Urrbrae House is a beautiful residence built in 1891. It was the home of pastoralist Peter Waite, after whom the Waite Campus of the University of Adelaide is named. It is set in large grounds including many university buildings, a vineyard, gardens and an extensive arboretum. Inside the house are beautiful wooden staircases, generously proportioned rooms, one of Adelaide’s first billiard rooms, even (I think) an early approach to air-conditioning.

Here is a photograph of the house and rose gardens from the south-west corner of the house grounds.

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As a painting destination, Urrbrae House and gardens is a favourite – just too many choices! It took me at least twenty minutes to choose a spot.The subject I found first was an upturned orange wheelbarrow under a weeping myall tree. Unfortunately the tree was not weeping in the right places to make the composition ‘easy’ but I thought I could adapt it. When I walked back to collect my trolley I saw another choice – a small flight of red brick steps flanked by bushes and leading up to the generous shade of a Chinese elm tree. Not bad, nice diagonals, reds and greens. So that was where I set up the easel. Then I saw choice number three…

The wheelbarrow was in a slightly boggy area so was not very difficult to reject. The brick steps seemed a bit of a cliche, so they were out. The third choice was mostly green. Some painters don’t like green, or find them especially difficult. Not sure about that. For me they are a colour to mix (like any other) except that I love greens. And blues. And lots more. But greens and blues mostly.


Here is the work in several stages:

darks and lights-PhilippaRobert-AdelaideSouthAustralia

Darks and lights mapped in


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Some mid-tones added

And now a large leap towards the stage of colour. I got so engrossed that I didn’t photograph more steps along the way.

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End of first session at Urrbrae House.

Still work to do after this. More later. As well as a look at a painting in these gardens from a few years ago.

When you see that you can tell me if I am stuck in a rut, or not!


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