My love of sketching and painting outdoors was stimulated by Sophia Gray and Thomas Baines. I first encountered Sophia Gray’s Sketchbooks at the William Cullen Historic, I invested a lot of time looking at her watercolor and pencil studies, I was especially amazed at how she managed to divide her frame into 3 zones, the foreground, Middle ground and the Background, at the time this pattern of creating depth was foreign to me but by immersing myself in her landscapes studies I felt I was viewing the vastness of the South African landscape.

“Sophia Gray was the wife of Robert Gray, who was the first Bishop of the Anglican Church in Southern Africa. Having arrived in the Cape Province in 1947, the couple settled in Protea, later called Bishopscourt. From there Sophie Gray undertook long and strainous trips, often on horseback, around the Cape up to KwaZulu Natal. She always carried her portfolio, sketching all the way. By 1861 she was managing 21 building projects in various parishes, with her favorite project being St Saviors in Claremont.” (

After interacting with Sophie Gray sketchbooks I thought I would be able to record my own environment in a naturalistic manner but this feat was quite difficult to manifest. In order to develop a natural way of recording my surroundings I turned to Thomas Baines’s Sketchbooks. Which to some degree revealed to me how I should approach my landscape studies. First divide my frame into 3 zones, work from light to dark in thin washes and save the thick paint for last as a way of solidifying my image.

Painting Skirilek, somewhere in September 2021, JPG File, 1600 pixels x 900 pixels.