Diary of an Adventure

Harbour Town Adventures

Lagoon full of sails, kite surfers cross the wake of ski boats. The waters a smidgen warmer as the wind settles into its summer pattern. Eerily still in the morning, before throwing an after lunch tantrum. The easel outside the studio anchored against the unpredictable tempests.

Holidays. Dirty fingers across windows. Dog land mines. The studio busy with artists, tourists and other interested types.

Terry delivered the painting at the airport, to its new owners for their trip home to the Netherlands. Safe arrival, without mishap.
A fair bit of blood as my bike handling skills and coordination didn’t quite meet the trail requirements. My stomach muscles suffering over the bumpy road up Phantom Pass. 

A couple of small paintings of sunbirds finished, as well as small elephant paintings. Finally completed the painting ‘Amongst the flowers’ from a photo of Hirsh, that captured the wonder of the flowers in Namaqualand.

I did a grey and green underpainting, which seemed to take ages to dry. Rapid strokes for the dashes of paint for the flowers.
Fabulous meal at KKB, with the trio of desserts the standout dish. The gurnard starter was excellent and there was nothing wrong with the lamb main course. Delicious, and interesting appetisers, with a bobotie filled vetkoek and Caprese polenta. The wine pairings from Creation did little to enhance the meal. While excellent, the smidgeon in the bottom of each glass didn’t allow for any sort of enjoyment or reflection. Glad we took a strategic stock with us so the evening wasn’t wrecked.
The patio garden, moving from concept to reality, as summer life on the patio takes shape. A visit to the stunning Prêt-à-Pot, at Old Nicks in Plet filled the RAV with the first pots. Fortunately, from the sale and discarded section. 
They are stunning glazed pots that balance the simplicity of the studio apartment, with the Japanese style garden I’m striving for, using the coral trees as a key feature. The pots are filled with a third crushed plastic bottles, to reduce the weight of the soil, while ensuring drainage.

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Diary of an Adventure

Harbour Town Adventures

Karoo Cottage

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A glass of wine watching the lightning over the lagoon. Polly very unhappy. 

Owls calling across the estuary, with the last of the sunset turning the clouds from golds to red. The two juveniles calling for their parents?

The few drops of rain settling the garden that has been planted under the trees in the studio parking area after sorting the paving. A couple of blisters from gardening in an apartment that had no garden.

‘Beyond’, Oil on Canvas 30cmx120cm. Composition constrained by the long thin canvas, inspired by a photo taken by Berand of a yacht going through the Heads. Too many conflicting ideas in my head about how to make the painting work. The narrow canvas to restrictive for the brooding skies I started with and the grey-blue pallet too flat. A bit of blood on my knuckles after the fight. And it’s sold!

  

The 3 basic Wabi Sabi principles? nothing is permanent; nothing is perfect; nothing is finished. 

Tartiflette (traditional winter comfort food) made with cauliflower and Reblochon, a soft washed-rind cheese from the French Alps, isn’t an immediate summer dinner choice. However, the need to drink aged Crozes-Hermitage was a reasonable excuse as a side dish to a braai. We moved the table out onto the patio to make the most of the fantabulous evening skies.

Overall, a good week in the studio with bunches of people, including my nephew Michael from Perth. Incredible to see these globe-trotting, confident adults. A gallery owner from Paris, equated my work to that of Soutine. Hopefully it’s the colour and thick impasto of my paintings that made him think of Soutine, rather than convulsive compositional rhythms, and the presence of disturbing psychological content!

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Cascades of Colour

  
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Tides

  

Diary of an Adventure

Harbour Town Adventures

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short walk in the forest at the Garden of Eden, before walking around the East Head rocks on a stunning morning. 

Kirsten suggested that I look at the work of Elaine de Kooning. Particularly, her portrait work, which was opportune as I started work on a portrait of Sinni, one of the homeless guys we pass on our way for our morning cappuccino. 

http://www.smithsonianmag.com/videos/elaine-de-kooning-paints-a-portrait/?no-ist

His hat, reminiscent of Van Gogh’s 1887 self portrait. However, it’s his piercing eyes that set him apart from his fellow homeless. William (not Prince William, he insists), Trompie, Chris and Tanya. All happy to have their photos taken.

I wanted to convey his transparentness. Part of our everyday lives. Yet not there at all. The hat, more attention grabbing than him as a person.

Sinni lives in a small boat and feeds his pigeons each morning. He was saved from drowning a couple of weeks ago, after falling into the lagoon while washing the adventure boats. A kindness shown to him by giving him a job, that could have had fatal consequences. Hands lacerated by the barnacles as he desperately tried to get onto the jetty.

Yet, still transparent. The homeless we don’t see.

“A portrait of myself, almost colourless, in ashen tones against a background of pale veronese green”
Van Gogh, letter to his brother Theo, dated September 16, 1888

‘Patterns’, an abstract work of the sea looking down from the cliffs of East Head. Done as a study for a larger canvas I have. Not sure I will be able to replicate it given that I have no idea what I was doing. Indian yellow, with Turquoise Blue, Phthalo Green and Cobalt Teal rubbed into each other. A spot of Transparent Gold Ochre and Primary Magenta for the patterns. As it was looking a tad bland, I used thick ridges of Phthalo Green and Cobalt Teal. 

  
First paintings of the New Year sold from the studio. The sales have highlighted how poorly prepared I am for the parceling of sold paintings. I know that a dedicated wrapping station is advocated for a studio, however, my muddling through isn’t good enough. Correct sized protection sheets. Wrapping for air transport. Carry bags. Branding. I also need to get a news letter written and my email list sorted.

The air still. Holding its breath. Cowered by the heat. Gentle lapping of waves on the low tide, estuary beach.

Diary of an Adventure

Harbour Town Adventures

Merry and peaceful Christmas to all.

Phosphorous waves at sunset out in the lagoon, from the red-tide that has swept down the coast, creating mayhem for the shellfish industry.

Weather stunning for the mile swim (I didn’t swim) and the Blues Festival at Mitchell’s brewery. Guess I shouldn’t have expected the wine, at a brewery, to be anything other than subnormal, however, it was the only disappointment on a great afternoon. The line-up of bands (eight of them) was varied. The music excellent. The showmanship, complete with spinning guitars, outstanding. A sprinkling of protest songs about the economy, corruption and incompetence, unexpected.

Yellow cotton balls of colour on thin read stems (Biesiegras) caught my attention on the turnoff to Springer Bay. With the summer heat, the fynbos has changed. From the rainy season greens to grey renosterveld, sprinkled with a gazillion blue flowers like Christmas lights. Against the sky, a small farm house dwarfed by the tree protecting it from the afternoon sun. Thrilled with the new French Yellow and Lemon Yellow Intense artists oils from Chavrin.

Christmas week and the studio is busy with visitors. The curious and those merely browsing as part of their holiday recharging. An unexpectedly large number of fellow painters interested in my technique and use of colour, happy to sit and talk about my paintings. Experiences relived through the paintings from different parts of the world.

Caprese salad, with sun drenched tomatoes and basil leaves from the struggling herb pots. Seared salmon with bacon crumble and green beans in nutty butter with cream cheese and Parmesan sauce for Christmas eve dinner. The sleigh festooned in flashing lights, brought Father Christmas and his helpers to Harbour Town to add that touch of magic.

Polly played in the waves at Brenton on Christmas morning. For the first time, the steps back up from the beach too much for her wonky legs. 

Diary of an Adventure

Thesen Harbour Adventures

Brilliant yellow, on spikes of grey-green lining the road to Boggomsbaai.

The sound of waves, pounding the shore. Rhythmical. Sensual.

Foot prints, as transitory as the land-art in my mind.

A tad too much red wine with an excellent peri-peri chicken, Koos cooked, that removed the top of your head with its subtly building heat. Boring, it was not!

Polly’s tail feathers flecked with white from the wet paint around the new front door. The floors in the studio are being polished and the travertine marble repaired. New blinds and shutters are in, and the long kitchen counter and cupboards are installed. A few harrowing moments, all forgotten as we start to unpack.

The small painting sent to Switzerland and the Instgram competition sorted. Branding on the studio windows delayed by the crazy weather. Signage for outside the studio on order. 

The wind has turned, and the days heat has been replaced with chilly winds that smell of moisture. Skies full of tumbling clouds, that remind me of the painting I did of the clouds over Botswana. The two patios working well, allowing us to make the most of the variable weather. 

Diary of an Adventure

Island Adventures

The tide has turned and our furniture and bits (far too many) have been moved (efficiently and quickly) from Leisure Island to Thesen Island. For now, we straddle both islands as the staircase at the apartment isn’t finished and the rails around the patios still need to be painted and strung with their stainless steel wires.

Rain pouring. One part of the studio turned into a box room. Furniture, either into the apartment (up the staircase, or over the patio railings) or into the garage if we weren’t sure where it would fit in the apartment.

A bit of blood. A bunch of stiff muscles.

Power Van, a railway trip up the Outeniqua Mountain with Dad and Mary. Quaint, interesting and gentle. Fabulous views through the mountains as the line twists and turns through tunnels, cutting and across bridges. The flowering plants along the route, stunning. The picnic stop is too short and we should have planned to eat at the dinning car in the railway museum.

Amongst the general chaos of moving, we managed to finalise the sale of the painting of Ernest to a collector in Johannesburg. The first sale from the studio! The painting was also a winner of an Honourable Mention at the 2015 London International Creative Competition.

The first storms have roared through the apartment. Rattling windows, and finding weaknesses. A few issues to sort. Mostly with what we leave out on the patio, to be ravaged by sun and rain. For now, the wind has gone to rest, the sunset is brilliant, and the lights shine, creating pictures in the reflection of the lake.

Our lives defined, by the the sound of halliards knocking against the masts of the yachts moored in the deep water channel of the lagoon. Changing light in the water and grasses of the estuary. And, surprisingly, given that we have no garden, bird song.

Diary of an Adventure

Leisure Isle Adventures

Mum here for the week, forcing us to move beyond the confines of Knysna. Scones at the Plettenberg watching the endless waves, looking for whales.

A bunch of yellow paint getting everywhere. Doesn’t quite explain how my hand managed to get full of blue paint!
‘Dogs Life’ (From a photo by Berend) Oil on Canvas 76cmx101cm. I wanted to catch the movement of the dogs with minimal definition. Sculpting them with blocks of paint. I kept toning down the pallet, to convey the gentleness of the light across the lagoon. Burnt sienna for the dark areas, which I scrapped through to the yellow underpainting to breath light into the silhouettes of the composition.
Dogs Life Detail
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A touch of Colmont for sparkle, with the rounded Three Graces Shiraz, contrasted with an usual Karusa red, full of the mystery of the Karoo, and the stunning Lismore Chardonnay, to accompany Terry’s Boeuf Bourguignon that had filled the house with aromas of simmering herbs, woven within red wine. Iceberg lettuce transformed with dill, lemon and avo. A delicate balance to the creamy cauliflower bake. Chocolate mouse made from French Valrhona that touch of decadence.
At the studio apartment, the steel beam is in place, the roofing over the new kitchen is sorted and the additional electrics and plumbing have been installed. The slab over the garage has been cast and we are ready to tile the shower and toilet area.
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The painting for Brisbane has started its journey to its new home.
Under the canopy of trees, heavy with moisture from the mist that cocoons us, the first of the spring flowers. Forest dwellers pick the flowers and sell bouquets alongside the main road. Their faces, elfin featured, are animated and bubble with life.
Our first Thesen Harbour Town meeting with other commercial owners to look at the concept for a Master Plan. A whole new raft of terminology, where we are referred to as ‘bulk’ (increasing development on an existing space), with ‘spillover’ (using the walkway and street for business). Parking places are currency, and nodes delineate usage areas. We are becoming the art gallery node!