My painting has been following a dynamic of its own for the past couple of years. I well remember when my art history teacher asked when I was going to move on from works based on family history and the Hawkesbury River and I had to say I did not know. That was part of an internal compulsion to deal with the past. I wanted to do it through both writing and painting. I feel confident enough now to be able to say that I have made the leap, and to explain what I am doing in my current work. The Portfolio section of this site (currently under construction, mid 2022) will include examples of work in progress and of some work completed. Some of these works have been shown in local art shows, others are in progress for a show and sale.
I am working mainly on landscape. The exploration of time, space and narrative continue, but with different approaches. I am working on several “series”, each with its own logic and techniques.
The overall theme is “Mountains West” and the work develops around the valleys within and beyond the Blue Mountains, especially the spaces joining the geological forms from the Hawkesbury Sandstone areas north into the eroding stone formations of the Capertee and Wolgan Valleys. The past and present here reflect the intersection between the use of the land as pasture and rural activity on the one hand and the “wild” untouched stone formations, mountains, cliffs and bushland into which this more recent activity has intruded. The indigenous past is ever-present and I am seeking to find ways to represent that without using conventional signs and symbols.
The “Valleys” theme refers to Megalong, Hartley and Capertee. Each of these has their own qualities in terms of shape, light and palette. Plus there are vistas along Cox’s River towards Jenolan Caves. I have also been looking at the area near Eugowra. A recent visit to Broken Hill and district has set off the desire to spend more time inland.
As far as approach and technique is concerned, apart from works on canvas in acrylic and oils I also like working on paper with different media. Most of my oils begin with varying sizes of monochrome sketches in graphite and/or gouache and coloured inks.These paper-based works are fairly small, never larger than A2. A3 seems to be a good size, or near that, on heavy-weight water-colour paper, but not too dense, or on multi-media paper which allows for the use of solvent based markers.
A parallel project is a written study of Australian landscape painting from an historical and theoretical perspective. I have several variant outlines for this work. I am especially interested in the development of outdoor “en plein air” working groups in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries (“Heidelberg” and others). I deeply admire these traditional home-grown landscape artists, most of whom were formally untrained or rather trained each other. Only a handful continue to paint today. Some offer invaluable workshops.
Future posts on this site will discuss various aspects of this developing work.