Tuesday, August 24, 2010


IT'S not easy growing up. That's an understatement. Politics, art, journalism. Women. What more could a man desire? Well of course the women issue is probably the hardest one to tackle. Without providing boring details, eventually, in the early 1980s, fresh out of two years' military conscription and now working as an organiser for the PFP in East London, I hit it off quite well with a young brunette. We moved into a flat together. Later got married, a fairly lavish affair involving many of her parents' Graaff-Reinet connections. The marriage lasted three years. Incompatibility is probably the best way of describing the reason for its demise. But during those years yours truly got his first taste of matters feminine, and Anne was also the target of a few drawings, which I would be remiss not to share.

An avid reader, it was in this pose that I most often sketched her.

The lines flow, like words off a page...

Let a woman in your life. A dressing table, high-heeled shoes. My experience has taught me it is women, and only women, who can turn a house, or flat, however humble, into a home.

Sadly, not all drawings of the woman in your life are going to be flattering. Here I tried a few watercolour washes over pen-and-ink.

One of the delights of cohabitation. A naked female back.

But there is always a father lurking somewhere in the background. This was Anne's dad, who I came to view as something of a surrogate father, having lost mine when I was just 17.

Another view of her father, Philip, who worked in the banking sector in Graaff-Reinet at the time.

This sketch of her holding a mug of coffee is sadly surrounded by calculations.

A profile view, with watercolours proving a tricky medium.

While this may not bear a great likeness to Anne, I do like the faraway look in her eyes.

Moving in with a girl means meeting the family - and in this case it meant regular trips to Graaff-Reinet. This is Anne reading (what's new) in their summer garden.

My last encounter with mountains was with the Drakensberg while trapped in Ladysmith, Natal, during my basic training as a conscript in 1979. Now I was in a happier mode, and able to lap up the mountains around Graaff-Reinet.

Apart from a weather station, they also had an aviary in their back garden, which is where I did this drawing of a parakeet.

Karoo gardens, properly maintained, can be incredibly beautiful. Even in pen, I enjoy the floral effect here.

As my own sons grew up in the 1990s, I became something of a bird-watcher, and rather opposed to keeping birds caged. But here I was able to sketch what looks like some sort of exotic, thick-billed species.

And these, fittingly, fleetingly, appear to be lovebirds. What was love? I was yet to discover.

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