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This painting was conceived on the hilly bank beside the River Torrens outlet at Henley Beach, South Australia. I was working with the RSASA outdoor painting group (an intrepid bunch). It was a hot summer Friday and I headed for the shady spot. These days I put comfort before ‘composition’ because I believe there is always a composition, where-ever you set up. Admittedly some are more inspiring than others but theoretically this is only limited by the artist’s imagination. A late great Australian landscape artist, Fred Williams used to clamber through the bush with all his kit, set up the easel etc and then turn around and paint what was exactly behind him. He thought we can get too hide-bound about what we look for as subject matter.
Two or three other artists set up easels nearby and tackled views looking further out to sea, but what grabbed me here was the almost architectural geometry. The strong, simple shapes stood out against the organic looseness of the water and sand where the river met the sea. The perfect arc of the sand bar was cut off by the crisp concrete retaining wall which had some echoes in the vertical elements of the pelican sculpture.
So, that’s the story. The moral?
What do you think about painting the composition directly behind you? (Look now)!
Do you agree with the good Fred Williams?