Acrylic on canvas 20cmx20cm
Oil on canvas 45cmx25cm
Greenish, white clay of the ‘Great White Place’. Pale-golden colour of the grasslands against blue skies. The green-grey from Cobalt Blue and burnt Seinna, mixed with Cerulean Blue. The white-grey a mixture of Ultramarine Blue and Burnt Umber. Also the grey mixture I used for the elephant.
Chef Hirsch crafted (another) fabulous dinner. Avo, pea, mint with smoked salmon, blue cheese crème fraîche and capers. Followed by ‘moqueca’, a Brazilian fish stew, served with spinach-cauli noodles and crusty bread for the delicious ‘soup’. Which I did manage to mess down my shirt and trousers. Something I couldn’t even blame on diabetic ‘shakes’, as my sugar levels weren’t totally crazy. Fryers Cove Pinot Noir served with the moqueca.
Owls hooting before dawn. Seagulls screeching in alarm. Gentle rain for my morning jog up the Welbedaght hills. Coucal’s calling encouragement from the bushes
Rump skewers with Smokey béarnaise sauce. Simple. Deliciousness. A green salad of gem-lettuce, avo, parmesan shavings and pine nuts. Added crunchiness. Perfect.
Orthopedic Surgeon happy with how the bones in my clavicle are healing. A complication with a bursa on my elbow that needed draining and is now trapped in a compression sock for three weeks. The cortisone injection a tad painful. Messing with my blood sugars.
Moqueca (Brazilian fish stew)
1kg skinless firm white fish fillet (such as snapper), pin-boned, cut into 3cm cubes
1/3 cup (80ml) lime juice
1/4 cup (60ml) olive oil
1 red onion, thinly sliced
1 green capsicum, thinly sliced
1 red capsicum, thinly sliced
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 short red chillies, finely chopped
2 cups (500ml) fish stock
400g can chopped tomatoes
270ml can coconut milk
1 tablespoon virgin coconut oil (see note)
6 large green prawns, peeled (tails intact), deveined
Coriander leaves, to serve
Spinach-cauli noodles, to serve
Place fish in a large ceramic dish and toss with 2 tablespoons lime juice and 1 teaspoon sea salt. Chill for 30 minutes to marinate.
Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Cook onion for 3 minutes or until softened.
Add capsicum, garlic and chilli, then cook, stirring occasionally, for a further 5 minutes or until capsicum is softened.
Stir in stock, tomatoes, coconut milk and coconut oil. Bring to the boil, then reduce heat to medium and cook for 20-25 minutes until slightly reduced.
Add prawns, fish and marinating juices, then cook for a further 8-10 minutes until the seafood is just cooked. Stir in the remaining 2 tablespoons lime juice and season to taste.
A couple of small elephant paintings. The rough canvas, acting like ‘wag-‘n-bietjie’ (wait a moment) thorns, gripping my fingers as I tried to create the sketching lines of the painting, to resemble a charcoal drawing. An a usual grey mixture of Ultramarine Blue and Burnt Umber.
Wobbly legs after the trail run through the forest. Thrilled that despite the uneven footing, little additional shoulder discomfort. We did stick to open tracks, mindful that we are into snake and tick season.
Marlene Van Der Westhuizen’s beef stew synchronized with the approaching storm. The inclusion of the five different cuts of beef, marinaded overnight in red wine, olive oil and brandy, and then slow cooked was delicious. Egg plant baked with mozzarella and tomatoes were colourful and tasty. A tad surprising that the Pinot Noir from Newton Johnson Family Vineyards went better with the stew than the Cros Hermitage Shiraz.
‘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 2’
Oil on canvas 72cmx72cm
Thrilled to be part of the Winter One Fly Anti Rhino Poaching Charity event held in Dullstroom, where my painting of the rhino ‘Unicorn’ was part of the auction. The auction alone, raised R390,000.00 for anti-poaching support. Based out of Skakuza, in the Kruger Park.
I have finished fiddling with the second of the ‘Irises and Foxgloves’ paintings. Abstract swirls through colour spaces, that captivate. Although it felt like I had done a tad too much, it retains the delicate, simplicity of the composition I was striving for.
Interesting to read that Van Gough’s painting of Irises, which now looks like blue Irises, was originally purple. The red pigment in the paint having faded, leaving us with the blue we now see. Hopefully, the Artists Oil colours I have used for the purple won’t do the same over time! The key colour was Mineral Violet Deep (Van Dyk Ferrario No47) from my magic paint box.
One of those fantabulous sunrises. Perfection, for the run out to the Leisure Island loop. While none of the graceful movement in my mind, I did try to limit the jarring of my still delicate shoulder. Limited by my ‘wounded buffalo’ heaving. A shoulder, seemingly frozen in time.
‘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
Decided I wanted to do a companion painting for the Irises and Foxgloves. A square format, so not a traditional diptych. A tad concerned that the square canvas i was able to get is a tad small.
Unexpectedly the painting of the nature garden in Montagu that has been in our kitchen for years is off to its new home in Port Elizabeth.
From the ‘Plate’ cooking book, a lemongrass, sesame oil, chili, soya sauce and spring onion marinade for rump steak. Amazingly, I found all the bits amongst the various shops in our small town. Cooked over a hot fire, the flavours were subtle and delicious.
Suddenly. It’s my birthday. Incredible that 365 days have past. The wind howling, with a few spatters of rain that make the fire, and a glass of red-wine, that tad special. Of course my sister and Dad Sterley are no longer with us.
Carpets and rugs, filled with magical stories of Afghanistan. The rich madder red vibrancy of the rug from the carpet bazaar in Angoy, on the Tajikistan border. Delicate silks from Turkistan weavers. The luxurious pile of the sheep wool carpet from the market in our Kabul compound. That magical prayer-rug (that I’m sure I paid too much for) from our favorite carpet shop in Shahre-naw, Kabul. This while surrounded by my paintings from that incredible time.
From my diary …
Today the world is white! Snow is falling and this part of the world is beautiful.
Landing in Kabul through thinning cloud produced a landscape of brown and white. Snow drifts piled against buildings uniform in their drabness of the city much larger than I expected. It has some 2 million residents, 30 000 taxi’s, 200 000 cars and zillions of bicycles! Twisted aircraft wreckage lines the runway and it was with some apprehension that I stood in line to confront the fierce olive fatigued immigration officials. Certainly I did not expect the smile that greeted my announcement that I had no Visa, nor the friendliness of the driver that brought me here to my home for the next while.
The Great Masud road leaves the airport, a double lane highway along which you rocket at speeds constrained only by the fearlessness of the driver. Lanes don’t exist and where necessary the other side of the road becomes additional lanes. On one side, a single row of shops in various state of ruin run alongside the road with cultivated fields behind them. The other side has more elaborate structures long abandoned by groups such as Hoechst. There are obvious signs of repair with beautiful stone walls, interspersed with high security compounds. Unexpected colour from massive brightly painted trucks. Works of art in this mono chromatic landscape, laden with goods from Pakistan, Uzbekistan and Iran.
The UNOPS offices are in a run down apartment block. Inside, they have been renovated providing comfort enough when the electricity is working, but outside they look appalling. There is a new compound being built, the first phase of which will be ready for occupation in a few weeks. This will not include me as I take up responsibility for the rehabilitation of the University woman’s residence building. Well, that’s today’s story! From this table I can see children skating on the ice, and a few hardy people are flying kites. A landmark I was told I would find here.
The UNDP guest house (where I will stay this week) is a massive house, built on four levels with marble floors, chandeliers, a sweeping staircase and décor that jars my every sense. My room is comfortable, too hot with the heater and freezing without it, but there is a common lounge and dining room looking out to the garden.