Koornkloofplaas – watercolours of a beautiful farm near Garies

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.


12 thoughts on “Koornkloofplaas – watercolours of a beautiful farm near Garies

  1. Now I want to go here. I keep changing my mind. These are both beautiful. Love the farm nestled in at the foot of the Mountain. The color here is wonderful. I see the spring coming on!

  2. Hey Leslie – this is a great place. I was too late to see it this time but in good years they have vast fields of dark orange daisies.
    A number of times I had this vision of just drifting along the road, stopping to paint every now and again. The thought crossed my mind to turn left instead of right as I left Garies – heh heh – Namib Desert calls.

  3. These are so beautiful. I envy you your talent, for sure! I am excited to hear about your meeting with the locals, so I’ll be waiting for your next post!

  4. More beautiful paintings Stephen! And I’m glad you stuck it out. Had I seen that beetle I would have packed up and left! Can’t wait to hear the next story about the locals.

    A co-worker is on holiday in the Cape Town area and environs, I can’t wait to see her pictures and see if they can even compare to your beautiful watercolors.

    • Hi Carol – thanks hey – I will see if I can find a photo of a Tiger Beetle – they look very aggressive.
      Your associate is here at a good time, although we are experiencing our first real South Easter – the Summer wind – which can spoil some outings.
      I am coming to see what you have been up to soon. S

    • Hi Isabelle – thanks hey. I have sent a note to Mike Picker my friend the entomologist, whose name turned up in the Google search. I am sure he can help. I could not see the beetle in any of the sites that came up – it had distinct white dots on its back. (I am sure entomologists don’t talk about a beetle’s ‘back’). I will let you know.

      Cheers hey

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