Thrilled that my portrait of ‘Soli’ has been selected for the second round of judging at ‘BP Portrait 2020’. It’s the most prestigious portrait painting competition in the world, held for the 41st year at the National Portrait Gallery.
Oil on canvas 80cmx80cm
’Chubby Unicorn’s’ (Thank you Kirsten), the commission and Wild Life Artists of the Year submission, on the easels in the studio. The fiery, Indian Yellow background to the paintings generating a host of comments. Particularly as it relates to the – ongoing – destruction of rhino’s, and their extinction, which the paintings signify.
Acrylic on canvas 200cmx70cm
Beach walk at Sedgefield before a quick stop at the market for blue skies organic salt. Studio busy with holiday tourists and the canvas for the Etosha commission on the easel. An underpainting of two blue-grey mixtures. Ultramarine Blue and Burnt Umber, as well as Cobalt Blue and Burnt Sienna. Dashes of Cerulean Blue adding depth.
Via’s are hosting my art and painting demonstration as part of the Greyton Art Walk. I have a collection of my small paintings, as well as a few of the silk scarf wearable art range for something different.
‘Princesses for a day’, oil on canvas 60cmx90cm in its new home.
The wonder of cortisone that enabled me to run at times that were maddingly quick. Scary. Blood sugars surging into the stratosphere. For now, sticking with the low insulation dosage, with copious amounts of water and exercise to bring them down into something mangeable.
A small study of a Springbok, the scale of the Etosha commission. If not quite the abstract effect I had in my head. Also managed to get the painting of Hana on Onrus beach finished, before head into Jozie to see my Mum.
Jenny did a delicious diabetic-friendly zucchini noodle and halloumi stroganoff, with a spicy cream sauce, cashews for that bit of crunch, and served with a green salad. A light Italian style wine ‘Bella Vino’ perfect on a warm evening.
Modderfontein hills run with the sunrise glinting off the hurtling Gautrain. A carpet of purple Jacaranda blossoms. My shoulder a tad unhappy with the effort of getting me up the hills to say nothing of my wobbly legs.
The ‘Cornerdeli’ in Modderfontein definitely worth a stop. You do have to get past the tempting pastries that showcase their Portuguese heritage to get to the mouthwatering cheese and charcuterie selection.
Learned that the wax bit of the Parmesan cheese should be included in the food dish and the wax falls a small lump that can be removed while the cheese melts into the dish.
Oil on canvas
‘View to the Heads’ 20cmx20cm
It’s been awhile since I did the 30 paintings in 30 days challenge. Normally a calendar month thing, a middle of the month start doesn’t seem to be too out of place. The focus, the popular 20cmx20cm canvases, which have my fingers in weird contortions. However, I’m happy to let each day dictate what gets painted.
While my visit to Mossel Bay, and the gardens of Protea and Cape Sugarbirds provided the initial inspiration, I’m going to try to produce a series of black and white paintings that mimic charcoal sketches, with hints of colour. The works of Michèle Nigrini my reference point.
Fun movie outing that included a surprisingly good salad lunch at Mugg&Bean, of all places. The glass of wine was generous, and the helping enormous. The movie, ‘Fiela se Kind’, slow and achingly beautiful.
Spinach and Ricotta gnocchi. Diabetic-friendly, and tasty on their own, Scrumptious with a bolognaise sauce. If not what a traditional Italian would associate with gnocchi.
Spinach and Ricotta Gnocchi
2 cups Spinach cooked
1 cup Ricotta cheese
2 Egg yolks beaten
6 tablespoons Parmesan cheese grated
1/2 teaspoon Nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1/2 teaspoon Black pepper
Preheat the oven to 180C/350F degrees.
Cut the stems off the spinach and cook in a large pan of boiling water for 1 minute. Remove and plunge into a large bowl of ice water to stop the cooking.
Drain the spinach leaves well, and squeeze out any excess water. Chop the leaves very fine.
Put the spinach, Ricotta,Parmesan cheese, egg yolks and seasoning into a bowl. Mix well.
Shape the mixture into balls about the size of walnuts. Or make them gnocchi shaped.
Lightly butter a casserole dish and place the gnocchi in it.
Bake for about 20 minutes.
Serve with your sauce of choice.
‘Irises and Foxgloves 1’
Oil on canvas 76cmx104cm
Stopped fiddling with the first painting of Irises and Foxgloves. Wiped some of the paint from the canvas where it felt too heavy, and darkened some of the edges of the various shapes creating the journey through the composition.
Sounds of Spring while out jogging. Burchell’s Coucal calling from the bushes, and Fish Eagle’s against blue skies. Not that the rain has forgotten us, the wind continually trying to tear the doors from the studio.
A dash up to PE to deliver the painting of the Montagu Wild Garden. Stopped at Brioche for breakfast, which was every bit as good as the recommendation. A pulsating atmosphere that has you feeling as though you are in the heart of the kitchen, surrounded by happy, smiling faces. My shoulder not particularly happy with the five hour road trip and I was glad that Craig was with me to drive.
With the new work Terry has taken on for Madison, our days are starting much earlier, which Prince isn’t that thrilled about.
A serious J9 dinner
Eben Sadie Skerpion (Chenin) served with chili salmon, grilled halumi and spek boom
Grilled rashers with hand selected wild rocket, bocconcini and cherry tomatoes with Eben Sadie Pofadder (Cinsaut) 2015
Grilled fillet steak, sweet potato gratin and green salad with Black Oyster Catcher Triton
Almond and orange diabetic chocolates with Black Forest 2014
Builders, and my shoulder being out of action, turned the patio garden into a sad, neglected, forlorn bunch of pots. Water pond cleaned out. Jasmine balls pruned into shape. Old plants replaced with new herbs. Transformed.
Acrylic on canvas 20cmx20cm
In the studio, a canvas for the larger painting of irises and foxgloves. A peach colour underpainting of Indian Yellow and Quinacrine Rose, with touches of Permanent Carmine, in bold sweeps. The blue of the Iris flowers seemingly beyond grasp. In my box of magic paints, Indigo Blue. (Van Dyk Ferrario No. 57) and Mineral Violet Deep (No 47) that touch of inspiration. For the foxgloves, I used a mixture of Alizarin Crimson (Winsor&Newton Artists) and Violet Rose Madder (Ferrario No 48)
Some dishes are surprisingly tasty. Certainly, the Yotam Ottolenghi Eggplant, Lamb and Yogurt Casserole is one such meal. ‘ … noisy yet peaceful, lip-smacking yet warm, simple yet daring.’ The flavours, definitely moreish. Particularly on a chilly evening, with the wind still howling. The heavily wooded Chardonnay from Constantia Uitsig a much better food companion than the young red I had.
With the sunrise, first 10km run after the collar-bone surgery. Nothing too crazy.
Yotam Ottolenghi Eggplant, Lamb and Yogurt Casserole
Yield: 4 to 6 servings
Total time: 2 hours
For the eggplant and lamb mixture:
2 or 3 eggplants (aubergines) (about 1 1/2 pounds/680 grams), cut into 1-inch/3-centimeter cubes
1 pound/450 grams ground lamb (lamb mince)
1 medium onion, halved and thinly sliced
1/2 cup/15 grams fresh oregano leaves, roughly chopped
1/3 cup/80 milliliters olive oil
1/4 cup/65 grams tomato paste
6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon red-pepper flakes
Kosher salt and black pepper
1 (14-ounce/400-gram) can whole, peeled plum tomatoes with their juices
3 cups/700 milliliters chicken stock
1/3 cup/20 grams roughly chopped flat-leaf parsley
For the topping:
2 cups/450 grams plain Greek yogurt
3 large egg yolks
1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose (plain) flour
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 lightly packed cups/70 grams finely grated Parmesan
1 cup/100 grams roughly crumbled feta
Scant 1/3 cup/40 grams pine nuts
2 packed tablespoons roughly chopped flat-leaf parsley
1/4 teaspoon red-pepper flakes
1. Heat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit/240 degrees Celsius.
2. Add the eggplant, lamb, onion, oregano, oil, tomato paste, garlic, cinnamon, allspice, red-pepper flakes, 1 3/4 teaspoons salt and a good grind of pepper to a 10-by-13-inch/26-by-34-centimeter (or similar) roasting pan (tin) and mix well to combine. Bake until the mixture is well browned, stirring twice throughout and breaking apart the meat with a spoon, 30 to 35 minutes.
3. Remove from the oven and continue to break apart the meat very well (don’t worry if you break apart some of the eggplant, too). Add the canned tomatoes with their juices, lightly crushing the tomatoes by hand. Stir in the chicken stock and parsley then return to the oven and bake for another 35 minutes, stirring twice throughout, until the sauce is thick and rich and the eggplant is very soft. Remove from the oven and turn the oven temperature up to 475 degrees Fahrenheit/250 degrees Celsius.
4. While the casserole is in the oven, prepare the topping: Whisk together the yogurt, yolks, flour, garlic and half the Parmesan with 1/4 teaspoon salt and a good grind of pepper. Once ready, spoon the yogurt mixture over the lamb and eggplant, gently spreading to cover. Top evenly with the remaining Parmesan, feta, pine nuts, parsley and red-pepper flakes.
5. Bake until golden and bubbling, 15 to 20 minutes. Let cool for about 15 minutes before serving.
And to Drink …
This variation on moussaka calls for a lively red wine that won’t be drowned out by the dish’s assertive flavors. Why not a Greek red, like a xinomavro, if it’s not made in too oaky and tannic a style? Limniona is a rare red grape that’s been resurrected; from a producer like Zafeirakis, it would be ideal. You could try a Montepulciano d’Abruzzo from the Adriatic coast of Italy, or a frappato or Cerasuolo di Vittoria from Sicily. If you happen to have an older Château Musar around, from the Bekaa Valley of Lebanon, this may be an ideal time to serve it. Or, if you want to be bold, why not try one of the new wave of retsinas, Greece’s traditional white infused with pine resin?