Diary of an Adventure

Harbour Town Adventures

Review of the studio‘Obsessed with this gallery. The man with the yellow shirt is the artist and the paintings are done with his magical fingers. I bought a postcard printed with his paintings to support him It’s been like he was living in his gallery’


The Forest is asleep. An unnatural quiet. Drought. Sun relentless. Tentative shoots after the last rain, crisped. Fungus dried white. Streams of pebbles. The ascent through the Forest, ‘bum hurting’ steep. A gazillion stairs on the board-walk path. Tree tops shimmering with Knysna Lorie’s in their brilliant plumage. 

For my painting ‘Band of Brothers’, based on the team heading back after their 3 week Odyssey experience, I pushed the figures down into the lower half of the painting to give them more prominence. I wanted them to dominate the canvas, yet still highlight that they are still growing into their individual personalities. 

Clare made remarkably tasty Spinach parcels with feta. (Loose it recipe), which while working with the Pinot I was drinking, would probably work better with a great Chenin. Certainly, a ‘wine tasting’, or ‘pairing’ sort of dish. 

On a perfect autumn evening, the braai, a must. Ensuring all those in passing boats salivated with envy. To finish, a decadent dessert of roast nuts in dark chocolate.

Diary of an Adventure

Harbour Town Adventures

A bit of fun with the underpainting of the portrait using both hands to cover the area as quickly as possible. Without creating a mess, the real challenge.

 

French country pate and red wine for lunch, after spending the morning messing about with paint.

Cosmos flowers, one of those subjects not to touch. Partly as there are a gazillion paintings depicting cosmos, and partly as they are an autumn flower that don’t occur on the Garden Route. However, stopping at Delish in Heidelberg, there was a bank of pink cosmos flowers, full of happiness that screamed to be put onto canvas.
An abstract approach with an underpainting based on Monet’s ‘The path through the Irises’ (My canvas of 50cmx60cm nothing like Monet’s monumental 1,8mx2m work) of 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.
Managed to cut my thumb on a sharp knife, which isn’t anything spectacular or surprising. A nuisance!
Tanzania Exhibition.jpg
In the studio, my paintings from Tanzania are up for the first time as a collection. The paintings are full of mystery and vibrancy that somehow transcend the emotional strain I was under while there.
NSRI Station 12.jpgCrew training evening at National Sea Rescue, Station 12, to hand over the painting I did for their 50th commemorations. The painting itself is dark and brooding with big skies and seas swamping the small red rescue craft. Fortunately the seas were only marginally lumpy and warm for the training exercise, as we were soaked by the wash of the boats as they did a high speed crew transfer.
Inspiration, a collection of the photos and the fabulous article     http://www.backroadtours.co.za/product/not-so-secret-kenton/
  from our Kenton Adventure, for my next portrait painting of the guitarist outside the Wharf Street Brew Pub in Port Alfred.
Diary of an Adventure

Harbour Town Adventures

Thunder and lightning over the distant mountains. Tempranillo from Baleia Estate excellent with the bolognese sauce, which I managed to keep off my shirt!
Portrait of Johannes completed with a few touches of pure white to catch the light. The burnt sienna colour from Charvin giving the painting a rich luster. The contours of his face responding well to the cooler grey of ultramarine blue and burnt umber. The portrait is defined by his red hat which I did with an underpainting of French yellow. The rose and raw Sienna mix balanced the face with the yellow tones of the red hat.
Hugh and Clare cooked a Walnut and mushroom, with a hint of lemon zest, crusted chicken in the Weber. A recipe from Taste that was delicious. Butternut and goats milk cheese salad sprinkled with pomegranate seeds looked great and for a salad was pretty good.
Even the wind seemed to settle and enjoy the jazz, with the blue neon lighting of the turbine creating a perfect backdrop. The wine certainly seemed to flow easily.
Struggled through the soft sand and rocky sections of the forest. The bicycle, my legs and my bum all going in different directions. This after the climb up Simola turned my legs to pulp.

Diary of an Adventure

Kenton-on-sea Adventure

Sunshine Coast. Leg and bum muscles complaining their abusive treatment as we make the most of the pristine beaches that stretch to the end of the world. The sea gentle and cool enough to bring relief to sweating bodies. Even my skin has a sort of golden, beach holiday, sheen to it.

It was the moons fault. Evaporating my wine. The bright light ensuring that sleep wasn’t an option. The view from the deck mesmerizing.
Gourmet meals with wines selected by each of the four chefs. A mouth full of bones the result of my smuching my whole grilled sardine. A tad challenging The spanakopita and slow grilled lamb much easier to manage. Kourabiedes and date balls to accompany that last glass of wine.
The House Kitchen, a magical find. Fabulous for browsing, or merely surrendering to the view. I did find that I needed a double shot of coffee in the cappuccino. A few bits of interesting art, with the dramatic forms of the giant quiver trees, aloes and euphorbia the most interesting subjects.
A trip out to the oldest licensed pub in South Africa, the Pig and Whistle in Bathurst. It’s an old style English pub which even has ancient me ready with a story about anything as you wait for your drink. The 40 degree temperatures made beer attractive. Taking the back roads, we passed Southwell, where a cricket match was in progress. The whites of the players amongst the bush as incongruous now as it was when this was the Frontier.
An ancient guitarist almost managed to stay upright as he strummed his tuneless melody outside the Wharf Street Brew Pub in Port Alfred. I managed to get a few photo’s as a reference for a painting before he was gently escorted into the back of a police van for his trip home before the storm arrived. The food was delicious, the beer (brewed next door) could have enticed us to become regulars. 
Evening sky, a seething mass of clouds, flecked with thunder charging the air. One of those ‘Turner’ type skies, both brilliant and ethereal. Spots of rain bringing some relief to a super-heated day.
For now, the lights are reflecting across the still waters of the estuary, and I have a glass of wine. 
Marilyn’s Diner, in Storms River Village must be one of the best road trip breaks imaginable. Situated under the canopies of the Tsitsikamma Forest, a world of Cadillacs, rock and roll, neon, jukeboxes, chrome and mirrors. Somehow, despite its out-of-reality craziness, it’s sits comfortably in this alternative universe where Elvis may be alive. The burgers are ordinary, by today’s gourmet-burger revolution, and the coffee unremarkable. Pure fun.

Diary of an Adventure

Harbour Town Adventures

New Year. The sun coming up above the lagoon for a short cappuccino walk, which I did manage to launch across the table! 

Baked Camembert with slow roasted pork belly and Terry’s fabulous terrine de campagne our New Year lunch.
Good music, a tad too much red wine (?) with the rain bringing relief from scorching summer days. The owl chick, or more correctly an ‘owlet’, which is actually a fledgling as it has left the nest, sitting on the rail of the patio, silhouetted against the wall of the apartment, seemingly oblivious to our presence.
Aviva Maree’s exhibition at the Lofts Boutique Hotel. A small designer spot that has started to host select artists in their atrium. All very chic and certainly not tailor made for me after a day in the studio. Shorts, t-shirt, unshaven. Although I did wear slip-slops, rather than bare feet! But then, they know that I’m that ‘finger painter’ from down the road!
Her work, beautifully executed with masterful tonal control over her colour pallet. Whether influenced by Gregoire Boonzaier (1909 – 2005), or not, to me there is a disconnected romanticism to her work, which has as its focus working, rural women. Nothing in the paintings depicts their harsh lives and the back-breaking toil of manual labour, or the uncertain, subsistence existence of seasonal workers. 
Coiled frustration that made me reflect on the honesty of my paintings.
I used the Mediterraneo colours from Malmeri for they eyes of the portrait ‘Life’s a Bitch’. The turquoise green colours of the estuary in summer. ‘Grittiness’ of the paint adding sparkle to the portrait of a man in the sunset of his life.
Cycling ‘Master Class’ following Craig up Phantom Pass. His efficient use of energy, body still, effortless pedal rhythm, a stark contrast to my ‘wrestling the bicycle’ style up the Pass. His ability to accelerate leaving me frantically searching for gears, breath and energy.

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 Adventures

Slow cooked lamb curry that Terry made using Durban red masala spice blend curry mix, a remnant from our days at Umhalanga Rocks. Lismore Shiraz (magnificent) and an interesting, Roussanne from Bellingham. A Rhone style white blend that hinted at fields of summer flowers and the wondrously clear light. Scrumptious.

Wildflowers at Steenbok Park my painting on the easel. Striving for an abstract approach that keeps getting bogged down in the detail of the flowers. I wanted to allow plenty of room for the flowers against an ’empty’ canvas. 

The yellow flowers were distracting, so I simplified the composition to the architectural spires of orange wild tobacco bush, with the pink of katterkruie. A few jabs of paint to create a double collared sunbird to sharpen the focal point of the painting. Particularly as the wild dagga is one of their favorite flowers.

Pancakes, cars and sunshine for the annual motor show that leads up to the Simola Hillclimb. We did our own hillclimb on an unexpectedly rainy morning, my groin muscle not too much of a bother. My toe which I managed to kick against some immovable object, a nuisance.

Waters of the lagoon still. First light turning the building at Belvedere into a floating village of white through the mist. Hills dusted pink with flowering Erica’s. Our running playground

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. 

Sold

‘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 

  
  

Diary of an Adventure

Harbour Town Adventures

Phantom Pass, famous for its legend surrounding the death at the top of the pass of the Italian heroin, Victoria Esposity, and her horse by lightning while on route to try and get permission to transport prospective silk farmers on a ship back to England. 

An enjoyable cycle that had me short of breath and exposed the flaws in my bicycle skills, as I bounced between the trees on the short single-track from the red-bridge, before sliding off the road into the drainage ditch. No blood! Hands and bum bruised from the unaccustomed exercise. Legs, feeling the fatigue of the jog with its hills that Craig took me on.

‘Joseph Jazz’, a portrait of the jazz singing car guard outside Shopright. His skin, polished Michelangelo marble, with the complex colours of a jazz club. 

I used a combination of Indian Yellow, Monaco Madder (Van Dyk 41), Ultramarine Blue, and Permanent Madder Deep. For the highlights, Naples Yellow Golden and a grey made up from Cobalt Blue and Venetian Red. 

Excited that the painting has been sold off the easel.

The French antique cupboard back from Design-Wise with its new shelf system for the glasses. Last box unpacked and we are now managing the impact of wind on long stemmed glasses. The e-towel working a treat to keep the glasses shiny and clean.

Mum wanted a braai on her last night with us, and with fresh figs available we looked for a way of combining them. Herb grilled rack of lamb, with thyme grilled figs seemed a good option. The fire hot, so I grilled the chops a whisper too long. The figs grilled perfectly on the baking sheet while the lamb rested. Served with thin green beans and asparagus.

Grilled Rack of Lamb With Fresh Herbs And Roasted Figs

Ingredients

SERVINGS: 6

LAMB CHOPS

1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary

4 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme 

4 teaspoons chopped fresh marjoram

2 2-pound racks of lamb, trimmed of fat and sinew

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 garlic cloves, sliced

2 tablespoons grapeseed oil

ROASTED FIGS

12 ripe Kadota figs, halved lengthwise

16 sprigs lemon thyme or regular thyme
PREPARATION
For lamb:

Combine herbs in small bowl. Rub lamb with olive oil, half of chopped herbs, and garlic; cover and chill overnight.

Preheat oven to 425°F. Heat grapeseed oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle lamb with salt and pepper; sear until brown on both sides, 5 minutes total. Transfer lamb to large rimmed baking sheet; roast to desired doneness, about 20 minutes for medium-rare. Transfer lamb to cutting board; let rest 5 to 10 minutes. Maintain oven temperature; reserve baking sheet for figs.

For figs:

Place figs and thyme sprigs on baking sheet. Sprinkle with remaining herbs and drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil. Roast in oven at 425°F for 10 minutes.

Cut lamb racks into individual chops; arrange on plates and place figs alongside.

Diary of an Adventure

Harbour Town Adventures

‘Don’t spend time and energy fretting about the monsters in your head. Start a new painting and you will have a whole collection of new monsters!’

Blue skies, the waters of the lagoon sparkling under summer sun. Yachts hardly moving in the gentle breeze. This, the view from the studio windows and my painting, ‘Summer Fun’. Influenced by John Henry Twatchman, the painting pushing impressionistic boundaries.

Smoke. Sirens. Helicopters. Wind heavy with the smell of fire. Burning forests contained, the rain welcome to quench embers.

The studio apartment full of cooking smells. Braised lamb shank in red wine with black and green olives. The hint of lemon, perfect.

Polly had me up early on a crisp morning after a day of rain. Dark now that early, the indication that our 15 hours of sunshine a day are shortening towards a distant winter. Managed a jog with lots of creaking bits.

A new collection of paintings on the studio walls for the month of February. Unsurprisingly, Romance the theme. We also focused on smaller canvases that would be easier to carry as most of the people passing through the studio are tourists, and packing is a decision factor.

Golden late afternoon skies the underpainting colour for a large canvas of flowering Erica’s. The focus on the architectural form of the plants, with their clumps of flowers. For now, no blood!

Early dinner and a blues band with the sunset, the perfect end to a week.