J.R. Walker, The Elusive Platypus

Paint does the thinking. If you’re lucky something completely unexpected comes out. The making is the thinking….” *

Monotremes are rare – both of them found in Australia. The platypus frequents still parts in rivers. There is a little spot in Braidwood where we go and the platypus makes an appearance.  The old log where we sat and sketched had rotted since we were last there but as we approached the platypus took a dive and we caught a fleeting glimpse. It was midday, windy and noisy everything it shouldn’t be to spot platypus (or is platypussi?).

J.R Walker is a legendary Braidwood resident artist. As we came out of the bottleshop (a known haunt for artists – a bit like still rivers) J.R. was spotted on his bicycle and before we could gather our thoughts he was off. Peddling feverishly he ducked and dove out of sight. His saddle bags we could only guess were full of oily tubes of paint and inspiration and maybe merlot -it was on special.

This was a self-indulgent blog to show J.R. Walkers paintings. Something I have done before, here in Shaking Off The Sand & here  in Artist or Serial Killer. He, like the platypus is elusive and wonderful. A strange creature of talent and mystery and spotted from time to time in Braidwood.

*quote in article by Steve Lopes for Artist Profile 2009.

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Painting a New World

After digesting the yearly dose of Archibalds at the Art Gallery of NSW, I strolled across the park to the State Library of NSW to see the John Lewin exhibition.

I really didn’t know that much about Lewin apart from his delicate paintings of birds but the exhibition was like a trip to a new land through paint.

I couldn’t imagine the excitement for an artist to confront new and wonderous plants and animals and a landscape so different from the lush greens of England. His soft grey greens of the Australian bush were outstanding and I wondered about his choice of palette before he left.

The works were delicate and light and his studies of moths and caterpillars were inspirational.

In a room adjoined to the exhibition, a room of stuffed birds and animals perched on tables with pencils and paper ready for new explorers. The walls were hung with brightly coloured parrots, stuffed feathery owls and spiky echidnas drawn by visitors from around the world. Scribbly signatures with their country of origin at the bottom of each drawing gave some clue as to where they had come from. I guess the explorer-artists felt much like Lewin looking at these strange animals up close, taking in detail that you would never get from books.

The State Library is full of books with plates and illustrations but countless artists but nothing substitutes for the real thing -stuffed or not.