I’m always grateful to food authors like Aileen…
…who help me to bring familiar tastes into my home, and introduce my “American” family to what home cooking was like when I was a child. Somehow, one forgets a recipe – your grandmother’s pickled fish, or the smell of drying biltong – those marvelous flavours that paint a picture in the memory and take one to a much loved place.
I grew up on a farm, and one thing that you can’t help but notice, (and miss), about an African farm, is the peacefulness. We seem to rush about our daily chores with such focus on small, mundane tasks that we forget to notice the beauty around us. I was thinking about this the other day – my car is a mom-mobile. A simple A to B car, in which it would be perfectly fine to hold your head out of the window and sing, if you were so inclined. However, my husband’s car means business. You are well taken care of, comfortable with climate control, the sound system, and the fun of seeing exactly where you have to change gear before the raised eyebrow of “shall I drive, dear” comes around. With all this joy of driving, how is it possible to notice the outside temperature, the sound of the birds, or the smells of … (well, in my car, with kids, that is always questionable)?![quote]
I’m always grateful to food authors like Aileen who help me to bring familiar tastes into my home, and introduce my “American” family to what home cooking was like when I was a child.[/quote]
Over the last 18 or so years, I’ve tried to recreate those peaceful places on canvas. Or perhaps I’ve always tried, but need to more, in America. Perhaps the extraordinary geographic beauty of Southern Africa has imprinted onto our consciousness all kinds of appreciation for nature, wild places and open spaces. My paintings have always been about big, wide open spaces or wild nature, although travel has also had a strong influence on my brushes. Having a father who worked as a game ranger in early life made it easy to paint African animals. My parents would judge an animal by how happy and healthy it looked: something that really helped me later in life, as I want my animal paintings to reflect happiness, peacefulness and healthiness.
Our family was traveling in Australia recently, and came across an artist, Colin Perini, who’s focus, at that time, was seascapes. I was so inspired that I came home and went through my blue period, painting waves and the ocean, which is a very big part of my work. It took, well, several years really, for me to get good enough to sell my “wave paintings”. Only later did it occur to me that light blue is a very hard colour to match with American lounge décor! I’m a painter, not an interior designer!
I think that people of Southern Africa are particularly gifted when it comes to creativity. Perhaps, when kids are not given buttons to push or predetermined toys with rather defined outcomes, we use our imaginations a little more. It has always astounded me that in some extremely remote place, you find a craftsman with work that is ingenious and unique: a creation of excellence. Then you see their tools and realize that here is a master craftsman, having created beauty through tenacity and painstaking attention to detail. Out of so little this person has invented an incredible work: it is always humbling to see inventions like these.
We are all artists in one form or another. We are all inventors and have inventions waiting to happen, and sometimes, when the wind blows right or we have that luxurious thing called time, we discover some little magical thing that makes our secret heart sing. It happened to me the other day when I unpacked new furniture and found it required assembly! (But golly, it felt good when it was put together, and let’s not discuss whether there were extra pieces)!
Painting is a bit like that for me. All the planning, layout and thought that goes into a work does not mean it will be a good work. Sometimes, one just falls into the zone and it flows. Other times it requires careful study of the work at each little stage. And others times, not as often as one would hope, a miracle happens. There is an energy that sometimes takes over, so the picture becomes a bit of an adventure and I feel like the image is already there, almost painting itself. Strangely, the more one works, the more one experiments with colour and form, the more these miracles happen!
The hardest thing about painting is putting everything down, stopping all distractions, and focusing totally on your work. Once you start… well, it’s an adventure, really. A very good one, too.
Please feel free to take a look at my work on my website: www.paintpeaceful.com