Diary of an Adventure

Harbour Town Adventures

That ‘broken wing’ effect with the strain on my elbow from painting the large canvas, ‘Colourful Story of Leaves’, which is finished. Fortunately the client who expressed interest in the painting has decided to take it. 

I haven’t been hugely successful at carrying out commissions, however this past year I have engaged much more proactively with the client during the painting process. After getting agreement on the initial concept, I have sent them regular updates of the painting process, explaining what I’m trying to achieve. Hopefully this keeps them engaged in the process and ensures that the final painting exceeds their expectations and feels like the unique, custom painted picture that it is.

I also received confirmation that DHL are happy to bring my paint across from France. A whole ton of procedural stuff that only emphasizes why Amazon are doing so well. Push the button, and the goods arrive!

Gentle cycle up Phantom Pass, after yet another puncture. Again, fortunately at the start of the ride, which meant attentive help at Bespoke Cycles.


Multi-coloured birthday cake, required that extra bottle of wine. Phillip brought out the amazing Driehoek Shiraz which was voted as the best Shiraz in the world. With our impromptu dinner, a 2010 Moulin-a-Vent Grande Cuvée. And that extra bit of cake. I didn’t drive home!

Only a bit of blood assisting to put up an Owl Box outside the studio.

Mo and Rose, Robertson, looking out across the cacti garden to the mountains under clear blue skies. A glass of wine, bird calls and the sounds of industrious gardeners. A tad nostalgic, as my first ever job (13 years old) was working in a specialist cactus and succulent nursery. Walking past some of the specimens, I can still remember their names.

Our lives changed with a seven month old Border Collie cross, rescue dog, a new addition. We collected him in Cape Town and he slept most of the way back to Knysna. So different to Polly who paced the back seat the whole time.

Prince (the name he came with) was abandoned on the side of the road at birth and after being taken in at the SPCA and a couple of foster homes, where he was given behavioral training. Hence, while we have a young, strong energy fiend, we don’t have a monster.

He is scared of the dark, and everything that makes a noise, or casts a shadow. The scary clock and the two wooden guinea-fowl at the top of the stairs are top of his ‘fear list’, with the popping of the heater close-behind. Being a ‘suburbia’ dog, the sounds of the street outside the studio with people, cars, and birds are all a bit frightening.

He managed his first evening out with a bunch of people at Coreta’s house without any problem, and seemed happy enough running around the dog-run with the other dogs. Diva has sort of accepted him and there is a hint that they could become great friends.

A ton of early morning and late night walks ahead, with longer runs in our future.

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Diary of an Adventure

Harbour Town Adventures

My stomach a tad unhappy with something, made for a slowish jog to East Head. Managed the burger much more easily!

 

On the easel, the ‘Colourful Story of Leaves’, a large 1,2×1,2 m canvas of the oak tree avenue at La Motte, in their spectacular autumn leaves. A cascade of gold, yellow and orange against blue skies. The crunch of leaves under my feet as I walked through Central Park a vivid reminder as I do an under-painting in blues and grays, with a smidgen of yellow and green left on the pallet.

 

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‘Brothers’ heading to its new home

 

A sunshine prison on Hugh and Clare’s patio that eased limbs frozen from being in the studio. One of those spots that could, with easy company and good music, become a wine consumption disaster.

 

A piece of glass slashed the front wheel of my bicycle, making for a slightly nervy cycle through some of the burnt sections of the town. We cycled through Belvedere with little sign of the flames that forced the residents to evacuate. The gardens are looking a tad sad with the drought taking its toll. My body struggling to keep turning the gears over up the hills.

 

Wind howling, with little of the promised rain. A splendid opportunity for Terry’s oxtail served with filled peppers and squash. The J9 cellar unearthed a 2007 Crozes-Hermitage. Definitely moreish. Fortunately the Black Rock was a worthy successor. Bread and Butter pudding, Liam Tomlin style, with the fire warding off the chilly night.

 

 

Liam Tomlin’s Chocolate Bread & Butter Pudding

Serves 4

3  Croissants

50g  Unsalted butter

1   Vanilla pod

300ml   Cream

300ml Milk

8  Free-range eggs

175g Caster sugar

50g   Raisins

50g  Dark chocolate broken into small pieces and chocolate

25 g Apricot jam

15g  Toasted, sliced almonds

 

Cut croissants in 5cm thick slices and spread with butter. Split the vanilla pod and place in a saucepan with the cream and milk, slowly bring to the boil. While it is heating, whisk together the egg yolks and caster sugar in a bowl. Allow the cream mix to cool a little, and then strain it onto the egg yolk stirring all the time.

 

Arrange the sliced croissant in individual ramekins, sprinkling the raisins and chocolate between the layers leaving the top clear. Pour the warm custard over, lightly pressing the croissants to help it soak in. Leave the puddings to stand for 15 minutes before cooking.

 

Pre-heated the oven to 160°c. Place the ramekins into a roasting pan and place in the oven. Pour hot water into the roasting pan to come three-quarters the way up the side of the ramekins to create a bain-marie. Cook the bread and butter puddings for 25-30 minutes until the custard reaches setting point. If it appears too runny, return to the oven for a further 5 minutes before checking again. Carefully remove the bain-marie from the oven and allow the puddings to cool slightly in the bain marie.

 

Warm the apricot jam with a little water to thin it out slightly. Brush the apricot jam over the surface of the puddings and sprinkle the toasted almonds over the top.

 

Diary of an Adventure

Harbour Town Adventures

Tendrils of smoke, the last gasp of the fires that have ensnared our emotions, or the portent of another night of terror. Helicopters operating in the last light of the day. 

Although the fires are burning further into the forests, there is enough smoke in the air to agitate eyes, forcing a route change to our morning jog.

Paintings heading out to their new homes, with the portrait of the young homeless women completed. I decided not to do the curtain of dreads that were part of the reference photo’s, but rather let her defiance scream at the world that judges her.

For the hair, I used a wad of tissue to rub out sections of the paint. Arc’s of movement. various shades and tones of Alizarin crimson and raw sienna for the face, with a grey of cobalt blue and burnt sienna to create the shadows of the face.

A curry and wine pairing evening that should have had warning signs all over Hugh and Clare’s house. Not that the curries were in any way scary, but rather having to try each of the wines with the curries, and in a few cases, resampling was required. I’m sure there was more wine than blood in my system during the jog that felt endless.

Of the wines, the Pinot was stunning with the bobotie spring rolls. The rose (Cab Franc from Delaire) worked splendidly with the cream chicken curry, and the whites (A Riesling from Radforddale and Pinot Grigio from Terra Del Capo) worked perfectly with the Durban lamb curry. The reds didn’t feature. Although having been opened, they couldn’t be wasted!

Managed to get out for a cycle up Phantom Pass. The fires have burnt away the vegetation and only a few walls remain of one of the farms at the bottom of the Pass. It’s different now, with spectacular views down into the valley. Still challenging and a great ride. A bit of blood from not giving the correct amount of respect to a tree that has been blown over close to the cycle path.

Diary of an Adventure

Harbour Town Adventures

Crazy hot day made for a pleasant early cycle out to Buffalo Bay. The sunrise playing in the breaking waves. Legs hammered, straining over the hills.

Clare managed to get a couple of photo’s of young homeless women from the feeding scheme at Lourie Park Her ‘dreads’ keeping her hidden and private amongst the press of men looking to get food. Eyes, impossibly dark. Added drama by pushing the composition across the canvas.

Grey-green tree branches and leaves leading the colours of the painting.

Roasted asparagus (beans in my case) and leeks with anchovy and bacon, served with grilled fillet and sautéed mushrooms, Julia Child’s way. The last of the Three Graces 2010.

Wild winds howling. Skies full of smoke. An unreal world. Yachts desperately hanging onto moorings. Leaves dance in mischief. Flames pirouette. Our town burning under the onslaught. Surging pillars of fire. Their, moment of power and glory. Consuming all. Devastation, absolute.

People too traumatized to stand. Cars packed with dogs, cats, children, blankets and the clothing they could grab on evacuation.

Fire patrols out all night watching for new fires from the embers carried on the winds. 

The view out the windows of the studio, captured reality unfolding.

Diary of an Adventure

Harbour Town Adventures

 

Seductive winter, well sort of, days. Knees that purplish tinge in my shorts, with the studio a tad cooler than being in the sun.

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‘Brothers’, painting of the returning boys Odyssey team. A loose approach to the ‘Impressionistic Smearing’, building tension within the painting, keeping the details to a minimum to reinforce that these are boys in their formative years, as well as the collective ‘Band of Brothers’, where there aren’t individuals. Thrilled that its also sold!
Jog around the new 5km loop on Thesen Island that Craig has put on strava. A few tricky turns, with the bridges a tad slippery from the wet mist. The sound of the sea breaking at the Heads quite amazing.
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A new exhibition of paintings, ‘The City and Flowers’, up in the studio. With our Tuesday movie, ‘Georgia O’Keeffe flowers and the city dominated her oeuvre, with colour the link to my paintings. “Whether the flower or the color is the focus I do not know.”

 

‘Sundowners’, Artist Print and oil on canvas. Transforming an emotionless print into an original, and unique, art work. Paint colours behaving differently on the printed canvas. Defining areas, while maintains simplicity. Particularly important, as I will be using acrylics for the trip to Vietnam and finishing the paintings with oils when I’m back in the studio.

Staggered at the price of artist grade acrylic paints, which I expected to be much less than artist grade oil paints. Fortunately Aly is happy to bring my Charvin paints from France.

AvoPommeThe Creative Hub have opened a new gallery space. It’s a great venue in that it allows one to approach the art from a distance, which isn’t possible here in the studio. An intimate space, within the larger building. Looking forward to seeing how my paintings look there.

Don’t seem to getting any quicker on the hills. Still have that ‘wounded buffalo’ sound, fighting the bicycle to keep moving forward. Only made bearable by the fabulous ride through the Gouna Forest. Breathtaking.