Paarl Rock: Painting of Stone Tree!

Plein-air painting of tree in Paarl:

This plein-air watercolour painting of an umbrella stone tree was done at Paarl Rock reserve, outside the town of Paarl, in the Cape, South Africa. Check google map below. Umbrella trees are sometimes called stone trees or Italian stone trees. Its botanical name is pinus pinea.

Paarl Rock reserve view

A5 watercolour: Umbrella pine tree. Scene from the Paarl Rock reserve parking and braai area.


Paarl Rock directions

Google map of the town Paarl, in the Cape, South Africa

Our eldest daughter and her husband took us to see the and the beauty of the reserve. And while we looked round the reserve, I took photos.

Paarl Rock is a huge bulbous granite rock,

an igneous outcrop of rock that towers high up above the reserve in all its glory.

Paarl Rock

Small dam in the reserve. Paarl Rock is seen in the background.

While the men and our eldest daughter were away hiking up Paarl Rock, our youngest daughter and I sat down at some benches to do some plein-air painting. The panoramic view before us was so stunning laid out before us! She had never done any plein-air painting before, so it was a great new learning curve for her.  I only had a small location paint box and a few brushes with me. I laid out my painting gear on one of the tables and shared it with her.

I included an umbrella tree in my watercolour:

Well I had to, didn’t I!?  Couldn’t give up the chance to paint one when it was standing right there at the edge of the parking area.  I’ve only seen the stone pines in Cape Town and in New Zealand. In New Zealand they look more haggard. Maybe the wind factor is much stronger there along the west coast.

Paarl rock reserve

Photo of some umbrella trees in Paarl Rock reserve.

I love these trees because of their strong characteristics. My watercolour painting doesn’t show their odd twisted branches. Perhaps because this tree is farther inland, away from the strong winds the Cape Town Table Mountain umbrella trees have to contend with.

I long to paint these trees in oils!

Can you imagine a scene with their dark dramatic shapes against a stormy mountain scene! Wow. My senses just sizzle when I see misty or atmospheric weather conditions. Do you also get that feeling of excitement when you see something great that attracts and appeals to you, and you feel you just must paint it?! Please leave your comment below in the comment block at the bottom of the page.

Want to see more plein-air paintings?

Check out the plein-air painting’s page and category:  My location gear and Delta Park cosmos painting.

How to paint Cosmos Flowers

Cosmos flowers on a rainy misty day:

Want to paint cosmos flowers? With each blog I do, I like to include artistic tips. So there is always something for artists to learn from my blogs and website.

On the day we landed up in Delta Park, west of Johannesburg:

Our eldest daughter picked us up and then a friend, intending to have a lovely outing together in spite of the weather.

Sometimes the weather isn’t great for painting outdoors. But, because you’re found yourself in a lovely spot, you can’t miss the opportunity of taking photos. Here now, was the chance to gather visual aid material I could use later. Which I have!

Cosmos flowers grow in Delta Park

Photo of the river running through Delta Park, Johannesburg.

On this day in 2009 it had been raining. We waited quietly in the car until the rain stopped. Then I jumped out of the car and took as many photos as I could, of the tranquil atmosphere around us. To me that was exciting. Mist always has its own impress charm.

And been Easter time, what do you think? Cosmos flowers were out waving in the soft misty breeze. Cosmos, I couldn’t resist. Here were fields of them!

How to paint cosmos flowers?

I hate pictures with tight posies of flowers. They don’t look natural.

I like painting cosmos in their natural state, out in the open weeds and all. If you leave out most of the stalks in your painting, it brings out and accentuates the feeling of extreme freedom the cosmos flowers represent.

But in the watercolour painting illustrated here, I didn’t include any close-up cosmos, like I usually do. I had thought of doing a composition that consisted of a field of distant cosmos. I don’t think I’ll do that again. Tiny spots just don’t do justice to their profound beauty. It’s more impressive with a few close-up cosmos in the arrangement, don’t you think!?

Cosmos flowers in Delta Park

A4 Watercolour 20.8×29.3cm: Cosmos flowers in Delta Park. The cosmos painted against dark background show up more easily.

I’ve also noted that a horizontal composition of cosmos looks better than a vertical composition. In the vertical setup the cosmos flowers look crushed-up, from both sides!

And as to size:

A5 watercolours of cosmos flowers are too confined. A4, A3 and A2 sized paintings of cosmos flowers are more exciting. You can really feel the feeling of their freedom in bigger sized compositions.

Here is another link on this website about doing plein-air painting:

  • Check out the page: Plein-air Painting Fieldwork
  • And also check out the Plein-air Painting category in future. Will be displaying more paintings soon, which I did long ago.

If you want to know where Delta Park is, here is a google map of the place:

Cosmos flowers in Delta Park

Delta Park is west of Johannesburg, South Africa. It is also a sanctuary for wild birds.