It has taken me a long time to appreciate landscape painting, and actually DO landscape painting. I have found people, and monsters, and figures, way more interesting, always. To me landscapes were something that you were uninterested in but thought you should give a go at, you toyed with them, and gave up on them when they became a greeny-brown-smear-of-fail on a canvas.
I have since changed my mind.
A friend of mine took me to the Victorian Art Gallery (Ian Potter Centre) and pointed out his favorite landscape to me a few years ago.
I admit to being surprised that anyone HAD a favorite landscape. But when i looked a bit around the Australian section a bit more, I began to ‘get’ it.
It’s far easier to identify with a landscape of a land that you live in. I do love the actual bush and the desert we have here – Victoria is incredibly diverse in vegetation types, from the arid/Mallee, to Cool Temperate Rainforest. I like being in it – to me, a painting of it never really did it for me. I’d rather be there.
My approach to painting has always been that i want to paint a character, which is why the thought of putting in effort to paint landscapes, fruit, flowers, and still-lives, just bored me to tears. But I can paint a landscape as though it is a character. I just has to pick somewhere that has some meaning to me, that I love being in, and i want to capture a certain feeling of being there.
The trick was to find somewhere i wanted to paint, somewhere i loved and also that wasn’t just layers of green on layers of green.
In 1993, when i was an undergrad doing Botany, we went on a 7 day field trip to Wyperfeld National Park. I’d never heard of it – and most people have not heard of it.
It’s in the top north west of the state, right next the the big and little deserts, on the edge of the wheat growing belt. The only claim to any sort of fame is that the Mallee-fowl lives there, a bird that makes a rather large sand mound for it’s nest.
It’s quite arid, mallee eucalypts, river red gums, bulokes (native conifers), grasslands, scrub lands, and woodlands. Mostly growing on sand dunes, it’s an interconnected dry lake system that floods every 100 years or so (but is unlikely to flood again cause irrigation steals all it’s water).
It’s one of the coolest, most awesomest places I’ve visited, one of the places I have returned to again and again. Also – its 7 hours drive away. So it’s a rare trip, and a big effort. And full of feral bees! I went there last year and only set myself on fire once…. Awesome trip. I went to photograph it for references to paint for the next year or so.
Here are some of my paintings of Wyperfeld: