This is where I share a mix of my illustration and a touch of pretty things and places I've discovered in my day.

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Thursday, December 29, 2011

Backpacking sketchbook 5: Almost like Christmas in Laos

The festival of lights arrived. The first time we strolled into a temple yard filled with paper lanterns we were filled with wonder. Really wonderful wonder. It was the first moment after our terrible ordeal that another positive emotion took over. I know I didn't write about the ordeal - but basicaly we - well our two travelling companions - were targeted as tourists by corrupt police and it was hectic and horrible. I will just say this DO NOT go to Vang Vieng.

Annyhow the festival of lights was busy, noisy and visually amazing. I have never seen so much life in Luang Prabang - If I closed my eyes it almost felt as if I was back in a nightmarket in Taiwan. We followed the crowds and hung out at the temple were the brightly lit and ornate handmade boats were finished off, carried down to the river - accompanied by loud chanting and drums and being send forth on the Mekong.

We watched many lanterns being lit and released into the air and by releasing the lanterns we secretly asked that all our worries will be over and set free into the night sky. We almost lost our ears to kids being totally irresponsible with firecrackers and finally settled down at the nicest bar next to the river for a well deserved bottle or two of red wine. Bidding Luang Prabang farewell along with saying a sad goodbye to our friends who had to stay for an unknown period of time.

My advice for the New Year: Believe in that lantern and let the worries go!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Backpacking sketchbook 4: Luang Prabang...we linger.

If you love Art Deco, window shutters and wood this will warm your heart! It certainly warmed mine as we lazily walked around, when the heat allowed it, taking pictures and admiring the buildings. We also rented bicycles and cycled around town stopping at the market, shops and little restaurants for a bit of drawing and reading, a Beer Lao here and there as well as meals and snacks.

Luang Prabang was vibey - there were all kinds of preparations happening for the upcoming festival - paper lanterns were being made and hung up. Paper and bamboo boats were being built and you could feel the excitement in the air. When it was too hot to be out and about we hung out on the balcony of our guesthouse listening to tunes, and late at night when the curfew set in (yes at 12:00pm in Lao you have to check in at your guesthouse) we drank wine on the little private stoepie at the back of our guesthouse quietly sharing our lives, laughing, crying a bit and catching up as you do with good friends living far apart.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Introducing unrouxly kids!

It's so rewarding drawing with kids. Their drawings makes me laugh and inspires me. A lot of time the kids don't get what makes their drawing special and I quess that's part of the charm.
Teaching Taiwanese kids English has very definite ups and downs and drawing together is defintely an up! Apart from the normal English as a second language classes I teach illustration at my house as well as a little growing class I have at a school.
These drawings were all done by kids around 6 years old and I loved their expression and interpretation. It's amazing how their drawing ability just comes naturally and how everyone seems to lose it when they get older. I don't believe it for one second - everybody can draw - it's just comparing with the Jones's that gets in the way!
Keep an eye on my unrouxly kids page on facebook for more from these unruly kids.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Backpacking sketchbook 3: Luang Prabang.

Luang Prabang is just one of those places that you'll love. Thanks to the mix of French and Lao culture the town is filled with beautiful architecture, Art deco and colonial buildings built with immense amounts of wood. Good food - wonderful baquettes, noodle soups, good coffee, wine, a bit of that air that just the French can add to a town and then there's the Lao people. So sincere - you can see people's genuine good wishes when greeting strangers. Friendly open faces filled with happiness.

The first morning we awoke to beautiful sounds drifting into our room. There was a local omie playing a khim - a traditional instrument - on his stoep across the road. The khim has 42 strings and is played with two flexible bamboo sticks with soft leather at the tips to produce a soft tone. Lovely soothing, exotic and a good introduction to Luang Prabang.

We ate breakfast in the mornings next to the Mekong, strolled around avoiding tuk-tuk drivers saying "tuk-tuk-tuk-tuk-tuk-tuk" every time you passed them by. We went swimming in the waterfalls and looked forward to dinner daily in one of the many awesome restaurants around. I loved drawing with some of the local kids - without talking a word to each other we understood exactly what we were doing. Such a great universal language!

We learned that there was a big festival coming up and decided to lay low, rest and stay to join in the festivities.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Backpacking sketchbook 2: Vientiene. Breathe out.

It was such a relief arriving in Vientiene. First of all meeting up with our friends and travelling companions who we haven't seen for ages, secondly the pace of Lao. Things move slooowly and I was desperate to chill out after a hectic year of adapting to Chinese culture, teaching and the pace of life in Tapei compared to Cape Town. Thirdly the food. Sigh. Wonderful spicy beef salad, green papaya salad, french baquettes, hot lipton tea with sweetmilk, lao coffee, beer lao and so much more.

We spend a day or so catching up, eating, drinking and hanging around. The guesthouse had a lovely balcony with a view over the temple across from the road. It was run by a student as well as a dog. The dog looked cool. I first slowly stretched over that he can smell my hand - he looked ok, and then I patted him. I mean there are obviously people coming in and out all the time - it's a guesthouse. Then the dog bit me! "OUCH!" I said. "Did he bite you?" The student said. I said yes. "It's a very bad dog" he said. So that makes things ok? Right. Nice to be in a place where things are accepted for what they are I quess.

Okay off we go then, on to the next stop.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Backpacking sketchbook 1: First stop Kuala Lumpur

After a hectic busy time our holiday finally arrived. Armed with my new camera, drawing pens, sketchbook and alot of relief we flew to Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia. We liked it. The diversity of the country is something that is very appealing as a South African living in Taiwan. Taiwan is very much one culture. One food style, one language, one big force (there are a few subcultures and languages but they are still more similar and still function as one nation) So the mix of Malay, Chinese and Indian was a breath of fresh air. I loved encouterering some Afrikaans words originating from the Malay language - I spotted a few: piesang, inspirasi, pos, bagasi - I'm sure there are plenty more floating around. We didn't do much exploring - but relaxed with great company, a bit of drama and a good meal - ready to fly to our next destination the next day.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Tarien, Pierre & Pepper

I received a request from a lady in Pretoria to make an illustration as a first anniversary gift to her husband. It's a great commission to do and it became even better as I received more information from the one year wifey. She described her husband as patient, caring and full of love for her. He loves coffee, technology, and as young tatooed 'dominee' he has a passion for the youth. She's an art teacher loves proteas, birds and painting. They also have an awesome little dog called Pepper - I love little schnauzers! Their photo's were creative and full of love. They're a good example of a cool modern happy couple living in my hometown. I like it. So I made them an illustration reflecting their vibrant little unit and added some loose elements they could use for personalised stationary. No more Woolworths cards for friends birthdays. It's been a pleasure!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Hot-potting in Miaoli

We went to have some hotpot to end the weekend with that one last nice meal ( It was before the summer reached this melting heat). Hot pot is one of the Taiwanese's favourite meals and you see lots of restaurants with the steam rising up from all the individual tables. It's basically your own pot with a flavoured soup or stock that you cook your food inside. Our choice was a spacious and 'modern' (please note that it doesn't necessarily mean tasteful or cool) all you can eat buffet. So first you can choose your pot's flavour - for example kimchi, traditional chinese herbs or miso. Then you go and dish up! Trays full of vegetables, meat and seafood are available containing known and unknown bits to cook in your pot. There is a sauce counter where you can mix your favuorite ingredients to dip your food bits in when you take it out of the hotpot. My favourite would be a mix of soya sauce, garlic, a touch of vinegar, coriander, lime, fresh chilli and spring onion all mixed with the original dipping sauce. Yum! It's so social to sit around a table cooking your own food. After being to full to eat the soup too - it's desert time. I chose the ice desert - basically a bowl full of shaved ice that you top with all different fruit purees, conserves and jellies and add some condensed milk to round it off. Delish. What a nice evening out. I can understand why it's so popular! I need to lie down now.

Thursday, June 9, 2011


If you've missed my blog in May - I'm happy to hear that :) I've had a crazy deadline month. I first received the email on Tuesday the 16th of May. I had to illustrate about 117 full color drawings. Right. Start with the roughs - they need to be finished a week later. A few days later word came through ALL illustrations full colour had to be finished in 10 days time! WHAT! Right. I drew, and drew and drew - and I taught in between - it was actually really good to get away from my lightbox and be active with some kids. I had no free time whatsoever. I finished 4pm SA time deadline day. I had a shot of vodka, and then I cried. The relief was huge. The next day I had a work hangover - and couldn't relax, so strange. The whole process was really awesome in an insane way :)

So here are some examples - it's all the easy drawings - the rest were actual scenarios with different events happening - to appear on my website soon!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Ting pu tong in Qiazhong

(I don't understand in Qiazhong)

One of the reasons why I love living in the area that we do is fresh shopping. We live in Qiazhong in Banqiao - it's a bit of a ghetto area - not as in dodgy - the Taiwanese don't really do dodgy. It's just old school and not very developed. So on a morning like today when there is a hint of sunshine in the sky I jump on the scooter and drive to the 7 eleven. It's a hundred meters from my house - but hey - I'm doing this Taiwanese style. So at the 7 eleven I fax my late internet payment, put money on my travelcard, put money on my phone and get a cappuccino.

I drive to the little market ( in a few seconds ) and there I buy fresh veg. Mmm what do I fancy today definitely some beansprouts. We need lettuce, an onion - oo oyster mushrooms yes please, a carrot and some tofu - soft tofu today please. That will be ebai san - 130 NT - R32 not bad. Then I stop next to the chicken and other knick knacks lady for 6 eggs - R8. I drive around the block - o jay, a nice a new drink station opened - they sell the best drinks here - from ginger and sweet potato milk tea to fresh granadilla juice with little jelly blobs inside.. next time.

I stop at my favorite omie for some garlic, coriander and some friendly exchanges that we both try to understand. Just one more stop for bread at the family mart - they have the darkest bread - well it wishes it was brown - it has a slight brown tinge to it - so we go there specially. That's it - ready to make some noodles - I bought some freshly made noodles before - no dry noodles - and we don't even say the word 'instant' in Qiazhong thank you very much. I zip home hoping that the internet is reconnected so that I can enjoy my coffee (that's currently hanging in a little bag on my scooter) in front of my favorite blogs.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

My Da Dun Fine Arts Competition entry.

It's a big competition - with 11 categories - big prize money, and foreigners are encouraged to enter. I've decided to draw a tea house. The theme of the competition is crossing cultures - what better way of doing this than over a cup of tea. Jiufen is the perfect place to gather needed inspiration and reference. I doodled the idea I had in mind, rounded up all materials needed - that in itself is a process - trying to mime brown gummed tape to stretch water color paper with is not that easy - and off I went.
I first did all the color work - traveling with the art board on my scooter - painting in different places, it's great! The tea house close to my house is my favorite spot with just enough going on around me that I can focus. The line work was the bit I enjoyed the most - and added that over the color. Off to the framers and sent off with the entry form. Fingers crossed.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Spirited Away in Jiufen.

Nestled on a mountain top and decorated with rows of lanterns, Jiufen is a great little town to visit. The crowds are insane over a long weekend though, and we went back again during the week to soak up some more of the magic of this town. This generally includes exploring the maze of alleys of steep steps whilst enjoying delicious snacks bought at the stalls on the way. My favorites was the huge mushrooms - barbecued with butter and spice - served cut up in a little cup and the prawn balls served with pickles - yum!. There are some fantastic tea houses dotted throughout the little town with up to 5 floors of beautiful booths, nooks and crannies to sit in and enjoy some traditional Taiwanese tea.

There are too many things to take in at once and for creative inspirations I decided to focus on one thing at a time. So, Spirited Away it is - Jiufen was part of the inspiration of the film. Apparently Mr. Miyasaki visited the little village on a mountain and was charmed by it. I'm not surprised - it is wonderfully charming! I've compared some of the scenes - have a look for yourself! I've included a quick drawing I did there too.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Taiwan retro.

Retro is not big here. In this restaurant it's a different story however - the owner is a serious collector so his restaurant is a perfect showcase for his huge collection. There are so many signs, photo's, objects, packaging and toys that you don't really want to sit down and eat your meal. It's fascinating - it's all Taiwanese, with some fantastic Japanese influence from the time Taiwan was still ruled by Japan (1895-1945). I loved the beauty products, the cigarette boxes and prints - the children's toys were pretty damn scary though. I will definitely go back there to take in more detail.

The food was really good too, the spicy cauliflower with black bean, tofu and spring onion was my favorite. You can't have it all though - like most eating places it all still seems quite makeshift and some water ( no idea how retro the water was..) seeped into my boyfriend's loafer while were having lunch. Haha..

Ps: My sketchbook scene is from a street scene (very typical) in the area.

Monday, March 14, 2011

I've started.

My next exhibition is poking it's head out somewhere in the near future. I'm planning to sell some original artwork
as well and not just digital prints as before. So the planning is completely different.. I can't just redo anything that
I don't like and I need to plan a bit more meticulously before I just start drawing. I've started with a little robin,
a bit of a daily project - drawing a student in each of my classes every day, as well as a peaceful tea scene from
Jiufen. I had to trace the scene on a new page as I do the coloring and line work separately - without a lightbox -
what a pain! I forgot how tedious it is working with tracing paper.. So we went to find the little art alley in Jonghe
in search of a lightbox - and the art material shops is just amazing! It's just huge and filled to the brim of all art
material imaginable. Massive calligraphy brushes and all materials have every brand in every shape and size
available. Anyway, off to work on my new big shiny light box.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Kenting holiday happiness.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Oolong in Kaohsiung

(pronounced gao-shong)

On our first day of holiday we accidentally stumbled upon this wonderful tea house. We were actually hungry and looking for a restaurant but couldn't resist having some Oolong served traditional style. A little pot of coals and a kettle with hot water is placed next to the host of the group as well as a tea tray with cups and tea pots and all the utensils needed. The Oolong tea leaves are rolled up and dried and then slowly opens up while soaking in the hot water.

The place was so pretty and oozed character - a no shoe policy combined with low seated areas with wooden partitions was overlooking the sea and was decorated with driftwood, old paintings and Chinese knickknacks. A beautiful aboriginal lady prepared and served the tea and snacks - her son was busy with the fire, he looked, well, modern, as if he came from the city and was visiting for Chinese New Year. Her husband was somewhere in the background having had one too many of something other than tea. Something about it was magical.

The tea, the company and the view was great - but I was so fascinated with the look and feel of the place I barely had a chance to soak up the tea and the whole ceremony behind it. Hopefully next time*!

*As well as more drawings! (PS: The teabag in the sketchbook was from The National Palace museum not the Oolong tea house - they would loose face!)

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Happy Chinese New Year!

I didn't spring clean my house, I didn't get a new haircut and I didn't buy any new clothes - but I did design a new business card - and I am very much ready for new business!

Happy Chinese New Year everybody!

Monday, January 10, 2011

My dad is the coolest.

I love my dad's photo's. His compositions is always perfectly planned. The top picture was taken in their garden in Kitwe, Zambia in the 70's. The original is crisp clear in focus and on slide film. You might think that some of the elements is accidentally there - oh no - not my dad - I'm sure the whole picture was planned around the blossoming roses in the background, the kruiwa braai placed exactly between the white and red rose bushes. The ridiculously cool outdoor chairs placed with repetition - one of them cropping out of the picture plane. My mom and sister placed with a bit of space between them that they are both clearly visible, perfecting the colour highlights - and then my dad - running back to his spot as the timer count down - to complete this perfect picture with his presence and kapoen shirt. Hehe. I love it. The other pics are golden oldies too - and jip that's me right in the front with our yellow and purple outfits at Gold Reef City.

My sister discovered some of my dad's notebooks that he did at some point - he used to work as an electrician on the mines in Zambia. If there was a job available as an illustrator I'm sure that would've been better suited! How beautiful are these pages!
He even signed the one page (like a true artist). Now I know for sure where my love for illustration comes from. Dankie pa, ek love pa! xx