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.
A Precious Life
Oil on canvas 50cmx50cm
In the stormy, chilly weather. My smashed clavicle aches. As do my diabetic toes. Yet, this seems trivial. Compared, to the unfathomable, concept. Reality. That my sister Is gone. From, this world. Impossible.
The paintings from Pringle Bay are back after being put onto stretchers. Grouped together, they create a wall of tumbling energy. Radiating heat from sun warmed beach sand. Hip, knees and elbows employed in holding the canvases against the wall easels for one handed securing.
East Head Cafe, on a stunning day the best spot imaginable to reflect on the privilege of having had an angle amongst us, even if she has gone too soon. Sunset champagne to celebrate her life.
Ortho still not thrilled with the healing of my shoulder. Antibiotics for the infection and more time for the bones to knit. Blood sugars adding complexity.
‘Where Travel and Trade Meet’. A frenetic, 6 minute, speed collision. The challenge, ‘I’m not done yet!’. The opportunity to engage with tour operators and destinations in, this, our part of paradise.
It’s Iris time of the year, and although I can’t manage the large canvas I have in my head for a painting, I’ve settled for a manageable size. A touch of inspiration from the magnificent Irises from our trip to Japan. The purple-blue petal colours, elusive.
acrylic on canvas 50cmx50cm
‘Take a deep breath, and settle yourself down.’
With grateful thanks to Soli and the many hours of companionship on our daily journeys to Worcester when Mum Sterley was ill.
The comment on the recipe (Plate) ‘the best osso bucco of my life’, and it certainly didn’t disappoint. We tried to emulate the conditions, with a night of storms and a fire warming the apartment, as well as aromas wafting down the staircase into the street. While the dish was delicious, the sauce was simply sensational. (The French part of Marlene van Der Westhuizen?) Organic rye, from Il de Pain French, an attempt not to trash my blood sugars too much!
Prince disturbed by the wind hammering the windows. A tad surprised that we didn’t wake to swamped boats in the Estuary. Storms giving way to sunshine fun.
A tad clumsy about the place with my one arm. Fortunately only messing things rather than breaking them. Left handed editing cumbersome and frustratingly slow. Must be wine time.
Oil on canvas 20cmx20cm
Painting of Peter ‘Come Along’ received a Special Recognition Award for ‘Outstanding Art’ at the LST 2019 Figurative Online Exhibition. Amongst the top 15 paintings chosen from 845 entries, from 35 countries.
This is the fifth year in a row that my portraits have received international recognition.
Baked cheesy brinjals, from the latest Taste magazine, must be the most flavoursome brinjal dish imaginable. The fire adds smokiness that transforms the bitter flavours of brinjals, while the cheese filling adds pure deliciousness. Didn’t manage to get the grilled colour on the cheese from the Kamado Jan, and might need to get one of those flame torch things.
Painting of the dueling elephants at Ruha sold and heading to its new home in Ireland. A painting that was originally damaged on the trip back from Tanzania, and one that highlighted the tension of being in Tanzania. Incredible scenery and an impossible work environment. Only a couple of the paintings from that period still available. Another trip needed?
Police here for the break into the studio. Our security guys with CCTV footage identifying the alleged thief. A tad more vigilance needed on my part.
In the novel I’m reading, Stromboli were mentioned. According to google, it’s an Italian-American dish that can have all manner of fillings rolled into a rectangle of pizza dough. Using the mozzarella diabetic base, I did the broccoli as well as a ham and broccoli version. Couldn’t find Provolone so the cheese balance wasn’t quiet correct, but still delicious.
After a few requests recently to package paintings that weren’t my work for shipping, I’m putting together a Professional Painting Packaging Service for both local and international destinations. While styrofoam is recommended as additional protection for the paintings, I’m searching for an environmentally friendly alternative.
Broccoli & Cheese Stromboli
Makes one 12-inch stuffed roll; serves 4-6
From Pizza by Brigit Binns
1 1/2 cups (3 oz) broccoli florets
2/3 cup whole-milk ricotta cheese
2 oz sliced provolone cheese, torn into small pieces
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh basil leaves
1 ball thin-crust pizza dough (recipe follows), at room temperature
all-purpose flour for dusting
salt & freshly ground black pepper
olive oil for brushing
coarse sea salt for sprinkling
Place a pizza stone on a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat to 400 F. Let the pan stone heat for 45-60 minutes.
Fill a saucepan with one inch of water and bring to a simmer. Place broccoli in a mesh strainer or steamer basket and place over the simmering water, not letting the broccoli touch the water. Cover and steam for 5-7 minutes until crisp tender. Remove strainer or basket from saucepan and let cool. Coarsely chop the broccoli and set aside. In a large bowl combine the ricotta, provolone, and basil. Mix well.
Place a large sheet of parchment paper on a pizza peel or large rimless baking sheet and place the ball of dough in the center. Dust the top of the dough with flour and, using a rolling pin, roll out to a 9-by-12-inch rectangle of even thickness. If the dough springs back, let it rest, uncovered, for a few minutes then continue. This video by Peter Reinhart demonstrates how to shape pizza dough for stromboli. Cover the dough rectangle with a clean kitchen towel and let rise for 10 minutes.
With the long side of the dough facing you, spread the cheese mixture evenly over the dough, leaving a 1-inch border uncovered on all sides. Scatter the broccoli evenly over the cheese and season generously with salt and pepper. Starting with the long edge nearest you, gently roll up the dough, lightly compressing the filling. Crimp firmly to seal, but avoid pressing down too hard. Turn the stuffed roll seam side down, cover with a clean kitchen towel, and let rise for 5 minutes. Brush the roll lightly with olive oil, cut a few small steam vents in the top, and sprinkle with coarse sea salt. Carefully slide the roll-topped parchment onto the hot pizza stone. Bake until golden brown, about 25 minutes.
Using the pizza peel or a rimless baking sheet, remove the stromboli from the oven and transfer to a cutting board. Let the stromboli stand for 15 minutes then use a serrated knife to slice it crosswise into rounds.
Oil on canvas 76cmx104cm
The latest painting in my ‘Humanising the Homeless’ series of portraits. Peter and his constant companion, ‘come-along’. He is rough sleeping street dog, so I used the crumpled finger ends of the gloves to produce a rough texture for his fur. His eyes, full of his ‘Yoda’ like wisdom. The magical Monaco Madder colour adding depth and richness to the painting.
Amazing that strangers are stopping Peter in the street to ask him if he is the man in the portrait bring painted by the ‘finger-painter’!
Terry’s Terrine de campagne and an impromptu dinner with friends. Scrupdellicious. A memorable evening. Fortunately, that one extra glass of red wine, rye bread with the terrine, followed by bûche de Noël didn’t blow my blood sugar out of the water.
Beach play with Prince and Rico. The pure joy of summer madness.
Slow jog to test my bothersome Achilles. Nothing seemingly problematical, other than legs that were still a tad wobbly after their ride through the forest to the Italian church.
A simplification of Heston’s roast chicken in brine. Slow cooked (4 hours @ 90 degrees), after it had sat overnight in brine. A melted butter topping during the cooking. I struggled to keep the temperature of the Kamado Jan that low and took the chicken off after 3 hours, basting it every 40 minutes or so. Succulent, tasty and definitely morish. The only downside, being that you eat far more than you would normally eat!
Town buzzing with holiday makers. The seasonal traffic chaos eased by traffic officers at the major intersections, with their white gloves doing Michael Jackson type impersonations.
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.
Oil on linen 40cmx30cm
‘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.
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.
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.
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.