Notes from my travels and life as an artist working in the dynamic world of International Development

Diary of an Adventure

Pringle Bay Adventures

Thrilled that portrait of Peter ‘Come-Along’ received an Honorable Mention at the 2018 London International Creative Awards, the Professional Painting Category. This to go with its Special Merit Award for Outstanding Art from the 2019 Figurative Art Competition.

Surfers, dolphins, paddlers, sup’s, runners, fisherman, walkers, families and dogs. The beach on a glorious day. The fishing fleet moving in at sunset.

For my painting of the surfer, I used the knuckles of my hand to create the ‘lumpy’ affect of the water below the breakers, and the edge of my hand for the breaking wave. A line of slightly darker toned water leading to the surfer which I painted with quick strokes, the black of the wetsuit against the water, enough of a contrast.

Prince up at first light for one of his multiple excursions to the beach. Seaweed, the game of choice as he hurtles after thrown pieces. My arms haven’t worked so hard since Polly chasing seaweed at Milnerton beach. The light providing different colours for a painting of the walkway to the beach. The mountains above Simons Town across the bay.

Holiday routine of a walk at first light, breakfast at the La Galerie, shopping in the village for firewood, wine, veg and braai bits, before heading back to the comfortable beach house to paint, read and watch the endless waves.

Sea-sand sweeping, never ending!

‘From the waves’

Oil on canvas 121cmx41cm

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Diary of an Adventure

Pringle Bay Adventures

Phosphorusene dancing on the waves. The lights of the fishing fleet mesmerising. A beach of soft white sand. Border Collie mayhem. Sea water, far too cold to swim, and even the occasional foot immersion, chills. Montagu, the sheep, who walks on the beach at sunset, incongruous.

My bum stiff from walking on the beach, which is a few steps from the front of the house. Prince wanting nothing more than to spend every minute out playing. If the sea is too rough, the water of the river his play park of choice. Managing a wet, sandy dog a fearsome task.

A series of paintings of this ever changing view in my thoughts, as the wine level drops with the sunset. I have too many ideas. Too few canvases, and this. The first afternoon!

The colour of the beach sand perplexing. Magenta of muscle shells, with the pink shades of clams, flecked with bits of Raw Sienna and the blue-grey of dried kelp. Greens and turquoise for the sea

A splendid braai with a chimney that creates a vortex for the flaming wood. Crayfish tails from Kleinmond that tad special.

A cluster of shops at the village with a good selection of wine, as well as a few unusual bottles. Lemon and Lime, a comfortable deli, with great staff, who call you when fresh produce arrives. Breakfast at the Art Cafe

Diary of an Adventure

Harbour Town Adventures

‘Surfers in the sky’

Oil on canvas 60cmx90vm

Delicate, quick strokes, ethereal, sensitive. My painting for the Sanlam Portrait submission. An emotional journey.

The estuary is still, a reflecting pond for the lights of the town as evening settles into the mist that promises another warm autumn day.

A last glass of Shiraz rescued, while the dishwasher hums. The collection of empty wine bottles consigned to the recycling bag.

Camembert, wrapped in prosciutto, a runny ooze of delicious. Bacon wrapped chicken, with a green salad and roasted tomatoes, a simple dinner with friends that bubbled with joy and laughter. The Lourensford Viognier, definitely the wine pairing star.

Our tranquil world hurtled into the chaos of screaming engines, burning rubber and testosterone. Race weekend, with the Simola Hill Climb.

A haute-cuisine afternoon, where the art of each dish, with its selected wine was a counterfoil for the exquisite art and the light changing across the estuary. Special moments of sumptuousness.

PROSCIUTTO-WRAPPED BAKED CAMEMBERT

Suggested 250g Camembert: Use either Dalewood Wineland Chefs Camembert™ or a Dalewood Traditional Camembert 250g

Ingredients:

6 fresh sage leaves

1 large 250g Camembert

6 large slices prosciutto

12 slices French bread stick (baguette), toasted

Method:

Preheat oven to 180°C.

Line a baking tray with non-stick baking paper.

Arrange 3 sage leaves on top of the Camembert. Place 3 slices of prosciutto over the sage.

Carefully turn the Camembert over and fold in the ends of the prosciutto slices to enclose.

Repeat with the remaining sage and prosciutto to completely enclose the Camembert.

Place the Camembert on the lined tray.

Bake for 15 minutes or until the prosciutto is crisp and the Camembert is soft.

Transfer to a serving platter and serve with the bread.

www.taste.c

Diary of an Adventure

Harbour Town Adventures

Rose stopped past the studio to see the painting of the Oyster Collectors that I painted from her photograph

Erica’s in purple and pinks between banks of grey salt-bush alongside the paths through the Forest. Enough rain to turn trails into rivers that extra element of fun.

Colours swirling on the canvas for my painting of the Heads. Getting a tad lost in the water of the estuary.

Easter treat damage limitation with a run to the bottom of Phantom Pass. Ile de Pain, hot-cross bun with its apricot jam glaze and icing sugar crust (52grams of carbs) probably wasn’t sensible.

Bunch of people visiting which gave us the opportunity to try a couple of different places in our part of paradise. The late afternoon ferry out to the rebuilt Featherbed restaurant for their forest dinner. The building spectacular, and while the food might not be memorable there was plenty of variety, even for a diabetic.

Parmesan crusted kingklip, with a chilly/butter stuffing at Fatfish, looked amazing and was delicious. No less so than the tempura-prawn salad, with a great selection of wines by-the-glass.

Sold

Oil on canvas 20cmx20cm

Diary of an Adventure

Harbour Town Adventures

Small painting of a rhino at Shamwari, using Indian Yellow rather than Raw Sienna. The warm yellow colour, rather than the earth tone (which I felt was a tad flat), contrasting with Alizarin Crimson adding drama to the painting. Could have used more of the Cobalt Blue, Burnt Sienna mix to push back the shadows.

Trying to work through my paint supplies and move to the ‘modern colours’ that have higher translucency, hues, chroma and pigmentation, rather than the traditional impressionist colour palette I have been using. Hansa yellows, rather than the Cadmiums.

Le Marquis didn’t disappoint. The terrine scrumptious and the salmon a visual feast. Tender Springbok loin and the coconut macaroons, a perfect ending.

A surprise visit from Kevin Duke in the studio. Botswana days suddenly not so distant.

New Apple Mac a tad frustrating as it has a different range of connectors and doesn’t support older versions of Microsoft office or Photoshop, needing expensive upgrades. This after crashing during the time-machine installation. Going to try using the apple versions for spreadsheets, word processing and presentation for the limited stuff I need to do.

https://www.justpaint.org/color-mixing-you-cant-get-it-unless-you-do-it/

Diary of an Adventure

Harbour Town Adventures

‘At the Beach’

Oil on canvas 20cmx20cm

Small paintings from our Wilderness beach visit using Charvin colours that I haven’t managed to use before. Tropical Green, deep Turquoise Blue, Bluish Parma, Provence Blue.

Additional CCTV camera installed in the studio to cover all the access points, with motion alerts linked to my phone and computer. Relieved that the insurance are going to replace my MacBook and iPad.
Clair’s gourmet birthday dinner at White Washed, with dishes altered to cater for my diabetic constraints. Wine pairings with each dish, with the Oak Valley Beneath the Clouds Chardonnay scrumptious. Not that there was anything wrong with the Edgebaston Pinot, or the Perdeberg Drylands Cabernet. Thank goodness there was a taxi home and having a cutoff at 11 meant that I could kind-of function for a jog at sunrise.
Owls out, book ending the day in the quiet stillness after the builders leave.

Dogs Life

Oil on canvas 20cmx20vm

Diary of an Adventure

Harbour Town Adventure

Fishing

Oil on canvas 20cmx20cm

Painting of Peter ‘Come Along’ received a Special Recognition Award for ‘Outstanding Art’ at the LST 2019 Figurative Online Exhibition. Amongst the top 15 paintings chosen from 845 entries, from 35 countries.

This is the fifth year in a row that my portraits have received international recognition.

Baked cheesy brinjals, from the latest Taste magazine, must be the most flavoursome brinjal dish imaginable. The fire adds smokiness that transforms the bitter flavours of brinjals, while the cheese filling adds pure deliciousness. Didn’t manage to get the grilled colour on the cheese from the Kamado Jan, and might need to get one of those flame torch things.

Painting of the dueling elephants at Ruha sold and heading to its new home in Ireland. A painting that was originally damaged on the trip back from Tanzania, and one that highlighted the tension of being in Tanzania. Incredible scenery and an impossible work environment. Only a couple of the paintings from that period still available. Another trip needed?

Police here for the break into the studio. Our security guys with CCTV footage identifying the alleged thief. A tad more vigilance needed on my part.

In the novel I’m reading, Stromboli were mentioned. According to google, it’s an Italian-American dish that can have all manner of fillings rolled into a rectangle of pizza dough. Using the mozzarella diabetic base, I did the broccoli as well as a ham and broccoli version. Couldn’t find Provolone so the cheese balance wasn’t quiet correct, but still delicious.

After a few requests recently to package paintings that weren’t my work for shipping, I’m putting together a Professional Painting Packaging Service for both local and international destinations. While styrofoam is recommended as additional protection for the paintings, I’m searching for an environmentally friendly alternative.

Broccoli & Cheese Stromboli

Makes one 12-inch stuffed roll; serves 4-6
From Pizza by Brigit Binns

salt

1 1/2 cups (3 oz) broccoli florets

2/3 cup whole-milk ricotta cheese

2 oz sliced provolone cheese, torn into small pieces

2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh basil leaves

1 ball thin-crust pizza dough (recipe follows), at room temperature

all-purpose flour for dusting

salt & freshly ground black pepper

olive oil for brushing

coarse sea salt for sprinkling

Place a pizza stone on a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat to 400 F. Let the pan stone heat for 45-60 minutes.

Fill a saucepan with one inch of water and bring to a simmer. Place broccoli in a mesh strainer or steamer basket and place over the simmering water, not letting the broccoli touch the water. Cover and steam for 5-7 minutes until crisp tender. Remove strainer or basket from saucepan and let cool. Coarsely chop the broccoli and set aside. In a large bowl combine the ricotta, provolone, and basil. Mix well.

Place a large sheet of parchment paper on a pizza peel or large rimless baking sheet and place the ball of dough in the center. Dust the top of the dough with flour and, using a rolling pin, roll out to a 9-by-12-inch rectangle of even thickness. If the dough springs back, let it rest, uncovered, for a few minutes then continue. This video by Peter Reinhart demonstrates how to shape pizza dough for stromboli. Cover the dough rectangle with a clean kitchen towel and let rise for 10 minutes.

With the long side of the dough facing you, spread the cheese mixture evenly over the dough, leaving a 1-inch border uncovered on all sides. Scatter the broccoli evenly over the cheese and season generously with salt and pepper. Starting with the long edge nearest you, gently roll up the dough, lightly compressing the filling. Crimp firmly to seal, but avoid pressing down too hard. Turn the stuffed roll seam side down, cover with a clean kitchen towel, and let rise for 5 minutes. Brush the roll lightly with olive oil, cut a few small steam vents in the top, and sprinkle with coarse sea salt. Carefully slide the roll-topped parchment onto the hot pizza stone. Bake until golden brown, about 25 minutes.

Using the pizza peel or a rimless baking sheet, remove the stromboli from the oven and transfer to a cutting board. Let the stromboli stand for 15 minutes then use a serrated knife to slice it crosswise into rounds.

https://www.handletheheat.com/brocco

Diary of an Adventure

Harbour Town Adventures 

Oyster CatchersAcrylic on canvas 200x70cm
Struggling to get my blood sugars up with the cooler weather. Fingers searching for the warming of a tea mug and its almost time to take out my shoes. As I’m making confused dabbing motions on the canvas in some sort of wild attempt at the movement of the sea, having cold fingers isn’t making that much of a difference.
Finished my painting of the Oyster Pickers at Wilderness, who search for wild oysters in the sand between the rock pools at low tide. 
From a photo by Rose Blogger, we walked down the gazillion stairs to the beach to get a feel for the movement of the sea and the reflections. 
I’m pleased with the abstract ‘scratching’ technique I first used in Vietnam with acrylic paints. 
A break into the studio while we were out to breakfast a tad irritating. My laptop and iPad stolen. This after a few weeks of dodgy individuals in and around the studio. The building site next door not helping. Security fantastic and responsive. Still irritating and expensive.

Diary of an Adventure

Harbour Town Adventures

‘Cornflower’

Oil on canvas 76cmx102cm

A grey of Cobalt Blue and Burnt Sienna, lightened with Zinc White and then mixed with French Ultramarine Blue for the cornflower colour. The striking architectural forms of the leaves, Green Oxide with the grey and white against the Magenta Grey background colour of the painting.

I used a different technique to keep the petals from becoming heavy blocks of paint, wiping the paint from the canvas with tissues. A tad messy.

After far too long nursing my troublesome Achilles , a run to East Head. Fabulous. Grumpy with my throat closing and a head full of cold.

The mozzarella ‘pastry’ proving versatile for a chocolate French tart crust, as well as an upside down tomato tart. The tarte-au-chocolate, simply scrumptious. Although diabetic-sensitive, seriously good French food, even in small portions.

Opening of the new Philemon Hlungwani exhibition at Knysna Fine Art underwhelming, which made me take a harder look at my paintings. While his craftsmanship has improved over the years, from the raw, hostile charcoal marks on paper, to assured, crafted works, everything looks the same. Same subject. Same technique. Still unique and instantly recognisable, it’s less honest and more contrived. To please the market?

TARTE AU CHOCOLAT

Chocolate Tart, a crisp buttery tart shell made with the mozzarella cheese ‘pastry’, filled with a velvety-smooth dark chocolate ganache.

Ingredients

For the base

170 grams grated mozzarella cheese

1 tbsp butter

½ cup fine almond flour

¼ cup coconut flour

1 tsp baking powder

¼ tsp salt

1 large egg

Ganache filling

225 grams (8 ounces) bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped

2/3 cup (160 grams) heavy cream

2 large egg yolks, at room temperature

2 tablespoons (30 grams; 1 ounce) unsalted butter, at room temperature

½ moist, plump vanilla bean, split lengthwise

For the crust

· Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C).

· In a large saucepan, melt the cheese and butter together over low heat until they are melted and can be stirred together. Remove from heat and add almond flour, coconut flour, baking powder, and salt.

· Add the egg and stir everything together until a cohesive dough forms. Use a rubber spatula to really knead it up against the sides of the pan. It may still contain some streaks of cheese.

· Transfer to the prepared pan and knead a few more times until uniform. If your dough is very sticky, work in another tablespoon or two of almond flour. Cover the dough with another piece of parchment and roll out to a 12-inch (30 cm) circle.

· Line the pie dish with parchment paper underneath the crust to keep it from sticking.

· Cooking time for the crust 7-10minutes.

· Rest in the fridge overnight if possible.

For the filling and assembly

· Place the finely chopped chocolate in a heat-resistant bowl and set it aside.

· Ensure that the butter is soft but not oily and set it aside in a small bowl. If necessary, work it with a spatula or the back of a spoon to soften it some more.

· In a small bowl beat 1 tablespoon of the heavy cream with the egg yolks until the mixture is just smooth.

· Place the rest of the cream into a saucepan along with the split vanilla bean and bring to a boil. Remove the vanilla bean and pour the hot cream over the chocolate pieces. Let sit for 30 seconds. Using a whisk, delicately blend the cream into the chocolate. Allow the mixture to cool for another minute or so. Add the egg yolks, followed by the butter.

· Pour the mixture into the baked tart shell. Jiggle the crust lightly to even out the filling and leave on counter until mixture is set. This should take around 20 minutes. Alternatively, you can place the tart in the refrigerator for no longer than 20 minutes, then keep it at room temperature after it has set.

· Serve the chocolate tart at room temperature. If you plan to serve it the next day, store it overnight in the refrigerator and remember to let it stand at room temperature for two hours before serving.

.

https://www.thespruceeats.com/chocolate-tart-recipe-1375153

Diary of an Adventure

Harbour Town Adventure

Our part of paradise being transformed with building next to us undergoing a massive rebuild. A modern update to what has, to-date, been constrained architecture along strict low-impact guidelines. As with the rebuild of Ile de Pain, the building itself is set to become a destination. A year of chaos and noise ahead!

Not the best, for a sensitive Border Collie.

Stopped playing with the portrait of ‘Ben’, the racehorse. The muscles of the horse a guide for the direction of my finger strokes to add power and breath life into the painting. Constrained by the small 50cmx60cm canvas.

Ben is beautiful mixture of dark brown, gold and red. Indigo (Ferrario No.57) for the iris of the eyes with Mineral Violet Light (Ferrario No.46) highlights. Raw Umber (Ferrario No.76) for the dark brown. Cerulean Blue and Cadmium Orange for that touch of sparkle.

A gap before a world turned crazy. Storms ripping across the estuary. Insides turned to mush on Homtini Pass cycle. Not much time to enjoy the stunning indigenous Forest, as keeping going forward was all consuming.

Small elephant painting sold, and the new silk scarf samples of the dolphins and King Protea have been shipped. While most are already pre-sold, it will be fascinating to see how they have turned out