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

‘Schools Out’

Oil on canvas 20cmx20cm

A small study of the adventures that lie beyond the wall at Kuilfontein Farm in the Karoo.

Afternoon sunshine, a civilised time to be out cycling through the Forest. Particularly civilised as after the ride, it’s possible to stop for a beer. Or rather a glass of white wine. Actually, a glass of chilled red wine. What was I thinking?

Not concentrating.

One of those silly things, not concentrating while out food shopping. A special. Seemed like a good idea. Dinner. Blood sugars sky high. The contents of the sausage an unknown. Despite being from our favourite butcher, no idea what he used.

If there isn’t a nutritional information breakdown, I should know not to buy.

Border Collies turning the apartment upside down. Prince, with his leg in a plaster to sort out a ‘hot-spot’, thrilled to have his friend Ricco visiting.

A touch of rain. Puddles to stomp through.

Looking at where we need to sort gaps in the Vietnam recipe book, I have gone back, and reread parts of Colour: Travels through a Paintbox by Victoria Finlay, intriguing stories on the pigments in Artists colours.

The yellow of Hoi An Old Town, is revered in the culture of Vietnam. It is a symbol of luck, splendor, wealth and respect. A color that is identified with imagination and enlightenment, glowing with the intensity of sunlight itself. Most Vietnamese families have an ancestral altar decorated with flowers and yellow objects.

In all likelihood, the yellow pigment has its origins in Gamboge yellow, also known as Rattan or Wisteria Yellow, Gummi Gutta and Drop Gum, is an organic pigment. Well know for its transparency, the warm golden pigment derives its name from its country of origin: Cambodia, itself named after the Latin word for pigment gambogium.

Made from the resin of the Garcinia evergreen tree, found across South East Asia, trees need to be at least 10 years old before the trunks can be lacerated or the branches broken to collect the tree’s milky yellow resin. The poisonous resin is collected in empty bamboo shoots, and roasted over fire to evaporate moisture, after which the bamboo shoots are broken to reveal dull yellow resin cylinders. Only when this resin is pulverised does it become a brilliant yellow.

Excerpts on Yellow from Colour: Travels through the Paintbox:

Dipping a paintbrush in water and waved it lightly over the unappetizingly brownish rock, he released a miraculous drop of the brightest yellow imaginable, almost fluorescent.

During the horrific Khmer Rouge regime in the 1980s, and then earlier in the Vietnam War, the color was almost impossible to find. This pretty paint can be dangerous in other ways. Winsor & Newton have been receiving small parcels of gamboge from their Southeast Asian suppliers since before anyone can remember, and probably since the company started in the mid-nineteenth century. When it arrives at the factory they grind it up carefully and sell it in tubes or pans as one of their more expensive watercolors. But some of the packages that arrived in the 1970s and 1980s from Cambodia and possibly Vietnam were different: the gamboge contained exploded bullets. The company’s technical director, Ian Garrett has five of them displayed in his office now. A reminder that some of the colours that are taken for granted, come from places where people have lived through unimaginable suffering.

Knysna fires

https://youtu.be/z9vDoPJX7Xg

Diary of an Adventure

Harbour Town Adventures

‘Karoo Skies’, oil on canvas 1,0mx1,5m. Kuilfontein farm. Mesmerising. Startling light. Autumn trees. Brilliant yellows. Huge blue skies. Windmills. Clouds, freeing imagination. Carried with the wind. Dreams.

Dark and chilly for my run. The owl also thought it was a daft idea to be out rather than sitting next to the fire with an espresso.

A year ago, our world went mad. The strong wind carrying a hint of smoke an unpleasant reminder of the chaos caused by the fires.

The first draft of the Vietnam recipe book printed. The colour photos of my paintings and illustrations not the best and there are a gazillion glitches that need sorting. Still, something to work from.

Sweet potato gratin, with a rack of lamb on the Weber grill, served with green beans and asparagus the menu for Terry’s welcome home dinner. Cinnamon, clove, and nutmeg filling the kitchen with the scent of decadent goodness.

Sweet Potato Gratin

Makes 8 servings

◦ 2 cups heavy cream

◦ 1 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon

◦ 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

◦ 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

◦ 4 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced 1/8 inch thick on a mandoline

◦ Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

PREPARATION

1. Preheat the oven to 375°F

2. Whisk together the cream, cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg until smooth.

3. In a 10-inch square baking dish, arrange an even layer of sweet potatoes. Drizzle with a few tablespoons of the cream mixture and season with salt and pepper. Repeat with the remaining potatoes and cream, seasoning with salt and pepper, to form 8 to 10 layers. Press down on the layers to totally submerge the sweet potatoes in the cream mixture.

4. Cover and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the cover and continue baking until the cream has been absorbed, the potatoes are cooked through, and the top is browned, 30 to 45 minutes. Remove from the oven and let rest for 15 minut

Diary of an Adventure

Harbour Town Adventures

SOLD

‘The Yard’

Oil on canvas 100cmx80cm

Rolling the pork belly, with pesto and a butterflied pork fillet to prepare the Porchetta is a messy business. I managed to make an ever bigger mess of the Weber fire, which meant only half of it was ready. Not nearly hot enough to cook the thick roll of pork. It did do a bit of the skin crisping before the oven came to the rescue. A bunch of wine while we waited the extra hour for it to cook.

Forgot the anti-chafing cream. That extra, last, glass of wine, probably didn’t help. Neither did the, failed, rescue attempt of the storm trapped bird in the midnight hours.

Puddles after the rain. Sock dye. Black nails. Heart rate marginally elevated. 12km easy fun alongside the estuary with the rising sun

Discussing composition, tone and the use of technology to untangle the frustration when a painting isn’t working. Art teacher looking for inspiration and assistance for his art class heading into a new semester.

Spectacular sunrise. Skirting the magical forest at Bibby’s Hoek. Tearing down sharp descents, powering up the steep inclines. Or at least until my legs faded. Body bounced into jelly.

‘Blue House’, an acrylic and marker pen illustration on paper of one of the houses in old town Hoi-An, Vietnam. The blue startling amongst the yellow which dominates the town.

Rain. Diabetic sensitive bobotie from Coreta’s kitchen. Three Graces, oozing grape berries. Prince squirming himself into the contours of the sofa.

‘Monochromatic’ exhibition at the old jail complex gallery. A couple of amazing works amongst the conservative. My painting ‘Boudoir Study 2’, fabulously positioned.

Porchetta

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

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

‘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.

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 – Terry’s Random, Accidental Observations

We’re sipping iced coffee amongst the orchids at the airport. The world of international travelers wafts around us and our internal landscapes have shifted to all that awaits us – dinners, friends, work, and busy schedules, such as they are, in Knysna. In short, reality.

Behind us, five weeks of anonymity, if, as westerners, we can be anonymous in an Asian world. Language alone encapsulated us and kept us apart. Our engagement only by choice, through smiles and nods.

On Sunday we drank our jasmine tea to the sound of Church bells, the Catholic steeple on the horizon of our neighborhood. Walking distance to an area outside the boundaries of our limited city map is Cholon, the Chinese district. Along the road is an all encompassing temple that includes all religions. Everywhere in between, coffee is the common culture. And the constant traffic is a background white-noise.

Opposite our trendy air conditioned coffee shop, an old man stands bare chested in the heat. Children play badminton on the sidewalk of this major arterial into the city outside the coffin-seller’s shopfront, while he naps on a bench the size of a coffee table at the entrance – hoping to catch the 41 degree breeze.

In our apartment, we take another lukewarm shower with the go-to brand of body wash in all the establishments we’ve stayed in: Lifebuoy. For him, and for her. 

Our two day trip to the Mekong Delta was an excursion, once more, into commercial tourism. Fortunately we were a group of six, and all easy going. Our guide took charge of us and we boarded and disembarked boats and busses as directed. The clouds were heavy, but didn’t rain on us. The grey-brown water was worthy of a Kipling description, and the palms and mangroves on the banks, beyond the stilt houses, felt heavy with silence. The American movies come to life. 

We were conducted through rice-wafer baking and coconut-candy processing, rice-paper and rice noodle making, and the charms of snake wine, scorpion wine, and grilled frog,snake and rat over the BBQ. Our lunch, fortunately, of river fish, chicken and broth. 

The city of Vinh Long was modern and trendy with wide streets and boulevards. Funky coffee shops played contemporary-rap through their speakers.

When our tour guide realised our group was fit enough for a change to the itinerary, he arranged a cycle around one of the island villages to visit a temple. Lush, humid, muddy – but friendly! Children calling ‘Hello!’ And high-five-ing us. Women doing their washing on the water’s edge. 

The floating market was grey and drab, with more tourist boats than merchants. Their living conditions basic, both in the boats and in the stilt-shacks along the river banks. It felt intrusive to be viewing and photographing them. But they were trading with smaller boats that came to buy the wholesale fruit and veg to sell on to their local neighborhood markets. 

It was exciting to recognize our streets and local coffee shops and minimarts when our minibus entered Saigon again. And it was with a sense of belonging that we settled into our regular seats, at our regular table and placed our regular order without even asking! They knew us so well there, that for me, it was an emotional farewell today. 

According to our tour guide, Ho Chi Minh City is a political name. For him, ‘Saigon City’ is written in his heart. 

And so it is that we say: Thank You, Saigon.

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.