Diary of an Adventure

Stanford Adventures


Stanford is a pretty village that consists of a few blocks of unpaved roads around the cricket oval, bounded by the river and the national coast road. Many of the Victorian houses have been refurbished into designer weekend cottages. Amongst which, are the unkept like poor relations, or those who clinging to ‘originality’, like a moth-eaten sweater.
A fire welcomed us out of the rain, to our comfortable cottage at Galashiels Lodge. The kitchen, rudimentary. Furnishings, clumped together leftovers from granny’s attic. Eclectic. Relaxing.
The large terraced garden, slightly ramshackle, retains much of its original country garden feel, full of bird song. Silent in its winter slumber beneath the mountains.
Amongst the quint and cutesy cottages, there are hints of architectural brilliance emerging that could transform the village from a historical into a dynamic progressive country village. Solar energy and water harvesting have been integrated into some of the renovations, while there are indications that disadvantaged on the fringes are being incorporated, rather than excluded.
The renovations at Don Gelato are not quite complete, hence, the ambience was a tad sterile of a trattoria on a rainy evening. The food, however, was stunning. Prosciutto and salami as well as tomato, basil and olive oil bruschetta and meat balls in a tomato sauce, as a primi. Followed by the best melenzana I have tasted and gnocchi. Their signature gelato for desert.
While they have an extensive wine list of Italian wines, we had Italian style wines from the Bottega Family Winery in Stellenbosch. Rosso, a Sangiovese and Barbera blend, and the white, Bianco, a Pinot Grigio, that is the star.
There is something that grabs the soul with ringing of the church bells on a still winters morning. Snow drops, a brilliant white in the mist. Flowering pomegranate, salmon coloured brilliance. The sensuous curves of a Malawian women in her blue chitenje heading to town.
Warmth, and familiar comfort of the trendy Oude Meul, where great coffee is served while the baking of their morish breads are created with flamboyance. Country brilliance.
I spent oodles of time at the gallery studio chatting and looking at where I can improve the studio in Knysna
Diary of an Adventure

Harbour Town Adventures

Great strides made by Mum as she moved from ICU to the general ward and the out of hospital. A bit of a road ahead before she will be mobile.

Small painting finished of an aloe with snow covered mountains. ‘The Preacher’, on the easel. A portrait in the ‘Homeless of Knysna’ series. Wracked by the monsters of war, he is one of the many veterans that wonder on the fringe of society. Broken by mankind’s lust for violence.  

Movie evening in the studio for the screening of ‘Pollock’. A vibrant group that had us squeezing in extra chairs. 

“If people would just look at the paintings, I don’t think they would have any trouble enjoying them. It’s like looking at a bed of flowers, you don’t tear your hair out over what it means.” Jackson Pollock.

Therina here for a few days. Terry did one of her scrumptious oxtail dishes, with rich sticky sauce. Rain hammering at the window trying to join the merriment. Graceland wine, pure silkiness.

Terblans Walk, a 6,5km – 2hours walk through the indigenous Knysna forest. A test for my Achilles, which is still sporting its magic blue tape, as the walk takes you a long way down to the river before climbing back to the service road. It’s on crossing the road that you are surrounded by a fern forest which is spectacular. Steps slow to try and imbibe the serene energy of the forest.

We took the drive back along Kom-se-pad, to the R339 between Uniondale and Knysna and stopped at the Diepwalle tea garden at the Big Tree for extra strong coffee and compulsory carrot cake!

Diary of an Adventure

Harbour Town Adventures

Lots and lots and lots of wine with Craig and the other Forest Marathon survivors, on a spectacular day, made for one of Coreta’s braai feasts. Managed a 8km walk without to much squeaking from my Achilles. Wine the secret??:) 

I’m now the proud owner of a pair of funky running shorts. No chance of ever being missed again.

A couple of small paintings finished, with time running away from me as the weather much too splendid to be in the studio.

Mum in hospital after falling and breaking her hip. ICU recovery ward not the most inspiring place. A new steel rod, screws, cable ties and duct tape has connected the bits together. A few months of Physio and discomfort ahead.

Landing into a world that seemed crafted from a futuristic Armageddon. A fiery sunset sky, the perfect backdrop to fires burning across the veld. Rivers of carlights quickening the pulse. Jozie, where fingers freeze on the steering wheel in the cold morning and people are friendly.

Passages within the hospital becoming a familiar playground. Navigating the seemingly illogical layout and departments. Staff helpful, humerous, attentive and, despite looking wrecked, patient. 

Diary of an Adventure

Harbour Town Adventures

Adrenalin infuses each breath of Knysna as the Oyster Festival kick starts. Overboard for 29 hours, and surviving (a talk by Brett Archibald), seemed to make our 2 hour cycle insignificant. Although my sensitive bum might not agree!

Somewhere between, storms and sunshine. Pizza. Red wine and laughter. Glowing fires and freezing hands. Worlds collide. This one. Gentle. 

Lights in the studio changed to LED tubes that have a better colour temperature than the old fluorescent tubes. Significantly lowering our electricity usage, increasing sustainability by not having to dispose of gaseous tubes and improving light quality. Minor security upgrades installed that will hopefully deter passing vagrants while not annoying people coming into the studio. 

Full studio for the Artist Tuesday movie. Herb and Dorothy challenging notions of what art is, and highlighting how much of the development process (which formed a large part of their collection) of the final art piece, is being lost in this digital age. 

My morning as a ‘Waste Warrior’. Artful Waste Challenge to bring awareness of the junk being washed into the estuary as part of the Oyster Festival done in a howling gale. Fortunately the rain stayed swayed for the window we were out walking collecting junk. The pile, and nature of which, was astonishing. The artworks, despite the wind were original and spectacular. 

A couple of small paintings sold, with a bunch of traffic through the studio as Oyster Festival reaches its peak. Envious of the runners that seem to be everywhere as the town fills for the Forest Marathon. 

Diary of an Adventure

Harbour Town Adventure

The forest run, not an option, as I hobble about the place with my Achilles a bother.

The light in the picture of Tlotlo, reminiscent of a Rembrandt portrait. The composition gave me a tough time as it didn’t seem to sit comfortably on the canvas. I changed the orientation of the painting to give the portrait more space to breath.

It seemed appropriate to use the last bit in the tube of Rembrandt Madder Deep. A magical paint colour that I have managed to use for the last umpteen years. I used it for the underpainting of the portrait. A tad radical, however, I read somewhere that Rembrandt used red underpainting for his portraits.

Rembrandt had a Bold Free way, colours layd with a great Body, and many times in old Men’s Heads extraordinarily deep Shaddows, very difficult to Copy, the colours being layd on Rough and in full touches, though sometimes neatly Finished.

-Marshall Smith, Art of Painting 1693

Van Dyk brown over the red, rubbed back to the canvas so the rough weave would refract the light to the smooth blending of the portrait. Burnt Sienna and Yellow Ochre for the skin tones, with Indian Yellow in the highlight areas. A grey of Venice Red and Cobalt Blue for highlights.

Jazz, sushi and a bit of wine on a Sunday afternoon next to the water. With boats going past, on which, excited Border Collies eagerly awaited their adventure, we chatted about getting a new puppy. Not yet. This despite the wine!

A colourful new exhibition of scenes of Knysna in the studio. Interpretations of the forests and lagoon.

Artful waste collection along the lagoon, as a trial run for the challenge next week. We collected a fair pile of plastic, bottles, sweet and crisp packets and the odd beer can in a 20 minute walk. Doing something with it a tad more complicated.

A day of ‘Work-shadow’, with a young artist trying his hand at finger painting with oils. His interest, portraits. It sure can be a messy business if you don’t have a system that keeps everything separated and spotless, with an understanding of how the paint colours work with each other. Good fun.

A couple of small canvases sold to a collector in Holland. 

Start of the Oyster Festival and the weather has arrived with a vengeance. Rain turning the trails into slush. Glad I’m inside with red wine and a fire.