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Sunday, 7 May 2017

Free Painting In Oils

It was time to put the brushes away after a lovely painting holiday in Botswana. All this time, I had been working from a single palette, simply putting new paint on top of old paint, and carrying on as I progressed from one painting to another. It seemed a shame to throw all of the lovely paint left over on the palette away. This was when it occurred to me that it was a brilliant excuse to do a free painting. In a free painting, all the leftover paint is used randomly on the canvas. The artist then stands back to allow a picture to emerge from the canvas. A few lines are added to allow others to see the picture as the artist saw it. This is a truly fun exercise which you are bound to love replicating in your own studio.

I start today's painting on Rolfes Gouache Pad.

The paper has a repetitive grain with holes.

My palette looks like this after 3 weeks of painting.

I use a palette knife to pick the paint up from the canvas. It is then smeared onto the paper without planning or thinking about it.

This is what my page looks like when all the paint had been transferred from the palette.

I now dip a brush in Liquin and start to blend the paint on the page. I also used my fingers before I was done.

This is what the page looked like when I was done. Now it is time to sit back and find a picture in the paint. Turn the page around if nothing pops out at you.

When I had turned my page upside down, a face suddenly appeared in the paint.

I used a fine round brush to paint the jawline and nose. The lashes and eyebrow was painted with a fan brush.

Here you can see what I used to paint the face with.

I titled this portrait 'Silence' and it instantly became my personal favourite of all the paintings I had done in these three weeks in Botswana. I could absolutely associate with the lady in the painting. What impressed me most about my visit to Botswana, was the silence, and I actually commented on this on my Facebook status update. I will share that comment with you at the end of the blog. This face does not have a mouth. It does not need one when it is indulging in the bliss that silence affords. My stay in Botswana was one of prayerful silence, and thus it made sense that the face would be drawn with her eyes shut. What she had to offer the world became secondary to what God wanted to say and do through her. This is what I love about silence. I get to meet God there. And there is nothing better than to lose one's own voice, if it means finding God's in its place.

A copy of my Impressions of Botswana:
It is time to share my impressions of Botswana. Anyone who knows me well, will be aware that I have an intense appreciation for silence. Botswana is silent. There are precious few billboards shouting its capitalist obscenities at you, and lamp posts, street corners and windows get to take up their actual place in life, rather than being turned into advertising space. With all of this visual noise removed, you get to rest your eyes on the beautiful scenery of the country, the wonder that are its people, and the expanse of its skies.
There is also no obscene onslaught on your nose. Even in Gaborone, a city that compares with any other capital city in the world, you get to breathe freely. There are virtually no smokers in Botswana. You get to exit buildings without inhaling the unwanted secondhand smoke of everyone else who felt entitled to force the effects of their bad habits upon you. Few planes fly over the country, leaving little imprint on those below. The air is clean, albeit humid. Once your sinuses clear up, you actually get to smell the roses ... or whatever alternative plants happen to be in your immediate vicinity.
When we finally get to actual noise that can be heard with the ears, the silence gets even better. I was very fortunate to visit with friends who did not have a television subscription (although you could opt for the full DSTV bouquet, if you chose to). Instead, they were selective with what they wanted to watch, and when, by choosing to watch DVD's on the odd occasion. This choice allowed time to play board and card games, but more importantly, it created space for conversation. We could philosophy, joke, learn from, and teach each other. The range of topics explored leaves one breathless, and the re-discovery of a friend's intelligence is an incomparable gift to oneself. Oh, that we would allow silence to re-enter our lives!
But let me not complete this observation without addressing the topic of friendship in more detail. I found the people of Botswana open, friendly, inviting, supportive and generous. There are no dividing lines between the people and true equality exists among all of its citizens. They are excited and proud about the place they live and they love to share it with you. I made a dozen or more friends in three short weeks and were allowed into people's homes and hearts with equal welcome. The warmth of the people is only barely surpassed by the warmth of the hot African sun that smiles down upon a country blessed with old-fashioned values that reminds strongly of Jesus' exhortation to love others as you love yourself.
What a privilege to have been exposed to all of these wonderful impressions. In all fairness, I have to leave you with a single warning, if you are considering a visit to Botswana; do not pack your heart, for you will lose it there, and you will be left with a deep-seated longing to return as soon as possible.

Marietjie Uys (Miekie) is a published author. You can buy the books here:
You can purchase Designs By Miekie 1 here.
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