Here is a watercolour of the view from the parking place in Welbedacht, that I did in my studio. I am not sure about this and will look at it as I work this week. I think the mountains could have been darker and perhaps the foreground. It shows the big Oak trees that grow there, all standing without leaves:
This was done on a half sheet of Arches (22 x 15). I think it needs some darks in the foreground.
On the way in, the bridge over the Olifants River was under water and I had to detour through Clanwilliam. So I arrived in the dark. I stopped under the Oaks and got a stove going with some bolognaise sauce and rice while I put up a tent. Except – no pegs and no poles. OK organisation is not my strongest suite. So I laid out the tent with a gaper (closed cell foam) pad and threw the fly sheet over my sleeping bag and lay looking at the stars through the branches. The place is far from any lights so the stars were stunning. I dozed off and woke later feeling cold so I zipped up carefully and pulled the hood over my head. But I could feel it was chilly. At about 03:00 I heard a leopard in the valley. They make a kind of sawing sound. It grumbled once more then was silent. Hey this is a free country, even though I was probably in his territory. At about 04:00 the moon rose over the mountains. I lay awake and saw some shooting stars. Just before dawn Orion’s belt rose. I woke at about six to find the higher peaks around me covered in snow. There was a thin sheet of ice on my fly sheet and the grass was white with frost.
After painting the watercolour in the previous post I packed my sack and walked up the Welbedacht ravine. There is a fair cave near the top of the ravine which I had thought of walking up to in the dark but I was glad I had not.
The top of the ravine emerges on the Shale Band that runs through the mountains here. This band has created a wide grassy band through which the locals have put a jeep track which makes great hiking territory. I sat at the top of the gorge and painted a watercolour of the view down the shale band. I was preoccupied with time a little and whether I should continue up to the cave at the Spout of return to the car. But here it is:
There were two more climbs to the cave and I finished at about half past one and reached the next plateau by about two. I sat looking up at the Tafelberg and the Spout and did the following watercolour.
Cedarberg mountains are fold mountains composed of quartzites (of the Table Mountain Group I think) the rocks are blocky and I need to develop a technique to capture them in watercolour. There are beautiful facets on the spout some of which caught the sun – definitely food for some practice. Also, the slopes were covered with snow which I tried to show with dry-brush – must think about this too. I met a party of three guys who had tried to climb to the top of Tafelberg (Tafel is a table and berg is a mountain) but they said the rocks were covered with frozen melt water so they were on their way down.
I then made my way up to the cave.
The cave is deep and climbers and hikers have built walls inside to section it off and provide shelter. But the day was calm and the afternoon sun poured into the cave. Lovely and warm. I melted a pot of snow with my stove and made a lekker cup of rooibos tea with soya milk and honey – mmmm! Then I sat on the ledge and painted this watercolour of the valley to the West.
OK not the best ever but there was a lot of detail in all the mountains and I was getting pretty cold sitting out there. I retreated to the cave and sat in the last sun making some rice and sauce. I set up my sleeping site at the back of the cave. One of the things I love about outings like this is I get to climb into bed at sunset. I lay reading by the light of a gas lamp and listening to the wind picking up outside and the icicles breaking off the cliffs outside and crashing into the rocks. It was warm and calm inside and I dropped off for a good snuz.
I will put the rest of the paintings in another posting. I am keen to paint the shale band from the sketches and photos I took.