Klipriver Nature Reserve

Klipriver Nature reserve

Klipriver nature reserve in winter.

Photo location:

Klipriver nature reserve is situated between Alberton and Kibler Park, below Mulbarton. There is no entrance charge or fence restriction.

When we went there at wintertime, there were youngsters on two quad-bikes having fun riding up and over rough terrain. Maybe they were there practicing, because nearby there is a popular cross country bike track grounds close to the reserve.

Klipriver dam in winter

Sand bank dam in Klipriver nature reserve.

There is a sand bank dam in the upper part of the nature reserve is surrounded by reeds.  Previously I have done an autumn colour oil painting of the dam. With silver shimmer on the dam water and the sun setting low, it gave the scene a golden-pinkish atmospheric haze. I’ve shown the dam in a photo, but I can’t show the painting I did because the painting has been sold. But why I have mentioned it? Because its a lesser known nature reserve and should be updated and upgraded as a tourist venue. I only hope its reserved for wildlife and folks don’t carelessly destroy it with sport vehicles and pollute it with rubbish.

Wildlife and birdwatching:

Some of the reserve is open velt (grassland) and a part with rock outcrops. But further along below Kilber park, there is marshland with a stream running through tall reeds. Naturally where there are reeds, there is always a possibility of finding water bird life, birds and ducks like weavers, Egyptian geese, coots, egrets and herons.

Winter, lower Alberton

Watercolour demo of bare winter tree.

Now a watercolour demo of the Klipriver nature reserve:

I mainly use Winsor Newton pigments because of their quality, but sometimes use other products to create special effects. It all depends of cause on what art materials are available in South Africa.

  1. First a light overall imprimatura wash of raw sienna, and when that was dry a light wash of French ultramarine blue in the sky area.
  2. Next, the distant mountain range was put in, leaving a jigger (rapid jerky up and down strokes) contour bottom edge for grass outline. The camera always makes distant mountains look flat and insignificant. I always like to enlarge distant mountains and exploit the colours to enhance my paintings.
  3. The trees were put in before the middle ground and foreground. The big bare tree was painted with burnt umber with French ultramarine blue dropped-in.
  4. For me it’s always fun adding fine twigs to trees. Notice the light extra wash of blue and pink is added to the twigs. This aura softens the contrast and bareness of the branches and twigs of the tree, preventing the painting from been stark.
  5. For the dry winter grass I used raw sienna, and where spots were reserved for highlights I added Rembrandt gamboge yellow. This pigment is more translucent than Winson Newton’s gamboge yellow.
  6. The chiaroscuro over the tree’s roots gives the painting involved dimension. That is, not only visually stepping over the roots, but somewhat like you were climbing over them, up the bank.
  7. A tinge of sap green was added here and there. And the blue of the sky is recaptured below in the lower part of the painting.

There are more photo painting demos:

Check out: “Photo Demos” page and  previous “Old Willow Stump” blog.

Old willow stump

Photo of an old willow stump

Old willow stump near the Vaal River

Before start reading this demo blog perhaps you would like to view the first photo demos on page “Photo Demos”

Location of the photo: Old willow stump.

This scene of the old willow stump was taken further up the bank from the Vaal River, near The Barrage, Sasolburg, Orange Free State, South Africa. It is part of a piggery farm. In summertime it’s very green and lust, and brown and dry in wintertime.

Its interesting how the terrain of the farm varies. There are lots of different types of trees near the river.  Most of the lower part of the farm is marshland though. And some of the marshland is sandy. Where there are no shrubs the sand is sold to the building trade.

And where there are tiny shrubs scattered over in the dry sandy area, a little more elevated area, rat colonies have taken over. This type of rat burrows tunnels near the surface and makes nests underground like moles do, making the soil look lumpy. Naturally there are snake holes too. If you walk there you have to watch where you are walking. Tiny wild flowers can be seen in between the small shrubs, making the spot very interesting to explore there.

Watercolour landscape of  an old willow tree stump

Lower part of Sasolburg farm border the Vaal River.

Watercolour painting demo:

I made the old willow stump bigger than the photo depicted. Thus giving it dominance, and importance of been the main point of interest.

And because the foreground in front of the old willow stump was boring with just green grass, I added a stony footpath. This also gave the painting more warmth.

The paper used:

A5, 190gsm, acid-free watercolour paper, the last of the watercolour A4 pad I’ve been using.

Method used in old willow stump demo:

  1. First I did a light raw sienna imprimatura overall wash.
  2. When that was dry, a light wash of perm madder lake pigment in the sky area. This pink wash gives the green scene more warmth.
  3. When that was dry I started with the old willow stump, making it larger than it is in reality. I thought painting it blue (French ultramarine) would make the scene look more dramatic.
  4. Then I went on to filling in the distant trees and middle ground shrubs.
  5. The foreground was done last. Adding stones made the foreground more interesting. The sticks in the left-hand-bottom corner were changed into a discard tree trunk, suggesting it was part of the original willow tree.