Diary of an Adventure

Harbour Town Adventures

We are adding a range of 100% silk scarves to the items available in the studio. Taking some of my favourite paintings onto silk. ‘Wearable Art’.

A bit of a learning curve. Habotai, Silk Twill, CDC, Satin Silk, 8, 12 or 14mm weight. Square or rectangular. Social responsibility standards, under ISO9001 and ISO14001. Image size and borders. Hope to get the first samples in a month or so.

That I’m also reading ‘Mulberry Bush’, about the ‘silk-worm’ farmers in the Knysna Forest serendipitous.

Didn’t think I would ever be chasing around the place looking for salad greens! A bunch of pretty looking organic type things that were pretty good tasting. For green stuff anyway. Or maybe, it was the Slovenian pumpkin oil CC brought back for us to try? Nutty flavors that worked well with the courget soup.

Phantom ride with the sunset and a jog with the last of the moonlight. Summer already on its way as the mornings are full of bird song and it’s getting light earlier.

On the easel, ‘Girl Power’, the young girl hurtling around Nieu-Bethesda, is taking shape. My head at odds with where the painting seems to be going. A life of its own.

Diary of an Adventure

Montagu Adventure

A high-speed snake of steel. Holiday traffic hurtling homeward. Courteous, sensible. For the most part.

Unexpected, trip to Montagu to see Dad. Skies clear after the rain. Green valleys pushing into fields of yellow canola. Mountains with their snow mantel the warning that we would be looking for places with fireplaces.

Didn’t expect to be out in the early morning dark playing soccer with Prince. A soccer ball the new favourite toy, which he found in the garden at Rainbow Glen. As it belonged to one of the kids, it had to be rescued before he destroyed it. Fortunately we found one in Montagu so he now has his own ball. A treasured companion.

Prince, already exhibiting that Border Collie, wonder dog, therapy trait. His exuberance to get close to Dad not quiet what Dad needed. However, for 36 hours he has ensured that we were never alone. Exhausted he his.

Being in wine country and not able to do anything while Dad went to the specialist, we took the opportunity to stop at Esona Boutique Estate.

The light from the fire creating magic in the fabulous wines, visually stunning in Riedel glasses.

We opted not to have the tasting as we were already familiar with the wines and settled for the 2014 Shiraz and Chardonnay with a platter of ostrich pate and Mochella. A delicious ‘sandwich’ of cheddar, mozzarella and ham.

Vineyard pruned and silent. Tranquil, cosy and warm for our bruised souls and cold fingers.

Terry made a vegg laden boboti dinner that Dad could manage and had zilch sugar or carbs. Delicious comfort food that would also have worked well with eggplant included to lower the amount of meat in the dish. Not something that Dad would countenance! Graham Beck Game Reserve Chardonnay and Shiraz to ensue we didn’t dehydrate next to the fire

Diary of an Adventure

Harbour Town Adventures

Angel shadows and sunbeams, the Nieu Bethesda scene in my head for the canvas in the studio. An underpainting of Naples yellow. The softer tones indicative of the calmness of this small town, with the sculptural elements, and sunbeam floor polish, of the ‘Owl House’ in the shadows.

Yachts and whales at sea on a sparkling day after a run to East Head Cafe. Renoir? My ‘funky pants’ their own craziness.

Marinated crottin served with a glass of Balia Pinot Noir, followed by a chorizo chicken dish with Le Bonheur Prima and a hint of Ile de Pain campagna. Coreta’s menu to distract us from the rugby.

Shaken, bruised, rattled. A bit of blood and mud. Contours, with a touch of single-track through the Forest, to emphasize how unprepared I would be if I was racing in the Oyster Festival. Fortunately, the studio keeping me away from being too silly.

TripAdvisor Review

Excellent artist

*****

‘Visitors to Knysna should not miss visiting this studio on Thesen Island. Truly a great artist and a master at it.’

Diary of an Adventure

Harbour Town Adventures

‘A spot of blue’, Acrylic on linen 40cmx50cm.

A dusting of frost on the wild blue flowers outside the church in Nieu Bethesda. The underpainting inspired by the multicoloured glass of the ‘Owl House’. The linen providing an interesting Owl House ‘glass-bead’ type texture to the painting.

Surprisingly little blood after my tumble on our run through the Forest along the contours. A mass of pink. Erica’s in full bloom. The cycle up Gouna Pass to the small San Ambroso Chapel built in 1891. It sits quietly in the heart of the Forest, beautifully restored and very Italian. The story of the 32 pioneering Italian families that were brought to the forest to start up a silk farming industry, but then suffered unexpected hardships, is told in Dalene Matthee’s ‘Mulberry Forest’ (Moerbeibos).

Beans about coffee, Oudtshoorn.

There are moments when a place, a moment, a pause, define. Replacing the expected with the magical.

Directions given. Unexpected grandeur of the old bank building. Fabulous service. An unusual ‘bobotie quiche’ that didn’t send my sugar levels into orbit. Great coffee, and that special touch of allowing Prince to sit under our table on a cold morning.

Montagu. Baboon patrol. Prince keeping the baboons away from the children playing on the trampoline in the garden. ‘A prince meets his princess’, the comment from Lily in her ballet skirt.

Cosmos flowers coming into Heidelberg. A patch of brilliance. The only place I have seen them here on the Garden Route. Special. My painting, ‘A Touch of Pink’ Oil on canvas 50cmx40cm For the underpainting, different layers of Naples yellow, raw Sienna, gold oxide, and hints of crimson and cadmium yellow. For the wispy leaves of the cosmos plants, an intense green mixed from French lemon yellow and cobalt blue was applied in short dashes. Turquoise and cerulean blue the darker stems.

The apartment full of the smell of rich goodness. Wine, butter, herbs, lemon, garlic and fresh, crusty bread. A French inspired dinner menu with pâté de campagne starter (from Aly in Grenoble), Marita van der Vyver’s Boeuf bourguignon, and a diabetic version of Madeline’s served with a lemon cream sauce.

The Madeline’s a tad ‘heavier’ than expected. However, at least edible after the initial gooey mess!

Diary of an Adventure

Harbour Town Adventures

‘Schools Out’

Oil on canvas 20cmx20cm

A small study of the adventures that lie beyond the wall at Kuilfontein Farm in the Karoo.

Afternoon sunshine, a civilised time to be out cycling through the Forest. Particularly civilised as after the ride, it’s possible to stop for a beer. Or rather a glass of white wine. Actually, a glass of chilled red wine. What was I thinking?

Not concentrating.

One of those silly things, not concentrating while out food shopping. A special. Seemed like a good idea. Dinner. Blood sugars sky high. The contents of the sausage an unknown. Despite being from our favourite butcher, no idea what he used.

If there isn’t a nutritional information breakdown, I should know not to buy.

Border Collies turning the apartment upside down. Prince, with his leg in a plaster to sort out a ‘hot-spot’, thrilled to have his friend Ricco visiting.

A touch of rain. Puddles to stomp through.

Looking at where we need to sort gaps in the Vietnam recipe book, I have gone back, and reread parts of Colour: Travels through a Paintbox by Victoria Finlay, intriguing stories on the pigments in Artists colours.

The yellow of Hoi An Old Town, is revered in the culture of Vietnam. It is a symbol of luck, splendor, wealth and respect. A color that is identified with imagination and enlightenment, glowing with the intensity of sunlight itself. Most Vietnamese families have an ancestral altar decorated with flowers and yellow objects.

In all likelihood, the yellow pigment has its origins in Gamboge yellow, also known as Rattan or Wisteria Yellow, Gummi Gutta and Drop Gum, is an organic pigment. Well know for its transparency, the warm golden pigment derives its name from its country of origin: Cambodia, itself named after the Latin word for pigment gambogium.

Made from the resin of the Garcinia evergreen tree, found across South East Asia, trees need to be at least 10 years old before the trunks can be lacerated or the branches broken to collect the tree’s milky yellow resin. The poisonous resin is collected in empty bamboo shoots, and roasted over fire to evaporate moisture, after which the bamboo shoots are broken to reveal dull yellow resin cylinders. Only when this resin is pulverised does it become a brilliant yellow.

Excerpts on Yellow from Colour: Travels through the Paintbox:

Dipping a paintbrush in water and waved it lightly over the unappetizingly brownish rock, he released a miraculous drop of the brightest yellow imaginable, almost fluorescent.

During the horrific Khmer Rouge regime in the 1980s, and then earlier in the Vietnam War, the color was almost impossible to find. This pretty paint can be dangerous in other ways. Winsor & Newton have been receiving small parcels of gamboge from their Southeast Asian suppliers since before anyone can remember, and probably since the company started in the mid-nineteenth century. When it arrives at the factory they grind it up carefully and sell it in tubes or pans as one of their more expensive watercolors. But some of the packages that arrived in the 1970s and 1980s from Cambodia and possibly Vietnam were different: the gamboge contained exploded bullets. The company’s technical director, Ian Garrett has five of them displayed in his office now. A reminder that some of the colours that are taken for granted, come from places where people have lived through unimaginable suffering.

Knysna fires

https://youtu.be/z9vDoPJX7Xg

Diary of an Adventure

Karoo Adventures

Nieu Bethesda

Half of this world is blue. Half, is dust!

Prince, sporting that ever so trendy ‘ash’ hair colour. Dust. Brilliance, of purple wild iris, amongst the grey dust.

In many ways, Nieu Bethesda has the same feel as Frida Kahlo’s Mexico. The odd brilliantly painted house amongst the cacti. That, slightly weird, alternative, lifestyle where the art, in this case, is infused by the ‘owl house’. Or perhaps, windmills and sunbeams?

Beautifully restored period houses line the dusty streets. Art gallery full of light with piano music carried on the wind. Dust Cover bookshop, a haven of intrigue. Vibrating with stories. Beautiful roses, thriving amongst the yellow autumn colours.

The Owl House, as strange as expected, without being creepy. Shadows cast by the various statues a constantly moving story. I wasn’t expecting the gracefulness, or the delicacy, of the concrete works. Craftsmanship thrashed out of an industrial medium.

I kept looking to see what aspect of her created world was reflected in the mirrors that are everywhere in the house. The crested moon mirror, reflecting the sun created on the glass above the door. Sunbeam floor polish, an iconic reminder of polishing Ouma’s stoep, the inspiration for her glass sun works that cover ceilings and windows.

Poignantly, profoundly, The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, Quatrain XCIX

Ah Love! could you and I with Fate conspire To grasp this sorry Scheme of Things entire, Would not we shatter it to bits …. and then Re-mound it nearer to the Heart’s Desire!

Dogs. Donkeys. Horses. Dogs. Concrete sheep. Dogs. Reptile statues. Dogs. Cats. Dogs. There are a lot of dogs in this sleepy town.

‘Karoo Lamb’, our lunch and dinner stop to collect the keys for our cottage. Service, informative and friendly. Food tasty, if a tad pricy. Unexpectedly, an exiting wine list. Dogs, Prince anyway, welcome.

The brilliant moon trashing the night sky stars. One of the highlights of this part of the world. Nothing that a great Riersvlei Shiraz from Prince Albert couldn’t sort.

There was the Karoo donkey cart, perfectly lit by the breathtakingly clear air. Galloping horse, shrouded by dust, with bareback devils. Characteristic, Karoo scenes. Brought alive by the kids hurtling around on mountain bikes, music blaring from mobile phones. The life-blood gurgle of the ‘leiwater’ channels, punctuated by the bells of the spectacularly white church.

The evening cold deserves a fire. However, without a fireplace, a Border Collie snuggle is a good a good alternative.

Portrait of Nigel, our craftsman and Botanical Tour Guide, outside the Owl House waiting for a canvas.

Diary of an Adventure

Harbour Town Adventures

‘Pushing the Oars’

Oil on canvas 120cmx40cm

Water. Hills shrouded in cloud and welcome rain falling. Heart stopping phone call about water cascading out of the apartment. An open tap on the patio following a day of of water outages due to pipe burst in Town.

Not the best news after earlier finding a leak in the painting storage area. Fortunately wine boxes the only casualty. Especially with the delivery of a few large canvases on the floor and not in the storage racks.

‘Pushing the oars’. Sampans on the busy waters of the Mekong Delta, searching for the slowest part of the river flow. The brown waters not what I wanted to dominate the painting, and while acknowledging the strength of the women who ply the eight foot oars of the boats, it was the delicate butterflies of the Delta the feeling I wanted.

Sweet potato gratin, with ribs on the Weber and a zucchini and pesto salad (Taste magazine), with a touch of Pinot on a beautiful evening.

Beach. Prince the reluctant follower, skirting the scary waves, before deciding that his mobs-kennel was the safest place. Progress of sorts.

Cast off Terry’s arm and she is starting to try out her new wing. Still going around in circles a bit as it’s a tad weak after the six weeks in plaster. The ‘transact’ a reminder not to do too much.

Very special to have Lesa and Alan visiting for a few days.

Diary of an Adventure

Harbour Town Adventures

Cold fingers, despite higher than usual blood sugars after a Christmas lunch of pâté de compagne and Il de Pain bread, with trifle as a dessert.

Black, mud-stained feet from playing with Prince at low tide. The noise of the waves still too much for him.

Vietnamese flavours for the Christmas Eve dinner. Fresh spring rolls with pork and prawns. Duck breast with Asian salad. Fish simmered in ginger and caramel sauce. My spring rolls, defined as ‘clumsy’. The wooded Chardonnay the best wine for the various flavours in the Vietnamese food. Minimizing the sugar used in the caramel sauce did mean that there was none of the ‘stickiness’ that we had in the meal inHanoi, but it didn’t kick my sugar levels out of kilter either. Another three weeks before Terry’s cast comes off!

The end of a quiet day, with the street outside the studio busy with holiday traffic and the alcohol fueled chatter of people walking home. Oodles of pink flesh on display after a perfect, sun filled day.

‘Crumpled’, my portrait of a 92 year old women in Hoi An, Vietnam. The simplicity I was striving for being lost in the contours and crumpledness of her face. The complexity of the years driving the painting? Raw Sienna, permanent magenta, Ultramarine blue and Naples Yellow with Alizarin crimson the key colours. I did include touches of Cerulean and Cobalt blue.

Became part of the ‘mechanical’ mountain bike family, managing to trash the crank assembly on the way up Phantom Pass. Did find another reason to be ‘flat-pedal’ cyclist, in that wearing trail shoes you can jog with your bicycle. However, I was glad it wasn’t too far before Coreta rescued me.

Diary of an Adventure

Harbour Town Adventures

Boating Pond

It isn’t the cleverest idea to burn ones fingers, and an even worse idea if you are a finger painter! Testing the edges of my limited ability in the kitchen, with Terry still out of action for another month with her broken wrist.

Fortunately, it’s only a couple on my right hand, which are more of a nuisance on the bicycle than in the studio. The singed fingers a result of not realizing how hot a pot from the oven stays after you have finished using it.

Ginger, garlic, chili (It needs a special warning about the lingering effects on your hands that burns your eyes after you have removed the pips) red onion, cabbage, tomatoes, lettuce, carrots, fish-oil, salt, pepper, sugar for the ‘banana flower’ salad, pork stuffed calamari and galangal carmalised fish. Sugar and flower free sponge cake and creme anglaise for the trifle.

Testing Vietnamese recipes, using local ingredients that are diabetic sensitive, for the recipe book we are planning. The influence of Vietnam, with a hint of Christmas!

Managed the chopping stuff without blood. My leg, however, a bit worse off from coming into contact with the painting racks and my arm from playing with wild-child. Somehow, managed to get blood and paint spread all over the place.

On the easel I have an old women from Hoi An in Vietnam. A very traditional looking women that is challenging as I strive for simplicity. Her weather beaten skin, full of harsh reality, however it’s the twinkle in her eyes that remain the essence of the painting.

Spectacular morning light shining on the waters of the estuary. Gazillion reflections from the visiting yachts as we headed out up Phantom as the sun was waking up.

Messing About with Paint

Review of what to pack for painting Travel

In the five weeks, I painted 20 pictures on canvas, linen and paper.

Of the limited pallet of 11 colours (Ultramarine blue, Burnt Umber, Cadmium Red, Cadmium yellow light, Titanium White, Alizarin Crimson, Cadmium yellow deep, Cobalt Blue, Naples Yellow, Phtalo Blue Green and Cerulean Blue) I hardly used the Cadmium red and I would leave the Burnt Umber out next time.

I found the dark mixture of Burnt Umber and Ultramarine blue disappointing. I did need the additional tube of white paint that I didn’t take along, and both the Cadmium yellow deep and Naples yellow ran short as I did not anticipate the huge amount of yellow colour everywhere in Vietnam.

Phtalo Blue Green, Alizarin Crimson and Naples Yellow made a wonderful rich grey color that contrasted fabulously with the Cadmium Yellow.