Helderberg Farm

Ethan had a paint-ball party with his mates at Helderberg Farm today and I used the time while I waited for him to sit in the sun and do a painting.  This was the same view I did months ago.  I was keen to paint bigger but did not have my squirrel hair mop so there was a lot of picking up colour.


This is on 300gm Arches 15×22 inches.  It was quite a windy afternoon but I found a sheltered nook just below where I sat in May.  Unfortunately the horse-flies found me there.  And at least one tick.  And this guy who came cruising over my kit:


He really must find a new hairdresser


18 thoughts on “Helderberg Farm

  1. This is an excellent green painting, Stephen. I like all the texture you managed to pick up in this one. Your paintings of the farm are neat examples of the change of seasons. Sorry about the horseflies. They can be so nasty. Actually, the caterpillar is gorgeous! Is it huge like those spiders are?

    • Hi Leslie – thanks for the comments. My horizon curves a bit much for comfort I think, something I need to watch when I paint in the field. But I am quite pleased with this. The caterpillar is about four inches long. They are quite spectacular. The horseflies are a pain, but very slow so I can usually zap them with my hand.

    • Isn’t he great? From painting the mountains from the Pipe I am seeing more and more detail in the colours in the slopes. The work is to balance the need for the detail with the need for simplicity and speed. I have also been reminded of the right brain work, from Carol’s last postings. I have a sense that if I can sit and do the work, focusing on what is there, that my brain will sort out what has to be done and then the rest is about developing the skill with a brush to do it.
      And part of that is being prepared. I went without a water-bottle and without the brushes I needed. I also must consider taking a little table or an easel. Sitting with a board on my knees adds unnecessary disorganisation and I had to point my toes to get enough slope for washes. I must also make an easier bag to carry paper. All these things (o;

      Thanks for triggering this reflection…

  2. If you don’t stop showing photos of these horrid insects I will stop visiting your blog!!!

    OK, that was an empty threat, but really??? What’s up with the bugs?

    Stephen, a couple of comments on this painting. When I first looked at it I was stuck by the intensity of the colors. You don’t often use such intense colors and I think I like it!

    Next, this painting seems to have a bit more of an illustration quality to it I think. Maybe. I’m not sure. Hmmm…

    Lastly, there’s a slope to the mountains. Either it’s your composition or the fact that you balanced the board on your toes, but it has a nice movement to it.

    Now stop with the bugs.

    • yeah – what is this wildlife thing all about? interesting diversion.

      thanks for your comments – I find the slope in the horizon discomforting.
      And the colours really are saturated. there are so many greens in the hedges and there is a whole forest in the dip below the mountain with just the tops of the trees showing.
      I am not sure what the difference is between a painting and an illustration though this was pointed out to me a while ago with another painting I did.
      What is your understanding of this?

  3. The illustrator’s mission is to communicate the author’s written word in one potent image – that sparks the imagination – with enough information to communicate the story. It’s about marketing – creative energy. It gives concrete visual form to ideas. An illustration can also be ‘fine art – but fine art would not always qualify as illustrative’. With fine art, the concept and content is complete to the work. The fine artist doesn’t have to answer to anybody in the making of the work. Fine art can be self expression, usually with limited commercial applications. I’ve spouted a bit, but hope it helps.

    Lovely Spring painting – it conveys the lushness and even the wind and sunshine. I think it’s terrific that you’re ever pushing your boundaries and trying new approaches – and that you’ve given thought to Carol’s left brain approach. The grass in the foreground is a nice touch as well, adding to the distance from those gorgeous hills/mountains.

    I quite like the caterpillar – although those hairs can itch if you touch them – the only thing I can’t look at are spiders – the bugs add interest and are very ‘you’…sorry Carol.

    • Hey June – Succinct, pithy, to-the-point, informative – all of these your hallmarks. Thanks for the info. And thanks for the comments on the painting.
      It is interesting that this looks different as I wasn’t trying to do anything different in particular – just to capture the scene. Maybe something lekker is going on.

      And I have made a point not to touch these caterpillars – everything about them says “stay clear” hey? What can I say about bugs – another thread in life’s rich tapestry – heh heh

      I hope you are having a good Monday.


  4. Hi Stephen, thanks for your visit – it’s great to find another SA blog, and such lovely watercolours. This one makes me very nostalgic for my years in the Cape, which are getting further and further away. What spectacular scenery – you’ve got the light and expanse of it so well.
    My daughter touched one of those hairy caterpillars at about two years old – we all give them a wide berth now!

    • Hi Cathy – thanks for the comments on the watercolours. I love it here in the Cape. I really like your sketchercise notion.
      Ah – so they are bad news. That will confirm June’s comment.

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