I spent most of last Friday painting the farm Koornkloof (“Wheat ravine” I think) deep in the heart of the Rooiberg mountains East of the town of Garies in the Northern Cape. The dominant peak is a Rooiberg (or is it Roodeberg?), a massive pyramid of red granite that is covered in snow in the winter. Both “rooi” and “roode” mean “red”. Koornkloof is in a narrow valley below beautiful blue and red boiler plate slabs of granite. There is a river flowing through the valley with, I suspect, a large catchment area to the North. So it is a fertile and well watered corner. I remembered large trees from the last time I was there but on this occasion, as I came round the corner my breath was taken away by a stand of massive fruit trees in full blossom. I think they were apricot trees but never before have I seen such big fruit trees. There were about twenty trees or more and each tree must have been 20m high. At first I thought they were great white rocks. Next to this copse was a stand of poplars that were even higher, leafless in their winter way. This is what I had come to paint. I worked on half size Arches 300gm cold press (380x570mm) which may have been a mistake as it took a long time to get the colours down. But it was fun to sit in the warm sun. While I was painting, a vicious looking beetle, black, with white spots on its back was working a grid up and down the embankment towards me. When it got close enough I threw dirt clods at it. It turned on me, then thought better of it and scuttled off into the bush. I think they are called Tiger Beetles. Here is the first watercolour:
The fruit-trees are off to the right.
I then went down to the other side of the farm and did this watercolour:
I was running out of time and getting tired so I tried to do this more quickly. One day I would love to get permission to paint from the farm property. I did not have the reserves to take the risk of asking farmers, who may be tired of tourists bugging them in the flower season. Though I think they are friendly on that farm. While I was there, two of their dogs came to visit, a large white Greyhound and a little Jack Russel and both were very friendly – dogs are a kind of give away.
When I was finished at Koornkloof I went further into the mountains to visit a B&B that had a signpost up. I mentioned to Cecily that I would try to find a place or make contact with the locals to bring some watercolourists out here one day. Well, I met the locals but in an unexpected way. A story for my next post.