Plein-air & Plain Good

Tom Carment

Tom Carment

Tom Carment has taken out this years Parliament House Plein Air Painting Prize.  About time, I say.  He is just simply a good painter.  His work gets wall space in my studio and that is my measure of paint-worthiness.




Here is my blog from four years ago.

“A Random Sparkle”

Each time I visit the SH Ervin gallery, I seem to be drawn to the work of Tom Carment -I bought I wonderful book CH2.  Carla promptly told me I had bought her the same one. I had also bought a card of his work that was pinned on the wall in the Thirroul Studio. This afternoon I opened Artist Profile art mag for a well deserved read time only to find Tom Carment once again. Is it his plein-air-i-ness? The essence of subject? Maybe it’s what he describes as “the random sparkle.”



Pink Rocks and Green Ponds

The painting trip to Braidwood fed the painting habit a little more. Rosalie Gascoigne said that she was “visually hungry” and reading an article on David Hockney he got excited about drops in puddles.

I love colour – it’s what the landscape feeds me. For the past 3 years I have had this screen saver from a photo I took down there. It was the colour of this stagnant pond that drew me back. 




From this trip it was the colour of the rocks – that dull fleshy pink. I did some small gouache works and know that these will in turn feed larger works and that from those initial colours, more colours develop.

“You Really Don’t Have to be that Good”

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.

“There is just something about sitting outside drawing….”







From  Margaret Olley: Life’s Journey. Yet another gift from my beautiful daughter. She knew that I hadn’t been painting in oils, she gave me this book to show me -sketching, watercolours, drawings are all a Life’s Journey. This photo is what it’s about, as long as you are doing it doesn’t matter.

Smoke Stacks & Seagulls

This week the picknick painters were just 3.  We decided to meet at the Bev Whitfield seapool -with views to the north of the steelworks and close by caravans and rockpools. We tried our best against blustery conditions but the sun and scenery made it bearable. Wonderfully steely blues in the sea and distant steam clouds from the stacks made me break out the gouache and play with colour once again. I had become addicted to the felt tip during the week so it was good to do some paint-rehab.

Winter Wimps

Who said you had to suffer for your art? Winter sets in and the “picknick painters” have turned to interiors, heaters and coffee.  Only last week I was admiring Euan MacLeod for trapsing the glacial wilds, slathering canvas in oil, wet, robust – it’s romantic -man vs nature but you have to admit that a pen, a well-loved home and a sketchbook can yield the same atmosphere -only warmer. The same warmth found in Julia’s cake fresh from her oven swathed in lime juice.

Once again our sufferance was minimal.