Diary of an Adventure

Harbour Town Adventures

Time-lapse video of my ‘Finger Painting’ painting technique.
Pink face. Beach bar look without sunscreen. Turquoise waters sparkling in the sunshine. Idyllic summer days.

Conquering the corrugations. Speed definitely helping to reduce the wrist, and bum, jarring. Especially after that extra bottle of red wine! Soft sand, strategically positioned to ensure heart stopping, out of control, panic, with only empty space beyond the trail edge. Perhaps, a tad melodramatic? Certainly enjoyable. A fabulous morning ride along Highway-West.
A calming, picnic, cruise up the Keurbooms river into the gorge where majestic Outeniqua yellowood trees festooned with Usnea lichen, also known as Old Man’s beard, stand proud. The river, almost black with its tanin infused waters draws you into its quite contemplation, before a welcome swim. Refreshing pockets of cold current.
Sunflowers, agapanthus and the dignified old man on his bicycle outside Delish, the subject of my painting. This in between putting together the time-lapse video of the portrait ‘Life’s a bitch’. I increased the number of shots taken during the painting leaving me with a mountain to edit.
fullsizerender-48Inspiration. Frequently I’m asked where does the inspiration come from for my paintings. While staying in paradise, surrounded by beauty and the ever changing dynamic that is South Africa, there are sources, such as The Writing Map. Devised and written by Shaun Levin with illustrations by Stefania Manzi, the maps are easy to carry and fun.
Diary of an Adventure

Harbour Town Adventures

JANDRE RAATS ART STUDIOHis work is expressionistic, inspired by impressionism he sees in the surroundings he’s in.
A different meal, ‘Township eating’ at Usatsho. Melvin prepared a three course lunch for 12 of us with the most basic of facilities. The roosterkoek with his homemade chakalaka was excellent and the chicken fillet moist. We were entertained by a kids group doing traditional dances. A great afternoon.

Commissioned piece of a couple and their dog walking on the beach. The small canvas demanding. In the end, I did a couple of versions striving for the tranquility only found on beach walks.
Slow jog after an evening with too little sleep and too much wine. My bothersome Achilles behaving for once. Perhaps it was still anesthetized?? 
Moon out with the owl hooting encouragement as I did my best not to trash dinner. Chicken breast stuffed with smoked salmon, goats cheese, pesto and spinach. Served with grilled aubergine, cooked on the Weber with the cooking sheet, and a huge salad that Coreta made. I cooked the aubergine for the additional ten minutes the chicken took to cook on an indirect fire. While a tad soft, they were not bitter and had a caramalised topping. Ataraxia Pinot Noir, stunning. The full bodied Grangehurst Cabernet the perfect dessert. 
‘Fisherman’, the portrait that I started as a demo during the Knysna Arts Festival taking shape, with the wildness and tranquility of the seas competing. 

Full house for the movie evening, with the light as the summer days get longer days starting to become a bother. Perhaps blinds are going to be needed if we continue into the summer.
Chicken breast stuffed with smoked salmon and goats cheese


2 (10 ounce) boneless skinless chicken breasts.

salt and pepper, to taste.

1⁄2 cup chopped fresh spinach.

1⁄2 cup chopped smoked salmon.

1⁄4 cup basil pesto.

1⁄4 cup crumbled goat cheese.

1 tablespoon cajun seasoning.

1 teaspoon black pepper.

Chop the spinach and salmon into small pieces.

Combine spinach, salmon, pesto, goat cheese, Cajun spice blend, black pepper

Cut pockets into the thick side of the chicken breast.

Divide mixture between chicken, placing mixture in center of chicken.

Secure each with wooden toothpicks.

Cook for five to ten minutes on a medium fire

Let rest 5 minutes.
Grilled Eggplant


3 eggplants

⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil

3 tablespoons fresh rosemary

½ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon black pepper

¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1. Heat grill to medium.

2. Cut tip from eggplants and halve lengthwise. With a sharp knife, make cross hatch marks by scoring one way then the opposite way on the cut side of each eggplant.

3. Spread olive oil on the cut side of the eggplants and grill cut side down for 5 minutes. 

4. Gently turn and cook for ten minutes on the skin side until they are cooked through but not mushy soft. (I cooked the aubergine for the additional ten minutes the chicken took to cook on an indirect fire)

5. Top with grated cheese and serve immediately.

Diary of an Adventure

Harbour Town Adventures

Being on the down-slope side of a corner, which is also the edge of the mountain slope is not a good place to be. Especially with loose sand and stones! The cycle up Simola and along the contours a tad beyond my bicycle handling, and fitness ability.
I did weave across the road to get some king of momentum up the Simola climb. My time (840 best his year), an indication of my lousy cycling strength. 
At the soft sand on the edge of the mountain, I jumped off my bicycle, glad that at least I wasn’t negotiating those frightening clip-in peddles. When my peddle struck a rock in one of the forest trails I was equally glad that I could use my legs as stabilizers.
The forest track is a tough run, and no less (if quicker) cycling challenge.
The beach paintings of Joaquin Sorolla are full of movement and life, capturing the innocent pleasure of children in particular. This, my inspiration for the painting of the Boy and his dog on the beach. 
Kirsten here. Days of walking, food and bubbles planned. 
Fiddleheads curled in different directions. Ferns and Sesame street moss. Jubilee falls, an undemanding walk that follows the stream through the indigenous forests that were designed for a Fairy Tale. I managed not to fall in at the stream crossings and didn’t brave the freezing waters of the pool at the bottom of the waterfall.
Excellent chicken pie at Mother Holly’s before heading back for the Featherbed Nature Reserve walk. A ferry ride across the lagoon, before the tractor ride up the East Head and the start of the walk down. The views across the lagoon and out along the coast line are magnificent and the walk easy with a multitude of flowers along the way. Something special about walking along the old railway line route almost at sea level. My Achilles still a tad unhappy with the steps.
Morning food-handout to homeless, an opportunity to get photos for my next portraits. Disturbing eyes of hardship, suffering and hopelessness, interspersed with faces of character. Grateful for food in an empty day. 

Messing About with Paint

Boy and his dog

Oil on Canvas 90cmx60cm

The beach paintings of Joaquin Sorolla are full of movement and life, capturing the innocent pleasure of children in particular. This, my inspiration for the painting of the Boy and his dog.
Bold strokes, on an underpainting of Naples Yellow that pushed into the abstract expressionism boundaries for the painting. For the shadows in the painting, I used Purple Madder (Van Dyk 38) with Cadmium Yellow Deep as a contrasting colour. A mixture of Raw Sienna and Rose Quinacridone contrasted with Cobalt Blue for the water. Touches of grey made from Indian Red and Cobalt Blue were used to add sparkle to the white. Flashes of Magenta to ensure the unpredictability of the beach.
Diary of an Adventure

Thesen Harbour Town Adventures

With the oven sorted, Terry did a stunning dinner in the apartment. A chilled cucumber soup with mint garnish. Herbed rack of lamb, which I cooked (Not quite long enough, as I didn’t allow for the wind factor) on the Weber, served with aubergine, tomato and Parmesan cheese (Peter Goffe-Wood recipe) A desert duo of strawberry and chocolate mouse. A 2004 Rustenberg John Merriman (every bit of the Wine Enthusiast 93 point rating) dug out of Craig’s wine store. de Trafford Cab franc, Delaire Graaf Chardonnay and Tribaut Champagne went superbly with the food.

Blue skies outside the studio, a bunch of white agapanthus with yellow and purple blossoms familiar to the painting taking shape on the canvas. Mum’s summer garden, with the last of the Flanders poppies creating a burst of heat.

The new blank greeting cards with images from my towing boats and Stellenbosch paintings have arrived from Madison, and super smart they do look. They will be on sale in the studio and we need to find a clever way to display them for those browsing the windows of Harbour Town.

Laughter and energy filled the studio as around forty people passed through for a glass of wine and to recognize the end of the building process. My old diaries from Afghanistan, Indonesia and Botswana their own attraction. Terry prepared a feast of nibbles, and the wine bottles ensured that the recycling guy didn’t go away with an empty truck.

Opening the studio early, has attracted a different bunch of people, with those out for their morning exercise stopping past. Still not very good at collecting email contacts for my mailing list!

Sunset watching a Giant Eagle Owl sitting on the parapet wall above the patio. Yellow eyes observing our every move.

A dustbin full of bees made for an interesting rubbish day. They were mostly under the lid of the bin, which fortunately I picked up away from me, so a seething mass of bees fell into the rubbish bin. I managed not to get stung and the efficient bunch at Elements arranged to have them moved.

After the rain, the lagoon is a reflecting pool. Yachts, constantly changing as the holiday season brings old, and new, visitors to this part of paradise. A sprinkling of whom, pass through the studio. Their stories, bringing new life to my paintings.

Latest paintings from the studio

Pink Fluxh

Oil on Canvas 40cmx30cm

At the beach

Oil on Canvas 20cmx20cm
Pete Goffe-Wood’s roast rump of lamb with baked tomato, aubergine and basil (serves 6):

6 ripe plum tomatoes

100g unsalted butter

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

2 large aubergines

100ml extra virgin olive oil

20g basil

150ml cream

100g grated Parmesan

600g baby potatoes

10g rosemary

3 cloves garlic

100ml olive oil

1.2kg lamb rump

60g rocket

Blanch the tomatoes for 10 seconds in furiously boiling water then peel and roughly chop. Sauté in the butter for aproximately 5 minutes until they begin to break down and form a saucy consistency. Remove from the heat, add the finely chopped garlic and season.
Slice aubergine into thin rounds and sauté in a frying pan with theolive oil for 5 minutes or until cooked through and golden brown. Remove from the frying pan and drain on a piece of kitchen paper.
Spoon the tomato into six ceramic bowls and arrange the aubergine on top. Tear up the basil, add to the cream, season with salt and pepper and pour over the aubergine. Sprinkle with grated Parmesan and bake in a moderate oven (180ºC) for about 15 minutes.
Cut the baby potatoes in half and place in a roasting pan with the rosemary, garlic cloves and olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and roast in a hot oven (200ºC) until soft and golden brown.
Season the lamb with salt and pepper. Roast in a hot oven (200°C) until medium – aproximately 15 minutes depending on the size of the rumps. Remove from the oven and leave to rest for 5 minutes.
Slice the rumps lengthways and divide evenly onto six plates. Serve with some dressed rocket, roast potatoes and baked aubergine.

Diary of an Adventure

Leisure Island Adventures

The house, suffused in the rich smell of oxtail in its three day stock that has everyone passing the house salivating. Craig and I, the lucky ones to enjoy Terry’s stunning dinner. Polly, didn’t miss out, and after her beach play, is groaning in dream-world.
Beach Party, a painting of girls on the beach. School is out and with the weather remaining sunny, if chilly, there are kids everywhere. The reflections in the water creating interesting pictures.

Polly, sympathy vote for her elbow. The pink sock she is wearing to keep it clean, ensuring that she gets extra attention from passers by. Becoming infamous in Knysna she is!
An unexpected, traditional roast beef and Yorkshire pudding, Sunday lunch at The Bell Tavern, Belvedere. A cozy space, reminiscent of an English Pub, built into the old farmhouse. The floor of Ironwood blocks, with its window into the cellar can’t be missed as the low doorway has you bending your back so as not to bash your head. The welcome from the staff was enthusiastic and warm, with their recommendations leaving little room to argue. Polly was allowed to sit with us in the garden with its views to the Estuary. We should have spent the afternoon, ensuring we booked some of the fresh scones for afternoon tea.
At the apartment, the bashing out of walls continues. The floor flooded by a damaged pipe. Neighbours, and tenants downstairs not impressed by the noise. Wardrobes for the bedroom sorted. If costly. Endless round of discussions for bathroom mosaics as we listen to horror stories of moulding grout.
Red Bench, a painting of the sea boiling through the entrance to the Heads. The painting flows, with the hypnotic motion of the sea, as you sit watching the light dance on the wave tops to the cliffs of the East Head.
The streets ok Knysna teaming with cyclists and runners. Streets, normally sedate, a flurry of activity as the ‘Ten Best Days of Winter’ start. The Annual Oyster Festival, with its food and sports action.

Diary of an Adventure

Leisure Island Adventures

Sweltering. Trees, gasping at the warm air. Clouds full of mischief.

Finished fighting with my painting of the forest, Forest Phantoms. An evening spent looking for the elephants in the painting. Those intended, and those created by our imagination.
A bunch of visitors from the vineyards, popping into Knysna from their various holiday destinations. Hesta and William, the roar from the Harley, almost drowned by our ceaseless chatter. Polly happy to have extra ‘sheep’ for her walks.
Beach sand under our feet at Fresh Line with Ninty.
Basquiat, a movie about Jean-Michel Basquiat, a young American painter in the 80’s. His brief life, fueled by drugs, from obscurity into the world of the New York City famous. i didn’t understand the art, and Terry did better linking the words, taken from his beginnings as a graffiti artist, into his paintings into abstract meanings. The ‘Tyre of Babel’, being one. The rendition of Hallelujah by John Cale at the end was amazing.
A painting of the sea at Springer on the easel. A place to let your imagination ride on the endless swells. Calm. Serene. 

Haven’t sorted the setup for taking high quality pictures of my paintings. Getting everything absolutely square still a bother, which results in smudgy areas on the end points. Colour accuracy has been improved with the lighting, although the White Balance still doesn’t feel correct. 
Blue skies muddled by clouds that threaten to add rain to the morning chill. For now, the walk in the forest was dry. Polly intrigued by the unexpected presence of a cow, focused on the smell of baboon. The climbs tough on her wonky legs

Springer Detail