Ruth and I
My wife Ruth and I have rented out our Sydney house that we have called home for over 33 years and embarked on a multi-year travel adventure. It's been both challenging and emotional to divest ourselves of material possessions and of our comfort zones. It is an adventure that we’ve talked about for a long time.
Ruth grew up in Switzerland, so we plan to spend an extended period in Europe. With our joint love of Australia and curiosity to see more, our first three months of this new adventure is in South-Eastern Australia. We then spend time in South-East Asia before starting our at least nine month sojourn in Europe, exploring new places and immersing ourselves in different cultures – art, food and history will feature.
My art goals are to paint, attend art workshops and to visit lots of public galleries – gathering rich source material for my art practice.
My recent portraits
The first part of our journey was to scenic, cerebral Canberra, as always being enthralled with our national art galleries and museums and savouring Canberra's small but vibrant restaurant scene.
Though I concentrate on landscape, in recent months I have completed two portraits – Cookie and My Mate Mick above. As I very much enjoyed these portrait commissions, I visited Australia’s National Portrait Gallery for three hours to research different portrait styles and painting techniques. I was delighted to discover a new John Brack, was jealous of the wonderful fluidity of William Dobell, marvelled at evocative Clifton Pugh and loved the realism of Belschetz-Swenson, Ploeg and Zavros. Though the gallery displays a history of Australian portraiture, it is wonderful to see how skilled, diverse and creative our later Modern and Contemporary artists are.
Here are my favourites!
Artists: Brack, Pugh and Pugh and Belschetz-Swenson
Artists: Tucker, Dobell, and Ploeg
Artists: Ploeg, Montalbetti + Campbell (C Print) and Zavros
I also couldn’t resist a glimpse at the National Gallery’s landscape collection. Apart from the usual suspects surprisingly the National Gallery was displaying 30 landscapes of HRH Charles Prince of Wales in honour of Prince Charles’s 70th birthday. He is an enthusiastic watercolourist.
HRH Prince of Wales watercolour
In our now one remaining car, our small Mazda, we are off touring. From Canberra we drove to the very beautiful South Coast of New South Wales – an area rich in my father’s family history; a destination that Ruth, our two daughters and I have retreated to year after year. We first stayed with friends at kangaroo infested Maloney’s Beach just north of Bateman’s Bay, followed by time with my brother Ken and sister-in-law Joanne relaxing on their beautiful family farm at Burrill Lake near Milton. Next were several weeks based in a very comfortable Airbnb at Pambula on NSW’s very far South Coast as we toured the region. In off-peak season Pambula and nearby Merimbula are a charming holiday destinations not yet overrun by masses of tourists.
Woollomolan Farm, Milton
6 am. Maruya River
Pambula River Mouth
Red Cape, Twofold Bay
Boyd Tower, Red Cape
From Pambula we took a series of trips to visit remote, beautiful areas of coastline such as Broulee, Moruya, Narooma, Bermagui and Eden. At Broulee we stayed with a long-time friend and distant cousin for two nights immersing ourselves in family history and enjoying an early season ocean swim.
I’m always wanting to capture the next spectacular scene that comes into view, slamming on the breaks with iPhone or camera in hand! On several occasions I’d discover a scene that I couldn't just walk away from, and an hour sketch would result. Whilst I'm engrossed in my charcoal renderings Ruth explores or reads a book or communicates on social media. Such scenes I discovered at Wallagoot, Narooma and Pambula, each sketch a possible future painting.
Southern Pambula Beach Headland, Sapphire Coast, 2018, charcoal on paper, 27.5 x 21 cm.
Windy Wallagoot Lake, Sapphire Coast, 2018, charcoal on paper, 27.5 x 21 cm.
Narooma Coastline, Sapphire Coast, 2018, charcoal on paper, 27.5 x 21 cm.
Pambula Swim, 2018, charcoal on paper, 19 x 23 cm.
Narooma Coastline is now the subject of my current work-in-progress in paint. Stay tuned!
The beauty of the NSW South Coast’s green pastures, forested slopes, turquoise blue waters, white sandy beaches and spectacular cliffs always invite. At Merimbula’s Short Point we were mesmerised by dolphins and whales. Whilst migrating south a Humpback mother was teaching her calf at the edge of the bay – both breaching and frolicking!