Kangaroo Island Art Feast

Here are three paintings from my current exhibition at Western River Cove, Kangaroo Island.

Winding down, Western River Cove
Along the north coast on the western end of the island, the roads are unsealed. The surface is usually reddish and in wet weather the roadside puddles are bright orange to ochre in colour. The approach to Western River Cove is one of those roads. At one particular turn the cove comes into view.  Soon it disappears again as the road descends to sea level and wraps around the hillsides. The winding road and the glimpses of the cove seem to heighten the visitor’s anticipation. When you have driven as far as you can towards the sea, it is a short walk across the bridge and along the river to the secluded beach.  It really is a place to wind down.

Philippa Robert, Adelaide South Australia, acrylic on canvas

In this painting of the road to Western River Cove the colours are typically summery. As well as the rich reds of the soil contrasting with the icy blue of the sea, I enjoyed painting the soft colours of the dry grass. There are so many nuances of pale gold in the sunlight, the shadows and the undulations of this sparsely vegetated stretch of land.

Backstairs Passage, early crossing. I posted this painting in June, but giving it another airing in this context.
There is a quiet excitement about an early crossing to Kangaroo Island. When any day begins there are so many possibilities, but when you are heading for KI, there is much visual beauty in store. Backstairs Passage takes less than an hour to cross so you are there before you know it. In smooth conditions the only swell you feel is some rolling about half-way to Penneshaw. I won’t tell you about the return trip yesterday but there was good cause to cancel the ferry trip altogether. Hundreds of tonnes of steel bouncing around was a frightening sight as the ferry approached.

Philippa Robert, South Australia, acrylic 2012

This painting represents the moment just over half way (on a calm day) when the view of the mainland shows a stretch of the Fleurieu Peninsula sitting up just like an island. I love to spend as much of the journey outside on the back deck of the ferry. The foam of the wake is a reminder of the white-water of waves but has a different rhythm and pattern driven by the engines and the boat’s forward movement.  Over the years I have taken countless photographs of the swirling wake. A significant part of this image is the soft outline of the land form left behind, “the big island” or “the north island” as they say in Kangaroo Island (and Tasmania).

While painting this piece I thought often of the Inuit people who have so many words for white. Most of this painting is white foam, not snow, but there are many whites in sea foam too. The wake of a large ferry in such clear waters is a mixture of icy turquoise white, blue whites, lavenders, milk and chalk. All this against inky blue-black and deep blue-green. Dynamic beauty.

And we aren’t even on the island yet!

Rams’ Paddock
This painting was done from the top of the hill at my brother’s farm at Western River Cove. I chose the spot because it was a lovely vantage point and offered so many possibilities for paintings.

Philippa Robert, Adelaide South Australia, acrylic on canvas

After about half an hour I realised there were two very important occupants of that paddock – and they wanted me to know it. In their visits that day, the rams came quite near, almost nudging my water bottles and bag of supplies. I asked them politely to move on. I even used their names Cameron and Carl. My sister-in-law had named them after two people at Channel 9 Sydney for family reasons. Thank goodness I remembered that! However, it didn’t do me any good. They took no notice. Eventually they sloped off to find something to else to eat.

A couple of weeks ago I discovered that these two were not Cameron and Carl at all, but New Bruce and Ramlet. No wonder they hadn’t heeded my warnings to keep away from the paints!

But, back to the painting. This is the view looking west across the heritage forest to a distant pine plantation. In November that year the grass had already died back and it was the lovely gold that captured my eye when I first set up my gear. It was such a gorgeous field of warmth that I made it the dominant feature of the composition. The contrast between the warm greens of the native scrub and the cool deep green of the pines added interest to the upper part of the painting. As a small painting it contains the bare details but it works well to convey the feeling of being up there on top of the hill on a sunny November day on Kangaroo Island.

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Pennington Bay, Kangaroo Island

These paintings were going to be called KI Colours (1&2). My vision was of acid green biting into the aquamarine of the sea. The low bushes pinned by the wind to the coastline are shades of warm green with yellowish highlights. I have a strong memory of standing at Remarkable Rocks and seeing orange lichen on the rocks, the light bright sea blue with those distant warm greens. But that’s another painting, for another time.

Philippa Robert, acrylic on canvas, 25x30cm

Philippa Robert, acrylic on canvas, 25x30cm

Philippa Robert, acrylic on canvas

Here are the two small paintings so far. I lost my nerve a bit with the acid green. It is actually still there, but mostly under the surface!

Philippa Robert, South Australia
a rough pic of an early draft, August 2012

The two pictures were painted side by side in the early stages, really just to ensure their alignment. Because I wanted them to work individually as well as together they were completed as separate paintings. These two will be going over to Kangaroo Island for the KI Art Feast which opens the weekend after next. More on that later.

Pennington Bay is a long and wild beach on the Southern Ocean side of Kangaroo Island, not too far from the Penneshaw ferry terminal. The turn-off is easy to miss. It’s just another dirt track heading off to the left, but once on it you know that dirt tracks on KI are much more than that. The limestone is white as white can be, the dust is very fine and the low scrub closely hugs the edges of the road.

A couple of k’s and you are there. And then….that vista! The craggy rocks, the headlands and the long sweep of wild surf and white sand all stop you in your tracks. And of course that wonderful mixture of greens sewn to the surface of the land, contrasting with the sea blues and white seaspray…

The roar of the wild! Do you have a favourite spot like this? Does it roar or sing?

Early retirement? No, just a tea-break.

Painting…that’s what I’m here for!
So I’ve got to get some going again. It feels like ages since I had any flow. The (SALA) open studio door meant only bits n pieces of work going on. Lovely to meet the people but PR is quite difficult for someone who is used to solitary confinement (albeit voluntary).

Philippa Robert, Adelaide South Australia

Over the past two days the studio has been fully returned to its former glory. The TV is back in the corner. Why do I need that? Apart from jamming up the space in the storage room behind the studio, there is nowhere else to store this hulk (and the CD player lurks in its supporting cabinet). Folders and assorted stationery are back on the desk. Power-boards and cords have drizzled their black lines over the desk-top again.
There HAS been an important improvement to amenities as an outcome of the Open Days.  The traymobile remains!

Philippa Robert, Adelaide South Australia

So, from this Friday I will be diving back into the sea – with the support of the refreshments trolley.
Two immediate calls to action before mid September: Australian Marine Conservation Society’s Annual Art for Sharks Charity Auction and Kangaroo Island Art Feast.
I plan to keep a ‘commenting’ eye on your blogs (if that’s feasible) but will give my blog a bit of a tea-break.
See you in 10 days!

Philippa Robert, Adelaide South Australia

three virtual friendships

An exciting week in which the virtual intersected happily with the actual three times!

It started on Monday when I received a lovely package of art from my friend PC at little bits of sheffield and steelcitystatic. Wonderful images of street art around Sheffield (and from the Peak district). Many seen on-screen, now held in hand! How amazing that seems, and a touch of handwriting too. Thank you for your generous gift PC.

And then this morning, an invitation from Kelly Medford. Kelly has asked a number for friends to join her to paint in Rome in October 2013.  As a virtual friend, I got a huge kick out of this! Have you seen Kelly’s blog? She is currently undertaking 120 consecutive days of painting in Italy and creating some wonderful pieces under this pressure. All 6×8″ and done with gear that she packs on a bicycle!

Philippa Robert, Adelaide South Australia

Here we are closing the studio on Sunday arvo. Free for other things!
So, it was off to town today to see some art. First stop, the National Wine Centre to see the Kangaroo Island Fine Art show on the theme of “Coast and Seagrass Meadows.” The lovely Fleur Peters from Kangaroo Island Fine Art Gallery remembered me from our last meeting in Kingscote in May when I was with my brother (the islander). As we spoke a little more and I mentioned some info from facebook, a big happy wave of recognition passed over Fleur’s face. She then said “Now I know who you are!” She knew my online persona more than my offline one!

So, three nice surprises in one week! How refreshing life can be.

Philippa Robert, Adelaide South Australia

I see now that this person is actually taking in refreshment of a different sort. Perhaps the time had come.

How about you. Have you had similar happy intersections of the virtual and the real?