The Southern Vales is a favourite spot of mine. I once lived so near the area that it was the automatic choice for day trips with interstate visitors. There is so much to enjoy – scenery, greenery, wineries, eateries. With friends it is a delight, even for a drive.

In past years I have been to Kay Brothers Winery as a maker-marketer of bow ties, ready made and t.y.o. (tie-yer-own). The winery is now 125 years old and has been in the same family for all that time. The hilltop location provides almost 360 degree views and a large picnic area is a magnet for visitors who choose to linger.

The family and staff at Kays’ have always been welcoming and friendly so it was easy to phone up and ask whether I could spend some time there painting with a friend this month.

Philippa Robert, Kay Brothers winery, Southern Vales

Weather and other arrangements had prevented such an outing until yesterday. By 4pm the chill was drawing in. That is about when this picture was taken.

There was quite a bit of coming and going around us. Two visitors from Norfolk were picnicking nearby and enjoying glasses of red with their lunch. They took a photograph of us (after asking permission) as we painted. Funny feeling, being part of the scene. As an artist I find it necessary to lift myself mentally out of the scene to objectify it, pull it apart somehow.

Another group of young Chinese tourists hovered. One young woman practised some English on me and an another came back later to take a photograph. The manager came down to introduce himself in person. He talked a little about the history of the family and their three artists. A very understanding gardener with a ride-on mower kept his distance while we worked. All in all not too busy, but during the afternoon I realised that we were in a tourist destination. You think of all people I would have known that after my earlier experiences as a Southern Vales tourist myself!

But it was quite a delightful session.

As with a lot of sessions lately it wasn’t quite long enough, just under two hours. Here is a rough smart-phone image of the painting at that stage. It was taken at night under a lamp so there is some flare as well as blur.

May 2016 Philippa Robert, Southern Vales, outdoor painting

My intention is just to show you where it is now, before I have contemplated it and refined the work. Plans are to return to the same spot next week if weather and arrangements permit. That would be ideal!

I will post the news of the progress next time.

Best wishes,


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