Diary of an Adventure

Harbour Town Adventures

With the alterations to the studio out of the way, and the new track lights not available for another week, the hanging system for the paintings still needs to be sorted.

A trial, ‘Wall Easel’, aesthetically pleasing and practical. Both for wind and for adjustments to take paintings that need to dry. This while maintaining the clear simplicity of the new space. The trestle table top planned for the studio a tad frustrating.

Sunrise Phantom cycle. So pretty riding down a ribbon of light. Sunlight playing in the dust.

Test Kitchen. Vietnamese fried wantons from Hoi An, and fried spring rolls from Saigon on the menu for Wayne to sample. Wet, or dry? Cook immediately, Or they stick turning into stodgy balls of mush.

The fried oil thing, horrible to work with. The air-fryer didn’t give the greatest results.

Tomato, pineapple and onion sauce not necessarily the best as a diabetic sensitive meal. When they work. Scrumptious. Champagne a definite.

‘Sleeping Rough’, an acrylic and marker pen illustration of boys outside the station in Knysna. I managed to do the underpainting for the portrait of the women in Hanoi.

‘Catfish and Mandala’ (Andrew Pham). A poignant, crafted book that brings our experiences of Vietnam into shimmering reality. The chapter headings are particularly fascinating, the Hyphenation in Pham’s journey. A depth of story in themselves.

http://phangvictor.blogspot.com/2009/11/catfish-and-mandala-analysis.html

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Diary of an Adventure

Harbour Town Adventures

‘Agapanthus Blue’, my painting for the Knysna Arts Festival ‘Unblocked’ exhibition where each artist is given a 20cmx20cm block of wood on which anything can be created.

Studio packed up to allow the contractors to get in an start the changes that have been under discussion for ages. The wall cladding and fragmented space being opened up with the removal of the partition wall and closing up of the window spaces.

A wide open space to discover and enjoy the paintings, and provides the opportunity for innovative hanging and displaying my work.

Vietnamese Steak au Poivre sauce with fillet, without the blackened veggies, more balanced. Leftover sauce and steak, with cauli-rice, made a tasty stroganoff. Pho ga (Vietnamese chicken broth). The spinach noodles together with julienne zucchini a great alternative, and a diabetic option, to the traditional rice noodles. The bottom of the bowl a treasure trove of flavours.

Felt like I was pounding the earth on my jog. Huge effort without a great deal of forward momentum, my body temperature soaring without the cooling wind that was nearly as lazy as Prince first thing in the morning.

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

A New Year, full of promise and mystery.

Madelaine’s, or petit Madelaine, those delicious, delicate, golden crumbed, cookies, local to the Lorraine region of France, that have launched a thousand memories. With a classy, literary reputation, having served as Proust’s muse in his famous Remembrance of Things Past (À la recherche du temps perdu) Hence, perfect for New Year’s Day. Best served, as fresh as possible.

Of course, they needed to be diabetic-sensitive. Fortunately, the one Banting sponge cake recipe worked well, resulting in light, fluffy Madelaine’s. Excellent with bubbles, red wine or coffee.

Wind howling, after storms overnight blessed us with New Year rain. Prince bouncing off the walls at being confined.

Fabulous ride through the Forest at first light. The Forest quiet after the rain. The Jeep track a perfect surface, so you can go that touch quicker and be a tad more daring into the corners. Legs, hammered after the steep climb, fading before I could get into any real trouble. Even did the tree blockage removal thing.

Not impressed with needing to deal with an new complication to my diabetes. ‘Dawn phenomenon’, or Somogyi Effect. High morning blood sugars from the liver dumping glucose during the night. It does make exercising early much easier as I’m not running into the low blood sugar zone I was having to watch earlier, but trying to identify what is causing it is an added nuisance. (Could be poor sleeping given the holiday noise levels and a one year old Border Collie puppy going nuts as a result) Frustrating my goal of eliminating the diabetic meds, through lifestyle management and playing havoc with my eye sight.

‘Works on Paper’, my January challenge, to paint the everyday of Knysna, using the illustration technique I developed in Vietnam.

‘Woodmill Lane Artist’, Acrylic and marker pen on 350gram paper, the first such painting. A familiar sight in Knysna, he stands daily in Woodmill Lane with his brushes, pallet of paint and canvases that never seem to progress.

‘St George’s’, the beautiful old small Anglican Church in Knysna, built with sandstone that turns golden in the morning and afternoon light. Mystical on mornings when the mist swirls down from the forests.

Madelaine mix

ingredients

125g butter

125g cream cheese

2 Tablespoons of xylitol

5 eggs

1Tablespoon lemon juice

1t vanilla essence

1 3/4 cups almond flour

1t baking powder

METHOD (easy)

Mix the butter and cream cheese together

In a separate bowl whisk the eggs until fluffy

Add the rest of the ingredients to the butter and cream cheese mix and gently mix together

Add the eggs and mix, without over mixing

Cover and store overnight in the fridge

-Bake at 180 C for 8 minutes. Turn the pan and bake for 5minutes. Leave to rest in the pan for 2 minutes before turning out onto a tea towel

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.

Impressionism

ALBERT LEBOURG (1849 – 1928)

The Canal at Charenton – Albert Lebourg (1849-1928)

Albert Lebourg (né Albert-Marie Lebourg) was born on 1 February 1849 in Montfort-sur-Risle, about 17 miles southwest of Rouen, France. He studied at l’École des Beaux Arts and at l’Academie de Peinture et de Dessins in Rouen, before becoming a student at the architecture studio of J.P. Laurens in Paris.

After meeting the famous collector, Lapelier, in 1872, Lebourg became an art teacher at l’École des Beaux Arts in Algeria. Apart from one visit to Paris, when he got married on 8 September 1873, Lebourg lived in Algeria until 1877, and there met a painter from Lyons called Seignemartin. Under Seignemartin’s influence, Lebourg’s paintings grew increasingly Impressionist in style (The Admiralty (1875), Arab fantasia (1876) and Moorish cafe (1877).

In the Fourth Impressionist Exhibition of 1879, Lebourg exhibited 30 works with Claude Monet, Camille Pissarro and Edgar Degas, including paintings and drawings executed in Algeria. In the Fifth Impressionist Exhibition of 1880, he exhibited 20 works depicting Rouen, Paris and Algiers. He was admitted to the Salon in Paris in 1883 with a work entitled Matinée à Dieppe. In 1887 he exhibited at the acclaimed Les XX exhibition, with Walter Sickert, Camille Pissarro, Berthe Morisot and Georges-Pierre Seurat.

Lebourg became a member of the Société des Artistes Français beginning in 1893. He moved to the Netherlands in 1895, where he would stay two years. He exhibited to great acclaim at the Mancini Gallery in Paris and won the Silver Medal at the Exposition Universelle in 1900. In 1903, a retrospective exhibition on him was organised, presenting 111 works at the Gallerie Rosenberg, the art gallery of Paul Rosenberg at 21 rue de la Boétie in Paris.

On 13 November 1909, the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Rouen opened a show with fifty-two paintings, thirteen by Lebourg. Then in 1918, in the same museum, Lebourg was represented with Bonnard, Boudin, Camoin, Cross, Guillaumin, Luce, Matisse, Monet, Signac, Vuillard and Pinchon. In the same year, another retrospective on him was organised in Paris.

Lebourg was named Chevalier of the Legion of Honour on 27 June 1903, and breveted Officer of the Legion of Honour 22 April 1924. A catalogue raisonné of 2,137 works was published in 1923. His works are exhibited at the Musee d’Orsay, Petit-Palais and Carnavalet in Paris, as well as museums in Bayonne, Clermont-Ferrand, Le Havre, Dunkerque, Lille, Strasbourg, Sceaux and in Rouen at the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Rouen (Depeaux collection).

In September 1920, Lebourg suffered a stroke that paralysed the left side of his body. He nevertheless remarried in February 1921. Lebourg died in Rouen on 7 January 1928.

Diary of an Adventure

Harbour Town Adventures

Terry out of action with a broken wrist after being knocked off her feet by over exuberant playing dogs at Steenbok Park. My schedule now around ensuring Prince gets his exercise and we have easy to eat, one handed, meals.

Dorado with a basil-pesto crust on the weber grill. An almond flower diabetic-sensitive substitute for bread-crumbs. The fillets were a tad thin, which I cooked for 3 minutes too long, despite the fire not reaching the recommended temperature. Fortunately they were full of flavour and weren’t too dry.

Moving trucks, full-moon, owls, holiday makers, mozzies, dog patrols. All driving Prince a tad crazy. Making for disrupted nights.

Paint smeared across the canvas. A couple of studies for a larger commissioned piece. The agapanthus on the patio garden coming into flower. The most amazing shades of purple-black petals. A painting that I have had in mind for awhile, waiting for the plants to come into flower. The shadow. A mixture of Titanium white, Magenta, Cobalt Blue and Burnt Sienna.

“I feel such a creative force in me: I am convinced that there will be a time when, let us say, I will make something good every day , on a regular basis….I am doing my very best to make every effort because I am longing so much to make beautiful things. But beautiful things mean painstaking work, disappointment, and perseverance.”

Vincent Van Gogh

Porchetta. Or rather, a suggestion of porchetta-style from a pork belly, basil pesto and basil leaves, rolled and cooked on the Weber. Silver-oak wood pieces on the coals to add that slight smokiness. Served with a hint of blue-cheese and basil leaves. ‘Gorgeous, melting pork belly and blue cheese is a genius combination invented by Iain Graham of Urban Caprice to go with Mumm champagne’. No Mumm, but Kleine Zalze Vintage MCC, probably better!

Porchetta-Style Roast Pork

Like many traditional Italian foods, porchetta is prepared differently from region to region but is generally defined as a dish of boneless roast pork stuffed with filling and then rolled and roasted, usually over wood. In the town of Ariccia in the Lazio region of Italy, porchetta restaurants abound, leading to a close association with the dish, though variations of it are made across the country.

Add, a twist with the melting pork belly and blue cheese combination invented by Iain Graham of Urban Caprice to go with Mumm champagne.

Pork Belly and Pork Loin

• 1 piece pork belly with skin, about 10-by-20 inches

• boneless pork loin

Pork Roast

• 1 Tbsp kosher salt, plus more

• 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper, plus more

• Pesto

• 12 smashed garlic cloves

• 12 fresh sage leaves

• Herbs (recipe below)

• Blue cheese

| Preparation – Pork Belly and Loin |

With the pork belly skin-side down, score meat in a cross-hatch pattern. Turn pork belly over, and using a sharp knife, score skin deep in a cross-hatch pattern. Turn, skin-side down, and set aside.

Place the pork loin skin-side down. On the tapered side of the loin, make a cut about 1-inch deep and then cut straight across to butterfly, continuing to make 1-inch cuts until the loin folds open like a book. Set aside.

| Preparation – Pork Roast | Season skin side of prepared pork belly with salt. Turn belly skin-side down and place flat on a cutting board with the short end facing you. Season with pepper and more salt.

Spread half of the pesto over the belly, leaving a 1-inch border around the sides.

Lay butterflied pork loin in the center of the pork belly and spread remaining pesto over loin. Arrange garlic and sage on top of loin. Season with salt and pepper.

To roll the roast, begin at the end of the pork loin where you finished the initial cut, slowly rolling and packing ingredients in tightly. When finished rolling the roast, use butcher’s twine to tie roast at 1-inch increments so it will cook evenly. Set roast on a platter and refrigerate overnight.

| To Cook | Remove roast from refrigerator 2 hours before cooking.

To estimate the cooking time, measure the roast through its thickest part, and cook for 1minute per millimeter. Hence if it’s 90mm thick, cook for 90 minutes.

An indirect fire (two equal piles of coal on either side of the charcoal grate, with a drip pan in the middle to catch the rendering fat), topped with a couple of pieces of hard wood.

Place roast on the grill, turning every 10 minutes until the skin is browned and crisp.

Reduce the temperature (325ºF) by closing the vents halfway and leave until the loin reaches 140 degrees. (1½ to 2½ hours)

Remove and allow to rest for 20 minutes before serving.

Just before serving, top with a sliver of blue cheese and a tiny button of redcurrant jelly.


Herbs

• 2 Tbsp roughly chopped fresh thyme leaves

• 1 Tbsp roughly chopped fresh rosemary leaves

• ½ cup roughly chopped fresh parsley

• 3 tsp roughly chopped fennel fronds

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.

Diary of an Adventure

Vietnam Adventures

HCM

Our time in Vietnam rapidly shrinking. Particularly, time for painting, as even acrylic paints need time to harden before the canvases are rolled to travel. With the Mekong Delta taking a couple of days and the last day needed to pack and hand back the apartment, I’m down to a handful of painting days. Afternoon thunderstorms reduce the light levels so that even with the good light in the apartment, by mid afternoon it’s too dark for my lousy eyes. I want to get the larger canvases I brought painted, as I have carried them around for almost a month!

The flowers sellers in Hoi An old town, one of the subjects on my painting list that I wanted to do on the larger canvas. The hotel room in Hoi An too small to work in. Here, I have a table which is also a tad small but workable, if messy. The last of the cadmium yellow deep squeezed from the tube and a last gasp from the Naples yellow.

A new dinner adventure: hot pot of Lau ga la giang all in Vietnamese and a picture menu. Essentially- a piece of chicken, a spicy broth, banana flowers and other unknown greens all cooked over a little table-top stove. A frustrating process.

Our corner restaurant has proved to be an excellent spot to sit and capture candid street photo’s. Particularly interesting portraits to add to my painting list.

Squeezing through the tiny alleys of the market, and trashing display piles of plastic containers in turning to avoid an impatient Granny. Shopping with gesture and the remarkable power of smartphone photos and translate, searching for elusive kitchen bits and cashew nuts.

Lightning, flashing across the sky. The instantaneous transformation of those on scooters into ponchos. Rain turning the streets into knee deep rivers. A drowned rat seemingly the only casualty of the ferocity of the storm as restaurants, shops and commuters carry on as normal.

In one of the corner gardens, a small yellow iris flower. Delicate. Perfect.