My brother, Grant, was the first in our family to be recognized as an artist. Under the guidance of Alan Turton, his DHS art teacher, he learned to create subtle atmospheric effects with several sweeps of the brush—and a few swipes and dabs of his thumb and cloth—on saturated watercolour paper. He held his breath for several long minutes as he fashioned brilliant beams of piercing light in an evening or morning sky—and then breathed out gustily as he drew back to assess his progress.
Specific sound effects accompanied the emergence of other imagery. “Zip-zip-zip”—chunky railway sleepers, swiftly jotted down, ever diminishing, converged with telephone poles at a vanishing point somewhere on the horizon line. With bristles flattened to a sharp edge, other inimitable noises, interspersed with humming and whistling, helped give form to irregular clumps of brush and driftwood, slender grey branches clothed with leaves, spiky grasses shivering on windswept dunes.
Occasionally, to relieve the intensity of the creative process, Grant broke into song in his strong pseudo-operatic tenor voice—and then settled down again to the serious, all-enveloping task at hand. My brother effortlessly captured the unique ambiance of South Africa’s seascapes, landscapes and dwellings. I was awed by his work.