Diary of an Adventure

Harbour Town Adventures

Butterflies. Sweat. A bit of blood. Howling wind. Dust. Homtini Pass. Four hours. The longest ride in many years. Breakfast at the Garden Route Trail Park halfway through the ride ensured that my blood sugars didn’t go crazy.

Homtini (The name is apparently of Khoi origin and means either “mountain honey” or “difficult passage”), is one of the more beautiful of the passes in the string of passes between Knysna and George. Covering 5km, it winds down 45 corners and curves through the thick indigenous forest.

‘Pincushion Macro’ Small acrylic on canvas paintings I have been trying to get done for ages, based on the photo’s Kirsten took of pincushion protea on the table at River Deck after our walk on the wild side. Do wonder how they would work at 2mx2m!

Vietnamese dinner with the last of the recipes for the book on Diabetic Sensitive Vietnamese food. Ga Rang Gung (Ginger Chicken) and a fish option, served with the classic Vietnamese salad and dipping sauce. A starter of the pork and prawn rolls, with a couple using salmon rather than pork. Good Hope Pinot Noir (Stellenbosch) and Chardonnay (2014) from Newton Johnson (Hemel and Aarde), and Stoney Brook (Franschhoek), with a 2013 Radfordale (Paardeberg) all worked well with the subtle flavours of the Vietnamese dishes.

The ‘Wall Easel’ hanging system installed in the studio. Flexible for the various canvas sizes I have used over the years, it can also be used as a painting easel for the 2m canvas I have waiting.

A great feature in the Kalahari Review of a collection of my small paintings.

https://www.facebook.com/KalahariReview/posts/1510364305707383

Diary of an Adventure

Harbour Town Adventures

Paintings in their new home in Provence

Prince had a wonderful time at J9 charging about looking for buried treasures that Diva had left about the place. Especially those hidden in dark spots under the deck and walkways. Spring high adding a water dimension to the hunt.

Coreta made Tartiflette au reblochon, with cauliflower rather than potatoes. The cheese mature enough that it walked. With steak cooked perfectly on the braai, pure hedonism. Craig opened a bottle of 2009 Radford Dale Gravity that was sensational.

Early morning busy with cars ferrying cyclists off to the start of the Seven Passes ride. It meant that my quiet cappuccino was actually chaotic. Fortunately the good humoured excitement was tolerant of a puppy that was under everyone’s feet.

Looking at blogs on traveling with diabetes, I came across one titled ‘Blood sugar trampoline’, which seems an apt expression. My morning blood sugars are within the acceptable range, however, I’m still getting those sugar-low headaches and grumpiness. Blood sugar trampoline?

Painted rocks for the ‘Knysna Rocks’ fun Facebook campaign, based on a Tazzie campaign to inject happiness into days which seems filled with bad news. I picked up my rocks from the beach at East Head after our walk and painted across six rocks, where when assembled it makes one painting, but each one is also an individual painting. Coral trees and Bougainville creating brilliant colored carpets of fallen blossoms, my inspiration merged in a zen-like simplicity.

Between the mountains and the sea, a ribbon of yellow and green, the spectacular drive to Cape Town.

‘A Touch of Yellow’

Oil on canvas 20cmx20cm

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.

Diary of an Adventure

Harbour Town Adventures

That spot in the afternoon sunshine at FSC. Cats, or the impression of cats, wonder through the house turning themselves inside-out, before curling up in the shafts of sunlight. Champagne dancing. 

Franschhoek, for the Literary Festival. A lunch stop at the Tuk Tuk Microbrewery. Tapas, those tiny excuses for food that leave you hunting for a pizza delivery. That said, the variety of Mexican inspired flavours with their various beers, or wines, was delicious and interesting. 

The De Villiers Chocolate Café should, as all WMD, carry a warning of global destruction. Making a choice, being the first impossible task, before the taste of pure deliciousness forces you back for that next, something.

Amazing they had the statue of the lady on a bench that I had used in a painting, ‘Kim Sit’, when it was in Stellenbosch. This was a bronze work, while the one in Stellies was white. For my painting, I used the installation, together with one of the street men who roam around the city.

The inclusive, connecting people of the couple in the installation reinforcing the superficial nature of racial integration, with the black figure only present in silhouette. The street walker. Excluded. Discarded.

I overnighted with Lesa and Alan after spending a day running about Cape Town for chores. Saturday ParkRun with Alan. The course, while not along the coast was challenging and fun. 

Terry managed to get us into the last seating at The Vine bistro at Glenelly, where our favourite Chef, Christophe Dehosse, is creating magic. It’s an Estate we hadn’t been too, with a contemporary building amidst the historic Cape Dutch homesteads.

With a French owner of the Estate, May de Lencquesaing, his French-inspired dishes are perfectly settled and delicious. That extra crust of crispy bread to mop up the last of the Filet Mignon wine sauce. This despite the over generous portions.

Our wine choice may not have been the best for the variety of dishes. The 2015 Cab Franc, and the 2016 Chardonnay a tad young. However, the light freshness perfect for the warm autumn day looking out over the vineyards.

The new gallery space at Ebony-curated in Franschhoek is spectacular. While the art needs to be carefully chosen to benefit from the space, light, simplicity and perspective, I doubt if any artist wouldn’t be thrilled to have their work in the gallery. 

It’s probably even worth a ‘Damien Hurst stunt’ where a buyer walked in and bought all his work to effect a ‘Sell Out’, even though he was buying (predictive text ‘burying’) his own work.

It’s been ages since I jogged up hills, and certainly the steep undulations Craig decided to add into the jog along the estuary had me short-breathed, with my legs complaining.

In the studio, the painting of the group of boys on their Odyssey adventure in taking space. A bunch of elements on a smallish canvas (90cmx60cm). Keeping the details to a minimum to reinforce that these are boys in their formative years, as well as the collective ‘Band of Brothers’, where there aren’t individuals. 
Knysna-Plett Herald article

http://www.knysnaplettherald.com/news/Arts–Entertainment/Entertainment/186600/Artist-puts-heart-into-Knysna-community

Diary of an Adventure

Harbour Town Adventures

The last of summer afternoon jazz at Blend. Bougainvillea flowers sparkling in the sunshine. The cool wind kept away from the cozy seating by the screen of trees and the pizza oven.
Oyster Catchers preening in the morning light. The wet beach sand a mirror for their ‘runway’ strutting. Feet a tad frozen on the cold beach sand.
Hopefully there are not too many gaps in the last of the picture books of my paintings that have been sent to the printers. The correlation with stock lists and prices sorted for the most part. Good to have some of my paintings out that have been hidden in storage for awhile.
The light dazzling. Spectacular reflections. Last of the full moon sliding below the mountains. The owl hooting it’s morning greeting. Fingers chilled. Lungs fighting for oxygen. Hills, ever steeper. Shoulder protesting. My thumb unhappy after being closed in the kitchen drawer. Not my cleverest!
I’m not sure there is a bad time to have pizza, although there are certainly bad pizza’s! The best, are bound with magic. The same magic, with a touch of wine, that ensnares, and binds us around the table. The chill in the air ensured that we didn’t have the last bottle of wine, however the pizza’s at Chatters were of the best. The weather calling for the richer bodied Nabygelegen Scaramanga Red.
Rain bringing some relief to the dry Forest. The fire seeming to evaporate the wine. Fortunately, a fresh supply was delivered to the studio. Just in case the roads flood and there is no access for a few minutes!
Open art exhibition at Metelerkamps, our designer kitchen and home emporium. Painting outside on the pavement something I have not done for ages. A cellist in the garden courtyard, inspiration for life drawing by the artists huddled in the sunshine. 
I painted a small painting, based on the photo taken by Amanda of Aden.

‘Ripples’

Oil on canvas 20cmx20cm

Diary of an Adventure

Harbour Town Adventures

 

Small painting of the Knysna Seahorses heading to its new home.
Chocolate Easter egg and red wine in a spot of sunshine, hiding from the wind that carries the cold of snow on the mountains.

My portrait of the ‘Herdsman’ not behaving. Colours that shade of muddy, without the lightness I was looking for. Giving it that overworked, flat look, rather than being fresh and dynamic. Perhaps, also the perspective of working on a large canvas?
A wine evening on Leisure that had Jan Boland Coetzee (Springbok rugby legend and wine master) from Vriesenhof as the speaker. It was fascinating to hear him talk about the French Huguenots who were resettled in the Cape (my Mums ancestors) from Holland as there were too many of them for Holland to absorb and they needed skilled people in the Cape.
Once the settlers knew they were coming, it still took 2 years for the ships to be built before they could leave Holland. During this time, they rooted fig, pomegranate and quince trees which they brought with them. Hence, many of the original Huguenot farms have orchids of fig, quince and pomegranate and they are busy looking at the DNA of old trees in the farms to try and trace where they originated.
The wines were excellent!
Finally sorted the shipment of paintings for China. Going to absorb the cost and at least know they will be delivered by professional art couriers. If there is a repeat order, ill manage that separately.
A tad chilly out of the sun and heading out for a jog was a much better idea than freezing on the bicycle. I can see my rides are going to be moving to the warmer afternoons.
Diary of an Adventure

Harbour Town Adventures

A still evening after a few days of storms, including lightning and thunder as the gods threw a hissy. The rain ensuring that I had puddles to splash through on my jog. 

Bouquet garni, with herbs from the small patio garden pots, for the lamb shanks in anticipation of cold, rainy weather. Red onions with Gorgonzola cheese and broccoli. Crôzes-Hermitage from the cellar at J9 scrumptious!
The moon, full and clear over the waters of the estuary, with the owl hooting. The Forest ensnared in mist, amongst which giants lurked. Mud replacing the soft sand, making for fast, breath catching, cycling. Cleaning the bicycle almost as much effort as the cycle.
While I struggle to find an inexpensive way to send a shipment of paintings to China by sea, my new portrait, the Herdsman, on an intimidating large square canvas is taking shape. Probably need to rethink my canvas sizes to make shipping less expensive and cumbersome. I did manage to complete a small painting of Sugarbush and Pincushion Protea that I had originally thought would go onto a larger canvas.
Moulin-a-Vent, a Beaujolais crus was sublime. Particularly in front of a cosy fire on a stormy evening. Despite the strong flavours in the chorizo and bean soup that Hirsh served, the deceptively robust Gamay grape held its own.
Great article (written by Marielle) on my Homeless of Knysna series of paintings. Particularly important as with winter approaching, the feeding scheme that supports the homeless, and where I get many of my subjects needs increased publicity and support.
http://www.knysnaplettherald.com/news/Arts–Entertainment/Entertainment/186600/Artist-puts-heart-into-Knysna-community
Pincushion and Sugarbush Protea

Oil on canvas 20cmx20cm

Diary of an Adventure

Harbour Town Adventures

Golden sunsets. A chill to the air. Heralding a hint of summers end. The wind, exhausted by summer. Content to rest early. Red wine and pizza. The fire stirring. 

But for now, it has a bird trapped behind the glass. Yelling it’s indigence when the door is opened and it flits to freedom. Perhaps a nest in the chimney, not the best idea?
The climb out of from the river crossing over the Gouna Pass, testing strength and bike handling skills, with the surface loose and the gradient, that touch, beyond steep. Fortunately, the reverse climb from the river up to Simola, through the indigenous forest, was spectacular.
My new DMR flat pedals have been delivered. The anodized blue lugs not quite in keeping with the red of the super-fast hardtail that I ride. Menacing, the large surface area means that if you do let your feet bounce from the pedals, they connect your shin on the next revolution.
Portrait of the ‘GuitarMan’, dark and somber. The lightness of the Sunshine Coast not, at this point, coming through the painting. 
I used a ‘scratching’ technique for the beard of the portrait. My fingernails tearing chunks out of the paint layers. An abstract interpretation for the guitar neck so as not to distract from the portrait. 
There is a whisper of moon in the evening sky. An early evening after a fabulous rack-of-lamb braai, and a great Shiraz from Graceland. The smooth spicy flavours waving their magic through the smoky lamb. 
For the lamb, after the fire in the Weber was ready, I put the lid on and heated the Weber for 15 minutes before putting in the rack. 5 minutes on direct heat with the bones down, before turning them onto their fat edges over the coals for a further ten minutes. Another five to ten minutes on the bones (depending on how pink you want the meat) and they were ready.

My muscles slowly stiffening after a tumble on my jog. Tripped while heading out and not paying attention to where I was putting my feet. Skinned my knee and trashed my phone, which was in my hand. In mitigation, the morning was cool and my ankles were stiff at the start of my jog. Not much of an excuse, I know. Fortunately nothing broken. Other than my phone!
Knysna Seahorse Series

Oil on canvas 20cmx20cm


Diary of an Adventure

Harbour Town Adventures

The combination of an oxygen high at first light dashing through the forest, combined with the smell of freshly cut pine and red wine still pumping through your veins must be close to the ‘Exilir of Life.’ 
On a perfect evening the ‘Open Studio’ brought a bunch of new people to the studio, with lively discussion on technique, subject matter, material and the dichotomy of creating and selling art. We made a great deal of noise far into the night.
The studio has been a tad hectic, with paintings needing to be wrapped, shippers organised, invoices sorted amongst the seemingly endless flow of wine. With a bunch of the small paintings having been sold, I’m painting a new series of elephants from the Knysna Elephant Park, as well as Knysna sea-horses. In addition, I’m getting my head around the portrait of the Guitar Man. Cool colours of Cobalt Teal, Rose Madder Carmine and Cerulean Blue for the background, with the warmer Ultramarine Blue and Burnt Sienna as a dark brown for the eyes.
A bunch of Chinese in the studio looking for artists for an art exhibition that is being planned for China later in the year. With the increase in Chinese tourists and their culture of bargaining everything to death, they have been difficult to deal with. Hence, anything I can learn about such a different market will be useful.
I’ve also been sloppy about keeping an email list updated and active, which was a problem for the Open Day, as there have been a number of people who have purchased my work who did not know about it.
Somehow the evening of Wine Tasting resulted in a fair bit of blood during the short night, getting to bed a touch before midnight with the rain teaming down. Woke a bit before the alarm and decided I didn’t want to brave the mud up Phantom. It was tempting as I have a pair of flat-pedals and ‘five-ten’ shoes to try. I put the pedals on the bicycle and whizzed about a bit. They look impressive and are a big improvement on the ones I had. Haven’t tried the shoes yet. My jog was enjoyable, with only a few squeaks from my Achilles.

Diary of an Adventure

Harbour Town Adventures

Friday Market. Flavoursome, spicy curry with a fabulous chocolate roulade starter. 
Blood. Seemingly a standard at the end of each ride. The bouncing across corrugated roads throwing my feet from the pedals. Sudden stops caused by that unexpected rocky incline and the wrong gear selection. Loosing concentration at the end of a ride while parking the bike. A gazillion reasons that have me searching the ‘flats’ vs ‘clipless’ pedals debate.
First jog after shredding my toe. The storm keeping me cool. The wind, hectic. My bothersome Achilles mostly behaving
The waters of the lagoon, an armada of sails, as the annual regatta gets underway. The wind, playing with the yachts as they fight to stay upright in the squalls. Rescue boats buzzing about catching the drifting boats.
My painting confined to bits of wood to build a picket fence. Storage for the fireplace wood the objective. Carpentry skills not my best.
Studio busy. A new series of small elephant paintings, based on the Elephant Sanctuary. Most of the small elephant paintings have sold as have a couple of bigger paintings. Memories heading to new homes, which is both special and a tad, nostalgic.