As on most expeditions I set out with serious determination to make painting progress. However, the old fall back came into play: if it’s not working blame someone else. In this case, the gods of Mount Olympus were creating chaos out there. Don’t know what they were doing there but something was going on. Tired and emotional, after about three hours of painting in high wind, at an amazing lookout, blown over, and fell into my palette. The paint on my hurricane jacket looked better than what was on the canvas. Muttering, cursing, swearing, nothing was working, not ink, not paint, nothing. Then it happened. Time seemed to stop. The clouds parted for a moment as the sun was setting and the whole landscape turned to gold. Standing transfixed, in a state of suspended animation, then the rational analytical side of the brain kicked in, fumbled around for the camera, and then the light show was over in an instant. Threw down the brushes, walked around with hands on head, and then packed up. Impossible to paint, all you can do in these situations is hope the camera is close by and the photos do some justice to the scene. Back at camp I tried to explain what happened. The response: ‘oh yeah and what were you drinking?’ Yeah well no wonder the surrealists and abstract expressionists escaped from realism. How can a plienairist hope to be a realist when nature throws a surrealist light show?
Back to reality and observation. The sheep lifestyle at Moolooloo Station gives a whole new meaning to the term ‘free range’. No risk of the wretched live sheep exports for these sheep. They roam at will, far and wide, mixing freely with local fauna, and then make themselves available for round-up by the waterholes whenever their fleece becomes a problem load. Although I did see the remains of one unfortunate who left it too late, probably got caught in a downpour, consequential torrent, and swept away, unable to run with about half a bale of wet wool on its back. All that was left in the dry river bed was a large pile of wool laced with clods of dirt, leaves, rocks, and twigs. The hard working sheep dogs must have dined out on free take away.
Before the trip revisited the Art Gallery of South Australia and some of the classics of Australian landscape painting:
H.J Johnstone, Evening shadows, backwater of the Murray, South Australia (1880)
Tom Roberts, A break away! (1891)
Hans Heysen, Foothills of the Flinders (1929)
Hans Heysen, Patawarta: Land of the Oratunga (1929)
Some photos of locations and sketches in ink and acrylics below.
Sense of place
On the track to Hannigan Gap 1/7/2013
Hannigan Gap painting location 1/7/2013
Moolooloo Station painting location 2/7/2013
Local critic Moolooloo Station 2/7/2013
Blinman Hut painting location 3/7/2013
Parachilna Gorge lookout painting location 4/7/2013
Parachilna Gorge lookout sunset 4/7/2013
Angorichina Gorge painting location 5/7/2013
Local critics passing by, Angorichina Gorge 5/7/2013
Parachilna Gorge lookout painting location 5/7/2013
Parachilna Gorge lookout painting location late afternoon 5/7/2013
Moolooloo Station early morning 6/7/2013
Some of the coiffured sheep 6/7/2013
Sketches in ink and acrylics