Australian landscapes

Yesterday I had a bit of time between work and a concert I was attending so I wandered into the Art Gallery of Victoria/Ian Potter centre and went and had a look at the Streetons, McCubbins, and Roberts close up. They were painting around the turn of the century and they were the first cohesive group to really get down and paint the landscape in Australian as it looks, not as a dark, wet looking attempt to force everything to look like European landscape (there were others before them who managed to do it, I know).

Wonderful stuff.

In the last little while I’ve decided that I want to work on my landscapes. I always was very dismissive of landscape, and was totally uninterested in it.  Increasingly over the last few years I’ve got more appreciation for good, powerful and emotive landscape. Currently I feel I’m  “ok” at it but I don’t feel at all that I’m good or I’m doing what I want to be doing. So I’m going to be trying some new techniques – free and splashy and fast, to try and get down what I want to get down and just get used to painting it with feeling, rather than rendering what is there.

The difference between landscape and figurative painting is actually not that great. You need to know where you’re going and get a good drawing down, and you need to represent it so it doesn’t go all ‘uncanny valley’ on you, but in landscape you can make decisions about moving things that you simply can’t do in figurative painting unless you’re going for non representational art.

I love the arid, strange, open, emptiness of bits of Australia. I’ve been to Ularu (‘the rock’) and around there, where the ground is red and orange and yellow sand,  and this colour permeates  everything, this deep ochre red, and it’s wonderful on the eye. I was also fortunate enough to be there when it was raining (very rare) so my experience of the rock was this metallic glowing eerie object with waterfalls tumbling off it.  I will give this a go one day.

Uluru, with waterfall

the olgas

btw this is a shot of the olgas, at sunset. it looks like Homer Simpson lying on his back. I CANNOT UNSEE IT now.


Around Alice springs, one of the Gorges


Red sand, red rocks. So pretty! Around Alice Springs, central Australia

The landscape I really love though is around Victoria, in particular up in wheat country, where it gets a lot drier (hence my near obsession with Wyperfeld). I went up after Christmas and got about 200 photos which I have been working from, I’m going to continue to do this and try and bed down what I want to do.


Wyperfeld. Sand dunes, but very bleached in colour. This was high summer. Not a lot of green. I need to learn to paint heat and dry better.


Yellow and red mallee trees along a path. I’ve actually painted this scene. Not happy with it though:

Red and yellow malles, WP national park

Red and yellow malles, WP national park

I’m not adverse to plein air (outside) painting but the idea kind of terrifies me. Time wise it’s tricky and comfort wise it’s not appealing. I am considering going on one of those tours they do of bits of oz where you take your paints and you get an instructor. I think I’d really benefit from that. Maybe next year. Hrm.