Diary of an Adventure

Harbour Town Adventures

A night of storms, which if the reported wind speed is accurate, reached gale force winds. They were certainly strong enough to tear off the neighbours patio roof! Our damage was limited to filthy studio windows, which meant a workout washing them down and doing a sort of cleaning job.

Sicilian slant on the traditional French boeuf Bourguignon. The addition of chili, anchovies and garlic more subtle than expected. No less delicious, which was probably a result of the excellent stock Terry made at the start. Alchemy in a sauce. An old Cape of Good Hope Cab, Merlot blend held up surprisingly well to the complex flavours of the rich beef. The Lynx Cab Franc splendid.

Great run out along the lagoon to Phantom Pass with the girls training for the Oyster marathon, over the red bridge and back to the studio. My groin muscle giving in on the way back reducing me to a shumbling. 

New selection of paintings up in the studio, with pink balloons and ribbon around the front columns. ‘Favourite Shades of Pink!’ in acknowledgement of the Pink Loerie Mardi Gras and Arts Festival that takes place over the long weekend in Knysna.

The garage a mess of building dust as the cracks from the settling of the building are gouged out and plastered. It does mean that my lazy sorting and cleaning can’t be delayed any longer.

Suyenne made excellent spinach and ricotta balls, Ella’s legendary sweet potato cakes with a chicken chocolate mole for a sunder chord lunch next to the water. Delicious.

Jim stopped into visit on his way down the coast. Fantastic to catch up, even if Terry did have to kick us out so she could get some sleep.

A couple of small paintings sold.

Spinach and Ricotta Balls
800g spinach, 200g ricotta, 1 egg, coconut flour, Parmesan cheese 

Sweet Potato Cakes
– 4 sweet potatoes
– 1 heaped teaspoon of tahini
– 2 tablespoons of tomato puree (check there is no added sugar)
– a handful of fresh coriander
– 1 lime
– 1 teaspoon of cumin
– 1 teaspoon of chill flakes
– 2 gloves of garlic
– 2 tablespoon of quinoa flour (or pumpkinseed flour) and a little extra to sprinkle on top as they cook
– salt and pepper to taste
Peel the sweet potato and cut into equally sized chunks. Steam the chunks on the stove until they are soft and easily pierced with a fork, this should take about 10-15 minutes.

Place the potato squares in a bowl and mash them with a fork until they are nearly smooth, but still a little lumpy. Then stir in the tomato puree, crushed garlic cloves, finely chipped coriander, cumin, chill flakes, lime juice, tahini, salt and pepper.

Mould the mixture into four even sized cakes.

Dust the top of each cake with flour (this is what makes the outside crispy) and place in a baking tray, cook at 200C for about 20 minutes.

Serve with extra tahini on a bed of salad, I like a simple rocket (arugala) and avocado with lots of delicious lime juice and olive oil.

A Sicilian take on Boeuf. A rich beef treat!
400 g chopped tomatoes

350 ml red wine (medium-bodied)

1.5 tblsp flour

4 onions (chopped)

2 tblsp olive oil

1 kg round steak (in cubes and trimmed)

1 tsp sugar

2 bay leaves

salt and freshly ground black pepper

to finish

3 anchovies

2 cloves garlic

1 lemon rind

1 large red chilli

Fry the onions in the oil in a large sauce pan until they are soft. This will take approx seven to ten minutes.

Then toss the beef in seasoned flour and separately brown the meat in a hot frying pan, taking care not to overload the pan as the meat will stew rather than brown.

Add the meat back to the saucepan and deglaze the frying pan with some red wine. Pour these juices over the meat and mix in the remaining red wine.

Bring the mixture to a boil, and then reduce it to a simmer for approximately ten minutes.

Add in the chopped tomatoes along with the bay leaves, salt, pepper and sugar.

Bring the sauce to the boil, cover with a lid and allow to cook gently for approx two hours until the meat is nice and tender.

Occasionally, turn the meat over and check that it is not sticking to the bottom of the pan and add in a little hot water if needed.

And then we move on to the extra little Sicilian touch. Finely chop the anchovies, lemon rind, garlic and chilli. When the beef is ready, add in the minced seasoning and add salt and pepper to taste, and you have transformed the dish.


Paul Jenkins (1923-2012)

Phenomena When I Looked Away, 1960

Paul Jenkins was an American painter who came to maturity during the reign of the Abstract Expressionists. Born in Kansas City, Missouri in 1923, he studied at the Art Institute in his hometown from 1938 to 1941, and then served as an apprentice at a ceramics factory. Afterwards, he moved to New York City to attend the Art Students League under the G.I. Bill. He remained until 1952, befriending fellow artists Jackson Pollock and Mark Rothko, but choose to move to Paris after a year to escape the dominant influence of Abstract Expressionism. While abroad, he discovered the effects of staining a canvas as opposed to painting on it – color by flow instead of application. This interest was sparked by his earlier work in ceramics, translating the luminous effects of glazing to a new medium.

Upon his return to the United States in 1956, he encountered the works of the prevalent American Color Field painters Helen Frankenthaler and Morris Louis, after which he fully took to the technique of staining. Jenkins applied oil paint or thinned acrylic to primed white canvas, typically starting at the corners, and manipulated its flow by adjusting the canvas’ position, sometimes also using blade-like devices to direct the paint further. He normally used bright, bold colors in his works, all of which he gave titles that began was the word “phenomena” beginning in the 1960s. His works are indeed phenomena – something that is impressive and extraordinary. 

In a 2009 review of his work, Roberta Smith described his paintings as “too beautiful for their own good.” Jenkins worked in this mode for the entirety of his career. He was the subject of two major retrospectives at the Houston Museum of Fine Arts and the San Francisco Museum of Art, both in 1971, but he received the greatest critical attention in 1978 when his work was featured in the movie An Unmarried Woman. Starring Alan Bates, the movie chronicled the life of a Manhattan artist; the works supposedly done by Bates’ character were actually those of Jenkins, who reportedly spent weeks coaching the actor in the finer points of his working process. Jenkins died in New York City in 2012 after a short illness.

Randy Kennedy, “Paul Jenkins, Painter of Abstract Artwork, dies at 88,” The New York Times, June 12, 2012

Diary of an Adventure

Harbour Town Adventures

Kirsten arrived with a suitcase full of mischief for her few days here. The excellent Lismore Chardonnay from Greyton. Restless River Cab from the Hemel-en-Aarde Valley and the ‘RedBlack’ from Ahrens family vineyard. A distinctive Syrah blend with the focus on the fruit, rather than the oak. 

Slow cooked pork belly (the three chef version) in Viognier with cauli-mash and squash to go with the wines.

Compression socks to help my weary leg muscles. Long black things that seemed to assist but didn’t go high enough for my groin muscle that is still taking strain. Especially trying to keep up with Craig, who is flying. 

Pied Kingfisher raucous at sunset. Thunder rumbling out of perfect sunset skies. That compulsory meaningful glass of wine. 


‘Through the Heads’

Oil on canvas 20cmx20cm 

A couple of small paintings of rowing boats finished, and a portrait of Donavan on the easel. For the portrait I used sepia tones, a break from the colour I normally use. I used the sepia tones to reflect the ‘historical’ aspect of Donavan who is a fixture at East Head Cafe, and his stories about Knysna and the people who have shaped it. 

A mixture of Burnt Umber and Burnt Sienna, toned with white. Burnt stein a and white as a contrast colour. I also used a touch of Ultramarine Blue and Madder Deep to lift the Burnt Umber that felt a bit flat.

Forest run with Hugh tested my legs on the uphills, with the downhills more of a coordination issue. The forest, apart from my breathing, was quiet and the jeep tracks easy underfoot. I was probably a tad ambitious in distance, but Hugh was patient on the long last climbs.

Rowing boats

Oil on Canvas 20cmx20cm 



Edward Mitchell Bannister (1826-1901)

BostonStreet Scene 1895
Oil on panel

For years, Bannister painted landscapes with muted colors that recalled the works of the French Barbizon school so popular among New England collectors during the second half of the 19th century. However, in one of his last works, which he painted during a stay in Boston in the late 1890s, Bannister adopted a much more vivid palette. 

Bannister, the son of a black immigrant from Barbados and his Scottish-Canadian wife, was born in St. Andrews, New Brunswick, Canada. Initially a seaman, he settled in Boston, where he eked out a living as a hairdresser and as a hand-tinter of photographs. With the encouragement of his wife, he turned to painting and for a while shared a studio with Edwin Lord Weeks. 

His atmospheric landscapes found a ready market, especially in Boston. At the Philadelphia Centennial Exhibition in 1876, Bannister received a first-place medal. He was the first African-American artist to win a national award, but the judges were surprised by his ethnic background. Bannister resided in Providence, Rhode Island, where he became one of the seven founding members of the Providence Art Club, an institution that still flourishes today.

On January 9, 1901, Bannister collapsed at an evening prayer meeting at the Elmwood Street Baptist Church and died shortly thereafter.


Diary of an Adventure

Harbour Town Adventures

Hospital hill run on a stunning day. Felt like I was on the edge of what my legs could manage with only a few tinges from abused muscles as I chased runners alongside the lagoon.

Movies in the studio planned for the winter months, focused on various artists and art forms. The big screen TV is installed and is being used to show the demonstration videos of my painting style, as well as paintings that are stored and not on display in the gallery.

Steep learning curve to put the various bits together. Mirroring. Comparable formats. What can be controlled through Bluetooth, HDMI, USB, DLNA, UPnP, Optical or cleft stick. Proliferation of remotes driving me nuts.

I do need to pay a bunch more attention to taking better quality photos of my paintings. Having them exploded on the screen highlights how poor many of the photos I have are. Not a camera deficiency, only in the operator.

Lazy Sunday with pizza and a bottle of wine. A hint of jazz coming across the water. 

A few new small painted canvases finished to replace those that have sold. The changing light as the seasons change bringing in different colours into the paintings.

Didn’t quite manage the DIY doors for the gas bottle cupboard without blood. 

Fresh from the Easel

Out There

Oil on Canvas 20cmx20cm 



Oil on Canvas 20cmx20cm 


Morning View

Oil on Canvas 20cmx20cm 



Time Trial

Oil on canvas 20cmx20cm 



Wassily Kandinsky (1866-1944) and Synesthesia Inspired Abstract Paintings


oil on canvas  

framed: 45 3/8 x 50 1/8 inches (115.25 x 127.32 cm) 

For Wassily Kandinsky, music and color were inextricably tied to one another. So clear was this relationship that Kandinsky associated each note with an exact hue. He once said, “the sound of colors is so definite that it would be hard to find anyone who would express bright yellow with bass notes or dark lake with treble.”

Born in Moscow in 1866, and studied art in Munich. In 1909, after a trip to Paris during which he was introduced to the works of the Fauve artists Henri Matisse, Georges Braque, André Derain and Maurice de Vlaminck, his paintings became more highly coloured and loosely formed.

In fact, it was after having an unusually visual response to a performance of Wagner’s composition Lohengrin at the Bolshoi Theatre that he abandoned his law career to study painting at the prestigious Munich Academy of Fine Arts. He later described the life-changing experience: “I saw all my colors in spirit, before my eyes. Wild, almost crazy lines were sketched in front of me.” 

Around 1913, Kandinsky began working on paintings that came to be considered the first totally abstract works in modern art, for they made no reference to or described objects in the physical world. In 1911, along with Franz Marc and other German expressionists, Kandinsky formed Der Blaue Reiter (The Blue Rider), a group of artists who shared a belief that art should be in the service of the spiritual and transcendent rather than describe the material world.

The neurological phenomenon Kandinsky experienced is called synesthesia (or “joined perception,” from the Greek word synmeaning “join” and aisthesis meaning “perception”). It’s a rare but real condition in which one sense, like hearing, concurrently triggers another sense, such as sight. People with synesthesia might smell something when they hear a sound, or see a shape when they eat a certain food. Kandinsky literally saw colors when he heard music, and heard music when he painted.

The artist explored these sensations in unconventional, artistic ways. Conceived for the theatre, Kandinsky created experimental performance-based expressions of synesthesia–The Yellow Sound being the most famous–which utilized original musical scores, lighting, and various media to explore prevalent color theories of the time.

Music played an important role in the development of Kandinsky’s abstract paintings. The famous Viennese composer Arnold Schönberg was one influence. Schönberg abandoned tonal and harmonic conventions in his compositions the same way that Kandinsky rejected the figure or recognizable object in favor of shapes, lines, and discordant colors in his work. He deployed color, line, shape, and texture to create a rhythmic visual experience that evoked an emotional response. Not surprisingly, Kandinsky gave many of his paintings musical titles, such as Composition or Improvisation. 

For Kandinsky, color also had the ability to put viewers in touch with their spiritual selves. He believed that yellow could disturb, while blue awakened the highest spiritual aspirations. Just a year before he painted Fragment 2 for Composition VII, Kandinsky wrote Concerning the Spiritual in Art. An important statement of Kandinsky’s theories on art’s potential to evoke psychological, physical, and emotional responses, the treatise is considered the first theoretical foundation of abstraction.

He returned to Moscow during the Revolutionary period to teach at the Moscow Academy of Fine Arts, leaving in 1921 to teach at the Bauhaus in Germany. He remained at the Bauhaus until the Nazis closed the school in 1933, this time moving to Paris where he died in 1944.


Diary of an Adventure

Harbour Town Adventures

A brief respite between howling winds coming off the lagoon. A hint of snow in the chill woven within the wind gusts. Yachts, playful. If a tad scary.

On the easel a painting of elephants at the Knysna Elephant Sanctuary. The painting fighting with what I had in my mind. I didn’t use the very large canvas, which still rests waiting for its image to emerge. 

The composition is based on the diagonal lines across the canvas, with the two elephants in each major quadrant. The focal point sits at the one third position, within the boundaries of the diagonal.

I wanted to push back the background so the elephants would dominate the painting. Smudging the greens of the trees into the wet blue-grey base paint (Cobalt blue and Venice red) and then adding the pale grasses (Raw sienna and Yellow ochre). For the elephants I added permanent Magenta to the grey mix and used the Ultramarine blue and Madder deep for the dark. I mixed Indian yellow with the purple colours to bring in the hint of morning sunshine. 

Slow jog in the sunshine. Face still full of cold. A twinge from my strained groin muscle. A warning that showing off is silly.

A sky full of stars between the trees of the forest, beneath which is the VegTable restaurant. It’s quite possible that having turned off the tar road into the forest, you also enter a different world and time. A magic world, with Chef Brett one of the conjurers.

Time is irrelevant and seems suspended. A testament to the meticulous preparation of the four course vegetarian meal that had a gazillion things I don’t normally eat. Which I did. Enjoying the different textures and flavours of the scrumptious food. 

I didn’t seen any elephant, but if they were hoping for leftovers they were disappointed.

Shootout between a policemen and some guy running away on the drive to Springer Baai. Fortunately all happening across the lanes of the freeway and not in our direction. Craig kept his composure and didn’t taken any evasive action which meant we were past the action in a couple of minutes.

Studio quieter after the ending of the holiday season, with new exciting plans for winter.

‘Looking at You’

Oil on Canvas 20cmx20cm 




Oil on canvas 20cmx20cm 



Between sea and sky: a portrait of Clarice Beckett (1887 – 1935)

Evening, St Kilda Road

Oil on Canvas 1930

In the early 1930s, along the low-slung coastal promontory of Beaumaris in Melbourne, a middle-aged woman could be seen wheeling a homemade cart stacked with paints and canvases. The artist, Clarice Beckett, produced atmospheric paintings of suburban streets and strangely eerie landscapes.  

At the time Beckett’s art was maligned by the critics, who were dismissive of her association with Melbourne’s fringe ‘Tonalist’ movement, and during her lifetime she sold very few works. In 1935, at the age of forty-seven, Beckett died in a nursing home, and her work was soon forgotten.

Beckett’s favoured artistic terrains, her subjects were also of an urban (and suburban) modernity. Drawn to ideas of Theosophy as a creative stimulus, Beckett composed elements of the suburban everyday (cars, trams, telegraph poles, and tarred roads) into poetically-hazed city and land-scapes which transcend everyday reality and hint at the supra-real or infinite.

‘Evening, St Kilda Road’ lyrically elaborates the artist’s signature subject in an image of the city’s soft-focused modernity. Fusing an urban electric glow with twilight’s ambient luminosity, Beckett explores the sfumatoed limits of representation, using darkened box-shaped cars to retrieve her composition from a misty point of abstraction. Beckett activates colour for potent atmospheric effect, enveloping the city with a rosy-toned veil that evokes the last moments of twilight.

Beckett’s preference for early evening or morning subjects was not for simple poetic effect. Instead, as ‘Evening, St Kilda Road’ demonstrates, she was drawn to the technical challenge of painting the essence of her subject within the fleeting moment; and of observing light effects and developing delicate tonal nuances that blurred the terrains of reality and illusion.

Nearly forty years after Beckett’s death, around two thousand of her artworks were discovered in a shed on a property in rural Victoria. Many of these paintings were rotted and torn, and unable to be identified or restored. Rosalind Hollinrake, who is a curator, former gallery owner, and Beckett’s biographer, helped salvage the artworks, and began to piece together the life and work of one of Australia’s most unique landscape artists.

Clarice Beckett’s personal life remains something of an enigma; her dedication to her art, and her refusal of several marriage proposals pitted her against her family’s traditional view of a woman’s role in society; a view more akin to the Victorian era into which she was born she than the heady, turbulent inter-war period, when Beckett was at her creative highpoint. She was twenty-seven years old when she finally attended art school; her father refused to allow her to set up a studio in the family home, where, as an unmarried woman, she remained all her life, and thus bore the full load of caring for her ill and ageing parents. Beckett’s bleak domestic life was compounded by the hostility of art critics, and at times, her own peers, who misunderstood her distinctive approach. Despite these circumstances Clarice Beckett was driven to make art, and each day at dawn and dusk she could be seen in the suburban streets around her home, and most often on Beaumaris Beach, paintbrush in hand, absorbed in her painting. and managed to exhibit her work annually over a ten year period.

Today her posthumous reputation grows as her vision of modern urban and coastal Australia is acknowledged by contemporary painters, with her works now held in over four of the country’s major public galleries.

Messing About with Paint

Walking with Giants

Elephants at the Knysna Elephant Sanctuary. The painting fighting with what I had in my mind. I didn’t use the very large canvas, which still rests waiting for its image to emerge.
The composition is based on the diagonal lines across the canvas, with the two elephants in each major quadrant. The focal point sits at the one third position, within the boundaries of the diagonal.
I wanted to push back the background so the elephants would dominate the painting. Smudging the greens of the trees into the wet blue-grey base paint (Cobalt blue and Venice red) and then adding the pale grasses (Raw sienna and Yellow ochre).
For the elephants I added permanent Magenta to the grey mix and used the Ultramarine blue and Madder deep for the dark. I mixed Indian yellow with the purple colours to bring in the hint of morning sunshine.