Painting at Seven Mile Beach was a great distraction from the Lake. I felt like I had saturated myself. This week in the National Park grounds with filtered light and angular gums was a really welcome change. I focussed on some cut trees, where the shapes were interesting and nestled in the open wound someone had laid Banksia babies like a nest of some strange bird. Last weeks hyper-flouro colours of floats, buoys and signs had become a nagging thought. With a link to Kandinsky’s exploration of undercolour in a painting, I had put down a ground of fluro yellow on my page and wanted to incorporate it into a new landscape. It seemed such a jarring anti-organic basis but was interesting in overlaying subtle greys. There’s something there that needs more….once again you get a little comfort but more questions. We swapped cake, ideas & nuts. Home grown Kiwi fruit and tamarillos fresh from the Valley.
Painting at the Lake with the Picknick Painters this week resulted in a little more confidence about the direction I’m rowing. I know that I want to combine stories with my painting to bring my own Lake-ness to the Lake. I always imagined myself to be rowing with the owl and the pussy cat in my beautiful pea-green boat. I painted the boats with Dad as a young girl, it was always yellow- a stenciled name on the back, or the canoes. This week I painted my imaginary boat a beautiful pea-green.
How lucky am I to be still amazed at colour after living with it for so long. Painting by the Lake yesterday -a Lake I see every day, still resulted in a mix of wonderful shape and colour. It was windy and a couple of the Picknick Painters had taken refuge in a sheltered sunny spot alongside the pale blue pelican-adorned toilet block. I had completed a gouache, fibre pen sketch of the island in the distance and had colours mixed on the palette -when I looked over at the others. I combined the landscapish subtleties with purple, reds, turquoises of the boldly dressed sun hogs. As much as I love a pristine unspoilt landscape and quiet gentleness of the bush, there is such excitement for me in the interruption we provoke by providing splashes of the unexpected.
Painting on a Thursday involves multi-layering of clothing. At least in the Alice it was hot all day every day. Within half hour of arriving the weather had gone from blue skies, lathering on sunscreen to rain and wind and lathering on rain gear. Thankfully after huddling around a luke warm thermos the skies cleared long enough for a few gouache sketches. I’m feeling more secure in moody greys and blues . I talked about my experiences here as a child in the boatshed but the grey blue of the water and sky, the distant mountains reminded me of Dad’s eyes-steely grey blue, piercing.
Well the Picknick Painters were a mixed bag the last week. We met at Gerroa, we got a taste of the Autumn sun while we had our cuppa. The sounds of a group of young Mums with kids at the playground were fairly distant. We broke out the paints, the clouds came over and the wind chill set in – the kids were now closer and the sounds more disturbing. Andrea had provided birthday sausages for the BBQ at lunch, the rain came and we were now openly wishing the children to drop through the grate they had been jumping on earlier.
We break for the holidays now for 2 weeks, retreating into our studios like bitter old women we are. I do remember being a young mum, squealing children on the swings and never remember hat-clad old women drawing on park benches. I’m glad I’ve lived both.
Did a couple of gouache on paper-may work larger and stopped on the way home to sketch Mt Coolangatta its a great shape sitting very hill-like on the flats. I think the little sketch of that will work better.
Kiama is visually stunning. The Picknick Painters went to the rockpool at Black Beach last week so this week we returned. The surf was really pounding and the wind was relentless but it’s the price you pay -the hills across towards Jamberoo were so vividly lime green from rain,sun,rain etc etc. And Bombo has the pinkest sand – all this framed by Black Beach -shining black glossy rocks. Everything was hammered by the wind but I had taped the paper to the table -it was secure and throwing wet dollops of paint against the force of the wind only made me more determined. We ate frantically, holding down our gear, chasing detritus. Andrea braved the breakers in the rockpool but we soon packed our gear and went.
I started my car only to find the windscreen white and crusty with salt spray – the winds own Kasmir Malevich’s composition.
Not only was it oppressively hot, grey nomads with grey lives felt compelled to comment on our painting technique. The next time I see them backing a caravan into a tight spot I might take it upon myself to offer advice or tell them that they “really don’t have to be that good” or “that must be soOOO relaxing”.
How do you explain abstraction to the uncoverted caravaners? Thier vans are constructed and composed, arranged in rows (almost like these synchronised swimming seagulls), you would have more success with the campers who throw their canvas tent to the ground Pollock style to maximise view and capture morning sun and light.
Don’t mistake the Picknick Painters for a sweet ladies plein-air group. A palette knife can prove a useful weapon against ignorance.
No excuses, the oils are unpacked. I threw in a small set, gouache in case I chickened out and charcoal – because it’s charcoal. We met on the north side of the river this week. God I love that river! It flows oil colour, this photo is cow poo floating downstream at Bundanon- even shit can look good in that river. Surely I can paint it? Once again a lot of talking, Sue even managed to ice a cake on site-she handles icing like paint. We exchanged fruit and veg from the gardens – a fresh apple from the other Sue’s tree!
My first oily experience back in the saddle resulted in something that you would find floating down the river.
If Pollock had to bring-a-plate for lunch what would it be? Maybe a thai salad thrown together but complex in flavour?
Our first day back painting after the holidays was a bring-a-plate session at Anne’s. As usual we all brought something to the table and I realised as painters, we were quite like our dishes – mine-sandwiches, made from the everyday. I’m good at assembling-maybe Rauschenburg. Sue (IR) brought a carrot cake -great blend of texture, considered-maybe Motherwell. Andrea made a pineapple upside down cake -compositionally perfect,classic-maybe a Ben Nicholson. Reiko wowed us with red beans and ice cream, unexpected and exotic- maybe Gorky. Kaye baked a zucchini slice – a combination of skill, sculpture, assemblage in egg- maybe Duchamp. Julia surprised us coming a little late and we could hear the clacking of utensils in the kitchen and then she appeared with warm scones straight from her oven -maybe a Braque the silent achiever. Anne our host had made a gluten-free chocolate cake laced with nuts -it was rich, deep and emotive -definitely a Rothko. I had come too late to know what Sue P had presented and the table was overflowing but there is no doubt that it would have been light, vego and obviously Bonnardish -little jewels of light and colour like her pastels.
Once again our brushes were dry but our table and tummies full and the promise of painting next week.
The Picknick Painters met for the last time this year at Moonraker farm where Kaye and Andrea are pressed against the hillside by the force of the cicada’s summer symphony. The old bring-a-plate worked a treat and resulted in lashings of desserts. We exposed our works for the year -fluorescent Barbies, cocked-up cuckoo clocks, expressive portraits and delicate landscapes. As usual my work was portable whilst others shuffled easels and unloaded canvases between downpours.
Our Xmas treat was a peak at Andrea’s new studio -we donned raingear, navigated the muddy path through the bush and sidled past the chook shed. Cleverly made from the demolished original farmhouse, the Gascoigne walls were a work in themselves. A raised performance area promised future inspiration and Andrea told us the story of the first “show” -the shearing of sheep to avoid any nasty accidents with electric shears. An appropriation of Tom Roberts?
Our studios are as different as each other. Mine is sheepless but my current work is sheepish.