This 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 point!

When 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.

Copyright 2003 Dale Elliott