O’Neill Cold Water Classic – Misty Cliffs

Professional surf competition returned to Cape Town after a break of 21 years (apparently) and we went to Misty Cliffs on the West coast of the Penninsula to watch.  It was a grey day with threatening rain later as a new cold front came in.  But the sun broke through now and again this morning.   These events are fun and I wanted to have another go at capturing they buzz.  I wanted to paint at least one watercolour.  I have been hopping from one consulting job to the next for the last two months so it was great to just sit on the bank, tune out the crowd and paint.   So here is the first watercolour:


While I was doing this painting I heard the announcer tell one of the surfers in the water that it was a “lekker” wave.  He had to explain that it means “good”, which I have had to explain on this blog too.

And I did another one.  I went back to where we had parked and had a cup of coffee (Yirgacheffe – which has the most amazing aroma when it is freshly brewed).  Then I took my fold up chair, which lay on the ground next to me as I sat on a convenient rock.  heh heh.  I had also brought my studio brushes and used a nice #12 sable round for this.  So I didn’t have to keep pulling loose hairs out of the brush.  Here is the watercolour:


The settlement at Misty Cliffs is round the corner and the Kommetjie crayfish factory is just off-screent to the left.  By the time I had finished there were excellent, huge waves rolling in and my sons told me that there was some excellent surfing.  I packed my chair and got back to the event as the family were heading back.

Misty Cliffs is a great name – and apt for the area.  This morning I phoned my mate Andy to find out where they were competing and he told me they could hardly see the guys out on the water.  And so is Kommetjie.  A “Kom” is a bay and the “tjie” suffix is a diminutive.  So it is a town called “Little Bay” which a bit more creative than Scarborough, just up the drag which is another (admittedly evocative) name borrowed from Britain (or was it Simon and thingy – (o:).


20 thoughts on “O’Neill Cold Water Classic – Misty Cliffs

  1. Hi K – nice to see you – thanks for the encouragement – I am beginning to feel quite released in this business of sitting painting. – S

  2. What, no hunky surfer dudes? Seriously though, I also like the clouds and the mist and it’s nice to see the same scene at different tides and times of the day.

  3. Hi Stephen,
    I like both of these paintings, but the second one I could look at forever and get lost in. It has to do with that red and yellow along the shoreline with the darks layed in and then the way you handled either the tones or the brushstrokes as you painted up the slope to the right. The little bit of reds or burnt sienna to the middle left, in the distance, really holds my eye in and sends me back around the bend and into the painting. This is nice!

  4. Hi Stephen,

    How lovely to find your site and your beautiful watercolors. Even more fun that you have some beach & surfing related ones. Thank you for saying hello.

    • Hey Jamie – it is lekker to see you here – I just realised I have contacted you from my formal, very business like work blog – heh heh – cheers hey – Stephen

  5. Another set of lovely watercolors. I really like these. And Yes, I am one of the people you had to explain lekker to. Do you wet all of your paper at once and then work on it? Or what? I need some tips. These are beautiful.

    • Hi Carol – thanks – I am pleased with these. The approach I take now, following what I read in Herr Reid’s books, is to start in one part of the painting and complete each section as I go along. I used to do a wash covering the whole page and then build on layers as I went. But on a cool, wet day this would not work. I usually only get one crack at each place. Reid says you should start with your darkest dark to create a sense of value scale, and then work the in-between shades. I like this because it sets the initial risk really high and then I have to let go of all my fiddly tendencies. I don’t always do this though, maybe cause I chicken out. K, who also comments here, has said I should use bolder colours and I have been trying to do this. Part of growing in this world of watercolour is to do lots of it. This I believe applies to anything. In order to learn from our experiences we need to reflect on what worked and what did not. Putting my paintings on this blog is fulfilling a lot of that process, because I get feedback from you guys. I also have to think about what worked and what did not. So I appreciate your inputs and questions. I remember your question about “lekker”. I find your interest in what is going on most enlivening, something I would like to emulate.

      What I would like to do soon is to do a painting, step by step, taking photos as I go, to put on here. This would illustrate my approach, which my be instructive but also may draw some useful comments for me.

      Thanks for your enthusiasm


  6. Is that Charles Reid you’re talking about? After seeing some of his work on the internet I ordered 2 of his books and am trying (unsuccessfully)to control my eagerness for their arrival.

    It’s so interesting to read of your techniques and a step-by-step of one of your paintings would be just lekker!

    • Howzit Ink – yep thats the man – I love his approach and want to get it right in my own work. I have the tendency to fiddle instead of making bold, rich strokes. So this technique was quite difficult for me to take on. I wrote about it on the blog for my other world. Check it out here: http://conversaction.wordpress.com/2009/01/16/insights-on-learning/

      It is great that you have ordered his books am sure you are going to enjoy his lessons. His paintings zing with light and colour.

      Next time I paint here in my studio I will capture the phases. The guys on http://www.drawingboard.org/ have a tool in which they animate the phases and so you see the painting form on the screen which is neat – or, quite lekker (o:

  7. Dear “two blogs overachiever Stephen”, while I think Reid’s work is interesting, I do like the softness of yours. One needs to find the right spot in learning from a professional and finding how it works in your own work. That said, I did work from one of the Reid books and learned some, but my style (if I even have one) is quite different from his. Sometimes his splotchiness of colors works, sometimes I’m not crazy about it.
    Have a lekker day. I’m in a bit of a dwaal today. It seems like it’s been raining here for 40 days and 40 nights. Makes me just want to sleep. Now I will go visit your other blog. Have a swell day Mr. Stephen “two blogs” Quirke!

    • Hey Carol – good to hear from you. Yes you raise a healthy caution. I find it is easy to idealise these guys. When I write of CR I think of the paintings I really like. But I am not wild about all of his portraits and figures. mmm – worth consideration. I have a book of his flower painting technique in which he brings life to what can be quite a tired subject. Nice clean colours. And I always think of this when I think of colour use. Your paintings remind me of the work of Jean Dobie who wrote “making colour sing”. I adopted her suggested pallette.

      I am afraid you may not find much new on my other site – I wanted to post there today but I am feeling a bit drained. So my day was a bit – ho-hum. But I managed a surf even thought he sea is still a bit rough and I did a little painting which I will put up later.

      I read about all the rain you are having. Swell! – now there is a word I would like to use. I remember it from comic books from USA when I was a kid. Have a great weekend. I hope you get to lie in. You can also say “I am in a lekker dwaal hey” heh heh.

  8. Cheers Swatch I appreciate your informative reply. Your ‘Insights on Learning’ is a powerful post and one that I’ve bookmarked for reading again. It also served to quiet my fervour for the arrival of Reid’s books as it dawned on me that I’ll need to engage my brain -gasp! Really interesting to see your progress where you prove that practise and focus pay off – abundantly clear in your final picture – I can almost hear the waves.

    The nude on the cover of CR’s Book “The Natural Way to Paint” was the image that first caught my eye – fresh, few strokes with a limited colour range. Not knowing any different, I’ve instinctively mixed colours directly on paper instead of in a pallet but need to work on ‘less is better’. I agree with you and Carol that it’s a matter of adapting CR’s tutorials into one’s own painting style and there are many of his images that I don’t like.

    Oh dear, now I’m getting excited again about the books. Totsiens ;-D

    • Hey – books are great – for me ordering, waiting and receiving is always an exciting process. TNWTP is a great choice I also love the cover illustration, and there are paintings in the book I go back to over and over. There is a painting of an old guy on a fishing trip – ai! Baie mooi – (o: totsiens –

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s