Here is a watercolour of a group Sketching a peak, just next to Thaba Bosiu, called Qiloane.
This watercolour is 370x570mm on 300gm Arches Cold-Pressed (a half sheet).
First let’s get the pronunciation right. For the ‘Q’ put your tongue at the top of your mouth and make a click, like the sound of popping bubble-wrap. Then say ‘ill’ like in ‘pill’. Then say ‘Oh’ – ‘Ah’ – ‘neh’ (like ‘meh’ which is now a word). Q – i – lowane. And if you can get that right you probably grew up in the South of Africa.
A couple of weeks ago I did some work for a client in Lesotho. We stayed at a lodge called Khotsong, not far from Thaba Bosiu, the mountain where King Moshoeshoe (Mo shwe shwe) staged the epic defence of the fledgling Basotho nation before donning suit and hopping on ship to London to petition Queen Victoria for her protection from the Boers who threatened to wipe them out. I stayed over when the work was done and in the morning took a drive around Thaba Bosiu. As I left the lodge I passed an old lady walking on the road and offered her a lift. She took off her shoes and got in. She was going to Makhalanyane. We could not converse due to the lack of a common language but it was a pleasant drive with her quiet, somewhat taciturn presence. After dropping her off I doubled back and headed back to Thaba Bosiu. Instead of climbing the mountain I drove around the base till I saw the most picturesque peak. I took a dirt road up to a place, near a settlement where I thought I there was a reasonable view for painting.
I waved at a group of locals as I was settling down and a young boy came over to chat. He said his name was Pitso Mosifa and he immediately offered to draw the peak for me. I gave him a sheet of watercolour paper and he sat next to me and we worked on the view. Later his father came down to see what was going on. His name was Lidlhare Hlehlisi (the first ‘L’ is pronounced ‘D’ and ‘lh’ is pronounced by putting your tongue to the roof of your mouth and blowing around your teeth). He also offered to draw the peak and so I gave him some paper as well. While he was working, Thabang Phatsone and Manthabiseng Hledhlisi (Lidlhare’s brother’s wife) also came down to draw. And there we all sat, drawing the peak. I took a quick break to step back and take a few photos from which I have worked here.
Here are the works from my new friends:
None of these people exhibited any inhibition about drawing and they were all clearly satisfied with what they had created. It was all quite matter of fact and relaxed. As we worked some of the women returned from hoeing the fields and stopped to chat about the works of art.
And here is my painting of Lidlhare drawing Qiloane. I gave it to him when I left the scene.
Pitso explained to me that the hill Qiloane provided the model for the traditional woven hat worn by the Basotho. Google it and you will see Qiloane. I did not see many of these being worn, I think cotton floppy hats are more comfortable. Pitso also told me that Moshoeshoe took his tribe to live on Thaba Bosiu because his father had been eaten by cannibals at Buthe Buthe where they lived. Some other kids came and stood around. It was a delightful start to the day. All to soon I had to bid them farewell and headed for a meeting in Maseru before making my way through the border post and the road back to SA.
Here is the process for the painting I have just created.