Sunday, October 26, 2014

The Echidna Garden

Nothing is quite as ZEN as a walk in a wild wood and coming across a lone echidna quietly going about his/her business..... well, at least this was my experience of seeing this amazingly beautiful creature wombling along in amongst mauve melaleucas and bacon and egg plants this last week.
 So here he is...... emerging from the bushes. He/She hasn't noticed me as I am upwind and staring stupendously!
 Yes, a little closer, OMG!
And now just a few feet away and he/she still hasn't seen me which is strange as I am beside myself with delight!
And this is the pretty melaleuca that is such a feature of this recent regrowth from welcome rains.

I just wanted to share this with you all! It was a lovely week on Jacquie's farm in the Shoalhaven Region. Have a wonderful life!

Friday, October 3, 2014

Painting in the Australian Outback is always a treat!

If ever you wanted to experience the Outback and delight your senses all at once, then going to Arkaroola with 8 fantastic women and 2 men to explore, paint and renew friendships is a great way to do it!

We have just returned from our fifth trip to that great Aussie icon, the Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary where our souls were inspired, nourished and delighted all at once. Many people just drive in, stay over one night, then drive out which for me is completely missing this amazing opportunity to reignite one senses with the arid lands of Australia.

The landscape was alive with wildflowers and Sturts Desert Peas didn't fail us with their wonderful show of colour. The days were balmy and the evenings warm.

Sturt's Desert Pea - a wonderful sight to see!
Cassia blooms everywhere in the Spring making the fields golden

We wondered and wandered amongst the hills and plains, across fields of flowers, to Paralana Springs where the air was heavy and hot. We couldn't stay long and returned across the Strzlecki Desert, ablaze with colour. Here's Jan putting together some field notes on the Springs in the hot desert sun! Brave Jan!

A pure whit e gum stands proud against the rocks of Paralana Springs! Sure to bring out the best in any artist!

Lake Frome also amazed us with the best colours yet as recent rains had semi-filled the salt lake. Pastel colours criss crossed the land awash with salt below us as we circled in the Piper Navaho at 3500 feet. Ah heaven!

Lake Frome at it's most magnificent - an abstract of pastel shades!
When I began to take artists to the desert to paint, I never realised just how rich and rewarding the experience would be especially for myself! But as the adventures have rolled into each other, we have bonded together into a group, the Wild Women of Arkaroola PLUS (PLUS for the occasional brave male that joins us!). I cannot tell you how deeply these field trips have affected me and my artworks, but they have and I am now painting with all the JOY of a long life as an artist!

I wish you all a creative and fulfilling life as you explore Mother Earth! May you have eyes to see the beauty in her as we do.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Arkaroola just continues to delight the senses!

Having just returned from my fourth trip to Arkaroola over 2 years, I am still delighted and inpired by that arid and ancient landscape. The sheer size of the outback continues to astound and overwhelm as it silently stands witness to all we do.

Paintings cannot express the feelings that collide within one's soul as the eyes get reddened and lined with tiredness at trying to take it all in. I realised this time just how many people travel through that country and come home feeling overwhelmed.

Flashes of ochre walls this time in unexpected places were found as now, this time, I am finally able to start to get down to the details. Found, three more ochre wall sites to explore for next time!

The wall glows under the gums, a hidden site, not much visited and not well known, and darned difficult to paint with any conviction. People cannot imagine that this exists but there it is.... it's quiet ethereal presence from over 500 million years ago - a testament to how beautiful the earth must have been at one time.

These colours would have made up the landscape long before they all became melded into one dull brown or grey. They would have shone on beaches and riverbeds, the sides of hills and mountains - a veritable Garden of Eden.

Now, all we have left in the landscape are a few wild arid places, wilderness areas and sanctuaries, looked over by daring and courageous guardians like the Spriggs of Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary. These are indeed sacred places but will we be strong enough and vigilant enough to protect them from the voracious appetites of a consumer culture. I certainly hope so.

Monday, April 21, 2014

The Inspiring Colours of Australia

Australia is a vast island continent that is made up of mostly desert although most people would not know it. The majority of the inhabitants cling to a small coastal fringe around the edges of the continent divided from the bush by long chains of mountain ranges so called the 'sandstone curtain". These dividing ranges not only divide the vastness of the land but also divide the country socially and economically in more ways than one despite what governments would tell you.

As I travel around Australia looking for inspiration for my artworks, I am reminded constantly of how an unwary population is allowing the countryside to be raped and pillaged by big companies. It scares me as I ponder the huge gaping wounds that mining makes, the wide and denuded soils of large agricultural consortiums, the dying and drying deforested hillsides and I wonder where it will end.

My early life on an orchard gave me a love of the land I live in and depend on, not only for food and work but also for inspiration to create my art works. The ways of caring for the land that I was brought up to were more closely connected with composting, planting of nitrogen giving plants between the rows, hand picking and pruning, working with the seasons and the cycles of drought and wet. These practices have largely been replaced by methods that for me, seem disconnected and ruinous. Monsanto and other large corporations do not have a holistic approach but instead use a broad brush that misses the defining moments that make up lives at a very personal level.

I worry for my grand children and what is being left for them but at the same time, I now see a new, young, vibrant and intelligent generation that ask the hard questions and who are taking on the bigger institutions and demanding to be heard. I cheer these leaders of the future on. New ways of lobbying in GetUp and are bringing about renewed hope for the future.

After 200 years of settlement, I see a new generation that at long last, regard Australia as their home as they embrace not only the mistakes of past generations, but build hope for a brighter future. In some small way, I trust that my environemental paintings will also bring about change and a rethinkng of politics and 'living WITH the LAND'.

 "Pittapunga Lake" (1.2 m x 1.2 m synthetic polymer on canvas) shows aerial mapping of land use in western NSW, the demands being made on failing river systems, the push into salt lake areas in an attempt to farm salt areas, the decimation of forested areas by clearing for even larger farms, the coal seam gas alongside large mines. Can we continue these unsustainable practises in a land that is largely desert? By the way, this area really exists except that the mine is my addition for now.....

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Wattle l do!

Had a great day teaching aspirants how to tackle Wattle watercolours! Harder than it looks, it's a real meditation in the studio!

Now it's at the framers waiting for a beautiful frame to set it off! Arh! The decorative arts! Lovely way to be!

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Watercolour Workshops with Joy!

During the next two months, I will be holding watercolour workshops in Orange and would love to share my techniques and ideas with you! I have been reticent to share in the past mainly due to time constraints, timing being wrong and a host of other things but the time is now right!

For those of you who wonder what my watercolours look like, I will tell you that I like to use the whole sheet and paint big like Georgia O'Keefe! I like closeups of flowers, bright, bold and luscious!

Of course, I won't be expecting you to paint this large but I will demonstrate to you how easy it is to get to this size confidently and once you have mastered the techniques!

This is a peony rose painted in watercolour on D'Arches cotton rag - size 75 cm wide c 52 cm high! - a full watercolour sheet.

I will take you through several techniques at the classes from traditional water colour, chinese brushwork and some easy modern special effects for backgrounds!

It doesn't matter what your favourite flower is, nor does it matter if you want to paint landscapes, the outcome for the classes is that you will have mastered several techniques that you can use in all of your work to achieve the result you want competently.

Here's a poppy in progress:

And here's the poppy heart:
If you think this might be something you would lik to do, then download a brochure here.

Have a happy day painting!