Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Too much purple?

 You might be getting sick of these trees by now, but on Saturday we went up a high hill - to where the University of Johannesburg's (UJ) soccer fields are - and the jacarandas were just everywhere. I'm always puzzling as to how to paint them, this time I used a small sea sponge to try and capture their light, airy quality.

It seems a waste to designate these sweeping views of the city and suburbs to playing fields, but I guess if there were hotels and private homes up there, it would be a lot harder to access them. As it was we had to get permission from the university - luckily one of our regular sketchers is a professor there, so no problem.

We sat just below one of Joburg's two iconic towers, the Sentech (previously Brixton) Tower, and looked out towards the other one, the Hillbrow Tower, in the middle of about the densest, diciest area of town. Brixton Tower (left) used to have a restaurant at the base, and a viewing deck, and Hillbrow had a revolving restaurant at the top, but both were closed down in the turbulent Eighties, in case they became a target for guerilla attacks. Those were the days when we were searched or scanned going into any public space or shopping centre, afraid of our own shadows and sure that calamity and civil war were around the corner. Hard to remember that, sitting up there in peaceful shade, students who would never have been allowed the opportunity to study here in those days, cheerily greeting us as they walked past.

A footnote: I was asked about the colours I used to get the purple - I use Winsor & Newton almost exclusively as it's easily available here - and it is mainly Winsor Violet in different concentrations, lifted and dabbed with the sponge to lighten it, with touches of Permanent Rose here and there.  I added Viridian Green to the W.Violet in the shadowy bits, the two combined make lovely greys - and touches of Smalt, or Du Pont's Blue, which was a free trial tube I got some years ago. I love the way it granulates on the paper, I think if I did a big painting of jacarandas I would use it with Permanent Rose to help create the texture of the massed flowers - hope it's still available! Here is a strip of these colours:

11 comments:

Sadami said...

Hi, Cathy,
Oh, so beautiful sketches! I loooove jacarandas. They're blooming out in Australia, too.
Kind regards, Sadami

RH Carpenter said...

Oh, never too much purple when it shows us these trees in full bloom! Lovely sketches; and thanks for sharing a bit of history, too. Times do change but sometimes the change is very hard. Perhaps, like the birth of a child, the enormous pain fades and you just see the child and the promise later.

http://carolking.wordpress.com said...

What beautiful paintings. There's never too much purple as far as I'm concerned. Love seeing the views of Joberg through your eyes and talented brushes!

dinahmow said...

Beautiful view!
And, yes, sponges are the bee's knees for suggesting delicacy, aren't they?

sh@z said...

I love Jacarandas! These sketches are so beautiful and vibrant! They make me smile :D
Greetings from T&T- Shazanna

Sue Pownall said...

Never too much purple. I love these paintings!!!!!!

Ethna said...

Lovely sketches, Cathy. Can you tell me the colours you used to get that wonderful purple?

RhettBakerart said...

Hey Carol, Rhett here from Durban. I like your style, and I see you are the only south African Urban Sketchers correspondent. I am trying to join. We have so much to show the rest of the world, i cant wait to get some stuff on there.

Cathy Gatland said...

Thanks so much for your comments and feedback, Sadami, Rhonda, Carol, Dinah, Shazanna, Sue - and Ethna - I will add a footnote to this post soon about the colours.

Hi Rhett, Cathy here :-) If you join the Urban Sketchers page on Facebook, or the group on Flickr.com, you can post your sketches to show the world.. Correspondents are limited to 100 on the main USk blog, so new ones are chosen if a space becomes available. We (Joburg Sketchers on Facebook) are thinking of a South African branch which you'll be welcome to join if/when it happens. If I get to Durban I'll look you up, maybe we can sketch together for an hour or two. Also, you can add your name, blog and location to the Urban Sketchers global map https://maps.google.com/maps/ms?msid=213045706426173609546.0004cd150dcd00d371328&msa=0
Great to hear there's another sketcher down here in SA!

Ethna said...

Cathy, thanks for that explanation of the colours you used for the jacarandas...very helpful! and the Viridian with W Violet was an interesting tip!

Marie Le Brenn said...

I didn't know those trees before going on your blog, but they may have a different name in French, even though I do not recognize them.
Anyway, I'm impressed and charmed by your drawings and your use of colours!
(And all my apologies for my English. I have not practised it for (decades) a while.