My quest in painting Mauritius is to paint the people at work and that is how the thought of painting the workers at the tea estates started. We met Ram who is a security guard at The Hub. He told us that he lives at Bois Cheri and would take us to the tea estate and introduce us to the workers there. The tricky bit was getting there early enough to get the people at work before they weigh their tea. We went with friends of ours and it turned into a fantastic experience. Daan and Mariaan have never been there and the delight of the island is showing people something for the first time. We left very early to avoid the rush of morning traffic and got to the tea estate at 8 o’clock. Ram was waiting for us at Bois Cheri. We drove for about 1 km and then stopped when we saw our first tea pluckers. The first gentleman we talked to was plucking tea from 3 in the morning. The tea leaves are fresher in the morning. He had a stack of bags and he told us that he has been plucking tea for more than 18 years and has put all his children through school by working so hard. He was never given this opportunity.
I took dozens of photos to get the right feel for the scenes around me. And many photos of individuals plucking tea. I loved the lady who had the small umbrella as a hat.
The sun is fierce and will broil you without a hat. There were these delightful paths snaking through the plantation. We went up to the weighing station but this place afforded no attractive photos. I often work from photos to give an authentic feel to the paintings. You could even recognize individual people in the painting if you look at them closely. But I would take artistic license to change the colors that people wear to create focus areas on the painting. It is also important to me to use fewer details in the items further away with some fading and smaller brushstrokes and more detail with larger brushstrokes in the items in the foreground. This creates more interest in artwork because our vision often blurs items that are further away and focus on specific items. This replicates true sight. By also suggesting detail the eye can complete the details themselves.
I ended up doing a series of smaller oil paintings of the tea pluckers. Here are two of them I did. The one is closer to Bois Cheri and the other closer to Avalon. Have you been there and does this look familiar?
Le Domaine de Bois Chéri is located on the highlands in the southern part of the island of Mauritius, at nearly 500 meters above sea level. It offers ideal climatic conditions for the cultivation of tea. We followed the footsteps of the tea pickers across the fields of the most ancient tea plantation in Mauritius and experienced the traditional ways of tea picking.
We also discovered the different steps of the tea-making process. We then tasted tea at Le Chalet du Domaine de Bois Chéri, overlooking Le Lac des Cygnes du Domaine de Bois Chéri with a panoramic view on the southeast coast of Mauritius. You look out as far as the airport.
We also took a tour and discover the various steps involved in the making of the tea from the raw material to the finished teas.
I can highly recommend this experience in a peaceful environment!
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