A page from my sketchbook; Imagined Landscape (NFS)



We met Marius, our trail leader, and Bento the African tracker, at 'Berg-en-Dal' in the Kruger Park and then drove about 30km off the public road into the hills to the 'Bushman's Camp' enclosure for the three day stay. Here there were simple facilities, round thatches rondavel huts and a central eating Boma.  The huts were raised about 2ft off the ground on stilts - that makes it harder for snakes and other dangerous creatures to get into them.The enclosure, about 100yds diameter was protected by a wonky fence with two strands of barbed wire to keep out lions elephants, rhino and other indigenous animals .
We were woken and rose at 4.30 in the morning, as day broke, and after a quick wash, rusk biscuit and coffee, were ready to walk just after 5.00am. About 2 yards from the camp gate, on the first day Marius pointed out great skid marks where a rhino had made it's 'Midden', it's territorial marks with it's feet. That made me extremely wary as we walked out into the open bush.

We got close to a lot of Rhino A tense minute as this one below sensed our presence and moved towards us.The click of a camera had alerted it. After 500,000,000yrs of being 'Rhino', camera clicks and other metallic/modern type sounds stand out immediately as something out of the ordinary.

LAST EVENING - we speid ywo Lioness with several cubs.
This lion kept guard whilst her other female companion fed their little cubs.
  She had suddenly charged, then stopped when the warden shouted, about 25ft away (two or three leaps away) and crouched . We were in a canvas covered truck with open sideds , but she was looking us strsight in the eyes - so much for saying  the animals are unaware of people in vehicles!!
After sitting motionless, looking as calm as a sphinx, she began excercising and unsheathing her claws as we see kittens do when playing and about to pounce, her tail twitching in readiness for the next charge. Marios said "I think we must go!" starting the engine - too right, she chased us for at  least 50 yards along the road, just to show who had right of way.
 These are captured off my video - the battery failed as she ran along the road behind us!

Earlier the warden had spotted a leopard in the afternoon, only 3 of us in the party of 10 saw it as it slid away so silently into nowhere in a moment. Sorry not time to even raise the camera.

Some of the incredible variety of bird life seen in South Africa, most were in the Kruger Park. Their songs are something one needs to hear, to believe. I bought a CD - "Birds of the Kruger National Park" Volume 1, there are 100 different bird sounds on it. There are 8 types of Cuckoo on this volume!
I don't know the exact details of the different species here so put (type?) when in doubt and in case anyone can enlighten me

Above: "Giant Kingfisher".
This Large chap looks like a cartoon version where his head is too large for his body and body is too large for his legs. But he looks like he means business, He was massive - about 8" or 9" tall. He ignored me, intently spying out his next meal, then after a minute or so was gone . (Crocodiles were in the water below too).
Above: A tiny "African Scops Owl . 17cm tall. Eats insects and spiders mainly.

Above: Cormorant type? bird.

Above: Brown Snake Eagle?

Above: Glossy Blue Starlings

Above: Hoopoe

Hornbill ("Grey" I think?)

Above: "Striped Kingfisher"

Above: Myna bird

Above: Colourful Swallow

Just returned from South Africa where we had two days walking with Charlie Crowther-Smith my old school friend, and others, on the "Bushmans wilderness trail" in the Kruger National Park. Here's a quick painting of a ' Koppie' (small rocky hill) outside of 'Bushmans Camp'. Painted at about 2.00pm, no animals were at the waterhole because there'd been much rain so they had other sources - but two eagles were circling above. Our walks and encounters with the wildlife at close quarters is another story .....

Set For White Horse Opera.
I joined to sing, but also am required to design and make the sets*. Busman's holiday. (*with help from some chorus members and other kind people!!)
See also http://www.whitehorseopera.com

Copper Beech, Little Cheverell, Church

COPPER BEECH - adjacent Cheverell Church
Copper beech trees are wonderfully colourful, particularly if you can get the light behind them in the spring. This one has evening light on the front.

A mosaic experiment with watercolour (15 x 22 cm).
Did this eons ago. The LH lower corner is in miniscule detail . Here I've reproduced it in negative alongside the original which I find an interesting effect - it glows.

"JONATHAN FARR" Portrait. Oil on board 35cm x 31cm.
Jonathan and I painted each other in a quick painting session in January. It was a tricky arrangement as we were both moving all the time, making it difficult and the result seemed unsatisfactory. Looking at it now it seems a reasonable likeness although he said I made him look older - definitely a valid criticism - Oh dear! (also someting about it looks vaguely Red Indian. )

Salisbury Plain

Late afternoon in oil. A quick study, over fields towards Cheverall.
12cm x 25cm approx.

The trees throw long contrasting shadows over the grass in evening light. An idea for a painting. I'd like to capture the moment of light .

A quick dash of Spring - buds and blossoms from my studio window. Rather a lot of greens, maybe I'll do a bit more to it - and hope I don't spoil the freshness. Maybe I should just start another.

A long holiday from blogging but I want to get it lively again. Went to Bath a few weeks ago and had about 20 minutes free to draw so tried something architectural, the Pulteney Bridge - it is in a small Moleskin drawing book and done with chunky new propelling drawing impliment which doesn't smudge easily and which, I think, will prove really useful in time. Methinks the drawing looks rather unfinished on the right (where there was a scrawny spreading tree).
Feel this blog has gone slightly awry as it is meant to be about 'Painting' but glass and drawings are getting onboard. I'll try and rectify the situation soon.
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