The tree of happiness flowers and fruits most abundantly for the creative man
Perhaps or because I had spent much of my childhood in and around the Drakensberg Mountains in Natal – the mountains of the Kaokoland fascinated me. Called the Baynes Mountains, the Zebra Mountains, Otjihipa and Okakora Mountains. They dominated the environment by their sheer size, number and variety. They created spectacular backdrops to sunrises and sunsets, giving me endless inspiration. Doing my military service made me very conscious of time, and the passing of time, and in some conscious and subconscious way I associated the mountains and sun with my personal life. I know it had something to do with the way the bright African sun created endlessly changing vistas over this undulating landscape, lighting first their upper slopes and crests, casting long shadows and then brightening into glare, then once again sinking into deepening shadows as evening twilight crept up. On moonlit nights the same would happen, only now in sombre tones.
(below) An enthusiastic excerpt from a letter written on the 20th of March 1985 back home from Epupa Falls, Kaokoland, expressing my visual fascination with my surroundings.
(above and below) Two images depicting the mountains of the Kaokoland, with a figure in the landscape that represents my obsession with time.
(above) Sketch of a Himba/ Herero Settlement at the foot of a mountain in the Kaokoland. Sketched 21 June 1985 in the only ink I had at the time (stamp pad ink).
(above and below) The Zebra Mountains, Kaokoland. 17 June 1985. These most remarkable mountains have clear stripes running down their flanks made of dark broken rock alternating with vegetation.
(above and below) Mountain Range, Okongwati, 17 June 1985. On the second of our border trips, two our our company sections were stationed at Okongwati. I was not, but our section visited the camp on our way back from Epupa Falls on the Cunene River. I was able to sketch this group of mountains as we camped in a dry water course (Omuhonga) a kilometre or so outside of the base. The sunsets in the Kaokoland were something to behold. The light effect in this drawing was achieved by mixing enamel paint with Avtar (aviation fuel). The mixture was highly evaporative and when spilled over a sketch in crayon would leave this lovely affect.
(above) Pen and ink sketch of the mountains near Eyuva Base, Kaokoland. This drawing was done with a Pilot Hi-Tecpoint 5, 0.3mm. These Japanese manufatured pens were cheap and freely available in South Africa at the time. When they ran dry, I would simply refill them with Quink Ink and keep on drawing.
(above) Mountains of Kaokoland. June 1985. Conte crayon.
(above) Mountains, Eyuva, Kaokoland, 3 July 1985. This sketch was executed in wax Chinamarkers.
(above) Mountains near Opuwo, Kaokoland. Pen and Ink and wash.
(above) Twilight over the mountains of the Kaokoland, 12 June 1985, Epuwo.
(above) A chinagraph crayon drawing of the montains of the Kaokoland, 28th May 1985.
(above) A ballpoint pen of Opuwo and the mountains to the north.
(above) A pen and ink drawing of the mountains and valley near Opuwo Base.
(above) Ink and brush drawing of the mountains beyond Opuwo base.
(above) A pen and ink sketch of the mountains to the north of the town of Opuwo.
(above) Epuwo Base.
(above) Epuwo base and mountains.
(above) Eyuva base, Kaokoland.
Graham Leslie McCallum