Exploring the Art of Sewing continues


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My bespoke clothing collection is growing – all created by me! I still find sewing dauntingly complicated and mind stretchingly challenging, but that’s what makes being a beginner special.


Here’s my ‘Bird of Paradise’ tunic top modelled by a sailing friend Sally – it was a hot afternoon and she even put up with the mozzies biting her! What a star! See that flash of colour on the cuff of the sleeve? That’s what I imagine it must be like to catch sight of a colourful bird of paradise in the jungle.


‘Bird of Paradise’ was modelled on one of my favourite tunics that was ready to be retired


Here’s a closeup of some of the very simple embroidery and applique work I used:


neckline detail


With the left over material I re-seated (back and front) an old pair of denim shorts which were going to be unpicked to be used as a pattern, but then I had this brain wave!



This little bus fare pouch was made from the cuff of a shirt sleeve I shortened – cute and handy and it matches!


As you can see – I’m really enjoying the Art of Sewing!

Wild Voices – Messages from the Animals of Africa, a Book and Card set wildvoices.co.za

Exploring the Art of Sewing.



Material washed and ready for sewing!

Material washed and ready for sewing!

I’m afraid to sew. It is difficult. In fact, after giving it a good try with a very basic little sewing machine, I’d say I have good reason to believe sewing is soft fabric engineering which seems very left brained for this dominantly right brained creative.

Sewing is also very addictive. No sooner have I undone a haplessly sewn seam, then ideas roll in and I can’t wait to see them materialized (pun intended).

My goal: A wardrobe full of one-off, bespoke clothing – maybe I should include the adjective – wearable!

Oh yes! Did I mention I’m living onboard a yacht anchored in the Caribbean? Here’s where I work in the main cabin.

my workstation

my workstation

And this is where I have my cutting table – the main cabin’s bed!


I’ve finished a few pieces of clothing and have many thoughts to share about the amazing Art of Sewing which I will post about soon!

An Expressionistic Study, Macaneta, Mozambique

As mentioned before, I am a devoted Irma Stern art fan and have a copy on board Dayo 1 of Marion Arnold’s book, “Feast for the Eye”, a beautiful commemorative publication printed to honour Irma’s creativity, filled with quality colour prints of a large range of her paintings.

As a mostly self-taught artist I am only now starting to understand how important it is to know why I am painting a picture and there is much, much more to a painting than “prettiness” and “sameness” and there is much, much more to being an artist than painting the occasional painting. Being an artist is a full time occupation – something Irma Stern embodied strongly and is evident in her more than 100 solo art exhibitions she held in her lifetime.

It is in this freshly inspired frame of mind I found myself grabbing brushes, tubes of gouache and sketch book this morning. Early morning fishing boats hugged the Komati estuary beach of Macaneta, on the coast of Mozambique where we’re anchored, and there was a fair bit of preparation and reparation in progress.

Gouache study of Macaneta Fishing Boats 1

Gouache study of Macaneta Fishing Boats 1

The boats and their occupants suggested industry as well as engagement with life. On a deeper level, the one was unraveling his fishing net, which from here looked fairly knotted and the other was scooping water out of the boat – getting rid of the unwanted, both of these activities I work with a lot in my own life as I identify and unravel programming that doesn’t work for me and do my best to get rid of it.

On the beach looking on is a spectator. There are always those around. Unengaged and absent this figure represents those who would rather look than do. The distant fishing boat is no longer near the water and also represents inactivity – suspended life.

All three figures seem oblivious and separated from the distant backdrop of intense and vivid plant life – or just Life. This is how I feel – so engrossed by the work or “Work” on hand that life is forgotten.

I love these skillfully made, brightly painted wooden fishing boats.

I love these skillfully made, brightly painted wooden fishing boats of which I will be taking lots of photographs and making so many paintings you’ll soon be yelling “Enough with the boats already!”.

A time of change!


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Having thrown myself into the jaws of a Kickstarter fund raising event for Wild Voices

banner1SMALLand being spat out without raising the target funding goal, I’ve now recently thrown myself more gently into the writing and illustration of a book for children, authored by me and now in the process of being illustrated by me, In the Very, Very Beginning which is Book No.1 of the series, Cat under Sail

Cat under Sail bannerat the same time I have gone from living on a mountain at the tip of Africa to living on a boat sailing around the Indian Ocean on a little boat called Dayo 1. blog_banner1

Add to that I am now a first time Granny of an adorable little girl called Leela FaeLeela Fae and you could say it has been a time of change!



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After years and years of working on the artwork for a book written by a South African author, Anne Keating and knocking on many, many publisher’s doors, Anne and I decided to put the project on the Kickstarter fund raising platform to make enough money to get the book edited, formatted and printed – along with the cards being printed as well.

Clipboard01It’s taken us close to a year to get all the bits together for our Wild Voices Kickstarter webpage – and there are still a few loose ends even now that we have launched needing to be tied up – like writing this post on my art blog that I’m hoping Kickstarter visitors will come and check out and see what I am about.

So if you are from KickstarterWELCOME! – and thank you for making the effort! If you are not from Kickstarter, but curious to see what this post is about, head on over to our campaign page. I’m positive you’ll find it worth your while. Of course if you like our project very much and would like to get the word out to your friends – please do!!

Kickstarter: WILD VOICES



Contact details: diane -at- wildvoices.net

What is Great Art??


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This is NOT an academic, highly intellectual post on what makes an artwork GREAT or not.

It’s a post inspired by my musings over this question as a fairly uneducated therefore nonacademic artist.

This question is, I believe, on par with “What is life all about?” and one that begs answering especially if you are a professional artist.

Here’s how the musing goes:

Is it possible to be a highly adept, skilled artist and yet not express GREATNESS in your work? I’m standing on a pavement looking through the window front of an art gallery. There are some stunningly beautiful paintings of landscapes, seascapes and the ubiquitous koi fish in a pond. I’m impressed in a detached, unmoved way.


An example of a ubiquitous koi fish painting – one I quite like actually.

Flash back to an article recently read about Arthur Pinajian. The first time my eyes took in a small, badly taken photo of one of his paintings, I felt like the wind had been knocked out of me. Blissful breathlessness.

untitled-landscape-woodstock-no-42-1970There was no priming here – no brainwashing by the media. I don’t even like abstract art!! Just a deep down, in the bones type of feeling that this artwork captures the ineffable, bringing something heavenly to earth.

Arthur-Pinajian1Apparently a lot of people experienced the same feeling as he is now hailed by our big, faceless informer, the media, as being on par with if not greater than Picasso!

pinajian1Is that maybe why GREAT ART is so hard to define?? This greatness is beyond the thinking mind where most of us feel like strangers, but where mad people and most likely GREAT artists feel at home – posting off an artwork from this hallowed space now and then to keep the world in touch with the unutterable?

First it must catch my eye. Then it must tug at my vision so I feel slightly disoriented and with that a loss of breath or at least a pause, a sense of excitement. If for quite a while afterwards I feel altered, as if haunted by the image in my mind of the artwork I’ve looked at, then the artist was successful.

Also – there must be enough space in the artwork for me to fill in and lose myself in. Not everything should be described – that can be overpowering and grow tiring very quickly.

Diane Holmes

UPDATE: 16 December 2021

I now understand that it’s not about “capturing the ineffable” it’s about stepping aside and “allowing the ineffable” to paint. The experience is akin to a painting painting itself.

Making some progress on Going Big!


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Took a while to gather all the materials needed for this commission – living 200km’s from the nearest sizable city has its disadvantages, but most days I look up at our blue, blue sky and am very glad I live on a mountain plateau far away from “the big smoke”.

If you didn’t catch the post about Going Big! head over there first or else this post will seem rather arbitrary. If you don’t feel like going back in time then briefly I received a commission to paint a large version of a picture of a fleet of Chinese junks in a beautiful seascape. I thought I was doing a reproduction of a painting, but now believe I’m working from a rather lovely, classical looking photograph.

Here’s how it’s looking – still have to take another pass at the sky before adding the boats. Very exciting!

Sky walker

Sky walker

Artist hard at work.

Artist hard at work.

Oh yes! Forgot to mention, the buyer has asked me to bring more blue into the water, if you are wondering about that.

And it’s FINISHED!

Took a lot longer than I thought it would – but what with packing up the household to go sailing, I think I can be forgiven!

Chinese boats at anchor.

Chinese boats at anchor.


Going BIG!


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It’s been a while…..So much has happened on the one hand and not enough on the other…… BUT – here I am blogging again, and this time it’s about a commission I’ve received.

Firstly – it’s BIG – waiting to hear if 101cm high x 127cm wide is going to be big enough for my client. Secondly it’s a HUGE challenge! My client is wanting me to make a reproduction of this scene:
boats at sunsetIt is a painting by an oriental artist. Does anyone recognize the artist’s signature?

I’ll keep you updated on the progress, but as I’m gathering materials at this stage it will be a little while yet.

So excited!!


Taking a break.

Just a quick post to say I am still here, but plugging away at the Wild Voices project and l-o-n-g-i-n-g to get back to some old-fashioned paint on brush instead of pixel herding on a computer screen!!

Taking a break now I did some blog trawling using the word “art” in my search and as always have discovered some inspiring sites, not the least being David Apatoff’s blog simply called “Illustration Art”.

Albert Dorne, from the Famous Artists School materials

The above illustration reminded me of Laitma – a talented young illustrator who follows this blog as well as Geoff Louw who is a very skilful illustrator and up and coming South African artist.

If you’ve got the time go through David’s archived posts as well – I found this post on Rockwell Kent (1882 – 1971) famous for his illustrations for Moby Dick, Candide, Shakespeare and Chaucer, hugely enjoyable.

Moby Dick











Well – that was an informative break – post some more soon!!