Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Sunny days, freezing nights

Sun has been out these past four days so I have taken advantage of the weather with long afternoon walks. One evening I only made it home after dark with the help of a full moon, but I was frozen. Apparently this has been one of the coldest spells in recent history. Wise local farmers warned us to put away a lot of wood because the shapes of certain leaves last summer predicted a tough season ahead.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009


Nothing for it but to act like a bear. Cats haven't budged from their perches above the radiators for a week now. My studio is too cold to heat with the wood stove so I have just ensconced myself in front of the fire with a pile of books, some good music, and bowls and bowls of hot soup and coffee. If anyone calls from the Fair Cape to wish me the best for 2009, they get a growl in response. I can smell their tanned and salty skin over the phone, and bear turns into green-eyed monster.

Monday, January 05, 2009

A form of neurology?

Talking to a friend who is a psychiatrist in NY over the phone the other night, I heard myself say that if I could start my life over, I would like to become a neurologist because I am fascinated by human behaviour. "You mean a psychiatrist," he said. "No, that's too open to interpretation," I said. "I would like to really understand how the brain functions."

I am flying over to the US for a couple of weeks at the end of January to execute some portrait commissions, so grabbed some local children of friends to hone up my skills. As I was working on them, I realised of course that I am studying people when I paint them, and interpreting them in an artistic way.

I am far more interested in drawing people than anything else, and want to get away from illustration because I like the open ended freedom of painting from life. What happens, happens. If the portrait becomes winsome, or irritable or dark, it's a result of a living interaction between the sitter and the painter. My portraits of children are almost always commercially successful because children have not developed the complicated and sometimes conflicting nuances of adults. Adults usually have a preconceived image of themselves which does not always tally with my vision of them.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Remembrance of things past...

A recent photograph of the inimitable Thabo, who insists on walks no matter what the weather. Actually, the frost was beautiful, though the day cold, bleak and sunless.

Ah, the proverbial French lunch...most welcome after a tough morning of dedicated artistic pursuits. One of my students sent me this snap from a 2008 workshop with her New Year wishes. Thanks. It's good to be reminded that this winter too shall pass, and in fact the days are already getting noticeably longer...

Saturday, January 03, 2009

2009 New Year Resolutions

1. More exercise
2. Make time for more reading
3. Less chocolate
4. Less pottering about
5. More drawing and painting- at least one a day...

So last night after my friend Lyle cycled over for supper, and fell asleep in the fireplace, I quietly picked up a pencil and fulfilled at least one of the above.

Sun shining today, so now it's off for a long walk with Thabo, minus #3 in my backpack and at the same time checking off #1 and #4.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Brrrrrrrrrrrry Chrrrrrrrristmas

This is where I spent Christmas this year. Or is it last year?

But I was toasty in Dutch friends Ine and Franck's lovely house, Le Cabre Perdu, patois for the Lost Goat.

Why would anyone want to live in such a remote, lonely spot? Because this is what it looks like in summer. The charming Porcherie is the perfect retreat for nature lovers or readers loaded with a box of thick books. Go to this website if you are interested in spending a week here, summer or winter: