Breaking point

large-seascapes-Philippa Robert-Breaking point-seascapes-wave paintings-Philippa Robert-Adelaide South Australia

Does everything have a breaking point?

I think materials do – think plastic fatigue or snapping brush handles.

And people…but that’s way off today’s topic. Or is it?

In business there is a “tipping point” at which things are about to go gang-busters. And that’s a positive.

Breaking waves

With waves there is a point of tipping and breaking. The hydro-dynamics of it is outside my realm but it seems that the wall of water crashes when it reaches a critical point. The profile of the seabed has something to do with the shape of the waves near the shore too and that alters when and how they break. (I have been up close and personal with a surfer in times gone by).

Breaking point-Winter wave-fresh-2016-23-seascapes-wave-painting-philippa-robert-adelaide-south-australia-winter-wave
“Winter wave” 25x30cm, acrylic on linen panel

Looking at my paintings I can see that this breaking point has fascinated me for a while.

breaking point-seascapes-wave paintings-Adelaide South Australia-Philippa Robert-Building Swell
“Building swell” 45x60cm, acrylic on canvas

In its evolution, this next painting almost broke me! For a start it is unusually large for me – 100x100cm – and was difficult to carry up or down stairs and all but impossible to fit in the car.

Secondly, “Breaking point” has been on and off the easel for about 5 years. It has had at least two titles. And lots of unofficial unprintable ones.

breaking point-2016-20-seascapes-wave-painting-philippa-robert-adelaide-south-australia-april-surge
“April Surge” in 2016

This painting has had many hours of work poured into it and it has almost been finished a few times. Between those intervals this painting has literally hung around the house and reminded me of my struggle.

It began as a brutish storm painting. Its subject matter was stirred and sandy water with ochres and early on, some seaweed purples.

Those colours changed and then returned again. They were heightened or muted, but somehow I just didn’t like it! Simple as that.

Benefits of travel

After our return this week from a long trip I had a clear vision for this painting. The adrenaline of returning home triumphed over the fatigue and bingo! Off the wall, onto the easel…

breaking point-seascaapes-wave paintings-Philippa Robert-Adelaide South Australia
phone camera blues

…and 5 years’ work was over in a day (and 5 years). “April surge” became “Breaking point”.

Breaking point-seascapes-wave paintings-Philippa Robert-Adelaide South Australia
“Breaking point” 100x100cm, acrylic on canvas

Beauty overtook brutalism much to my relief and I emerged Unbroken!

“Breaking point” will be hanging at Cafe Lune as part of my show of wave paintings for SALA 2017.

We open on August 23rd at 81 Jetty Road Brighton, South Australia. Come along and celebrate with me.

PS: I will be “In session” on 23rd, 24th, 26th and 30th August from 2-4pm.

Outdoor seaside painting – beside the dunes

painting supports-linen panels-seascapes-2017-27-outdoor painting-seascapes-Philippa Robert-Adelaide South Australia-beside the dunes v2

Outdoor seaside painting is still on the agenda. The weather is cooling but holding steady-ish.

At the end of March the Fresh Air Friday group convened around our place near the beach. It was a great feeling to have a paint-out in your own precinct. Even one of my neighbours pronounced delightedly that the beach had been taken over by artists! I think one of the great things was that it made me feel a bit less of an oddity.

transition to outdoors-art tuition-Philippa Robert Adelaide South Australia-outdoor painting

The address had been written wrongly on the schedule for this block of three Fridays. One member of the group knocked on the door at the wrong address and gave my name. At first the response was “No, I don’t know anybody by that name.” And then, “Oh yes, she’s the artist I see on the beach. She has a studio further down the road, that way.” How about that? A bit affirming, the whole morning.

And the painting?

Week 1

Just lately I have been using oils out there. The weather was overcast on the first Friday. Here is a progress shot taken at the end of that session.

2017 wip-outdoor seaside painting-seascapes-Philippa Robert-Adelaide South Australia-beside the dunes v1
version one

Week 2

And this photo taken after the second session shows what a difference light makes to the subject. One of the golden rules of outdoor painting is to remember the initial reason you chose this composition. That means to mentally record the visual details that impressed you enough to want to paint it.  It is usually all about the way the light adds drama to the subject matter. The point of remembering is to persist with the initial vision, by the way!

A week is a long time.

2017-27-outdoor seaside painting-seascapes-Philippa Robert-Adelaide South Australia-beside the dunes v2
version two

As you can see, the light in the second session was so different that it became a completely different painting. With a different mood.

In fact it could have been two paintings, if I had persisted a little longer at the first session. But the “ifs” are yesterday’s business, not today’s.

The lesson

So, the lesson for me is: Get going! Get it painted in one session.

Time to replace my L-Plate with oils with a P-Plate and just get on with it.



Wave painting for June – looking at the 2017 calendar

wave painting for June-seascapes-Philippa Robert-Adelaide South Australia-backstairs-passage-early-crossing

The wave painting: June on the 2017 calendar is actually a wake painting!

Backstairs Passage, early crossing

This passage is deep and challenging. It entices wind-surfers and sailors, fishermen and cruisers. It is the course of large shipping vessels into and out of Adelaide. And several times a day, the ferries ply their way over and back between the mainland and Kangaroo Island. The crossing by ferry takes just under an hour – plenty of time for enthusiasts like me to take photos and videos of water. Dolphins appear out of nowhere to play. And midway across there is pitching drama as the currents and wave actions intersect…

This wave painting has to be one of my favourites. As well as a calendar pin-up,  I have used it on the cover of my book, South Australian Seascapes.

Here’s how the painting looks on the calendar.

wave painting June-calendar-Philippa Robert-Adelaide South Australia-Backstairs Passage Early Crossing

on the book,

wave painting for June Seascapes bookcover Philippa Robert, Adelaide South Australia

and a greeting card.

wave painting for June-Philippa Robert-Adelaide South Australia

And here it is in “virtual life”. It is a big work 60x90cm, painted on fine linen, a real beauty and available to buy.

wave painting June-seascapes-Philippa Robert-Adelaide South Australia-backstairs-passage-early-crossing

It looks superb on a plain wall.

Imagine it in your dining area or bedroom at home.

“Backstairs Passage, early crossing” is a stirring work, capturing the essence and energy of the ferry’s wake.

Wouldn’t it be great in a waiting room. Tell your dentist!

Priced at $1620 (including free shipping to US, UK or Australia).

And 10% off for subscribers until 31st March.

Outdoor painting 2017 – how will landscapes fit?

Outdoor painting 2017-landscapes-Philippa Robert-Adelaide South Australia-St Peter's Cathedral Adelaide

Outdoor painting 2017.

Is it different this year?


Outdoor painting competes with studio & online time, teaching, sales & promotion, daily life, family life. Just like any work role, but addictive!

Outdoor painting 2017-Philippa Robert Adelaide South Australia-outdoor setup-Philippa Robert-Adelaide South Australia

Seascapes or Landscapes

Sometimes there is a competition between these two. They seem to vie for attention and time.

In January I simplified the website to show seascapes. But landscapes are on the easel as well. I am continuing to paint with the Fresh Air Friday group which is mostly land- rather than sea-based.

So where do the landscapes fit?

In a special feature every now and then I think. And

A new book

To follow “South Australian Seascapes” and “Landscapes. Recent works by Philippa Robert“, I am planning a book of paintings depicting Adelaide and its suburbs.

Today I completed a small painting of St Peter’s Cathedral from Brougham Gardens, North Adelaide. Very Adelaide!

Outdoor painting 2017-landscapes-Philippa Robert-Adelaide South Australia-St Peter's Cathedral Adelaide
St Peter’s Cathedral, Adelaide (25x20cm) $340 shipped and framed

It will be the first entry for the Adelaide book. After all, it was known as the city of churches.

There are plenty more to paint and other subjects too. I can’t wait.