Thursday, May 19, 2011

Cape Town, South Africa 4/29 - 5/17, 2011


I’ve just returned from my first journey to the African continent, Cape Town, South Africa to be specific. A couple of months ago a friend of mine, Kim Myerson who is a painter and a native of Cape Town, suggested that I might want to come there to see the landscape and to do some painting. Kim is back to her native country and city after training in Florence, Italy at Angel Academy and Cecil Studios and is taking on and teaching students the methods of academic drawing and painting that she learned at those academies. Her suggestion also included the idea of coming to Cape Town to do a landscape painting workshop for the many painters who are living there without a lot of instruction in the type of painting that I do available.




Having a couple of weeks or so in between my other teaching and show obligations, I decided that the 8000 mile trip to Africa would be just what I needed. So on April 29th I climbed on board a Delta A-330 for the first 9 hour leg of a 21 hour flight that would take me to Amsterdam where the second leg of 12 hours would eventually set me down in what I quickly discovered is one of the most beautiful landscapes on the planet. My 16 days to explore seemed endless at the time.

Africa has always held a huge amount of mystery for me, from the books I’ve read, the movies I’ve seen including so many documentaries about it’s wild side, to artists like Bob Kuhn and Wilhelm Kuhnert who continuously inspired and made me jealous with their adventures to Africa, and who have shown it’s magnificence in their work.



But… until the morning of May 1, 2011 when I looked out the back door and onto Table Mountain and Lion’s Head, two prominent mountain formations in the heart of Cape Town that I could see from the balcony, I had no idea what I was in for in this land far away from my own state of Minnesota, USA.





I came to Cape Town armed with pounds of painting supplies, ready to paint like crazy. After a day of jet lag rest, I did paint a piece from the balcony of Kim’s studio while she was teaching students for the morning. From that point on, the painting was rare. Every day we would head out to see sections of Cape Town from the more developed beach areas near the city and the harbor, to the inland vistas of vineyards bordered by huge mountain ranges and valleys , to the quaint little towns with the Dutch/African architecture shops and galleries, and also to many of the wilder places like Table Mountain National Park (formerly Cape Peninsula Park) where I saw Cape Mountain Zebra, Cape Ostrich, Eland, Bontebok, and many other animals and birds. Everywhere we drove there was a drama to the land and in the skies that was breathtakingly beautiful and magnetic. The joke quickly became that we might want to write a book about “How to load your painting gear and not use it!”




What was really happening however, was the realization that there was so much to see that spending time setting up and painting on this trip, meant that I would miss out on the full palette of visual treats that this country had in store. I resigned myself to be comfortable with that and to explore as much of it as Kim and my time would allow me to. I am grateful for that and would have been more disappointed if I had come home on May 17th with a bunch paintings but not the 1200 or so photos reminding me of the variety and spectacular drama of the locations that we did see. Now I know what and where I’ll be painting when I return.



The amazing thing about this area of South Africa is the incredible variety in the type of landscape to see and to paint. Within an hour or two you can be on the Atlantic Coast side or on the Indian Ocean Coast. Both of these environments affect the land and the climate in different ways and make the landscape one of a constantly changing arrangement of sky and terra firma. The dramatic, quickly elevating slopes of the mountain ranges surrounding Cape Town, direct the temperature and air currents directly into the path of the ocean moisture laden winds; that mix provides the ingredients for skies that are in constant flux, changing by the hour. As a landscape painter this is like a gold mine. The visual feast that this combination cooks up is irresistible, it’s eye candy of the sweetest kind.



What the trip did do was show me a place that I will be back to in short time. Sometimes as painters there is a life changing experience that alters what our work is all about. I think that this trip to the southern end of Africa, it’s people, it’s culture and it’s beauty is one of those for me. I don’t know what it all means to me as a person or artist yet, but I know that it has great meaning for my future.


The best way for me to share my experience is visually. I painted only about 6 pieces but as you can see I found the inspiration in Cape Town that fueled my Art Spirit and will for a long time to come. In the end, I needed 16 months more than the 16 days I had.

Here are the paintings from the trip... I carried pre-cut pieces of linen rolled onto a stiff cardboard tube to prevent damage. They had a border drawn out on them to my preferred sizes which I used as a guide when taping them down onto a piece of Gatorboard with 1" masking tape. I also used W&N's Drying Linseed Oil to be sure that they were dry enough to roll back up and fly home with. They did dry but I added a precautionary piece of Wax Paper inbetween each one for insurance against damage. It worked beautifully. Now they'll be mounted onto prepared gator foam or hardboard with an archival glue. These are staying with me until I've had a chance to use them as possible reference for some larger paintings in the studio.


'Scarborough Surf And Fog' - oil - 8x10 ©2011 Marc R. Hanson


'Oliphantsberg' - oil - 11x14 ©2011 Marc R. Hanson


'Vineyard Near Ceres' - oil - 11x14 ©2011 Marc R. Hanson


'Atlantic Haze' - oil - 11x14 ©2011 Marc R. Hanson

24 comments:

Susan said...

I may never visit South Africa, Marc, so thank you for taking me there!

Deb Kirkeeide said...

somehow, I could tell in your FB postings, that this was one of those life altering/awakening trips for you. Isn't it cool when that happens??

Dee Kirkham said...

Mark, I can't even begin to tell you how wonderful your writing about your African trip, the photos & your paintings are! Not only are you a great painter you are a great writer! I have always wanted to go to Africa too! I even raised ostriches. You are an inspiration! Thank you! Look forward to your next posting! Yes, you do need to write a book!

CYNTHIA said...

Marc, you are a man of many talents: artist, writer, sharing of another world. How lucky you are to have experienced such a magical, life changing time. Thank you for sharing.

Sonya Johnson said...

What a fantastic trip you had, Marc! I enjoyed the photos and reading about your time there, but the paintings are knock-outs!

Clearly, Cape Town suits you on many levels, so I hope you are able to return for a longer time and create more wonderful paintings of a beautiful place.

duanetheartist said...

Really beautiful work Marc! Gorgeous scenes!

Sara Lubinski said...

Your posts are richly written and beautiful. It is clear that your world view has shifted through this adventure. Now my life-long interests of Africa are rekindled too! Thanks for sharing, and for now I'll enjoy the paintings, the photos, the posts vicariously.

Sue and Spike said...

Great posting Marc,
Sounds like a fabulous trip. We continue to enjoy your blog, keep it up.
Spike

Stephen Scott said...

Marc, I'm glad you loved my home town!
I moved to Cape Town 10 years ago (from Pretoria - South Africa) and there is no other place I'd call home.

Your paintings are beautiful, you captured the light and mood of the area beautifully.

I'm sad that I did not know about the workshop... agh well, next time

Neville Connor - Australian Painter said...

a wonderful inspiring painting adventure (painting your way around the world)

Vicki Sergent said...

I am so, so, so, so jealous!

Angus Wilson Studio said...

Great post Marc, Fantastic comments, photos and of course paintings!

Justin Holdren said...

Beautiful Work Marc! I went to Kenya for about 6 weeks back in 1997 when I was 19. I am just now going back to those photos and sketches and starting paintings. My inlaws were missionaries there for 13 years. WE actually got to go into people's homes as well. It is a life changing trip. Can't wait to see what you paint from there!

Jesse said...

WOW! How exciting! I never knew SA looked like that!

How long are you going to go back there?

Marian Fortunati said...

Absolutely beautiful photos, scenes, experiences AND paintings!!

Jala Pfaff said...

It sounds like a great trip and you even did get some lovely paintings from it. But I think it was good that you realized that you needed to just submit to the beauty (without painting) and absorb it.

Sorcerer said...

Really nice photographs and awesome art works.
Fantastic

Katoikei's Jukebox said...

I was searching for a South African painter and came across your blog. How interesting! I'm from around the areas you painted, but these days living quite far from this.
Thank you for sharing your pain-tings.
Peace,
Eric.

Marc R. Hanson said...

I am glad that my sharing of this trip has been so inspiring to others. As many of you have mentioned and as I have made clear... this is a special place and it is one that has kindled a spark in me that is growing. I don't know how that's going to grow but am very much looking forward to the adventure. There is so much to paint there, so much to inspire and challenge a painter that my feet are itchy to get back to explore and paint in earnest. I'll keep you posted. ;-)

Stephen and Eric... I hope that I have been correct in my writings about locations and all... I think I have as my friend Kim, a native to Cape Town also, kept me very well informed as we wandered around. You are lucky to be from that area. Thanks for posting your comments.

Thank you all!!!

David Westerfield said...

Great work Marc. It's really good to hear about how the trip affected you. Having a passion for your subjects makes a difference. I have had the same experience with Hawaii. The past 6 years I have been lucky enough to get there at least once a year and sometimes twice. Exploring the wonder and beauty of those islands always draws me back. And every time I just can't wait to find a spot to set-up my easel.

DG Casey said...

Nice hood ornament on top of the truck. I guess that would be the kind you would see in South Africa.

Taryn Day said...

I loved reading about your trip and seeing the photographs and your six paintings. Now I'm wanting to travel to South Africa too! The amazing landscape makes me want to travel there too.

Jenny Schouten Short said...

Absolutely gorgeous. I hope there are lots more paintings. I've never been there but my husband has and it's his favorite place in the world.

Roger Brown My Botswana Art said...

As soon as I saw your painting behind your Blog title I said to myself that looks just like some of the mountains in the western Cape South Africa,and then was pleasantly surprised to see that they were.Great paintings!