Diary of an Adventure

Harbour Town Adventures

The clock is reset. Washing machine rumbling. Empty wine bottles. Fire light. A touch of jazz, above the laughter. Smell of paint in the studio. Rain against the windows. Wind searching for gaps.

Home. Breathing life after the week away.

Wet dog smell, combined with a tinge of lagoon mud, and sea salt. The dust of the Karoo, replaced by mud.

Thrilled to receive a Special Merit Award for ‘Art of Outstanding Quality’, at the 2018 LightSpaceTime open art competition for my portrait of the Vietnamese woman in Hoi-An, ‘Crumpled’. This is the second time I have receive an award from LST, the first being in 2016 for my painting of the car-guard, ‘Jazz Man’.

Gouna river flowing strongly after the rain. Startling clear amber waters, an ancient mirror for the delicate water lilies opening in shafts of sunlight. The joys of being out on a bicycle in our paradise.

My painting of the elephants at Addo, a tad somber with the news that 90 elephant carcasses were found in Botswana. Elephants have always moved into the protected areas of Botswana, away from hunting guns of Namibia, Angola and Zimbabwe. A haven shattered by the slaughter of poachers. Incredibly sad.

SOLD

Water Carriers

Oil on linen 40cmx30cm

Diary of an Adventure

Harbour Town Adventures

Johannes’, a painting in my ‘Humanising the Homeless’ series, has been recognized by the London International Creative Competition, in the professional painting category.

This is the 7th year that my work has won an award in the professional painting category at the LICC.

The LICC is a juried competition with well over 1500 entries from 65 countries focused on innovative artwork. Submissions are juried by a board of international luminaries of the visual arts.

The portrait is defined by his red hat ,with an underpainting of French yellow. A mix of Quinacridone Rose and Raw Sienna balance the yellow tones of the red hat.

Fabulous cycle through the Homtini Pass to start the day. Legs suffering on the climbs. It was beautiful though the indigenous Forest, with the gradient steep enough to have me gasping, but allowing my imagination to be transported on the mist that settled in the valleys. Frantically grasping at the Seattle cappuccino at the end of the ride!

Easter. Braai on a perfect day. The half a hot cross bun delightful, especially with a glass of Rupert and Rothschild classic.

‘Sleeve’ 21cmx29cm, Acrylic on 300g paper. Tattoo art in Vietnam was everywhere, and where we stayed in Saigon we were surrounded by tattoo parlours.

Much of the work is inspired by Japanese tattoo art, however, I was drawn to the colour and vibrancy of these tattoos as they passed us while we sat having a beer.

The red and yellow, national flag dominating the small painting.

‘Saigon Park’ 21cmx29cm, Acrylic on 300g paper. Le Van Tam Park, District 7, Saigon. An oasis of calm in the city.

Diary of an Adventure

Harbour Town Adventures

Finished the portrait of the woman from Hanoi in Vietnam. National Woman’s day. Their beauty adding to the romance of the prettiest street in the city, shaded by the ancient dracontomelum trees of Phan Dinh Phung Street. The balance between my unpolished Impressionistic Smearing and the delicate features of the woman, a tad muddled.

The studio hosted a stop for 120 people participating in the ‘The Amazing Word Journey’, an evening during the Knysna Literary Festival. Apartment transformed into a kitchen and food preparation area to serve the three course meal, in batches of 40 people.

Sam Cowan the speaker about her book, ‘Whisky to Water’, against a backdrop of my paintings on ‘Overcoming Adversity’, which included a couple of paintings from my private collection that have never been displayed.

I didn’t do a good job of explaining the paintings and with minimal time, interrupted by serving, eating and cleaning up between courses (all done by an efficient catering team from White Washed).

No difficulty in finding puddles to stomp through on my run after the rain. Gloves keeping my hands warm in the cooler weather. Did manage to break my glasses which is a bother.

Diary of an Adventure

Harbour Town Adventures

Full moon jog. Sweat across my glasses lending the lights across the lagoon that ‘starry, starry night’ feel. Chilly enough in the early hours to need tea to warm my hands. Owl hooting in the stillness.

An App to track my carb and nutritional intake. Instead of a quiche for breakfast I can have a bottle of red wine. Perfect! I’m sure it’s miserly with the calories expended on my jog and cycle.

Doctor happy with the impact the lifestyle changes taken to manage my diabetes are having and I can ditch the first of the medications. Blood tests to see how far down the road of managing the disease without medication I can go.

Mark visiting for a few days. Extra special after the health issues of the past year. And within the context of the paintings displayed in the studio, ‘Overcoming Adversity’ for the Knysna Literary Festival, ‘Delicious Word Journey’.

My pair of shoes that, admittedly I shouldn’t have left laying around, made a wonderful snack for a bored Border Collie. Pleased that he chose the leather to pull apart rather than the Persian carpets! Does mean that I now have blisters from walking without socks!

On the easel, the painting of the young Hanoi woman taking shape. An usual mixture of Burnt Sienna and Indian Yellow for the skin tone as the usual Quinacridone Rose and Yellow Orcha wasn’t working.

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

Vietnam Adventures

Saigon

Coffee culture is thriving, with designer places offering inflated priced coffee. There is such a variety, even ignoring the big chains like Starbucks, that it’s a taste-by-trial to find the brand, and roast to your taste. Some are too sweet, others bitter. Some are burnt, some are rocket fuel. Fortunately, none seem to be in the dish-water category. Some are terrible and probably the fake coffee that is sold, made of corn, chemicals and soybeans. Getting in, and out of the small spaces in the city is a different experience. Good air conditioning, often winning over coffee taste.

One of the special aspects of the Nocturnal Artist Restaurant in Hoi An is that the cooking is done in their home kitchen. Within the tiny space, the family shrine watches over the cooking. A small painting on 300 gram paper, ‘The Cooks Shrine’.

Neighbours coming over the rooftop to the patio of our top floor apartment first thing in the morning, a tad surprising. Guess we know whether we can sleep with the doors open! Assuming the heat, noise and mozzies aren’t enough of a reason to keeping them closed.

‘Pho fighting’, morning battle with Pho. The broth is tasty and full of all sorts of nutrients that are supposed to be healthy. However, managing it at the tiny table, compounded by slippery noodles and various floating bits that I would rather not have to confront. Working through the menu options is at least reducing the worst of them.

A grey from Naples yellow, Raw Sienna and Phthalo blue, which is one of the scariest colours as its strong pigmentation turns everything into a blue-green hue. However, with the Cadmium yellow deep it creates a balance that I used for the portrait of ‘A man in Hoi An’. 

During the flooding he seemed to wonder about the place, seemingly without purpose. Sometime we would see him on a scooter, but for the most part he simply observed the evacuation of people across the swollen river. With his baseball cap pulled low over his face, it was difficult to get a decent photo reference to work from.

Diary of an Adventure

Vietnam Adventures

‘Lone Traveler’, a woman traveling alone through Hoi An, Vietnam. The safety of a corner in a coffee shop. Light playing across her contemplative emotions. Searching for that perfect line. Inspiration from the stunning Japanese painting ‘four seasons’, copies of which were in one of the galleries.

Fortunately, the painting doesn’t reflect the gazillion changes to the composition, or the battle waged during the paintings progress. Paint under my fingernails (no gloves needed with acrylics), the only indication of its intensity.

(A note from me, Terry). I’ve often watched Jan paint in his studio, but its only for a minute or two while we chat about domestic logistics. Being in the hotel room with him while we were hemmed in with the typhoon is an an entirely different experience. The energy in the air changed so much I couldn’t focus on my reading. The concentration, intensity and finer-dashing was exhausting viewing. I held my breath for minutes until he changed colour or finger before dabbing madly again. With different colours on his different fingers his hands moved like old fashioned typists who knew the qwerty keyboard blindfolded. How does he remember which colour is on which finger? It was mesmerising. And when he comes up for air, his eyes refocus to reorientate to a world with a wife in it. Where does he go?

The entertaining aspect is how he settles down or disentangles himself from a wet canvas, a palette with colours escaped from their indentations – to the sides, underneath, his knees, fingers, floor, chair, wrist and occasionally his clothes. The dance to get everything wiped clean is as frenetic as the painting itself. And then we both deserve a beer, and I can breathe again.  



Scooter crazy traffic is expected. What has been surprising are the number of electric scooters around the place. School kids using them as commuter vehicles as they doe t need licenses, but even amongst the regular petrol driven engines, there are a heap of electric scooters. Quick and silent, and for a pedestrian, quite unnerving. Their high-powered LED lights the only indication of their approach.

Sun out, with a sprinkling of rain. Humidity turning our damp clothing, after days of rain, soggy. As the streets are cleaned following the receding water levels, the shops open and we can access new parts of the town. Mia coffee for that last iced-americano before we head out to the airport and the adventure moves to Saigon.

Messing About with Paint

Vietnam Adventures

‘Cards’, and the companion painting, ‘Another hand’

Acrylic on linen 40cmx50cm 

Hanoi, Vietnam. 

From Terry’s photo, ladies playing cards next to Westlake. 

Frenetic, expressive smearing of paint onto the linen canvas. Craziness after a heart-beat walking through the traffic? 

Raw Sienna, and Alizarin Crimson for the face, with a darker mixture of Ultramarine Blue and Cadmium Red. Naples Yellow for the background. Quinacridone Rose and Cobalt Blue for the clothing.

‘Another Hand’

Acrylic on Linen 40cmx50cm 

Diary of an Adventure

Harbour Town Adventures

Mobi-kennel packed as though we were leaving town forever. The road down to Cape Town a ribbon between yellow and green canola and wheat fields that stretched between the sea and the mountains. A couple of stops to let Prince stretch and to see how, and if it’s possible, to get anything to eat as a diabetic at service stations.

Cafe Roux, for a Sessions evening of Cat Stevens. The ossabuco (beef rather than veal), definitely moreish, although the addition of peppers to the ‘sofrito’ (the slow-cooked holy trinity of onions, celery and carrot) wasn’t too my taste, and there were oodles of tomatoes that turned into a sweet dish. As there was no saffron risotto served with the meal, it probably should have been labeled as a ‘beef stew’. Journeys End Pioneer Chardonnay a great wine choice.

All sorts of squeaky bits from walking on the beach. Contortions negotiating the soft sand and rocks. Wet kelp posing a formidable challenge to remaining upright over the slippery surface.

A tad apprehensive (The diabetic thing again) about lunch at The Vine Bistro at Glenelly Estate, with a set menu that depends on what ingredients inspire Chef Christophe. He didn’t disappoint and while I had to ignore the delicious sounding dessert, the cheese board was no less decadent.

Montagu. Prince turning Mary’s garden upside down. The sprinklers of particular fascination. Sky full of stars. Smell of the mountains. Wind chimes.

Farewell dinner for Eugene, with a definite French slant. Foil-gras served on courgette bellini’s. Grilled duck breast with roasted vine tomatoes and green beans. Sage leaves fried in duck fat for that added touch of scrumptiousness. Tribaut Champagne and a smooth 2010 ‘Gentle Giant’ Bordeaux blend from Haut Espoir.

As expected, the bicycle groaned on its tortuous climb up Phantom Pass. I blame the wind for my wheezing and wobbly legs.

Felicity Cloake’s perfect osso buco.

(Serves 4)

2 tbsp olive oil
25g flour, to dust
4 pieces of veal shin, about 4cm thick
50g butter
1 onion, finely chopped
1 carrot, finely chopped
1 celery stick, finely chopped
1 head of garlic, cut horizontally
2 strips of lemon zest
4 sage leaves
200ml white wine
200ml good chicken stock
For the gremolata
1 unwaxed lemon, zest finely grated
1 garlic clove, very finely chopped
3 tbsp flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
Pinch of sea salt

Set a casserole dish wide enough to hold the meat in one layer over a high heat, and add the oil. Put the flour on to a small plate and season generously, then use to coat the meat. When the oil is hot, add the meat to the pan and brown well on both sides until golden and crusted. Set aside on a plate.

Turn the heat down and add three quarters of the butter to the pan. When melted, add the onion, carrot and celery, plus a sprinkle of salt, and cook until soft. Add the garlic halves, lemon zest and sage to the pan and cook for a few minutes more.

Turn up the heat then add the wine to the pan. Return the meat, standing it on top of the vegetables, and bubble until the wine has reduced by half. Pour in the stock and bring to a simmer.

Turn the heat right down, cover and simmer for one and a half to two hours, carefully turning the meat over every 30 minutes, until it is tender enough to cut with a spoon. Meanwhile, mix together the gremolata ingredients.

Dot with the remaining butter and allow to melt into the sauce, then serve with the gremolata and risotto alla milanese or wet polenta.

“I like to encourage people to eat this with their fingers – so much easier than fiddling about with a knife and fork!”. Napkins advisable.

Diary of an Adventure

Harbour Town Adventures

Tendrils of smoke, the last gasp of the fires that have ensnared our emotions, or the portent of another night of terror. Helicopters operating in the last light of the day. 

Although the fires are burning further into the forests, there is enough smoke in the air to agitate eyes, forcing a route change to our morning jog.

Paintings heading out to their new homes, with the portrait of the young homeless women completed. I decided not to do the curtain of dreads that were part of the reference photo’s, but rather let her defiance scream at the world that judges her.

For the hair, I used a wad of tissue to rub out sections of the paint. Arc’s of movement. various shades and tones of Alizarin crimson and raw sienna for the face, with a grey of cobalt blue and burnt sienna to create the shadows of the face.

A curry and wine pairing evening that should have had warning signs all over Hugh and Clare’s house. Not that the curries were in any way scary, but rather having to try each of the wines with the curries, and in a few cases, resampling was required. I’m sure there was more wine than blood in my system during the jog that felt endless.

Of the wines, the Pinot was stunning with the bobotie spring rolls. The rose (Cab Franc from Delaire) worked splendidly with the cream chicken curry, and the whites (A Riesling from Radforddale and Pinot Grigio from Terra Del Capo) worked perfectly with the Durban lamb curry. The reds didn’t feature. Although having been opened, they couldn’t be wasted!

Managed to get out for a cycle up Phantom Pass. The fires have burnt away the vegetation and only a few walls remain of one of the farms at the bottom of the Pass. It’s different now, with spectacular views down into the valley. Still challenging and a great ride. A bit of blood from not giving the correct amount of respect to a tree that has been blown over close to the cycle path.