Another painting from the Point Hicks area of Croajingolong National Park. Low tide and unusually calm seas meant I could get along the coast to sketch these huge granite boulders, smoothed by thousands of years of storms and covered in vivid red algae.
Safely back in the studio after a few days at Point Hicks Lighthouse. Blessed with some good weather, I managed to make some sketches of the rocky granite coastline. This is the first painting to come out of those sketches. Pretty happy with how it turned out, and a wee nod to Samuel Peploe too.
In the same way as neolithic people painted their cave walls with successful bison hunts, so it often seems to me that painting is part wish fulfillment. If I’m in the studio painting landscapes from studies, it’s almost as good as being there.
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If you can’t kick it you can’t count it and if you can’t count it it don’t count.
It’s easy to view the environment solely as a set of resources. Indeed, throughout our history that’s the dominant – I nearly said “paradigm” but I’m saving that for my PhD – way of looking at the world. Potential mineral deposits, food sources and building materials were catalogued and fought over by our ancestors for empire or for survival.
A landscape painter needs to deal with the fact that a pretty view is all well and good but digging it, cutting it, or burning it is way more, well, useful.
The bush around Ballarat is a palimpsest of environmental uses. From the knife-edge desperation of the gold rush diggings to the complacent adrenaline of 4×4 and trail bike tracks, my current work focuses on the evidence of the uses to which the environment is put.
Always a pleasure to hike up Boronia Peak. Even when the weather is excitable. This particular day was a mix of sun and rain, moving at speed from the west. Reminded me slightly of Scotland and for the first time I could nearly see why Major Mitchell named them after the Scottish hills they look nothing like.
The area’s aboriginal name is Gariwerd. The Jardwadjali and Djab Wurrung people who live here divide the year into six seasons, and I reckon we experienced four or five of them on this hike.
This painting is one from my upcoming show at Vox Populi Art Gallery in Ballarat.
I’ve been busy on a couple of large paintings for an art and environment project. The project launched officially this week so I can put up some images here. The project takes as its starting point a conversation with a sheep farmer in the western district where we talked about how many people today, when they feel a bit chilly at home, will put on the heating rather than put on a jumper (or a sweater in the US). Fossil fuels rather than wool. The project aims to spread the joy of knitting and continue this conversation through different groups and generations. Often over tea and cakes.
The landscape painting has been turned into a series of brilliant knitting patterns by knitting designer Georgie Nicolson. In September this year (2016) Georgie and I will assemble – live and in public – the resulting knitted fragments into a woolen version of the painting, roughly 3 x 4 metres in size, at the truly awesome Art Gallery of Ballarat. If you want to join in, hop over to the SEAM web site where you can find instruction and patterns to download. Have fun!
I was going to title it “Nigella, Nasturtium, Nasturtium, Rose” after that glowing Singer Sargent painting but it was too much of a mouthful, even for a homage.
Speaking of mouthfuls, I’m looking forward to the tasty nigella seeds and nasturtium pods later this autumn.