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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.
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.
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!
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.
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.