Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Respite


At the close of January I left winter for summer, traveling from southeast Minnesota to southeast Queensland, Australia. I spent the next two months there, living with my sister's family, sweltering in the heat and humidity, resting, reading, letting my big sister take care of me, spending time with my growing niece and nephews, getting better acquainted with the place they call home, and, of course, painting.

People:
 I wanted to take this opportunity to work on drawing and painting figures and portraits, especially my niece and nephews.
5 x 7" oil on linen/hardboard. February 1, 2018
 Tired from travel, and settling in, I did a quick study of my niece, who was reading a Calvin & Hobbes book.

 This pencil sketch is the closest I got to getting a likeness of my elusive eldest nephew. Someday I'll get to paint him. :)

7 x 5" oil on linen/hardboard. February 5, 2018
 My niece and I did a lot of drawing and painting together. Here I painted her profile while she worked on an excellent little painting of her dog.

 An allergy discovered: A quick little sketch done for my nephew, who gave us a scare and was spending half the night at the hospital under observation after reacting to eating a prawn.

10 x 8" oil on linen/hardboard. February 12, 2018
A better day, attempting a painting of my youngest nephew. Nothing like being asked to sit still to remind a person of how much he likes to move and all the things he'd like to be doing. (But he kind of tried!)

10 x 8" oil on linen/hardboard.
 Painted over a couple of days, another portrait of my (very patient!) niece reading. Sometimes she read aloud to me, which was just lovely.

Asleep on the train after a long, eventful day. Graphite.





Still life:
 Studies of local flora.

9 x 12" oil on gessoed hardboard. February 3, 2018
 Lilly Pilly. This was painted on a rainy day; a sprig plucked from a shrub by the house with its glossy green leaves and bright pink berries.

10 x 8" oil on linen/hardboard. February 19, 2018
 Though not native, frangipani or plumeria are a common sight, and their fragrance often fills the humid evening air.

10 x 8" oil on linen/hardboard. February 21, 2018
 Eucalyptus leaves and gumnuts, picked up off the path of the neighborhood forest after a rainstorm.

10 x 8" oil on linen/hardboard. March 1, 2018
 Gumnuts again. A different kind of eucalyptus tree with very different shaped leaves and fruit than the first one.

10 x 8" oil on linen/hardboard. March 5, 2018
 Banksia, in a Bundaberg lemonade bottle. I often saw this particular species - I think it's a swamp banksia - with its reddish-brown bottlebrush-like flower stalk and leathery leaves and I knew I wanted to try to paint it.

8 x 10" oil on linen/hardboard. March 9, 2018
 One more gumnut study, this time from a flowering gum tree. The fruit of this one were heavy and ridged, the flowers a lovely pink, slightly bedraggled after heavy rain, and the leaves long and narrow.

10 x 8" oil on linen/hardboard. March 13, 2018
Beach Hibiscus. These grow to be large trees, which my niece and nephews liked to climb. Its bright yellow blossoms only last a day, then fade and fall. Handed to me after a conversation while I was painting one windy day by the bay, I took this flower back to the house with me and painted it that night before it wilted.





Forest:
8 x 6" plein air oil on linen/birch. February 4, 2018
This was the first plein air painting of my visit. My niece and I trekked down to an area in the neighborhood forest and painted in the evening. The trunk of a strangler fig along a small stream. The light didn't last long, however, the mosquitoes began to hum, and the crows in the treetops sounded as though they were laughing at us.

8 x 6" plein air oil on linen/birch. February 6, 2018
 Painted in Point Halloran Conservation Area: a study of midday greens and blues.

6 x 8" plein air oil on linen/birch. March 8, 2018
On Mount Tamborine, downstream from Curtis Falls, upstream from where a colony of fruit bats was hanging out. The light grew dim early down amongst the trees, and a little rain fell in this little bit of rainforest while I painted.




By the bay:
 Tides, mud and sand, wind and rain and sunshine.
7 x 5" plein air oil on linen/birch. February 10, 2018
 Raby Bay. I was all set up to paint when I discovered my brushes were not in with my gear - not one! This little painting of the water was done mostly with pieces of dried leaves off a nearby plant. A rough little color study.

6 x 12" plein air oil on linen/hardboard. February 16, 2018
 Point Halloran, painting while watching the tide go out. In the hot and humid weather it made such a difference to get down to the shore and feel the wind off the water.

9 x 12" plein air oil on linen/hardboard. February 25, 2018
 HMQS Gayundah. Appropriately, perhaps, my time painting this old gunboat "said to be named after an Aboriginal word for lightning" was interrupted by a sudden crack of thunder and lightning as a storm broke overhead. I was happy to get a chance to go back and finish it later in the afternoon as the tide came in.

9 x 12" plein air oil on linen/birch. February 27, 2018
 Wellington Point. Low tide and cloudy skies, looking out towards King Island.
Two 5 x 7" plein air oil paintings on linen/hardboard. February 27, 2018
 Later, as the skies cleared and the wind picked up and blew hard, I walked around the point and painted this one (two) of the red rocks and mangrove tree, as the tide began to come back in. The sunshine brought out such color on the ground and water.

16 x 8" plein air oil on linen/hardboard. February 28, 2018
 Victoria Point. A beautiful old gumtree by the footpath. The water was high, covering the trunks and roots of the mangroves, and the morning shadows dappled the ground.

6 x 12" plein air oil on linen/hardboard. March 2, 2018
 Also at Victoria Point, painting amongst the mangroves. An overcast sky made the colors of the landscape a bit more subdued.

5 x 7" plein air oil on linen/birch. March 4, 2018
 Raby Bay. A little sky and water study. A cloud overhead gave shade and a little rain, and cloud shadows moved across the bay.

6 x 8" plein air oil on linen/birch. March 7, 2018
 Victoria Point: Sky drama and mangroves at the bay. Glimpses of sunshine between rain showers.
Trying to take in and capture something of the colors and textures of sky and sea.
Listening to the wind, the little crabs crawling around the rocks, and the incoming tide.

5 x 7" plein air oil on linen/hardboard. March 13, 2018
 Thompson's Beach, Victoria Point. A little painting done in the wind and an occasional downpour. A beautiful old boat and the fantastic shapes of the mangroves.

9 x 12" plein air oil on linen/hardboard. March 16, 2018
Redland Bay. A quick study of the evening light at the bay; shadows falling across the mangroves and the sand and mud of low tide.

7 x 5" oil on linen/hardboard. March 2018
Point Halloran Conservation Area. I really liked the feel of this place, tidal wetlands where salt and fresh water mix. There was a beautiful harmony in the colors of the wet landscape and sky and the delicate branches of the she-oaks. I would have liked to paint on location there, but the mosquitoes won the battle that day; I took a few photos and waded out. I began this little painting that night while the memory was fresh in my mind.


Mountains, skyscrapers, and ocean waves:
6 x 12" plein air oil on linen/hardboard. March 11, 2018
 Boonah, Queensland, along Mount French Road, looking across pastures towards Moogerah Peaks. The weather passing through alternatingly obscuring and revealing the mountains in the distance.

8 x 16" plein air oil on linen/hardboard. March 12, 2018
 Peak Crossing, Queensland. Sunshine and mountains, and farmland that made me feel a little more at home.

6 x 12" plein air oil on linen/hardboard. March 17, 2018
 The Spit, Goldcoast. A quick study. The waves rolled in and washed around the legs of my easel and retreated again, pulling the sand back to the sea. I held on to make sure my easel didn't go out with the water. My little niece and nephew appointed themselves my protectors, digging trenches and lying on the sand to attempt to block the waves! Such good little buddies. :)

6 x 12" plein air oil on linen/hardboard. March 19, 2018
Mt. Coot-tha: We went up early to the lookout hoping to catch the sunrise over the city of Brisbane. Instead we looked out into fog. I painted this as the sun rose higher in the sky and the fog began to clear.
5 x 7" plein air oil on linen/hardboard. March 19, 2018
The morning sun grew hot and the fog lifted, bringing the city into view. 

6 x 12" plein air oil on linen/hardboard. March 24, 2018
Where the Noosa River meets the sea.
We spent the last weekend of my visit at the Sunshine Coast. I painted with my feet in the sand and the sound of the ocean in my ears.

8 x 10" plein air oil on linen/hardboard. March 24, 2018
 Sunshine Beach. Sand and sea and clouds at dusk.

6 x 8" plein air oil on linen/birch. March 25, 2018
My last painting in Australia: A little study of the water, watching the waves roll in and trying to take in all the color and form and movement. Beautiful day.