watercolour down memory lane #1 – lowveld bush

Long long ago in a country … the company I worked for gave me an award for being a good boy and I got to go to a really upmarket game reserve in the lowveld near Nelspruit (whatever it is called now).  I got flu which was a shame but not really because when they all went hairing off into the sunrise to see game (which I don’t enjoy doing much) I wandered to the edge of the camp with my watercolour kit and did these paintings.  The Camp was perched on a koppie looking across a valley.  As I watched giraffe wandered about below.  And a leopard somewhere in the valley “sawed” his displeasure at my presence.  For a few hours it grunted and coughed while I painted.  In those days I did not paint much on site so it was a great way to spend the morning.  And the paintings were OK too I think – though I would handle them slightly differently now.  The granites on which I sat were covered with green lichens and aloes which I tried to capture.


In those days I used a half inch flat sable brush A LOT – then my brother Tim who is an artist of note (or so he tells me – no kidding he is – I would let you see his website or blog if he wasn’t such a Luddite) told me it was lazy or affected or something and I went back to rounds.


and the next:


and the last –


this is quite promising I think.  I almost gave these away but I am glad I have the referrence – I am so keen to go back to the bush to paint soon.


14 thoughts on “watercolour down memory lane #1 – lowveld bush

  1. I love the tree in the first and third one and the boulders are scrumptious in the third one. I compare those boulders with the ones you just completed and you can see how far you have progressed and that all your work is paying off. I like these trees you get with the twisted trunks, they look like figures and each one seems to have a personality of its’ own. Thanks for sharing these, Stephen.

    • Hi Leslie – it is like that – each tree has a character – and rocks too – each rock is different from the years of weather and the stuff growing on them. It is coming along hey? Thanks for the note

  2. What amazes me is that you were able to paint at all with a leopard growling or whatever you called it at you!!!!

    These paintings are fantastic. First, to see your work from a while back. Secondly, to see how much raw talent you have (grrrr) and lastly, to compare with your current work to see how you’ve progressed and or changed. So glad you didn’t give these away. (unless you gave them to me)

    I love the tree in the first one. It has such personality. And the last one gives such a feeling of expanse. The boulders in the two in the middle are massive. You like painting boulders, don’t you!

    Thanks so much for posting these!

    • Hey thanks Carol – yes I like rocks – rocks with lichen – thanks for all your nice comments. I did not feel at all in danger with the leopard though this could have been my own ignorance. I remember it was just so good to sit out in the sunshine in that beautiful place and being above the plain felt secure.

  3. Inspired idea to post your early work. As you know I’m ignorant, but I really like these. Can’t you use several types of brush in one painting, you know, to achieve a different effect for foliage? Because the flat sable work is very impressive.

    Those lovely, solid boulders show that you have such a feeling for form – my fave is second from the end – almost looks as if the Victoria Falls is in the background, although I realise it’s clouds.

    If I could paint like this I don’t think I’d bother to progress, I’d be quite satisfied with these.

    • Yes the rocks are like those grey boulders you get up at the falls. I think the climate is similar. Just before I left the corporate environment I went up to Vic falls for a conference and stayed for an extra weekend. What a beautiful place. I took some photos and I spent a day painting which was very very special. I still have two paintings from the day which I will post sometime. I also have a sheet where I sat in front of the falls and painted the main cataract. Then the wind changed and the mist came down and washed it all off. I went across to the Zamibian side and, because the water was low, was able to walk to the middle of the falls where there is a pool from which I could hang over the side looking down the falls. It was fun swimming there though a bit nippy with crocs around. And I went to the falls in the middle of the night to see the silver rainbow from the full moon. What a place! Maybe it is time to paint some of these scenes again.
      Actually now that I look at these paintings here I like them more – it is funny that. I am going to take your suggestion and use my little flat brush again.

      • Vic Falls is incredible and is one place I’m determined to take my son…maybe get him to bungee jump over it. The flat brush also worked really well on the boulders – I have lovely memories of sitting on similar rocks, heated by the sun, gazing out across the lovely African countryside.

      • Hope you don’t mind my afterthought, just wanted to share this as one of the things I watch when I’m yearning for Africa. It’s by Hennie Bekker, who was also born in my home town of Mufulira.

      • This is such a cool clip – the smoke that thunders – thanks for the attachment. Your son has to see this – my kids have to see this.

  4. Your rocks REALLY look like rocks ! I am impressed ! I am going for a week of painting and hiking, in a class with teacher and all. Hopefully when I get back I’ll be able to do a rock !! 🙂

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