Thursday, January 24, 2013

New Nuances work: Cape Columbine

Cape Columbine
photo montage
limited edition print on acid free art paper
84 x 84 cm
Edition size: 5 (4 available for sale)

This Nuances work is inspired by and created from photographs I took while walking on the coastline of, and South of, Paternoster on the West Coast. The mark of (hu)man is evident in most of the areas along this coastline, but it remains an amazing and breath-taking stretch of sand, rocks and marine life. Protected areas such as the West Coast National Park and the Cape West Coast Biosphere Reserve (CWCBR) are very important in protecting sea life, animal life, fynbos and intricate eco system(s) found on the West Coast of South Africa.

Buy yours now at

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

West Coast Fossil Park

We visited the West Coast Fossil Park this weekend, and it was a wonderful and enriching experience. Check out the Fossil Park's website at And the park is really worth a visit - make sure to join a guided tour!

BONES: Stories, secrets, history
Bones tell stories
Bones keep secrets
Bones contain history 
Secrets about the past
locked away in sand and rock
Stories about life before now 
Uncovered, polished and displayed
Stories about days long forgotten
Secrets that may teach us something about today

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

2013: Change, simplicity and focus

This year is already growing into something beautiful. My first two weeks were filled with family time and recharging for the work that lies ahead this year. I also have some new opportunities, and the potential for new directions to take with my art, my writing and interactive projects. However, I feel that I have to find a balance between following new paths, and completing and continuing older projects and ideas.

Let's look at the specific aspect of my art - before starting a completely new and fresh body of work, I need to finish the series of work that I started last year. Or do I? Maybe not. My body of work on marks left on the landscape could be contained and accumulated into the SAND(SPOOR] performance that I performed at the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown in July 2012. This means that I can focus my attention on a new body of work that expresses and symbolizes my own growth and the increasing maturity of my work. 

Another example is the continuation and building of the Scapes project and Green Your Art. Do I need to follow through on what I intended for these projects to become, or should I be open to them transform, develop and shift into something new or different? I think that I am ready to let go of the things that didn't work and flow in 2012, and to free myself from old expectations. I am open to collaboration and to these projects growing into something more focused, more simple, or that they merge with other organizations or groups in a way that we can make more of an impact together, with shared responsibilities, and joint energy and effort. If you're interested in being a part of the new direction for GYA (Green Your Art) and the Scapes project, let me know at

I am looking forward towards a year of renewed focused on creating art. With a renewed dedication towards exploring the processes and aspects of nature and landscapes; and expressing these explorations and insights through creative media and methods.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Tips For Painting Landscapes With Watercolors

When stretching your paper, make sure you use enough water, to ensure that you'd be able to do washes and add several layers of paint for your landscape.

If you're painting from a photograph, make sure that you're sitting in a comfortable position with ample natural light. I prefer to paint during daytime, as it's more difficult to see and judge the colours you are working with at night, even with a strong light.

If you are painting on-site, make sure that you find yourself a comfortable spot and that you have good support for your stretched-paper-on-board. Try and find the ideal light conditions - the shade of a tree, or somewhere where the reflected light from the sun onto your paper does not strain your eyes.

Working with layers are a nice way to 'build up' your landscape. This ensures that you don't darken areas too quickly. The secret to a great watercolor work is to have a balance between unpainted and painted areas, so leave areas and highlights white from the start, you can always add colour, but you can't take it away! Start very light, with thin washes, and only when dry, add your next wash.

For mountains, clouds, sky and the ground, use a lot of water. Two techniques for this is as follows:
  • thin down your paint with a lot of water before applying it to the paper in long, loose strokes
  • Use loose, long strokes to apply water to the paper and then add colour to the wet areas. Use the brush to spread the paint as desired, but be careful not to brush excessively in these wet areas, as you're paper might start to fluff!

Start adding shapes and structures quite loosely - blobs for bushes, keeping your paint flowing and quite diluted with water. After having a layout of your landscape that resembles you looking at the real landscape in front of you (or photograph) through squinted eyes, start using your paint with less water for more opacity. Add details, distinguishing marks and lines.
To achieve different textures, use different items such as:
  • different sizes and shapes of brushes. You can also make your own brushes by tying hair, grass or other thin strands tightly to a twig!
  • different types of sponges and foam
  • cloth - bunch it up and press unto areas where you've added paint and it's still wet, or put paint unto the cloth and dab onto the paper
  • wool of different grades - bunch them up or roll a strand over the wet painted surface
  • the plastic net bags that veggies are packaged into can create textures for bushes, foliage and trees
You can also use cut vegetables to achieve different results
  • cover a section on the skin of an orange with paint and roll it onto your paper
  • cut shapes into the flat side of a halved potato, and use it to create a repeat pattern or texture, e.g. the rocky bed of a landscape. Fill in details and different sized rocks with your brush for variation and breaking the monotony.

Experiment adding different particles and substances to your paint - try mixing before applying it onto the paper, but mostly add it on the paper into the wet painted area and brush it off when the paint is dry. Some examples:
  • Sand, to partly absorb some paint and leave whitish areas
  • Sprinkle salt onto a wet painted area. It dissolves partly and give great effects, nice for a snowy feel
  • Grass - gives great texture and dry grass absorbs quite a bit of paint
  • Look around you, what could you use? Especially if you're painting on-site you'll find a lot of things that you can experiment with and use to get different effects and textures to make your painting interesting

Have a booklet, notepad or pieces of paper with you whenever you're painting - preferably thick card, textured or watercolor paper similar to the paper that you create your landscape paintings on. Use this for tests and experiments, testing your colours, textures, and the addition of other materials to the process. And keep these tests and experiments for future use. Make notes next to each 'test' to remind you how you achieved the result.

This booklet is also handy to start playing on before you start your final landscape - make pre-sketches, quick studies and try to do the landscape - capturing its essence - within 2 minutes. Use quick, loose and unconstrained strokes. Try not to think too much and just 'feel' it. Loose and free. Now carry this feeling over when you start with your initial strokes on your artwork.

If you get frustrated and don't like what you've done, start a new one, or take the 'failure' off the board, soak in a bit of water, wipe off some of the paint, paste/stretch the paper onto the board again, and carry on over what's left when it's dry. Painting landscapes with watercolours is fun, and it can forever stay a learning process, journey of discovery and source of abundant joy. Keep all your experiments, failed attempts and final landscapes together and you'll be able to see your progress over a time period of weeks, months and years.

Play, have fun, experiment and practice!

Published in 2012 on Ezine Articles

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Ink & Watercolour Workshop

Studio 41 presents: 
by Janet Botes

DATE: Friday 15 February & Saturday 16 February 2013
TIME: 10 am - 12:30 pm
PLACE: Studio 41, 41 Glynn Street, cnr. Canterbury & Glynn, Cape Town

COST: R350 per workshop/per day (includes materials & refreshments (vegetarian, wheat-free))

Techniques include working with washes, with different tools and materials, working loose as well as detailed, and creating texture. Booking & payment is essential - Limited space is available, with individual attention and guidance a focus within the workshop, making it suitable for beginners who want to learn a new art form or medium, as well as experienced artists who just want to develop their skill or expand their medium.

Facebook event page

For bank details & booking, contact me at