Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Witkoppen Wildflower Nursery Courses & Talks

Nursery Talks

Witkoppen Wildflower Nursery has a number of talks scheduled over the holiday season and January - see below for detail. The talks are given by Malcolm Hepplewhite and are illustrated with a Power Point presentation. They take place in the Nursery's lecture room. Tea, coffee and biscuits will be served. There is no charge, but please call by the afternoon before the talk to assist with the catering. Everyone attending the talk will be eligible for a 10% discount on plants on that day (excluding plants already on special).

Tree Courses

The first revised tree identification course, 'A layman's guide to 37 trees indigenous to Gauteng', was held in November. This course was so well received that the same course has been scheduled again starting in late January. Those people that attended the November course all indicated they would like to attend the next course in the series, which looks at another 35 trees and shrubs indigenous to Gauteng. This will be run in March 2014 for the first time.

These courses are meant for the average person who is not botanically minded but would like to be able to identify some of our indigenous trees in the wild ( or in gardens). It is very much a hands-on and practical course. Each student will be given a sample of each tree to look at, touch, smell or even taste. These samples can be pressed and kept for later reference. At the end of the course you will be able to identify 37 different trees that are indigenous to Gauteng, but are also found elsewhere in Southern Africa.

Dombea rotundifolia(Wildpear) is one of the trees indigenous to Gauteng that is included in the first tree course.

The courses are divided into four morning sessions, namely three formal, illustrated presentations and one field trip at the end to see many of the trees in a natural setting. The presentations will be held in the nursery lecture room at 363 Valley Road and will start at 08h30 and finish by 12h30. There will be an opportunity after each of these sessions to examine natural specimens of many of the trees at 363 Valley Road. Tea, coffee and biscuits will be available before and during the sessions at the nursery.

The first course, A layman's guide to 37 trees indigenous to Gauteng will start on Saturday, 25 January, and the other two lectures on 01 and 08 February. There will be a field outing to Kloofendal Nature Reserve on Saturday, 15 February, from 08h00 till 12h30. This outing will give a chance to test your new knowledge in a natural environment.

The second course, A layman's guide to another 35 trees and shrubs indigenous to Gauteng will take the same format as the first, but will be run on Sunday mornings from 08h30 - 12h00, on 02, 09 and 16 March 2014 and a field outing to the Kloofendal Nature Reserve on 23 March.

Cost for the course is R800.00 per person. Each course will be limited to 16 people, book by email (witkoppen@webmail.co.za) or phone 011 516 0262. There is a non-refundable deposit of R400.00 to confirm your place on each course.

Upcoming Events at the Nursery

December Wednesday 18
Indigenous fragrance

January Friday 03
Shade gardening with indigenous plants

January Saturday 04
Planting for the Birds - Indigenous plants that will attract and feed birds in your garden

January Wednesday 15
Some Indigenous Garden Plants with Medicinal Properties

January Saturday 18
Shade gardening with indigenous plants

February Saturday 01
Indigenous fragrance

February Sunday 02
Some Indigenous Garden Plants with Medicinal Properties

February Wednesday 05
Indigenous Garden Plants and Winter

Saturday, 7 December 2013

Exquisite Miniatures

BAASA Gauteng was honoured to have the Miniature Art Society of South Africa visit us for a talk and demonstration at our last meeting of the year. 'Exquisite' was the word most uttered around the room.

Some samples of miniature artworks

These delicate works of art are not simply small paintings. Neither are they novelty art. They are meticulous works of fine art and are rendered in fine detail with tiny brushstrokes, good composition, perspective and colour balance - all the aspects of any good fine art.

Val Christie demonstrating her delicate watercolour technique
Work is done using a magnifier to ensure correctness, as the size allows no tolerance for error; a single brushstroke that is out of place becomes a glaring error. Judging is also done using a magnifier so that detail rendering and technique can be carefully scrutinised.

This picture and the one below were part of a 'stamp' challenge
Pen & Ink rendering - cellphone cover gives scale
It is a flawless art form that invites the viewer to look more closely and conveys a feeling of intimacy when held in the palm of one's hand.

The history of miniature art is an ancient one, probably one of the earliest forms of art after rock art. It can be seen across Western and Eastern traditions, from Europe to India and China to Persia, in the illuminated scripts from the 3rd century onwards, sharing links with the miniature portraiture that flourished from the 16th century in Europe. They were usually painted in oil, watercolour or enamel on vellum and even ivory, the latter imbuing the painting with a radiant glow. Nowadays a synthetic form of ivory called 'ivorine' is used, but paintings and pencil work are more commonly executed on hot pressed watercolour paper.

Strict framing rules are applied

As with botanical art, all framing must be archival as these works are treasured by collectors. Guidelines for the strict size requirements of miniatures can be found on the MASSA website where the one sixth rule is explained.

Anyone wanting to know more about this art form can click here to visit the Miniature Art Society of South Africa's website. Thank you Val Christie, Daphne Carew and Massimo Leone for inspiring us with your enthusiasm and dedication to this delicate art form.

For more photos of this event click here.

Friday, 6 December 2013

Closure of Watercolour Society Africa

It is sad to see the demise of the Watercolour Society Africa, as it comes as a stark reminder of how tenuous an organisation can be, since it has only its members to keep it going. The WSA has been forced to close due to lack of member involvement in running the organisation. Below is the final  message to WSA members from 2012 Chairman Barabara Moore:
Dear Members of the WSA and ASA,

We are moving in rapidly changing times where time is precious and everything is done on the go. Even art, in many cases.

I find that even in the sketching community that I belong to, people are doing digital sketches (and pretty impressive ones at that) on iPads and even phones. I am reading a book on drawing, published in 1920, where the author complains bitterly about the rushed pace of life, so nothing has changed there. However, he also says that everyone owns a pencil that they use most of the day, and bemoans the fact that so few use the pencil to draw - just for work. I think that owning and using a pencil is more or less unheard of today, unless the person is an artist, of course.

Our Watercolour and Art Societies have joined the ranks of the victims of change. The digital, internet world has ushered in other ways for people to stay in touch with other artists and ideas. On line selling of art is becoming more and more the thing. Societies are being phased out, unless they are web-based.

So sadly, we say goodbye, not just to a Society that has served its members faithfully since 1974. We say goodbye to an era, and wait to see what change will bring us next.

I would like to add my personal thanks to all those who gave so unstintingly of their precious time, to serve us, the Members over the years. So much was done to promote and develop watercolour as an art medium, and some absolutely beautiful art has been produced over the years. Many of those who inspired us to ever greater heights in our art are gone to a better place. We must remember them and the great things that came out of their vision and their efforts.

Thank you, Zanne Bezuidenhoudt, Kerry Bekker, Wendy Prowse and Debbie Schiff for all YOUR hard work in sorting everything out and closing the Societies with grace and honour.

I shall be so sad to see it go, but I have some wonderful memories to treasure of my years in association with a wonderful group of great artists, and beautiful people.

I urge those who want to keep in touch with other artists, and have access to some pretty interesting and useful benefits, to join the Lowveld Association of Art. They are hoping to keep watercolour alive, and have some pretty energetic and dynamic artists on their committee under chairman Ilona Petzer.

Keep painting and enjoy every moment of making art.

Barbara Moore