My first watercolour class was with Nicholas Galloway in Swakopmund. I remember the first night when he sold me paints, brushes and a sheet of 185g Arches cold press and got me going doing washes and colour mixing. It was frustrating and exciting. The world disappeared. I was enthralled. Once a week I would cycle over to his house over the road to the brewery and paint a watercolour from one of his Namib picture books. Here is one of my first of the sun-baked hills common to the area:
I did this painting on our bread-board. We would sit around a big table and Nicholas would play this lovely music on a reel to reel tape. There was one song about Autumn Leaves that sticks in my mind though I don’t know who sung it. There were two blonde girls who painted opposite me and whispered with each other – one of them did lovely sky washes, though I never saw her work in galleries. And there was a carpenter called Hans who worked on the same oil painting the whole time I attended the class. It would get dark and misty outside and the sweet smell of the brewery would waft into the room. Nicholas was kind of gruff and put me ill at ease. But I didn’t care – I just loved painting. He would serve coffee after an hour or so and we would continue workinig. While I was doing this painting I was feeling very self conscious and as I worked I dipped my brush in my coffee instead of my water-bottle. Ai – ! Then at 10 or something we would pack up and I would get on my bicycle and cycle home through the misty slippery streets, on an absolute high.
Here is painting of the mountains at Sesriem, at the edge of the sand-sea just East of Sossusvlei:
We once went there with friends for weekend. We camped under this huge Camel Thorn tree near Sesriem, a ravine where the early visitors had to tie six wagon-cords (ses – six, riem is a rawhide cord) to reach the water. The river goes under ground and when there is enough rain, surfaces in the middle of the dunes. We drove through the dunes and suddenly saw a sail from a sail-board moving through the sand. And over the next dune there in the middle of the driest area you can imagine – a lake where we had a mud fight that lasted hours.
Here is a painting I did in the class, of the rocks at Spitskop, from a photo I had taken:
And finally, here is a painting I did of a photo I took in the Swakop river valley.
We worked on a Uranium Mine (Rossing) 70km inland from Swakopmund. A couple of times we took mountain bikes and a support truck and rode home down the Swakop river valley after work on a Friday, sleeping in the river valley. I was dissatisfied and splattered it with something but actually it is not a bad little painting.