A lovely shady spot to sit.

A lovely shady spot to sit.

After finding a lovely shady spot to sit for painting and sketching, the immediate reaction is ‘of overwhelm’. So many great little scenes and subjects beckon that for a moment, it all becomes rather confusing.

The rule of ‘en plein air’ (on location) painting is to quietly sit for some moments, take a deep breath, relax and absorb the surroundings, then slowly and deliberately look around and notice what captures your attention. As mentioned before, nature rarely, if ever, presents the perfect picture.

On finding a scene that appeals, you then have to decide what is important to include in your drawing and what isn’t. Rubbish undergrowth can be eliminated to some extent, and so can some of the numerous rocks and twigs and grasses and the umpteen branches of a tree, superfluous to your main subject.

Always be very careful to not destroy the credibility of the location. For example, a grove of pandanus trees slightly to the left of the scene of rocks and reflections you would like to paint, can be shifted into your scene, but not the mango tree three streets away. The elimination of superfluous stuff should not result in the scene looking like an immaculate garden because of any drastic culling. The resulting drawing/painting should still look like an authentic representation of your location, otherwise you may as well stay home and paint from your imagination.

The following photos and small paintings were done on Chillagoe Creek which flows alongside the township. We sat under the shady melaleucas on the creek banks and between the rocks. The creek was still gurgling along over and between the numerous rocks because the area had been blessed with some rain a few weeks previously. This was good for us because we didn’t have problems with flies, mosquitoes and midges normally associated with stagnant water.


The resulting watercolour sketches from the subject matter on location above :


watercolour 7″ x  5″


watercolour 7"x 5"

watercolour 7″x 5″

A few more sketches in the next post.