Here’s how to do the diski dance

Forget the macarena. Forget the moonwalk, or the new move reportedly planned for Michael Jackson’s comeback. South Africa’s own diski dance is set to get the world jiving to an African rhythm when the football World Cup arrives on the continent for the first time.

The diski, comprising a series of choreographed soccer moves, features in the latest television advert from South African Tourism, aimed at generating excitement at home and abroad ahead of the 2009 Fifa Confederations Cup and 2010 World Cup.

The advert will air on global channels including CNN, BBC, Eurosport and Skysport between now and the World Cup kickoff on 11 June 2010, giving soccer fans a chance to learn the moves and “feel the rhythm of African football”.

Click here to play video.

Posted on SouthAfrica.info on 20 May 2009.

Combine football with a wonderful painting holiday tour of KwaZulu Natal to have the best of all worlds in one glorious package.

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Bushman painting as documentary

ORIGINAL ARTICLE BY: Lucille Davie
30 October 2008

There were no Bushmen about to ask how to create the paintings, so artist Stephen Townley Bassett learned how to recreate Bushman paintings the hard way – by trial and error.

His dedication to the task over the past 18 years has led to the first major exhibition of his Bushman works – 30 extraordinary paintings assembled at the Origins Centre at Wits University in Johannesburg in an exhibition entitled Reservoirs of Potency.

“I threw away my penknife,” Bassett says, together with plastic containers and metal tins. And went out into the bush discovering. He learned how to use animal blood, saliva, ochre, cobra venom and ostrich egg shells to create pigment to paint the images, precise copies of Bushmen paintings from around the country.

He learned too how to use porcupine quills, buck horns, rocks, animal hairs, bird droppings, feathers and animal skins that would become his stock in trade. He made mistakes along the way but got it right.
‘I learned that fat is a good binder’

“I learned that fat is a good binder. I would make a paste which was easy to carry. I learned to liquefy it again with gall, saliva and blood.” Bassett also learned about the different quality of hair of different animals, giving him fine hair for a paintbrush, or thicker hair for a bushier brush.

He even made his own stone tools to skin spring hares and foxes he’d shot, to use the skin as a pouch in which to carry his painting implements.

The animals and people in his works, which Bassett calls “documentary paintings”, are the precise size of the originals. The works are done on 100 percent cotton sheets. Each piece, he says, is a one-off.

“So much has gone into each painting,” he explains. He would spend days at a site, deciphering the original, with a miner’s lamp on his forehead.

“The first thing is to document as accurately as possible, doing it with pigments available to them, absolutely life size. I would only record what I saw, making it a little darker, to take account of dust,” he recounts. Then back at home a painting would take between six and eight weeks to complete.

“The work is very exacting, very demanding. There is no debate, the work has to be right – everything exactly there. It is a blend of science, art and craft,” he says, referring to the tool-making as craft.
Endorsements

Such is his attention to detail that the professor emeritus and renowned researcher and author on Bushman art, David Lewis-Williams, comments in the caption of one piece that it was only after Bassett captured the work, the Leaping Lion, that Lewis-Williams noticed fish around the lion’s body.

“Often I return to the site with my half-completed painting to compare colours and overall appearance of my rendition to the original on the rock,” says Bassett. “All paint marks on the rock that are within the frame of reference of the chosen scene must be recorded. All marks must be acknowledged and recorded. The final product must be the next best thing to the original on the rock, a kind of historical document of what has been deciphered from the rock face.”

His paintings have brief notes or paint blotches around the edges which don’t distract from the work, but help to guide him as to colour and markings on the original.

And he has the full endorsement of Dr Benjamin Smith, the director of the Rock Art Research Institute at the University of the Witwatersrand, and Lewis-Williams, who describes the work as “wonderful” and “very special”.

“You must either do the work accurately or not at all,” says Lewis-Williams.

Smith says: “This is an artist like no other; he bleeds for his art,” referring to the fact that Bassett has used his own blood in his paint mixes.

Bassett doesn’t only do Bushman art – he produces landscapes and takes on commissions from local farmers, who, he says with a mischievous smile, can be very exacting in what they want.

A book has been produced to accompany the exhibition – Reservoirs of potency – the documentary paintings of Stephen Townley Bassett. In 2002, he published another book, Rock paintings of South Africa – revealing a legacy.

“It has been an extraordinary journey,” he exclaims. Bassett is keen for the exhibition to travel, around South Africa and overseas, on perhaps an equally extraordinary journey.

Bassett’s works are available for private viewing and purchase at the Bonair Road Gallery in Cape Town.

Source: City of Johannesburg

Star Gazing

Now is a good time to book your painting holiday in November to incorporate a spot of Star Gazing and painting, as in the southern hemisphere, November is a great month to lie back on a mountain slope, or on a sand dune still warm from the days sun and do a spot of star gazing. Here you can watch the antics of wonderfully named comets such as Encke and Tempel-Tuttle whose orbits pop through our earth’s orbit making it possible for us to see fantastic meteor showers producing spectacular shooting stars.

Every year around November 17, plus or minus a week the displays from these comets are truly spectacular with thousands of ‘shooting stars’ flashing across the sky every hour. They are said to be linked to the formation of Stonehenge and the Star of Bethlehem.

When you join our South African Painting Holidays at one of our Berg, Bush or Beach lodges far away from the light pollution of the cities, you will see the night skies in all their glory, like nothing you will have experienced in Europe or much of the USA… so treat yourself to a luxury painting holiday you will never forget and enjoy natures own firework display in Africa this year.

Still on a light note (pun intended ;))
Here is my favourite BUMPER STICKER for artists..
“2b or not 2b”
From the artist network forum

Gill’s Perspective

Here is a snippet from a conversation I had with Gill regarding perspective. Gill said that fundamentally perspective relates to the eye level or horizon line of the viewer, parallel to the ground plane. This therefore varies according to our personal height above the ground. When sketching landscapes most often the actual horizon is obscured by hills or other objects so the artist must begin by establishing the horizon in the minds eye, simply by locating it
at eye level.
When this is established it is easy to determine where objects such as buildings fit into the composition in relation to the horizon line.

Perspective relates to the angles of lines which appear to converge in the distance i.e. The vanishing point The parallel lines may be building lines or a line of trees or simply the road which apparently vanishes in the distance.

Buildings, trees and other objects become smaller and closer as they recede. They also apparently meet at the eye level mark. Buildings may also be viewed from a two or three point perspective, this occurs when viewing a building from the corner, you have two angles “moving” away from your eye. You now have a vanishing point on either side of the building. It can also happen that you have both or either of the vanishing points falling off the edge of the paper. When sketching windows and doors remember that the tops of the doors or windows may be angled slightly differently to that of the roof as the window is lower than the edge of the roof.

For more of Gill’s FREE Tips visit the Art Cafe

Tip 2 Remember
When placing people in a painting

  • All heads are at eye level
  • The tops of doors and roof lines go down to eye
    level
    and
  • The bottoms of doors and pavements go up to eye
    level

    Join Gill on a South
    African Painting Holiday
    and get her to help you reach your
    true painting potential while you paint in an amazing African
    landscape

  • Painting in mountains where once dinosaur walked

    Facts courtesy of KZN Wildlife Rhino Club

    The Drakensberg Mountains, meaning “Dragon’s Mountain” in Afrikaans and called uKhahlamba, “barrier of spears” in isiZulu, are the highest mountains in Southern Africa, rising up to 3,482 m (11,422 ft) in height. Geologically, they are formed from basalt and sandstone resulting in a combination of steep-sided blocks and pinnacles. The sandstone layer was deposited as the remnants of a gigantic sea that occupied much of what is now Southern Africa some 500 Million years ago. The Basaltic layer which overlies this was deposited about 220 Million years ago in what many geologists think was the largest volcanic eruption in the history of the world linked with the splitting of the tectonic plates of Africa and South America.

    In these mountains we often find fossilised sea shells and wonder how they could be here when we are so far above the sea. Even more curious are dinosaur footprints on the roof of a cave at Giant`s Castle! These footprints were left in the silt of the ancient sea. The Drakensberg is one of only two mountain ranges (along with the Simian Mountains of Ethiopia) to have been formed in this geological way, which accounts for its extraordinarily distinctive formations and colours. The landscape is dominated by extremely steep cliffs, some of them amongst the most impressive cliff faces on earth, such as the Amphitheatre Caves and overhangs are frequent in the more easily eroded sandstone It is here in the caves and on rock faces that the ‘First People’, the San Bushmen, lived and where they painted their view of life in these mountains.

    You can come with me to see these extraordinary paintings and paint a few of your own in this amazing part of the world, while enjoying a South African Painting Holiday

    Photographic help from David Peterson

    Today some photographic help from David Peterson

    David discusses exactly how to use his technique in lesson 2 of his free Image Editing Secrets course. He has a tutorial for Photoshop, Photoshop Elements, Paint Shop Pro and the free Google Picassa.

    Have you had a problem when shooting scenes with both inside and outside subjects.

    Either everything inside is dark in the resulting photo, or everything outside is too bright. When a photo has a high dynamic range. That is, they have bright sunlight and dark shadows. It is impossible with current technology to have both parts of the photo correctly exposed.
    While you can’t eliminate the problem entirely, there are a couple of choices you can make to minimze the problem.

    Recompose The Photo

    This is probably the simplest solution. Take a photo of a scene with very bright and very dark parts, move your camera to eliminate one of the extremes ie either close curtains for the shot, or take the photo from the window looking inside.

    Use Exposure Lock

    If you can’t recompose the photograph, instead tell the camera what part of the image you would like to see. The rest of the photo will be either over or under exposed (too bright or too dark) but at least you will see your subject. You can do this by placing the center of the image at your subject; half depressing the shutter to lock the focus and exposure; move the camera to re-compose the image; and fully depress the shutter.

    Some cameras have an option called ’spot metering’ to set the part of the image you’d like to be correctly exposed. If your camera has this setting, enable it before using the technique above.

    Use Fill In Flash

    If your scene has a sunny background, but your subject is in the shade (or has a hat on), turn on the flash. I know it seems wrong but it really does work! By using the flash, your subject will look as bright as the background.

    Use a Filter

    If your scene is of a bright sky and a dark ground (for instance at sunset, or on a cloudy day), you can use a graduated neutral density filter. This filter cuts out some of the light from one part of the photo (the sky). This will correctly expose the ground and the sky. These filters can be complex to setup, so I don’t usually recommend them for beginners.

    Fix The Original Photo in an Image Editing Program

    Finally, if you can’t take another shot at the same location, you can fix the original image by changing the levels using a paint program. This works best when your subject is darker than the rest of the photo (because cameras lose detail in over-bright areas). The darker the subject, the harder time you will have fixing the image.”

    MY PAINTING TIP FOR TODAY

    Techniques are useful tools to learn but your style will become apparent as soon as you understand that you need to produce not the likeness of a scene or object, but an account of how you as an artist, relate to it
    Thanks to Bob Brandt, issue: A&I March 2006

    P.S. Accept our warm invitation to join me on a painting holiday I promise you will remember – forever!
    ALSO: Remember there are only a few days left to book your holiday with South African Painting Holidays if you want to take advantage of
    My Amazing 10% Off Discount Offer


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    Please Click Here

    Frogs in my garden

    On the 2nd of February it was World Wetlands Day which commemorates the signing of the RAMSAR Convention, an international agreement on wetland protection.

    As we have a lovely couple of days painting in iSimangaliso Wetlands Park it’s a good time to reflect on the wet world of our froggy friends and their cheerful cacophony and the enormous good they do in controlling insect pests.

    They are apparently some of the most sensitive indicators of environmental damage and any chemicals or pesticides in their habitats have a devastating impact on frog populations.

    There was a time a few years ago, when the whistles, chirps or croaks of frogs were rarely heard in the suburbs, even though many gardens had pools or water features. But, that certainly isn’t the case today. Our rather strange weather, wetter than normal, has proved a sheer delight to the frog populations in my suburb and on warm and wet nights they are regaling us with very loud frog serenades.

    I hopefully presume that this is a good indication that the message is getting through to Joe Public to use substances that are environmentally friendly.