early painting, completed 'on the spot' on a cold winter's
day, is one of my favourites of the many hundreds that I
painted in the area. I think it is because
it has a homogenous tone value, and it is so typical of
the brittle harsh winters that are experienced in the area
where twice in the past years the lowest Southern African
temperatures ever have been officially recorded. (Near the
Pen Hoek Pass, at the Buffelsfontein weather station ).
This culture of cold winters and scorching
summers is still something I miss, in our newer abode in
the cushy and much milder ecosystem of the Garden Route!
I enjoy the way the town in the distance huddles in the
protection of the well-known ring of mountains - Madeira,
Longhill and the towering and snow-clad Hangklip, one of
the highest peaks in the greater area.
I must have painted Hangklip scores of times, and it is
a typical example of a 'beautifully South African' mountain
- with classic shape, beautiful colouring, compatible foothills
and of course the flat top that is a dead cert at the sales
I paint a picture I usually ask myself three basic
questions at the outset. I shared
this tendency with our son Mel, who is also a keen artist,
recently, and he says he has gained benefit from applying
them as well. The first question is: 'Will
the scene make good art?'. Some things,
like snarling tigers on jungle logs, or the big five painted
on leather, or too much cottage and cosmos, don't usually
make good art. Choose your subject carefully.
The second question : 'Will my efforts be a win-win as
far as the subject-matter is concerned.
Try to paint what you love to paint, and what the
people out there want to buy. That way
everybody goes forward. If you love both
warthogs and giraffes, paint the warthog, as they sell better!
Many good artists battle, because they just paint the wrong
things. And thirdly, ask yourself
: 'How can I make my job easier?' Assess
your task, and, without running away from challenges, make
sure you choose a modus operandi that you can handle, to
give adequate expression to your content.