All posts by Janice Scott

Blue and Gold – what those colours really mean to me.

I have come to understand something quite profound, as far as my life goes at any rate – because as anyone who knows me will attest, I am nothing like profound in anything I do or say. In trying to understand why I seem to naturally gravitate towards shades of blue and golds in my work, I discovered something about myself that I just wasn’t expecting.

First a bit of background.

I migrated to South Africa with my parents and younger brother in the late Sixties.  To say this was a traumatic time for me is the biggest understatement. I felt for many long years that I had descended into the very pit of hell itself.   It was only after I had been married for a few years and had kids of my own, that I understood and was struck dumb by the sheer magnificence of the South African landscape, particularly the Karoo and the Drakensberg mountain range.

I had always sneered at the way South Africans thought anything from 1820 onwards was ‘old’ – referring to buildings that had been preserved since the Settler’s arrived.  Anything pre-1820 (building wise) just didn’t exist.  I would always wax lyrical about how buildings from the Dark Ages had somehow been preserved in the UK and that this culture of preservation still endured well into the 21st Century.  The church where I was taught to sing in a choir and play organ had 11th century roots, so I knew many historical facts about the area where I lived (East Yorkshire – Beverley and surrounds).  How the monks had lived in a monastery just a few miles from where I lived and that even though there were no extant stoneworks from that time, the indentations and mounds marking the site of the monastery were still visible and in fact, I’d wandered amongst those places many times as a young teenager.   South Africa, as far as I was concerned, just didn’t have anything like the ‘preserved’ settlement history of the UK and Europe.  Well, that was until a trip we took to the Willem Pretorius Nature Reserve in the Free State.

Willem Pretorius Nature Reserve, Allemanskraal, Free State

We were living in Welkom in the Free State at that time and we often went out to WP Nature Reserve for picnics and occasionally took game drives. Here’s an archaeological paper about it on the ‘Net.   Situated within the nature reserve is the Allemanskraal Dam and overlooking the dam on an escarpment is the site of an early Iron age settlement.  On the day we first visited this site, it was already late in the afternoon and the sun was beginning to set across the savannah.  The copper gold light struck the top of the ridge we were standing on, illuminating the stone-walled enclosures, which perhaps were used to house animals.   The wind gently whispered through the acacia trees, it was so still and almost cathedral-like, standing there on this piece of earth high up on the edge of the mountainside.  People lived there hundreds, perhaps even thousands of years before.  It was such a humbling experience.

Petrified trees with your crisps anyone?

Several years later, we were driving through the Karoo on the way down to the Cape (we often did this trip, I have driven it many times) and we stopped by the side of the road for a picnic stop and to eat some padkos [food for the road].  I was lounging up against a lump of rock, sipping my coffee from the thermos flask mug, chomping away on my sandwich.  The kids were clambering about.  We all seemed to realise as a group, and all at once, that we were not sitting beside and on top of a lump of rock, more like a 230 million years old petrified tree! Right out there in the wilderness, minding its own business, not part of some tourist trap, sat a few broken up sections of trees that had stood there millions of years ago.

Something weird happens to a human being, when you realise you are standing in the footsteps of dinosaurs, it was easy for me to look across the ‘vok al’ [fuck all – euphemism for South African veldt] and imagine dinosaurs lumbering along.    And this is when I understood that my adoptive home was always going to be my ‘forever home’.

Even though I yearned to return to my birthland [the UK] and only did so permanently in December 2012, I cannot escape the fact that South Africa will always be my adoptive ‘parent’, my forever ‘mom and dad’. The blues of its edge to edge sky, the gold, bronze and deep ochre of the landscape (especially in winter) echo throughout my work all the time.  These vistas are genetic memories, not just memories of my short time living in South Africa as an immigrant.   It’s perhaps no surprise (at least to me) that I lived within a few miles of the Cradle of Humankind, you don’t get more historical than that.

 

Blue and Gold …

 

 

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New work (not for sale)

Something different (for me, at any rate).   Got a bit tired of one of my larger canvasses last week, so decided to jazz it up somewhat.  I don’t do this ‘pointilist’ type of work normally, so it was something strange to begin with but after a while I enjoyed the freedom.

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‘What do you see?’

Acrylics on pre-textured stretched canvas.

120cm x 100cm x 4cm

 

Close up:

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I have been working with water-soluble oil pastels most of the rest of the time and hope to have something half-way decent to post up here soon!

Water-soluble Oil Pastels

I got me some Caran D’Ache ws oil pastels the other day and some really wonderful Bockingford Hot Pressed Watercolour Paper – A3 size – I took 20 sheets. What a difference good ground paper makes!  It is really sturdy and quite stiff but takes a lot of manhandling with liquid and paint.  I have been wanting to get stuck into water soluble oil pastels for a while now and decided on the Swiss made ones as they do seem to be at the top of everyone’s recommendation lists.  And they are fantastic!  Deeply pigmented, wonderful to work with both off the paper (i.e. mixing as on a palette) and on the paper.  I have tried some layering in this picture, which was basically to test the vibrancy of the colours.  I intend to do a series of paintings using this Bockingford paper of impressions of the Scottish HIghlands … so who knows hey?   Anyhow, this is the result of today’s faffing about …

 

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‘Boadicca’s tree’

Water-soluble Oil Pastels (Caran D’Ache) on A3 Bockingford Hot pressed 300gms watercolour paper. 

Close ups of detail

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Back from Scotland …

I had an amazing time up in the Highlands of Western Scotland – this time to the Isle of Skye.  Photos can’t do the landscape any justice at all.  I will be working on some small art projects in coming weeks, where I try and capture some of my emotions felt when being a part of the rare Scottish landscapes.

I am also fiddling about a lot with themes for this website, as I haven’t found any that really go with how I want the site to look – so bear with me if it appears to be constantly changing!  I’ll get it right. Eventually.

Glenfinnan monument and loch …

Away we go again …

I don’t ever believe in not having enough on your plate, which is probably why I live in a constant state of manic flux and/or depression, depends what’s going on at any given minute.

I have a large family, maybe that’s not readily apparent from the posts on this ‘ere Art website of mine but I do – four adult children (two youngest are twins), five grandchildren.  There’s always something going on with their stories, never mind my own life, which does tend to take a backseat most of the time.   My youngest daughter is going through a whole load of troubles that I cannot bring myself to discuss on here (not the place, and all that).  Suffice to say, I have this constant anxiety bubbling away under the surface, just waiting to explode – so far I’ve kept it down.   However, I have noticed that whenever I am faced with a lot of anxiety and stress, I go straight to the brushes, paint and canvas.  Painting soothes my turmoil, keeps me sane (debatable) and my paintings provide me with a visual emotional reference map of the way I’ve been feeling at any point in my life.

Right now, I’m trying my damndest to get this website looking right … it’s been a slow process and I’m still not happy.  Thankfully both my sons are IT professionals and they don’t know it yet, but they are going to be wading in during October, helping me get it 100% spick and span.

I am also preparing to go up to the Isle of Skye  (end of this month), I get back on my birthday – 6th October.  To say, I can’t wait is such an understatement, I have been planning this for a couple of months already and I am only going to be away (in total) a week.  The Highlands of Scotland always inspire and challenge me, it’s the most magical, truly wild, place on earth.  My inherited surname (i.e. previously married surname) is Scott and there’s no getting away from where that surname originated.   However, I do have relatives in my own blood line, who were from Scotland – so there is a genetic connection there.  I like to think so, anyway.  I’m a sucker for a man in a kilt.

Oh yes, and I started reviewing books a while back – I have a separate website (blog) devoted to that.  It’s enjoyable and I’m interfacing (if that’s the right word) with a few authors, so that always helps me in my own writing endeavours.  I have several writing projects in the pipeline and I am not going to talk about them here, otherwise they just won’t get anywhere near to publishing.

I did some work on this little piece last week and won’t be doing anymore painting until I come back from Scotland.   This one definitely isn’t finished, but i thought it would be a nice gentle colour combo for Friday.

 

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“Light gold and blue”

20″ x 18″  Acrylics and inks, pastes and gels on stretched canvas.  Below pick close up of detail.

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Have a great weekend, see you all on the other side …