Fowlers Gap, Far West NSW – Landscape Painting

May 2017. The joy of slow travel, in this case a train journey over 13 hours from Sydney to Broken Hill. Across several NSW regions: the Blue Mountains in early morning mist and fog, across the farming regions of the central tablelands, the central west slopes and plains, five hours across the vast, what seemed to be never-ending plains. Sunset somewhere between Eurabalong West (population 70) and Ivanhoe (population 200). Far horizons red gold landscape.

Intensive six days of painting and art practice discussions at Fowlers Gap, a remote research station in the arid zone of NSW in the Barrier Ranges which form the border between NSW and South Australia. Located 112 kilometres north of Broken Hill. A working sheep station with an abundance of kangaroos, emus, goats, and bird life, with several studios for visiting artists. For this time of year, sublime weather, warm to hot dry still days, clear clean air.

First impression flatness, vast infinity of space. Need to focus on scale and details while trying to walk the fine line between representation and abstraction without tripping over entirely into either. Some of the artists discussed and other art references, NSW western regions and Central Australia, below.

Maybe too much fresh air out there, but came away with a simple question. Why not aim high and try to pull together the entire history of landscape painting? Symbols, fact, fantasy, ideal, natural, light, order (reference Landscape into Art, Kenneth Clark 1949, history of western landscape painting), swill it all around for long enough in the hope, in future, to achieve the probably impossible one shot action painting with a sense of place.

Fowlers Gap
The Tanks
The X Box Studio
Ochre House Studio
The Lake

Sense of Place


Sunset on the plains from the train 22/5/2017


Remains of a sheep pen at sunset 23/5/2017


Far horizon from the X Box Studio, dusk 23/5/2017


Far horizon from the tanks, painting location 24/5/2017


X Box Studio, painting location 24/5/2017


Near the X Box Studio, painting location 24/5/2017


On the way to the Ochre House Studio, morning 25/5/2017

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The Ochre House Studio 25/5/2017


Near the Ochre House Studio, painting location 25/5/2017


Ochre House interior late afternoon 25/5/2017

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Snake attempting to eat over-sized lizard mid-afternoon 25/5/2017


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Early morning grazers near the cottage 26/5/2017


The Lake painting location 28/5/2017

Sketches in ink, gouache, and acrylics

20170524 Fowlers Gap near X Box studio P1020716

Near the X Box Studio, gouache 24/5/2017

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From the X Box Studio, gouache 24/5/2017

20170529 Fowlers Gap Scroll P1020819

Section of ink scroll Ochre House 25/5/2017


Near Ochre house studio, gouache 25/5/2017

20170526 Fowlers Gap Work in progress P1020765

The outdoor studio, 26/5/2017

20170527 12 Fowlers Gap View from the cottage_122328

View from the cottage, acrylic, 26/5/2017

20170527 21 Fowlers Gap View from the cottage_122408

View from the cottage, acrylic, 26/5/2017

20170528 2 Fowlers Gap view from the Cottage _122432

View from the cottage, acrylic, 28/5/2017

20170527 Fowlers Gap The Exhibition _170139 (2)

The exhibition (the no smoking sign not mine) 27/5/2017

Art References

Broken Hill Regional Gallery 29/5/17
Henry James Johnstone, A Ford on the Acheron River (1881)
Lloyd Rees, Summer Morn Near Kiama (1945)
Lloyd Rees, The Pool (1946)
Emily Kame Kngwarreye, Wildflower Dreaming 2
Sidney Nolan, Little Boy Lost (1983)
John Olsen, Clarendon Spring Make Sure the Sun Wipes its Feet (1984)

Other landscape references

Gyokudo (Uragami) Frozen Clouds and Whirling Snow early 19th century
Uragami Gyokudo, Frozen Clouds and Whirling Snow, early 19th Century, Kawabata Collection, Kanagawa Prefecture

Friedrich (Caspar David) Monk on the Seashore (1808-10) Alte Nationalgalerie Berlin
Caspar David Friedrich, Monk on the Seashore (1808-10), Alte Nationalgalerie, Berlin

Hokusai (Katsushika) Tama River in Musashi Province 1830-32 MET
Katsushika Hokusai, Tama River in Musashi Province (Bushū Tamagawa), from the series Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji (Fugaku sanjūrokkei), ca. 1830–32, MET

van Gogh (Vincent) Fishing Boats at Sea
Vincent van Gogh, Fishing Boats at Sea, 1888, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum

Picasso (Pablo) Landscape with Two Figures) 1908, Musée Picasso, Paris
Pablo Picasso Landscape with Two Figures, 1908, Musée Picasso, Paris

Picasso (Pablo) Landscape 1972

Pablo Picasso Landscape, 1972, Musée Picasso, Paris
Exhibition: Picasso masterpieces from the Musée National Picasso, AGNSW Nov 2011 – Mar 2012

Georges Rouault, Solitude, 1937

Guston (Philip) Painting 1954 MoMA
Philip Guston, Painting, 1954, MoMA

Morandi (Giorgio) Still Life 1957 AGNSW
Giorgio Morandi, Still life, 1957, AGNSW

Art references NSW western regions and Central Australia

Streeton (Aurther Fires On 1891 AGNSW
Arthur Streeton, Fires On (Lapstone Tunnel, Blue Mountains), 1891

Hans Heysen, The Hill of the Creeping Shadows, 1929

Rees (lloyd) Evening on the Bathurst Hills 1936
Lloyd Rees, Evening on the Bathurst Hills, 1936

Rees (Lloyd) Evening Landscape Orange 1943
Lloyd Rees, Evening Landscape, Orange, 1943

Drysdale (Russell) Road with Rocks (1949) AGNSW
Russell Drysdale, Road with Rocks, 1949

Nolan (Sidney) Salt Lakes, Wimmera, 1966
Sidney Nolan, Salt Lakes ,Wimmera. 1966

Nolan (Sidney) Desert Storm 1966 (1panel of 8)
Sidney Nolan, Desert Storm 1966 (1st panel of 8)

Williams (Fred) Lysterfield Landscape 1969 NGV
Fred Williams, Lysterfield Landscape, 1969

Boyd (Arthur) Rocky landscape with two figures, 1973, NGA
Arthur Boyd, Rocky landscape with two figures, 1973

Whiteley (Brett) 8 miles out of Cootamundra 8.28 pm 4.1.84 1984 (2)
Brett Whiteley 8 miles out of Cootamundra 8.28 pm 4.1.84, 1984

Ngal (Poly) Bush Plum Country 2002 NGA
Poly Ngal, Bush Plum Country, 2002

Cummings (Elizabeth) From the Two Tanks Fowlers Gap 2012
Elizabeth Cummings, From the Two Tanks Fowlers Gap, 2012