Diary of an Adventure

Harbour Town Adventures

Harbour Town vibrating under the pounding of running shoes. Marathon day, calm and sunny. My legs happy to be out walking after a gentle run out to Leisure with Craig and Daz, finishing with a swim and breakfast at East Head.

David and Heather visiting for the week bringing new energy and questions into the studio, as they have started to use oils for their paintings.
I’m fighting with my painting of the Dry Mill, with pincushion protea, based on the painting of Argenteuil by Monet.
Polly not well, giving us more than a moment of concern. Her age deeply etched into the furrows between her big eyes. Diet change to reduce the demand on her liver, with a bunch of treatment for intestine problems. For now, her eyes are brighter and she is looking for mischief. As long as they don’t involve too much exercise!
Emily Moon, everything that Zanzibar is supposed to be and isn’t. That the legend of Emily Moon has it origins at Emerson’s in Stone Town, is probably why we felt as though we were greeting an old friend (my painting ‘Zanzibar Maple’, is outside Emerson’s). While the Bitou River coils its way through the valley and fish eagles are etched against the sky, menu decisions, required with desert, unknown, a consideration.
Zanzibar Maple
As befitting the celebrations for Coreta’s birthday, there were surprises and abundant quantities of wine that I’m still feeling in my legs as I pound my way around my jogging route.

Louis Welden Hawkins (1849-1910)

La tour Eiffel [The Eiffel Tower]

After 1889

Oil on canvas

H. 55; W. 45 cm

© RMN-Grand Palais (Musée d’Orsay) / Franck Raux

Built for the 1889 Universal Exhibition, the Eiffel Tower immediately became an object of fascination for artists. In 1888, Seurat produced a pointillist work of the then unfinished tower. In the following years, the Douanier Rousseau, Signac, Bonnard and Utrillo also painted images of it, each in their own style.

For his viewpoint, Hawkins set up his easel on the esplanade of the former Trocadero Palace, built for the 1878 Universal Exhibition. The foreground is taken up by a rear view of a bronze statue by Falguière symbolising Asia. This sculpture can still be seen today on the forecourt of the Musée d’Orsay, alongside the other allegories of continents that adorned the Trocadero Palace esplanade until its destruction in 1937. The Eiffel Tower occupies the right hand corner of the painting. Its feet are cropped, as are the upper levels. Blue sky and an urban landscape (from the embankments of the Seine to the buildings of the Ecole Militaire), form the background of this work. The unusual framing makes it almost photographic in style.

Hawkins, the son of an English father and an Austrian mother, studied painting in France. Having been associated with the Symbolists in the 1890s, he changed direction at the end of the century and, after 1900 turned to late Impressionism, a style that was very successful internationally at that point, and thus offered valuable commercial openings. Both the framing and the free use of colour – in particular for the statue, painted with broad yellow, orange and blue brush strokes – give this painting a pseudo-modern style which was popular in all the salons of Europe at the time.


Diary of an Adventure

Harbour Town Adventures

Phantom Pass, famous for its legend surrounding the death at the top of the pass of the Italian heroin, Victoria Esposity, and her horse by lightning while on route to try and get permission to transport prospective silk farmers on a ship back to England. 

An enjoyable cycle that had me short of breath and exposed the flaws in my bicycle skills, as I bounced between the trees on the short single-track from the red-bridge, before sliding off the road into the drainage ditch. No blood! Hands and bum bruised from the unaccustomed exercise. Legs, feeling the fatigue of the jog with its hills that Craig took me on.

‘Joseph Jazz’, a portrait of the jazz singing car guard outside Shopright. His skin, polished Michelangelo marble, with the complex colours of a jazz club. 

I used a combination of Indian Yellow, Monaco Madder (Van Dyk 41), Ultramarine Blue, and Permanent Madder Deep. For the highlights, Naples Yellow Golden and a grey made up from Cobalt Blue and Venetian Red. 

Excited that the painting has been sold off the easel.

The French antique cupboard back from Design-Wise with its new shelf system for the glasses. Last box unpacked and we are now managing the impact of wind on long stemmed glasses. The e-towel working a treat to keep the glasses shiny and clean.

Mum wanted a braai on her last night with us, and with fresh figs available we looked for a way of combining them. Herb grilled rack of lamb, with thyme grilled figs seemed a good option. The fire hot, so I grilled the chops a whisper too long. The figs grilled perfectly on the baking sheet while the lamb rested. Served with thin green beans and asparagus.

Grilled Rack of Lamb With Fresh Herbs And Roasted Figs




1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary

4 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme 

4 teaspoons chopped fresh marjoram

2 2-pound racks of lamb, trimmed of fat and sinew

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 garlic cloves, sliced

2 tablespoons grapeseed oil


12 ripe Kadota figs, halved lengthwise

16 sprigs lemon thyme or regular thyme
For lamb:

Combine herbs in small bowl. Rub lamb with olive oil, half of chopped herbs, and garlic; cover and chill overnight.

Preheat oven to 425°F. Heat grapeseed oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle lamb with salt and pepper; sear until brown on both sides, 5 minutes total. Transfer lamb to large rimmed baking sheet; roast to desired doneness, about 20 minutes for medium-rare. Transfer lamb to cutting board; let rest 5 to 10 minutes. Maintain oven temperature; reserve baking sheet for figs.

For figs:

Place figs and thyme sprigs on baking sheet. Sprinkle with remaining herbs and drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil. Roast in oven at 425°F for 10 minutes.

Cut lamb racks into individual chops; arrange on plates and place figs alongside.


Walter Launt Palmer (1854-1932)

“The Painter of the American Winter.”

Walter Launt Palmer’s snow scenes earned him a reputation as a master of capturing winter on canvas. Influenced primarily by the regionalist principles of the Hudson River School, Palmer’s travels through the Catskill Mountains, Hudson River Valley, Paris and Venice are reflected in his landscapes, as well as his domestic interiors and portraits. 

Born into an artistic Albany, New York household Palmer grew up and interacted with many of the artistic luminaries of his time including Frederic E. Church, James and William Hart, George Boughton, Homer Dodge Martin, and Edward Gay. Palmer studied portrait painting with Charles Loring Elliot and landscape painting with Frederic Church in his early teens.

By studying with Charles Carolus-Duran in Paris during 1873 and 1874 to imbibe the new “impressionist” techniques that were becoming all the rage in France. Palmer’s work gives evidence of a compromise between the panoramic yet detailed vistas of Church and his colleagues and the more popular “intimate” snatches of nature coming first, from the Barbizon plein air painters, and assiduously followed by such new “Impressionists” as Pissarro, Monet, Renoir, et al. 

In 1890 he married Georgianna Myers, daughter of an Albany department store magnate, who unfortunately died in childbirth two years later. Palmer later married Zoe de Vautrin Wyndham.

A large number of Palmer’s canvases were painted from Palmer’s detailed notes, sketches, and photographs, which he compiled over time. He also was extremely meticulous about keeping records of his works, something he and Frederick Church had in common. While Palmer’s many Venetian scenes were in vogue among his clients and provided a steady income for the artist, he was equally if not better known for his luscious renditions of snowy woods and streams. 

Palmer attributed much of his success with winter snow scenes to painters John Ruskin and other Pre-Raphaelites who inspired his experimentation with blue shadows on traditional white snow. He was able to capture the variations of colors reflected in the winter landscapes around the Hudson River Valley. In 1908, the New York Times art critic covering Palmer’s annual exhibition at the Noe Galleries in New York wrote,

        Mr. Palmer is a devotee of the bleak and wintry season of 

        the year, when everything is snowed under, that is, except 

        Mr. Palmer’s work, and all but one of these fourteen pictures 

        are snow scenes­– the exception is a hot, turgid, sunny 

        Venice… as rosy red and warm as his snow pictures

        are blue and blue, and Mr. Palmer is no less happy in both.
Walter Launt Palmer lived in Albany from 1882 until April 16, 1932 when he died of pneumonia. The Walter Launt Palmer Collection now resides in the Library at the Albany Institute of History & Art and includes diaries and personal papers, photographs, and his studio books, which document the provenance of much of Palmer’s work.


Messing About with Paint

I’m William

In his new home

I’m William, Oil on Canvas 76cmx102cm

I used a limited ‘Zorn’ palette of Burnt Sienna (Red earth colour) and Raw Sienne (yellow earth colour), with Ultramarine Blue. Fun to use because you have to focus on the value structure and the warm/cool dimension. You also watch your edges more. This really makes you pin down the structure of what you are representing and the light.

Diary of an Adventure

Harbour Town Adventure

Laboured through my jog, the various parts of my body not working together. Think I left some of them sleeping. 

Outside the studio, life on the estuary, constantly changing. A yacht poorly positioned is careened as the tide goes out. Frantic activity to move it before it’s damaged. Firefly spots of brilliant colour from kite surfer sails in the afternoon sunlight. A visiting yacht escorted by the pilot boat to its berthing in the harbour. The launch of a new Knysna 500 catamaran, ‘Second Chance’. 

‘Erica’s Dance’, a painting of iIndigenous Erica’s growing at J9, with a touch of artistic license.

The painting has a strong masculine left, with a gentler feminine right has side. The red flowers, smaller to balance the dominant colour, especially with the orange gold underpainting. Pink Erica flowers gentler against the softer pastel like green and blues. I used stronger pink sections to link with the red flowers. 

To move away from the botanical feeling of the flowers, I used slashes of background colours to break through the flowers.

Trying to sort the struggling herbs on the patio. Managed to knock a full pot of potting soil off the edge. No blood!!

A bunch of interesting people through the studio talking about painting, art, life and experiences. A challenge to get my Afghanistan diaries onto my web page. They can be found at


Came across an amazing painting by Monet of Argenteuil. ‘Flowers on a Riverbank’, that I used as the inspiration for a painting of the gardens and views out across the Dry Mill on Harbour Town.

New stock of paint arrived. Charvin from France, with interesting versions of the traditional pallet I use. French yellow, rather than the Cadmium Yellows and blues and greens that give new options for water. We were able to visit their beautiful shop in Paris a few years ago, which was impossibly imposing. 

‘Hobie 16’, a commissioned piece for a chap who comes past the studio every morning with his dogs. Probably will never get paid for it, but enjoyed the challenge as I struggle giving life to commissions. Used the vibrant colours of the Hobie sails to depict the waves.


Claude Monet 1877 Argenteuil, Flowers by the Riverbank

Oil on canvas 53.8 x 65.1 cm 

Pola Museum of Art, Hakone, Japan

“I have painted the Seine throughout my life, at every hour, at every season. I have never tired of it: for me the Seine is always new.” —Claude Monet

Monet returned to France from London in 1872 and settled in Argenteuil (a town on a picturesque stretch of the Seine, eleven kilometres from central Paris), where he lived until 1876. His contemporaries Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Édouard Manet and Alfred Sisley joined him and, for a time, Argenteuil became a hub of artistic activity. 

It was during this time that Monet created some of his most characteristic paintings. In order to observe the effects of sunlight on water more closely, Monet often worked from a boat-turned-studio.

Monet’s garden was always waiting for him when he returned to Argenteuil, weary from the noise and congestion of Paris. In The Artist’s Garden in Argenteuil, for example, done in 1873, the artist invites us into his private corner of paradise at its height, blooming freely in a spectrum of colors. You can almost pick the flowers with your imagination, actually feeling the texture of the artist’s brushstrokes.

But Argenteuil kept growing, invaded by chemical factories and iron works polluting its water and atmosphere. So Monet would be forced to leave in 1878 for the less developed Vetheuil which was farther from Paris. Argenteuil, Flowers by the Riverbank, one of Monet’s final works done in the town, is really an adieu, a farewell to what is often considered the zenith of the Impressionist movement. .

River of Light: Monet’s Impressions of the Seine by Douglas Skeggs, published by Gollancz, London, 1987.

Messing About with Paint

Erica’s Dance

Oil on Canvas 124cm x 91cm

Indigenous Erica’s growing at J9, with a touch of artistic license.

The painting has a strong masculine left, with a gentler feminine right has side. The red flowers, smaller to balance the dominant colour, especially with the orange gold underpainting. Pink Erica flowers gentler against the softer pastel like green and blues. I used stronger pink sections to link with the red flowers.

To move away from the botanical feeling of the flowers, I used slashes  of background colours to break through the flowers.


Diary of an Adventure

Harbour Town Adventures

‘Don’t spend time and energy fretting about the monsters in your head. Start a new painting and you will have a whole collection of new monsters!’

Blue skies, the waters of the lagoon sparkling under summer sun. Yachts hardly moving in the gentle breeze. This, the view from the studio windows and my painting, ‘Summer Fun’. Influenced by John Henry Twatchman, the painting pushing impressionistic boundaries.

Smoke. Sirens. Helicopters. Wind heavy with the smell of fire. Burning forests contained, the rain welcome to quench embers.

The studio apartment full of cooking smells. Braised lamb shank in red wine with black and green olives. The hint of lemon, perfect.

Polly had me up early on a crisp morning after a day of rain. Dark now that early, the indication that our 15 hours of sunshine a day are shortening towards a distant winter. Managed a jog with lots of creaking bits.

A new collection of paintings on the studio walls for the month of February. Unsurprisingly, Romance the theme. We also focused on smaller canvases that would be easier to carry as most of the people passing through the studio are tourists, and packing is a decision factor.

Golden late afternoon skies the underpainting colour for a large canvas of flowering Erica’s. The focus on the architectural form of the plants, with their clumps of flowers. For now, no blood!

Early dinner and a blues band with the sunset, the perfect end to a week.

Messing About with Paint

Romance of Travel

New exhibition 

Discover the heart, passion and romance in the art of Jandre, inspired by a world of humanitarian travel 

Walk the Champs-Élysées in Paris, reflect in the sun-dappled waters of the Villa Borgheses gardens in Rome, sit quietly under a parasol in the Sankeien Gardens in Yokohama. Picnic in a hilltop village above the French Rhone River. 

Imagine the fragrance of an English rose-garden, and smell the dust of African earth and skies connected by the legend of the Atoc bird in South Sudan.

Laugh and love with the sunset at the Heads, and remember the romance of the ‘Outeniqua Choo Choo’ crossing the railway bridge 

 The Romance of travel – a dream that for many seems unachievable