Painting Mary River, Kenilworth

Painting Mary River, Kenilworth

After the recent rains sparked by Cyclone Debbie my wife and I ventured out to Kenilworth for a couple of days camping. Of course any trip to Kenilworth requires a visit to the Mary River.

This photo is taken from around the corner from the township:


I loved the composition of this photo when I looked at it again later on.

The strong dark shadow on the right hand side and the warm tones in the foreground lead the eye into the middle distance where the river winds its way through the valley.

So I decided to paint this one and potentially enter it into the Kenilworth Art Competition run by the Kenilworth Arts Council in September.

Here is an early stage of my painting. Its a larger oil painting than I normally do and I’ve been enjoying the freedom of the extra space:


This is just the rough block in stage where the key thing is too make sure I have the values structure of the painting right. I want to make sure there is layers and depth in the painting.

Happy with the initial block in I then proceeded to tighten the block in up a little:


You can see its starting to take shape. A big key to making this painting work I think is going to be capturing the sunlight at the top and edges of the trees and having rich shadows and dark’s as a counter balance.

So far I am happy with the start I have made with it. There is a lot of work to go and I shall post updates on this painting as I go.

Mornington Art Show Exhibition – Painting of Portsea (Part 1)

Mornington Art Show Exhibition – Painting of Portsea (Part 1)

So I have decided to enter the Mornington Art Show which is happening from 18th January to 27th January.

The first big question then is what on earth will I enter for the show?

Always a challenge for the artist … picking the perfect subject to enter into an art show. There is no real right or wrong approach … however one thing I have noted from previous shows is that larger paintings tend to stand out from the rest (as long as they are done well). So I have decided to paint 3 or 4 larger paintings, for me anyway, and then pick the best two to enter into the show.

I am often asked by people how I approach a painting so I decided to create a series of blog posts documenting the painting process as I paint possible entries for the Mornington Art Show.

The first thing I did was go back through my old photos … I have over the last couple of years collected more than 5,000 photos so I have lots of reference material.

Here is one of the pics I chose to paint … it is a view of one of the little harbours near Portsea. I like this image because of the framing of the trees and the strong foreground darks they offer.


One of the key things for me is keeping a limited palette so I will be using just a handfull of colours for this painting:

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The colours on my palette are Ultramarine Blue, Alizarin Crimson, Cadmium Red, Cadmium Yellow, Yellow Ochre, Burnt Sienna and Titanium White. And as you can see … I use just a few brushes … one for initial wash.

I start off by using washes to establish the darkest darks. Its an approach I learnt from watching a few Allan Fizzell DVD’s. Allan is a great landscape painter in NSW and after watching his DVD’s twenty or thirty times I changed my basic approach to painting. Cheers Allan!

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You can see in the above photo that I have mixed up a dark wash (very runny) and placed in the darks. I had previously done a pencil sketch using the photo. I love the dark wash approach as I started out as a watercolour artist and always loved the washes 🙂

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Once the washes start to dry off a bit I start to work on the sky leaving room for the clouds. I could have just as easily started with the water mass. Its best to leave the initial wash to completely dry so you can then work around the darks in the sky easily.

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A little more work on the clouds and then I have started to block in the water, the rocky ledge in the water and the sandy part of the water. One of the things I love about painting these Portsea / Sorrento bayside scenes is the variety of tones in the water from dark blues, to dark greens and through to the light greens. People who are familiar with the area will know what I mean by this.

At this point I have pretty much completed the block in … I played around with the clouds a little more however I decided to stop at this point for a day or two and let it dry off a little. When I come back to it I will work on the distant water and headlands and strengthen the colours in the sky.

Please check back in a few days for the next update.

On The Easel … What I am Working on

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This is a sample of the paintings I am working on at the moment.

They are all in various stages of finishedness (not sure if that is a word?)

Recently one of my mentors was taken sick. He just stopped painting and posting on Facebook. Now he is a prolific painter when he is up and running so for him to just drop of the radar like that was a surprise.

Fortunately he made a recovery and is back at his easel painting … and then I noticed something which I had been aware of previously but not paid enough attention to.

As I said he was a prolific painter and when he started up again producing these incredible paintings in rapid fire I noticed that they were all centred around a very tight theme. In this case it was the theme of fly fishing in Colorado River. All of these paintings were produced using a serious of photos he had taken in Autumn in Colorado. Previously it had been Cowboys on horses in snow scenes in Colorado.

It struck me of just how valuable it is to work on a series of paintings in a tight theme and produce a body of work around this theme.

If you really want to get good at painting something then painting a whole series of works just makes sense.

So here is a pic of the paintings I am working on at the moment. Using this idea of working within a tight theme I am concentrating at the moment on my breaking waves in the smaller paintings. In particular what I am really wanting to achieve with these is a sense of light on the waves … so exploring the shadows and the lights within the foam bursts, as well as different lighting moods at different times of the day.

So while these paintings are all at various stages I think they show a strong theme through out which is pleasing.

I will keep working on these and posting them up as they are finished.