Thursday, December 9, 2010

Young and growing

By the late 1990s, sons Luke and Douglas were in Herbert Hurd Primary School in PE and shooting up. I did a few - too few - sketches of them at this age, while the school holidays saw us venturing around the Eastern Cape.

A young Douglas takes his guard, as young SA boys have done down the generations, as they lap up the summer sun.

Play outdoors often entailed the use of water. We had no pool, only a paddling pool. Here Doug, I think it is, carries a little bucket of water on his head - to pour over Luke, perhaps.

A kinda lazy life. Doug, left, and Luke, soak up the sun.

The same culprits, different poses.

One of our trips took us to the quaint, historic, town of Bathurst. This is a view of the old Anglican church there, viewed through some of the many trees which make the place somewhat mysterious.

The people who put us up - relatives on my wife's side - had an interesting dog.

On other occasions we would head into the heart of the Karoo to stay on the farm of my wife Robyn's uncle, near Steynsburg. This is a view of a gate and fence, with one of the marvellous koppies behind.

Also viewed from the farm are the distinctive Teebus and Koffiebus koppies.

On the farm, halfway up a mountain, is a cave about two metres deep and four or five metres long. On its wall are interesting San, or Bushman, paintings, including this section, which I decided to draw. As Robyn's uncle, Bill Elliott, explained, this is a record of the San people's experience of the white man, armed with rifles, who came on horse-back to drive them away.

Ironically, in the same drawing book - for these are all from one book - I did this series of sketches of our boys learning to shoot with a pellet gun on the farm. Food for thought.

Also on the farm, a composite of images, with Harry Baxter, in the middle, reading a book. A Yorkshireman, he married Robyn's mom in the mid-1980s, and the two made regular visits to SA from Leeds over the ensuring couple of decades. On the left is either Luke or Doug with goggles on his forehead.

The farm, Spring Valley, features some wonderful fruit trees, including pomegranates.

I tried my luck at drawing the surrounding mountains with oil pastels.

A quickie of Harry (HB) done on the back of that drawing book.

Just to show I still had a bit of quirkiness left in me, a bird from my imagination.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Getting personal

How do others see you? Indeed, how do you see yourself? You only ever see yourself in reverse, reflected in a mirror. So if, like me, you part your hair on the right, you only see it parted on the left, in the morror, unless of course you are looking at a photograph or video. Anyway, in the mid- to late-1990s I seemed to get it into my head to draw myself a few times. This is the result.

So the drawing shows a left-handed oke, with his hair parted on the left. Can't be me. Makes you wonder which ear Van Gogh cut off ...

The longer you check yourself out while drawing yourself, the more critical your pen seems to become.

This oke now seems totally disillusioned with himself.

Ah, at last something else to draw. Again, stuck at home with small kids, I turned to an indoor pot plant in front of our rather ornate, non-functioning fireplace.

This is reminiscent of some of the composite drawings I did while in the media centre at 1 Intelligence Unit, Kimberley, during my conscripted years in the late 1970s, early 1980s. The young lad at the top is probably older son Luke, while the shapes below are details of two carvings I did - the one on the left in the early 1980s and the other around 1977. Both are from chunks of driftwood found on the Bonza Bay beach. Note the gap in the elongated neck of one of the two figures on the right.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Storms River

Through relatives on my wife's side, we were fortunate to spend some time on a dairy farm in the lush Storms River area in the mid- to late-1990s. The surroundings are breathtaking.

I don't recall the names of these peaks, part of the Tsitsikamma range, but they are fascinating because they are so near the coast.

This one, viewed from the Elliotts' farm, is particularly striking.

Another section of the range, with tall trees in the foreground.

A dam on the farm, with foreground gate and posts, and cattle beyond.

I last explored the interesting shapes of cattle way back in about 1979, while a national service conscript. Again drawing with my eyes hardly ever looking down at the page, the effect is to distort the beasts in most peculiar ways.

Here a horse has joined the fray.

A couple more coos.

And, for good measure, two ducks.

Up close and personal.

The bird looks like some kind of plover. The main image is of a little shed, or suchlike, on stilts, in the garden of the farmhouse.

More plovers and a pig-like cow.

Lazing cattle and a grazing horse on the right.

Strangely, on this occasion the horse has assumed something of the character of those in Frans Marc's wonderful expressionist paintings from the early 20th century.

Two more Marc-like horses.

A cluster of cattle.

Not far from Storm River is Nature's Valley, where we spent a pleasant few hours in the heat of summer. This is a view down the river towards the sea, which is around the next corner.

This rock formation at Nature's Valley, which is the end point of the Otter Trail, has the appearance of some sort of primate.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010


July, 1993, and our second son, Douglas, was born at St George's Hospital, PE. Actually, he wasn't born Douglas. We named him a few days later. Some 17 years on he designed the header at the top of this blog. Anyway, I was lucky to find a pencil and paper when I visited mom and infant at the maternity ward three days after his birth.

This is a trifle shadowy as the picture is framed under glass.

Douglas at a few months in a car seat. It's not easy drawing babies!

His uncle, AB, thought we should have called him Sherman, after the tank, such was the nature of his torso. Today he is a six-foot stringbean.

Doug rests on a couch in his pre-walking days.

And he gives the thumbs up for his achievement of holding a toy telephone.

But his actual size can be gauged in relation to his mother.

Here is mom Robyn with short hair. Top right is older brother Luke, aged about 2-and-a-half.

This composite shows snippets of all three of the above.

Still in nappies, a headless Luke plays.

Those were done during a visit to my brother AB's home in East London. We also popped in at Latimer's Landing, just below the main bridge over the Buffalo River, which boasts the only river harbour in SA. This was the view from this waterfront development, which never really took off.