Antjie Donder comes visiting

As I explained in a previous post, the work I’m doing for the Comix show involves written stories, dolls and drawings.  In some cases the story came first, in others the doll did.  Antjie Donder came to life first as a doll, and then I created a story for her.  Here she is as a doll:

In the story she introduces some chaos into the life of a lonely little girl called Lauren.  A bit like the “cat in the hat”, which I used to thoroughly scare me.  Here is an extract from “Chasing Frogs”  in which Lauren first sees Antjie Donder coming down the road pushing her trolley:

Lauren climbed onto the couch and opened the window. She pushed her face against the burglar bars. The voice was coming closer. There was a noise like someone shaking a cutlery drawer and the tinny thumping of a small radio. Somebody was singing:

My naam is Antjie Donder, Antjie, Antjie Donder

First came a shopping trolley, filled to overflowing with bags, newspapers and various bits of junk. Behind the trolley was a woman,broad as an oak tree and dressed in an ancient ball gown that strained across her chest and shoulders. Layers of plastic sheeting was wrapped around her waist. She sang as she came.

Antie, Antjie Donder!”

She stopped when she was level with Lauren’s window and switched off the hissing radio. Lauren looked down at her in fascination. She had never seen anyone like this before. The woman’s face was as brown as leather and looked as tough as an old shoe. She had a great beak of a nose and her hair stood away from her head in coils like knotted horns. She looked up at Lauren and smiled.

Good morning, Madam! Got any broken things for me? Toys? Electric?”

Lauren laughed. “No, I’m not the Madam!”

So where’s the Madam, then?”

Oops, thought Lauren. Not supposed to speak to strangers. But what now? It would be rude not to respond.

My mother is not home.”

The woman smiled. She turned her head a little, peering past her hooked nose like bird looking at a worm. “Not home? That’s sad.”

Antjie’s outfit changed quite a bit from her initial doll form, to the story, to the drawing which I just started today.  Somehow what is possible to create on small-scale in scraps of fabric is different from what works in words, and needs even more adjustments when you turn it into lines on paper:

Looking at it now, I think I need to exaggerate her nose a bit more.  I want it to look like a hatchet blade.  Her hands also look far too genteel.  I need to make them rougher.  Maybe it’s the nails that are the problem… too manicured:

And that’s all for now 🙂

The End of the Bougainvillea

Today we drove past Wynberg Place, where we used to live.   It’s been about a week since we moved out – and in that time, the new tenants have made some changes.  They ripped out most of the plants in the garden I made there, including the bougainvillea that had grown all the way up the front of the house.

I was proud of that bougainvillea!

Here it is when it first began growing, when it was  just over a meter tall:

And here it is about two years later – stretching up all the way past the second floor window:

It made a frame for the front door:

And here is the view from the kitchen window:

I’m not as sad as I thought I would be, but it is difficult to understand.  They could just have trimmed it back a little, if it was in the way!  Sigh.

Self portraits

Playing with my camera and Photoshop.

The Bright Lights in Wynberg

We went to the Mardi Gras carnival on Saturday night. Has it really been a year since the last one? It’s great –  warm summer evening, kids running around, loud techno music, the clanking and churning of the rides, the people screaming, and above all the coloured lights flashing and strobing everywhere.

These pictures came out great, blurs and all.  I’m still not brave enough to take my big camera to events like this, but the cell phone has its uses…

The Ferris wheel was smaller this year:

Coloured lights and the strange imagery: More

Coming soon…

So I’ve finished editing my collection of short stories, and sent my first letter to a potential publisher this morning.  Who knows what will come of that!

But the thing is, I will now have more time for other creative projects, so my blog will soon be getting a new injection of drawing. And who knows, I feel an animation coming on as well (^_^)

Watch this space…

Writing: The Polishing Stage

I can’t remember if I’ve mentioned it here before, but I’ve been writing a collection of short stories. I finished a rough draft of the last story this week.  It has taken me about a year to write ten acceptable stories, and what a pleasure its been!

I’m new to writing, and so still learning the basics.  I’ve gotten more confident, but still making so many mistakes.

Some things I’ve learnt:

  • Ideas take time.  Let them slosh around till one “bites” . Only write about something that excites you. More

The Great Pond Project

I’ve been helping my father to create two ponds in his garden. The ponds are on either side of the path leading to the front gate. We started with a rough sketch. :

Then the digging began:

The blue pipes were put in to make it possible to connect the ponds to a filter, if my father ever decides to have one put in.  At this stage,  the ponds looked very like two graves, although a neighbour joked that he thought we were creating moats to keep the moles out of the lawn 🙂 More

Walking at Alphen

We found a new place to walk our dogs – very near here, at Alphen.  The loveliest walk, all along a river, with bridges every now and then and the paths all overgrown.

Some moonflower leaves filtering the sun: More

Close up and Worrying

I’m trying out my new scanner.  The old one produces blurry images, and I’m thinking of doing digital prints of my drawings.   Here are some details of my drawings produced by scanning them at quite high resolutions.  Keep in mind that these drawings were done with a very, very fine point pen indeed:

I’m in a bit of a worry loop about the new scanner.  It is better than the old one in some ways, but not perfect.  If the artwork is not absolutely flat against the scan glass, it comes out looking out of focus.   I’m not earning any money right at the moment, so spending any on a piece of equipment like this makes me very anxious.  I need to decide if I should take it back.  But will find a better one, and can I afford it in any case?

As a completely rational reaction to worrying about money, I spent the whole day reading a Dick Francis novel.  Oh well.  Tomorrow will be a better day.

Backseat Drivers

My two backseat drivers hoping for a treat:

Gardening with Dogs 2

A while ago, I started creating a “dog proof garden”.  I thought it was time to share some more “before” and “after” pictures.  My problem was turning the “Wynberg Dog Habitat”  from a desolate waste of mud and dog bones into a garden.  Things were going well a couple of months ago, when I took these pictures – plants were growing behind their fences, but most of the garden was series of muddy ditches, as the grass refused to grow under the constant doggy traffic:


Wind Harps and Black Pigs

Yesterday morning Brendon and some friends set up a wind harp on Rondebosch common:

A wind harp is a long, long wire, stretched taut in the wind, and attached to some kind of resonating surface.  The wind blows across the length of the wire and sets up a pattern of vibrations.  These are amplified by the resonator so that a human ear can hear them more easily.

It’s quite magical. The harp itself is so simple and yet when it sings it connects you to a world of vibration and energy that is usually imperceptible.  It’s like a small hole in reality with sounds leaking through from the other side 🙂 More

Dogs Behind Bars

Sharing a small townhouse with two large, exuberant, hairy and above all – shedding – dogs can get annoying.  Yesterday I finally had enough.  I rushed out and bought a baby gate for the bottom of our stairs.  Pippin watched me install it with an air of great gloom.  He understood.  The good times were over:

It’s a huge relief to have a “dog free” zone upstairs.  They are only allowed up when we feel like it.  Meantime, a great deal of canine hurt feelings:

But I don’t care!  Up to now, if I did not vacuum the stairs at least every second day, we would have our own, rather hairy ski slope.  Now (I hope) the dogs, and their hair, will be confined to the downstairs section.

Although I must admit that Pippin is allowed upstairs to perform his duty as “bath dog”.  This involves keeping a close eye on me while I’m in the bath, in case I slip down the plug hole.  He usually does this while he is fast asleep on his back, and snoring because he has his nose jammed up against the toilet.

Misty Morning

I’ve been hitting deadlines, and neglecting my blog.  Just a quick post to share this morning’s walk: the sun burning away the mist over Constantia Neck.

Procrastinating with Personas

I’m always finding ways to waste time online, especially when I have a lot of “real” work I’m supposed to be doing.  Creating Firefox personas fits the bill perfectly.  It involves a little bit of creativity and results in eye-candy.  Plus, I get to apply some of my patterns!

Forest Mirror

In case you dont know, a Firefox persona is a sort of “theme” you can apply to your browser.  It appears in the background to your toolbars.

Mermaid Hair More

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