Tuesday, 29 December 2020

Monday, 28 December 2020

Old door, Greece

 Acrylics on Masonite, 20 x 15 cm:

The Japanese call it wabi-sabi: the beauty of imperfection, and of old, used and withered things. Everyone (except perhaps very rich people?) seem to get it intuitively, which is why still life paintings are so often filled with such old things. One wonders then why, in the west, billions upon billions of dollars are spent annually in an attempt to make ourselves look younger more perfect. 

This work is for sale. Contact me at brianvds@gmail.com

Monday, 21 December 2020


 Acrylics on Masonite, 15 x 10 cm:

I cheated a bit for this one, using a photo instead of the traditional mirror. But I made a point of staring intently into the camera, as happens when using a mirror, to create that typical staring self-portrait look. 

Thursday, 17 December 2020

Around the bend

 Acrylics on Masonite, 15 x 20 cm:


I grew up in the rural boondocks, right next to train tracks, which is perhaps why trains have fascinated me all my life. I am not, by any stretch of the imagination, one of those train spotters who can tell you the make, model and origin of every train, but I always love watching them. Perhaps just about time for me to finally paint one too. 

Wednesday, 16 December 2020

Tuesday, 15 December 2020


 Acrylics on Masonite, 15 x 20 cm:


I tried out a limited palette of titanium white, ivory black, burnt sienna and yellow ochre. Supposedly, ivory black has a bluish cast, so one can mix subdued blues and greens from it, but it depends on the brand, I think: my tube is as pitch black as lamp black, so no blues, and my attempt at green (by mixing some of the black into ochre yellow) perhaps came out more brownish than green. Well, with the limited palette, you do not expect bright colors, and for some subjects I rather like the stark, subdued tone you get from monochrome or limited palette paintings. 

Friday, 11 December 2020


 Acrylics on Masonite, 15 x 20 cm:

This work is for sale. Contact me at brianvds@gmail.com.

I found this a rather interesting subject to tackle - trying to get that molten metal glow effect turned out quite a challenge. But I had so much fun, I think I'll return to this sort of thing in future. 

Wednesday, 9 December 2020

Doll portrait

 Acrylics on Masonite, 20 x 15 cm:


I have long thought that dolls, particularly antique-looking ones, are the most wondrously creepy things. And now I finally got around to painting one. 

Tuesday, 8 December 2020

Monday, 7 December 2020

Mugshot #1

 Acrylics on Masonite, 15 x 10 cm:

This work is for sale. Contact me at brianvds@gmail.com.

Painted from a police mugshot. I have no idea who the guy is or what he supposedly did, and I don't really care either. Call me crazy, but I find the faces on mugshots far more interesting to draw or paint than those of most other people. I may well do a whole series of these...

Friday, 4 December 2020

Welder at work

 Acrylics on Masonite, 20 x 15 cm:

This work is for sale. Contact me at brianvds@gmail.com.

Another one of my industrial scenes. Perhaps not entirely conventionally pretty, but a subject I enjoy. I used a limited palette here, of black, white, yellow ocher and burned sienna.

Unlike many modern westerners, I do not suffer from allergy to scenes of industry, and I find people's often extreme aversion to it somewhat strange. It's the very engine of civilization, providing us with all the stuff we like so much  (even when we deny it), including of course the computer on which you are reading this. 

Own a car? Microwave oven? TV? Knives and forks and pots and pans in the kitchen? Paintings on the wall? Clothes made of cotton? In short, just about anything? Thank industries and industrial workers for it. The Tolkienesque rural fantasy world that so many people today seem nostalgic for never even existed in the first place, and even if it did, it too could not exist without industry - even hobbits wear clothes, and use such things as tools, bricks and paint. 

And thus, unlike many (most?) people, I actually rather like scenery with such things as grimy, smoky factories, or train shunting yards, or modern farms with huge harvesters and grain silos. As far as I am concerned, all perfectly worthy subjects for paintings too.

Not that I object to pretty paintings, mind you. I like those too, and indulge in them myself. 

Wednesday, 2 December 2020

Spooky Mr Poe

Acrylics on Masonite, 15 x 10 cm:


Another one of my monochrome things. I am rather enjoying these; the monochrome gives a picture a quite different sort of look. 

Tuesday, 1 December 2020

Friday, 27 November 2020

Green ice cream

 Acrylics on Masonite, 15 x 10 cm:


Shaped like a crown, but it cools you down. The thing to eat in the summer heat. I enjoy painting these because it feels like it cools me down, and I like the rich, pop art colors and curly forms. 

Thursday, 26 November 2020

A slice of cheesecake

 Acrylics on Masonite, 15 x 20 cm:


I enjoy painting this kind of thing, but it does have its own drawbacks: it makes me ravenous!

Wednesday, 25 November 2020


 Acrylics on Masonite, 15 x 10 cm:



A pair of cupcakes. I may end up doing a whole series along these lines, because how can there possibly be too many cupcakes?

Tuesday, 24 November 2020

Monochrome elephant

 Acrylics on Masonite, 15 x 20 cm:

I now and then enjoy working in monochrome, particularly for this kind of subject, which isn't all that colorful to begin with.

Monday, 23 November 2020

Flower power

 Acrylics on Masonite, 20 x 30 cm:


A trip back to the 1970s, that psychedelic era of bad clothes and worse hair, that makes older folks wax nostalgic, and younger folks think it was a different planet...

Sunday, 22 November 2020

Uncle Al

 Acrylics on Masonite, ACEO (= 3.5 x 2.5 inches):


I have hardly ever tried portraiture before, so I don't know what possessed me to try it out at this scale - I was terrified the whole time. Art truly is 99% perspiration, and no more than 1% inspiration. 

Thursday, 19 November 2020

Construction worker

 Acrylics on Masonite, 15 x 20 cm:

This work is for sale. Contact me at brianvds@gmail.com.

Artists are often on the lookout not so much for subjects as for shapes. This construction scene gave me plenty. 

Wednesday, 18 November 2020

Refreshments on the way

Acrylics on Masonite, 15 x 20 cm:

This work is for sale. Contact me at brianvds@gmail.com.

Free State province in South Africa is, for the most part, a very flat, grassy plain, that gets hammered by the fierce African sun. By the end of the dry season, even the sky looks bleached out. Under such conditions, it's good to know trucks full of drinks are always on the way. 

Tuesday, 17 November 2020

Outbuildings on a farm

 Acrylics on Masonite, 10 x 15 cm:


You see this often when traveling around the countryside: somewhat dilapidated, but clearly still used, buildings, sometimes seemingly in the middle of nowhere. I always wonder about them. What are they used for? Storerooms? Toolsheds? Why were they built in that particular spot? There are fun little mysteries all around us. 

Monday, 16 November 2020

R495 near Rayton; overcast day

 Acrylics on Masonite, 10 x 15 cm:

This work is for sale. Contact me at brianvds@gmail.com.

I rather like this sort of cool, cloudy weather. I do find it kind of tricky to paint, mind you, and it tends not to be as popular with viewers as more brightly lit scenes either. 

Sunday, 15 November 2020


 Acrylics on Masonite, ACEO (= 2.5 x 3.5 inches):

Power station, Mpumalanga

 Acrylics on Masonite, 15 x 20 cm:


A typical landscape in South Africa: a flat, grassy plain with a power station, and pylons running off into the distance. As always, I am a bit ambivalent about it: purely in visual terms, I love this sort of grimy, industrial scenery (it's a bit like a giant, outdoor still life setup!), but of course, it also mars the natural landscape, and as at present, most power generation here is via coal, it is not exactly very environmentally friendly. 

Thursday, 12 November 2020

Grain field with silos

 Acrylics on Masonite, 10 x 15 cm:


Painted landscapes often don't quite reflect the reality, namely that much of the world is flat as a table. You'd never guess, judging from all those mountains you often see in the background in landscape paintings.

When I started painting, I soon learned why: huge, flat, expansive landscapes are quite spectacular when you stand in them, but they can easily look a bit featureless in a painting, particularly a small painting such as this one. And thus, artists usually put something in there for the eye to focus on, as I did here with the silos.

As I noted elsewhere, I am as fond as anyone of romanticized paintings of rural life, but I also like the more industrial-looking reality of modern farming. 

Wednesday, 11 November 2020

Sunday, 25 October 2020

Why Cheetah's Cheeks are Stained

 My latest children's book is now available:

It is another edition in my series of African folktales; this one has a rather delightful explanation for just why cheetahs have those dark streak marks down their cheeks. Ages 5 - 8.

Here is the free web version:

If you enjoyed this story, please consider buying a copy.

Buy on Amazon: 



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