawn around this area to green it up a bit.  It’s been so much fun doing this project.

The Bean’s roof is still not done.  A job that was supposed to take 5 days is now on 21 days. Hopefully it will be finished by Friday when we leave for Johannesburg to visit our family and attend my sons wedding.

This is my current painting project which I am painting for a commissioned order. Still a long way to go on this too.

and finally here is a picture of our baby Savannah.

She has settled in very well. Cleo and Savannah have a strange relationship – sneaking up on each other when they think no one is watching to get a good sniff. So far there have been no fights or dramatic chase scenes – rather they respect each others boundaries mostly and give each other a wide berth (although this seems to be narrowing as they get used to each other).  Savannah, although very loving, is wild in the sense that she is very nocturnal. Much more so than Fred was. She sleeps solidly all day waking as the sun sets and then she is off out into the bush for the night. She eats at home but still catches mice and squirrels most evenings. We even got a bat as a present last week. She does not like being inside and only ventures in if there is a rain storm. Otherwise her favorite daytime haunt is our veranda where she has set up a type of nest in some hessian on a little wall where she sleeps.

While we are away for the next two weeks some friends of ours will be living at Jackal’s Den, having a well deserved break and feeding Savannah.  I hope Cleo will be able to travel with us as she won’t really cope well away from me, although I still need to clear this with my family where we are staying.  I hope she will be able to come but if she can’t my friends are the best folk to look after her.

I will be back in two weeks. Happy blogging 🙂