Wild Natural Reserve Painting

Wild open space behind our cottage:

Ever wanted to have a wild open space behind your house? We did.

When we first came up to the Transvaal in 1980, from Durban, we stayed in a small village south of Johannesburg. During the time we were there we had temporary accommodation in a cottage at the bottom of Kibbler Park.

Wild natural reserve

A5 watercolour: Cattle grazing area, near the Klip River, Eikenhof. south of Johannesburg.

Wild life at the bottom of the garden:

Beyond the fence, behind the cottage, there was a wide open space where we often took walks. Even though it was set aside as a natural reserve, it wasn’t attended by the parks board or by the Eikenhof municipality. So it was completely wild, with long grass, weeds and wild flowers.

We enjoyed watching the weaver birds busily nesting in the tall reeds and willows bordering the river. Along that section of Klip River, there were so many reeds you couldn’t even see the river or get close to it. You could only hear the water as it passed through the reeds. Been in the wilderness, in all its wild state, it’s so invigorating. Especially for me! I suppose been an artist I see beauty all around me.

I love been in wild places where you feel like no one has been there before. You have the privilege of soaking it all in, without the sound of cars switching by or hooting.

The atmospheric conditions at sunset are truly amazing. You watch the sun go down over the horizon and its rays creating halos on the grass seeds.

If you keep still and absorb the existence of wild life around you, you can hear the bees humming. And if you look closely at the little wild flowers hidden in the thatch grass, you’ll also discover little creatures going about their own lives. Gosh, I really enjoyed showing my children this underworld of activity. How many of us take time out to really observe what is around us, let alone what the ‘little people’ are doing?!

Wild natural reserve

Photo of the grazing area, that I painted from.

Our Eikenhof scene:

One day I went a little further and came across this scene in the photograph. Here the grass was thinned out because it was wintertime and a cattle grazing area, away from the river.

  • Photos don’t really capture the true essence of a scene. And as artists it would drive us mad if we tried to put in every detail we saw in photos, or try to reproduce exactly what God so cleverly created.
  • It is our job then, to translate what we see, according to our observations and abilities. During location fieldwork, our creativity of the scene tends to take on its own presentation. Often it’s because you can’t judge a colour. Because the sun is too bright to evaluate the true shade or tint. Also the wind gives you so much hassles, that you work quickly in your endeavour to work with fluidly.

So as it turns out:

You do your best outdoors, splashing paint on; in the hopes you captured things okay. And then go home to do adjustments where necessary in more favourable light conditions. The results are something else; your interpretation.

To hang how your painting turned out. The whole point of the exercise is to enjoy the outing. Life is to enjoy. And been out in Nature’s cradle is the best part.

If You would like to see other paintings of places I have been to,

  • Check out the ‘Location Adventures’ and ‘Photo Demos’ category, in sidebar of one of the pages on this site.
  • The Road to Drakensburg Gardens, Natal South Africa, tells of the time when I did my first location oil painting and my start of doing location fieldwork.

Watch Wild Birds: Marievale Bird Sanctuary

Want to watch Wild Birds? You will find lots at Marievale Bird Sanctuary.

Where is Marievale Bird Sanctuary?

Marievale bird sanctuary is south-east of Johannesburg, South Africa. It is nestled between goldmine dumps and the town of Nigel, situated north-east of the Suikerbosrand Nature Reserve. The entrance to Marie vale Bird sanctuary is free!

Watch wild birds at Marievale Bird Sanctuary

A5 watercolour: Some of the wild flowers in the grasslands area of Marievale Bird Sanctuary.

What’s so nice about the place is that it is so quiet and peaceful there. It’s a place you’ll want to spend the whole day there, from early morning to late afternoon. Bird-lovers will really appreciate this natural sanctuary. There are so many birds to watch out for with your binoculars and notch up your found-bird lists during spring and early summer.

Picnic spot provided:

No busy restaurants, just pure nature all around you. Great place for family picnics in the designated picnic area. Take out your table clothes, blankets and cushions, take a snooze or quietly watch the water for bird life.

Watch wild birds at Marievale Bird Sanctuary

Photo taken from Picnic spot.

Wetlands and dams:

There is a river going through the reserve, but basically it’s a wetland area with two dams. There are lots of birds, big and small; chirping and going about their particular business, flying here and there or swimming in and out the reeds, and some birds just keep very still while they watch for possible tiny fish in the water or grubs in the mud.

Watch birds at Marievale Bird Sanctuary

Photo: Folks checking out bird activity.

Watch birds at Marievale Bird Sanctuary

Photo: Now what is he looking at?

Buck and wild flowers:

As you go along further into the reserve, exploring the little back roads, you go over quant long-lying bridges into more grassland areas. In some places near the mine-dump side of the reserve you’ll need a four-by-four vehicle in rainy weather.

Don’t rush in the grassland area. Take time to observe the wildlife. Watch out for buck and all sorts of tiny wildlife. In the spring there are beautiful fields of wild flowers waving in the breeze. Oh such beauty and tranquillity, you’ll forget there are busy towns and the hectic lifestyle of Johannesburg city just a few miles away. Marievale is the sort of place where you’ll want to go to unwind!

Watch birds at Marievale Bird Sanctuary

Photo: Red Bishop weaver bird.

Want to know and see more?

  • For further information on the sanctuary and a google map, go to http://www.sa-venues.com/game-reserves/ga_marievale.htm
  • And if you want to see and read more interesting places I’ve painted, go to the  Location Adventures’ category listed on one of the menu pages.

Lion Park: Krugersdorp South Africa

Krugersdorp Lion Park

Have you ever been to the Krugersdorp Lion Park? It is on the west Rand, in the Transvaal of South Africa. The park is open between 8am and 6pm, and there are a variety of things to see, including four of `the big five’, at very little cost.

Lion park trees

A5 watercolour: When you go to Krugersdorp lion park, just for fun, see if you can spot this clump of trees!

What you can see:

  • The terrain of the park is restful and beautiful in its natural state. To bird watchers it’s a haven with their cameras or binoculars.
  • You can wonder along rural roads viewing wildlife and see interesting ruins. There’s also a separate lovely big braai and picnic area where the whole family and friends can spend the whole day if they wish.
  • The wildlife in the greater part of the park ranges from rhino, hippo, giraffe, buck, zebras and mongoose colony, to wild birds housed in a walk through aviary opposite the ruins.
  • The lions are kept in a huge (100-hecture fenced off) part of the park. Besides the normal viewing, you can watch the lions feed on Sundays between 10am and 11am.
  • There is also lodge accommodation and a conference centre. From the centre parking you can see a waterfall in the distance.
Photo of a wild bird in the lion park.

Photo of a wild bird in the lion park.

Photo of part of the lion park.

Photo of part of the lion park.

One of the roads going through the lion park.

One of the roads going through the lion park.

The ruins opposite the bird aviary.

The ruins opposite the bird aviary.

Bird aviary in the lion park.

Inside the bird aviary in lion park, opposite ruins.

Lioness in the lion park.

This photo of the lioness was taken late in the afternoon.

Safety warnings:

  • It’s important that you keep your windows of your vehicle closed while travelling through the lion’s enclosure. Strangely, lions see vehicles as one big shape (you are included in the shape) but the moment you move and make a noise (even a small noise) they begin to see you within the shape as prey. There are two guarded gates (in and out) of the enclosure to ensure you are recorded as entered and left the enclosure safely.
  • You mustn’t get out of your car, walking is strictly prohibited. But horseback safaris or viewing on mountain bikes is possible in the general park area, if you book in advance.
Mongoose in the lion park.

The mongooses were very friendly, hoping for tip-bits to eat.

Zebra grazing in the lion park.

Zebra grazing in the lion park.

Buck in the lion park.

Buck in the lion park.

If you want to know more about the Krugersdorp lion park check out:

http://www.joburg.co.za/category/outdoor-and-adventure/reserves-and-parks/

Directions to Krugersdorp Game Reserve:

From Krugersdorp, travel towards Rustenburg on the R24. The game reserve is on your righthand side of the road.

Note: It is a few years since the photos in this blog were taken within the lion park.

More blogs on South African scenes  to be seen in Location Paintings category.