Sea of Dreams

Sea of Dreams, oil on canvas, 91x91 cms
Sea of Dreams, oil on canvas, 91×91 cms

This is a bit of a multi-purpose work, exploring two subjects that are deeply fascinating to me – the sky and the sea. I was trying to capture an unusual pearly light that you sometimes see at dawn, and I think I’ve got at least part of the way there. I’ve called the painting ‘Sea of Dreams’ because it looks a bit surreal to me.

Learning from the Masters

After Bierstadt's California Spring, oil on canvas, 60x60cms
After Bierstadt’s California Spring, oil on canvas, 60x60cms

Just at present I am investigating paintings of the sky for the current study unit of the Fine Arts degree course I am struggling with. Although the thrust of the educational program is unremittingly “contemporary” (with all the overtones that word seems to have picked up when applied to art), I still could not go past Albert Beirstadt as a mentor and guide. Beirstadt was a German born painter who revealed and romanticised the American West in the 1850-1870s. Dramatic skies always play an important role in his paintings.

In this work I have tried to get into his headspace a little. Unfortunately, working from low resolution reproductions found on the internet, I have not been able to really see the details of his brushwork or get an accurate fix on his colours. I’ve tried to be pretty faithful to the original, but I do note that his oak tree seems to have morphed into an Australian gum tree. And his cow seems to have turned into a horse. It’s pretty rough and ready, having been painted in two sessions, and needing some time to be spent on refinement.

Painting copies of master works is a time honored tradition in art studies, and I can appreciate why this is so. As you paint you have time to appreciate how the artist has solved many problems of composition, value and colour.

Below is the original Bierstadt work. Beautiful, isn’t it?


Tallebudgera Inlet – Dawn

Tallebudgera Inlet, Dawn. Oil on canvas, 50 x 60cms
Tallebudgera Inlet, Dawn. Oil on canvas, 50 x 60cms

It’s so good to be back into painting after the allarums and excursions of this year. Last year I made numerous visits to Tallebudgera inlet at different times of day as part of research for one of my Visual Art units. It is very beautiful at any time of day, but dawn in particular. This little beach is nestled at the bottom of Burleigh Heads National park and the sea eagles that live there wheel about over your head. When I was looking for a subject to paint for the local art society’s theme – Gold Coast landscape – this scene came to mind.

Always emptying; always full – 67/100 for 2013.

Always emptying, always full

Always Emptying; Always Full – oil on canvas, 30 x 122 cms

This is a painting of my local creek. I’m going to be doing a series of paintings of this creek in the course of my university studies over the coming year. With this one I created a panorama of photos taken while standing on a rock in the middle of the stream. My aim was to make the viewer feel surrounded by the scene – not just looking at it as though through a window. I painted with very thinned down oil paint on an absorbent canvas surface, trying for the fresh look of transparent watercolour. The title comes from a line in the Tao te Ching – “the universe, like a bellows, is always emptying, always full.” The creek is my little metaphor for the universe.

I see that the year is fast running out. I must get on and post more paintings that are sitting around my studio. I’m pretty sure I’ve made my goal of 100.

A New day’s dawning – painting 62/100 for 2013


A new day's dawningI guess this would be called a quadtych – but that sounds strange.  After painting my twenty small paintings for uni (see my post – ‘What a beautiful place to live’ ), I’ve been experimenting with doing groups of small paintings mounted together on coloured backgrounds.  I’ve used small canvas panels for the paintings and have mounted them together on studio wrap 38mm deep canvas.   The scene is a small part of a glorious sunrise I saw on my last visit to Port Macquarie, but it really could be anywhere along the coast.  I’m putting this one in a show at Lismore in a couple of weeks time.

A Day at the Beach – Paintings 31-46/100 for 2013

As part of my current university studies in painting I have recently been investigating the effects of time at a particular place. I have been working on my favorite little beach on the Gold Coast. We’ve always called it Echo Beach — I don’t know if that’s its real name — a tiny little cove nestled into Burleigh Headland on the side of Tallebudgera Creek. For this exercise I have had to paint three sketches each of different times of day, then a more finished painting of each of the three times, then two paintings further exploring the concept of time at that place.

Squeaker sketch - 30x15
Squeaker sketch – 30×15
Echo beach Noon - oil on canvas, 60x45
Echo beach Noon – oil on canvas, 60×45
Echo Beach Early Afternoon - oil on canvas, 45x60
Echo Beach Early Afternoon – oil on canvas, 45×60
Echo Beach early afternoon - watercolour sketch
Echo Beach early afternoon – watercolour sketch
Echo Beach Early Afternoon - oil sketch 30x40
Echo Beach Early Afternoon – oil sketch 30×40
Echo Beach Early Afternoon - Mixed Media 30x40
Echo Beach Early Afternoon – Mixed Media 30×40
Echo Beach - Dawn - Watercolour 30x40
Echo Beach – Dawn – Watercolour 30×40
Echo Beach Dawn - oil pastel, 30x15
Echo Beach Dawn – oil pastel, 30×15
Echo beach dawn

19/100 of 2013 – Hat Head

Hat Head - oil on canvas - 61x52 cms
Hat Head – oil on canvas – 61×52 cms

The coastline around Hat Head National Park is very impressive. It’s just across the bay from South West Rocks, and has the same honey coloured granite boulders. There’s a well preserved colonial gaol there, crafted from the same local stone by the convicts. I doubt they enjoyed the project much, or the surroundings.

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