Monday, December 2, 2013

We're taking a Dream Journey in 2014....are you coming?

It was a glorious summer day.  
With great excitement, my friend Sonja and I presented our second and final workshop for the year.  We were surrounded by majestic horses, cajoling bushbuck, trees of glowing greens 
and the sweetest of birdsong.  
And just as we concluded the day - the blessing of soft and cooling rain. 

We made our own journals.  
We reflected.  
There were things that were holding us back from reconnecting 
to our heartsongs.

So first we had to give ourselves permission to listen.

Then we made maps of our 
life stories. 
Because in order to understand the journeys that our hearts 
are leading us on, 
we need to make sense of 
where we have been.  
And where we are now.  

And so the journey of rediscovering our hearts have started.  
A Dream Journey. 
 There's so much more 
to come in 2014.  
Are you courageous enough to join?

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Majorelle Blue

The Jardin Majorelle in Marrakech, Morocco is a botanical garden that was created by oriental watercolourist, Jacques Majorelle, during the 1920s and 1930s. 

Although the garden was opened to the public in 1947, the world rediscovered it when the late Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Berge became it's owners in 1980.  This was a place of great inspiration for YSL. Each time he visited, he created a specific design for the garden.  All of which are on display today in the garden's museum.  His ashes were scattered here when he died in 2008.  
It was that close to his heart.

Jacques Majorelle will not only be remembered for creating this incredible space, but also for the special tint of blue that he used on the garden finishes.
 Today this rich lapis lazuli blue with a hint of magenta, is referred to as Bleu Majorelle.

 I've had this dream to one day have a proper garden that is filled with scatterings of this wonderfully rich tint. I don't consider myself as somebody who is gifted with green fingers. But you might say that my fingers are blue... with paint....  
So I decided to start by having my own version of Majorelle Blue mixed. 

For a test run, my 2 year old and I tackled some of my outdoor moroccan lamps with paintbrushes. 
(Note to all: Use waterbased acrylic paint when joined by a toddler in your painting ventures!  It is odourless and washes off with water - no turpentine needed.  Oh, and a plastic paint jacket really goes a long way to help preserve the little one's clothing!)

Love this blue, but it needs to be toned darker for future projects.


Once my vision is implemented, I might just end up calling
our farmhouse Maison Majorelle....
What do you think?

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Close to my Heart

Taking pictures of the progress of a journal spread or painting really filters out the emotional attachment that I seem to develop while working on something.  
 I tend to work very light. 
Because I'm a watercolourist at heart, you see.  
My darks can, most of the time, be made even darker.  
The camera lens gives me an objective eye to track my progress and the depth of contrast. 
Thank you digital technology! 
And thank you Jane Davenport and Rachelle Panagarry for your inpsiration.

And here is the final spread. 
Supply list: Acrylic and watercolour paint, brayer, acrylic texture paste, spraypaint, handmade stencils, stamps, coloured pencils, collage on watercolour and mulberry paper.

Windows open.

And windows closed.

3 moonchasers on the loose

There is much to be said about rituals. Being in a ritual space elevates any event into a highlight in one's consciousness. Creating rituals in family life frames those experiences in our future memories. I am a great believer in making something special out of everyday occurences and elevating them into small celebrations of life.

At this point in my life I would rather light a candle or pick flowers or make a mark on paper with my two year old than use my limited time and energy to tweet or facebook about it. Because toddlers benefit more if they are engaged in an event with tactile sensibilities in order to mark an event. A case in point was when Angeli's dad skyped her from the US during a trip. He said goodbye by gesturing a hug. She was left in tears, turning her back on the screen and sobbing that she liked real hugs.

So the other day at dusk, quite unplanned, the 3 of us jumped into our red pickup truck and took a scenic drive to a lookout point close to our house. We watched while the full moon was rising quietly while sounds from the valley below drifted upwards. Geese, kestrell, ibis, bullfrogs, the odd dog barking and some human voices. It was magical. No music. Nothing to drink or eat. No camera. Just us 3. Our eyes. Our ears. Magical.

When we drove back after dark we realised that this was the second time we had chased the moon. And so a small family ritual was born that day. That easy. That quietly.
Like praying together at the start of each day that we are gifted to experience together.
Small little tokens that will bind the 3 of us together forever in our memories.

Precious are the days that we are given to be witnesses to each others' lives.
We need to make them count.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Experimenting away..

Just a quick check-in to say that I'm still here experimenting - mostly at night. You will find me in my little studio somewhere between 10pm and 2am amongst puddles of gel medium, blobs of paint, snippets of paper and stacks of journals while listening to audiobooks about travel. I am taking art-infused nocturnal journeys. And to me they are truly epic!

Right now the soundtrack to my nightly antics is Travels with Charley by John Steinbeck. I've been unable to travel on my own as much as I used to since the birth of my sweet little girl. And that is ok for now - for this is a very brief season in my life. She is growing up so fast.

You might wonder where I am going with all this? Truth is, for the first time in my life I don't have any idea what all these trail-and-error artsperiments may lead to. I am living on very little sleep but oh I am having tons of fun and I am learning and absorbing so much in the process.

Here are some of the results..

Monday, August 12, 2013


My Mermaid Circus handmade journal is slowly filling up. Just finished another page last night. I have a deadline, you see! 30 August is drawing closer, and with it follows our spring here in the South - on 1 September. 3 more pages to go and I'm there! My little girl whirls into my studio every couple of days now and then she asks to see the mermaids. Everytime, she carefully puts down the tiny book on the sofa and turns every page very carefully with her little 30 month-old fingers. She takes in every page, every detail. And while she stands there I can see glimpses of her adult self paging through this book when perhaps I'm not there anymore, somewhere in the future.

I want her to remember, to feel my love - a secure foundation that will provide the impetus behind her determined steps as she makes her own positive imprint on the world with passion and with confidence.

I'm leaving her my story. Illustrated testimonies of what perseverance, prayer and love can do. The beliefs and values that I live by, and how these remain a steady vehicle that carry me through the rollercoaster of day-to-day human emotions and trivialities.

I'm not just creating journals, I'm leaving a legacy.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Dreaming in the Dust

July and August are the driest and dustiest of the rain free, sunny winter months here on the Highveld of the southernmost tip of Africa. Amidst all the greys and browns that now dominate the rather drab and sleepy scenery around here, I was visited by my dear friend Marise who now lives in Mumbai. She shared many stories from her life in India and with them, she brought the promise of colour. The yellows of saffron, canaries and ochre, the reds of sumac, pink peppercorns and pomegranates, the blues of indigo and of peacocks, the greens of limes, Darjeeling tea plantations and cardamom. Perfect to get me through the last few parched weeks of winter until the first spring rains transform everything into lush emerald. So until then I'll just be here dreaming...

Monday, June 24, 2013

Wanderings Under the Sea

Still immersed under the surface and filling my little handmade journal entitled "Cirque de Sirene" with merfolk and their companions. All thanks to Teesha Moore's and Jane Davenport's incredible guidance with Mermaid Circus. It is still a work in progress with more illustrations, collage, lettering and writing that need to be added, but here's a sneak peek....

The cover..

..and inside...

Just had to include a miscievous merman ...did you know that mermen actually chase tubes for fun? That is where surfing originated from! But nobody would've believed it if the first human who saw it and then tried it, said that he'd seen mermen do it now, would they? Just a thought...

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Adventures with the Mermaid Circus

For the past eight weeks I've been running away to the Mermaid Circus. I've been immersing myself mainly at night. I've been spending hours and hours watching and learning from the most wondrous mermaid acts on the planet. Rediscovering how mesmerising dolphins, manta rays and sea turtles can be. Discovering mysterious sea creatures that no human eye has seen before. Oh my....what a thoroughly enchanting artventure this has been!

Sadly, tomorrow is the closing parade. It will be a tearful departure! I will miss my fellow students' support and feedback and the inspiration of all the wonderful artwork that was created daily and posted on our Facebook Group. Around 500 individuals worldwide - supporting each other consistently for the entire period.

Our instructors were the incredible Jane Davenport (Australia) and Teesha Moore (US). Both are prolific artists with very distinctive mixed media styles. If you ever consider doing an online mixed media short course that provides nuclear potency instruction on the use of different art materials, visual journaling, making a journal, lettering, collage, learning to draw the figure (torso) and the face with the aim of creating illustration type art work - this is The One! And you will get so, so much more from it!

Just to show how freeing this class really's a mermaid that I did by using my fingers to apply the paint first and then I drew the figure with a colour pencil over it. I was actually playing around just to test some new flesh coloured paints that I bought today and this just happened. It feels like another breakthrough in my art .... never done anything like this before ..... love the freedom of it!

Saturday, May 25, 2013

The Messier the Funner!

When I opened my eyes very early this morning I was staring into the freshly painted red nose of my beaming little 2 year old - with many more green and red paint patches on her face. My first disoriented reaction was to get those little hands away from the white cotton bedding, but then something stopped me.... I realized her excitement and chose to rather make a fuss of the fun she was having. Then I was surprised by another painted adult face above me and I giggled myself awake properly. She and her daddy were having fun in the kitchen - painting on more than just the large sheet of paper they had layed out on the floor! Hands, patches of floor and a few strands of hair were also included in the extended canvas. I wondered how we were going to clean all this up. Then let go of the anxiety. Jumped in and enjoyed it all with them. And you know what? The cleanup took us less than 10 minutes. A teeny weeny price to pay for roughly 90 minutes of full immersion into fun! My toddler teaches me so much about focusing and being in the moment with body, mind and soul. And in the process, my own creativity is I'm off to the studio now.

So when was the last time you had creative fun like a toddler? Try this - I promise, it will recharge you. Give yourself 15 minutes. Grab 2 or 3 colours of any watersoluble paint. Grab a sheet of an old newspaper - yes, you will paint over the print and the pictures....! Dip your fingers into the paint and start doodling. Make basic shapes, dots, swirls, lines. Don't plan or draw anything specific. Just immerse yourself in the colour and the feel of the paint as you slide your fingers on the paper. That's it - done! Wash your hands, throw the newspaper away or leave it to dry. You will feel nourished and refreshed - guaranteed.

Happy weekend sweethearts!

Friday, March 29, 2013

The Silence of an Easter morning

For me, Christmas Eves and Good Friday mornings have one thing in common. There's a silence, a peaceful silence that envelopes everything. In the preceding hours, there's a frantic rush to get to wherever people choose to spend these holidays.....and then, silence. It is quite fitting, seeing that this is exactly what the Bible tells us happened after Jesus died on the Cross. Silence. And then the earth started shaking.... It turned out to be the silence before the proverbial storm. But because of that day, we can now relish this silence and enjoy an inner everlasting peace despite our external circumstances. If we choose to believe. May this peace find you. Have a wonderful Easter everybody!

Sunday, March 3, 2013

A Picture Speaks.....

I've been at a loss for words lately. So many thoughts criss-crossing like little intersecting footpaths in my mind. Each of them leaving indelible imprints on my consciousness - so many possibilities, so many options, so many probable outcomes. One thing remains certain. I choose to take the road less travelled.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Insp'i Rayyo 1 infuse with enthusiasm
...en...thuse...en...Theos be infused by God ancient times, people chanted "Ole...ole..ole" when an artist gave an inspiring performance, according to writer Elizabeth Gilbert. It literally meant "I see God". That is exactly how I feel when I am inspired. It is to experience a glimpse of godliness in your spirit. We even have expressions in English to decribe it. We say things like, " spirit has been lifted...or; I feel so lighthearted..!"
Everytime I encounter something that inspires me, this is how it feels. I see a glimpse of God.

Insp'i Rayyo will be brief, flash blog entries where I share with you those things or people that give me "a glimpse of God". The word inspirayyo is Portuguese for inspiration. Such a happy word full of rhythm. You could dance and sing to the sound. Which is what inpiration does to me.

Meet Sibella Court, stylist, adventurer, hunter-gatherer of objects with stories and owner of The Society Inc. in Paddington, NSW. I just received her latest book, "Bowerbird - creating beautiful interiors with the things you collect". This is so clearly not a book commissioned by a publisher. This is a concentrate of Sibella's passion for collecting, styling and arranging handforged, found objects that she also displays in her home and in her shop. Her authenticity and enthusiasm is contagious. Beautifully photographed by her brother Chris, this book is one of my treasures.

Saturday, February 2, 2013


Lately I've been focusing a lot on drawing the face. I am mesmerized by the symmetry and proportion of the human face. There's a formula to achieving these proportions and if you follow the formula, you are able to create a portrait. Not only that, but every drawing renders a different face, just by making slight changes to the shape of the eyes, the nose, the eyebrows and the mouth.

Something wonderful occurs when you start shading the face, for the human skin is able to reflect the colors of its surroundings. The real magic happens when the eyes are colored and shaded. In an instant, there is life and light and emotion. And you suddenly understand the old saying, "the eyes are the windows of the soul".

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Learning, experimenting and having fun

Lately I've been having midnight (art) feasts all by myself. And lots of espressos in the mornings after! I've been binging on new techniques and I'm having so much fun in the process. Happy weekend everybody!

The little things

In our part of the world it is one of those summers where every element competes in its extremity. Sweltering heat interspersed by monsoon like rain resulting in verdant and fluorescent greens. Just when my 2 year old and I reached the point furthest from our house, down by the gate, it started showering again. We huddled underneath the branches of one of the young oak trees next to our driveway and stood there watching it all. And time stood still. And everything happened in stereo and in slow motion. There, under the outstretched arms of that oak tree. We looked up into a sea of surging sap green, pitter-patting gently as soft droplets escaped down through the swarm of tiny umbrellas. We were shrouded into our own little cathedral by soft sheaths of grey. And I realized that what I am feeling is exactly the same elation that I've experienced when I looked up into those giant Redwoods in California. There is great wonder around us! If we're willing to stand quietly, watch, listen..

Today was another hot, sunny, ice-cream-eating day. And my little girl and I did just that. I sat quietly watching her as she enjoyed the messy coolness, taking in every curve of her tiny face, her large doe-eyes, the golden curls framing her little face - the blissful abandon of just being in a tiny moment.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Serendipity ....the sequel in my previous blog entry I told you about the strange chain of events around the books of dr Seuss. Well, what I omitted to tell you was that on our return flight from LA - 2 days after discovering the art gallery in Coronado with all of his paintings and original illustrations - my daughter got a little complimentary backpack and inside it we discovered snacks and....a book by dr Seuss entitled "Oh the Places you'll go!". Angels for sure.

Sunday, January 6, 2013


Some call it serendipity, some call it coincidence. But the pattern of events is just too exceptionally similar to be coincidental. I choose to believe that it is God choosing to remain anonymous...but then maybe not...maybe He is really showing His continued presence and delight in what we do.

I will always remember the look of amazement and delight in my daughter's eyes when she experienced snow for the first time. This tiny little 23 month old being who gazed up in awed silence while snowflakes were softly floating down around her. And the incredible joy I experienced while watching her. I believe that is how our Creator delights in us when we travel and enjoy this beautiful planet.

I am talking about the fact that, just before we left South Africa for our trip to the States, I developed a fascination for the works of dr Seuss. To the extent that I read some background articles about the author and about his children's books. I decided that although I didn't grow up with his books, I was going to introduce his works to my daughter when she was old enough and promptly bought her The Cat in The Hat.

Little did I know that just after New Year's Day, I would run into an art gallery on San Diego's Coronado Island that displayed a myriad of his original illustrations, sculptures and paintings, nor was I aware of the fact that he actually lived in La Jolla, San Diego. I met the curator, Rebecca, who shared endearing personal anecdotes about dr Seuss that gave me a deeper understanding of his life's work even more. It was as if I had been prepared for this experience so that I could really enjoy it when it happened.

The same happened when I chose to buy Jack Kerouac's book, "Lonesome Traveller" and John Steinbeck's "Travels with Charley" just before we started our road trip. What I did not know was that Jack Kerouac and the Beatniks frequented San Francisco to the extent that there's a Beatnik Museum close to Jack Kerouac Alley, next to an old bookstore that specializes in Beatnik and alternative publications. We ran into all of this while doing a walking tour through Little China in downtown San Francisco on 24 December.

On 22 December, we were crossing the Oregon stateline into California en route to the Redwood National Forest while listening to CD 6 of John Steinbeck's audiobook. What a surprise it was to find that this section of his book was about his own journey along the Oregon Coast into California's redwood forests more than 50 years before....on the very day that we were driving the very same route! Way too much coincidence to be random methinks. Yup....angels watching over us, for sure.

In the footsteps of pearl divers

Maybe it is just me, but every time I arrive in Dubai, they very air smells of spice and incense. Not surprising, because all of the ancient spice trade routes ran through Arabia. It is as endearing to me as the first call to prayer in the dark hours of morning. Almost like a homecoming. But then this is where I once lived .... And still do - if only for a few days a year - but I still do, in my heart of hearts.

This time round I have the thrill of introducing my Dubai to my baby daughter. At the crack of dawn, the two of us went for a stroll this morning - a little slice of life that is a rarity and a grave security risk if you live in South Africa. And I told her about this place that holds such a big chunk of her mummy's heart.

In the afternoon, my friend Janice and I went urban sketching in an area that is one of the best kept secrets in Dubai. The Bastikiya District, next to Dubai Creek. One of the oldest settlements in the city back in the day when Pearl diving and fishing was the main source of income some centuries ago. Long before the discovery of oil. Complete with traditional wind towers, hidden courtyards, rooftop terraces, mysterious winding alleys, renovated and dotted with art galleries and guest houses, yet intimate and quiet. Pure magical bliss! didn't hear it from me.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Of journalling on the go and doing like the locals do

And so the calendar has turned to 2013 unobtrusively while I was taking in the California scenery.

If you think that your thirst for travel is quenched after weeks in foreign territory and a 2000 mile road trip. Think again. The road merely opens up more possibilities. Next time we should overnight here...maybe stay 2 nights in this and that quaint little seaside village...take more time for a photo safari in that about bringing our friends to do a mountain bike tour of the area...plan our time so that we can make more stops to take in the scenery at viewing areas...and so on and so forth. I believe one should always have a reason to go back.

I am not one who gets up at the crack of dawn armed with a checklist of tourist attractions for the day. I prefer to do as much as I can like the locals do - go to a local coffee shop, sit, watch the people, sketch live, listen, interact, ask questions, read, try to understand. Then come back at night and when everybody's asleep - journal!

For the first time, I made my own journal in preparation for a trip - thanks to Mary Ann Moss' online course, Remains of the Day - please do go over to her blog and have a peek if you want high doses of inspiration.