Following the road east from Mataranka out to Roper Bar brings you into the top of Limmen National Park. The Northern region of the park is popular with Barramundi fishermen, but heading south along a badly corrugated road towards Cape Crawford brings you to Butterfly Gorge and a number of areas dotted with strange sandstone formations.   xrNT__2951
Butterfly Gorge (minus waterfall at end of dry season)
This little Azure Kingfisher spent a lot of time patiently watching the ever diminishing waterhole for fish.
Pillars of sculpted rock.
Heading south east, we camped at the Ayrshire Hills. Another spectacularly weathered landscape 70kms out of Winton.

xNT__0506xrNT__3145 xrNT__3148






xrNT__3181 xrNT__3205


We entered Kakadu National Park from the south, via Pine Creek with a 3 day permit to enter Koolpin Gorge. After collecting keys from the ranger station, we bounced our way down the road towards Gunlom. Crossing the South Alligator River, we turned South East to Koolpin.  The road was badly corrugated with some nasty twists and turns.Roll Over - © John Lovett 2015
This poor guy found out the hard way that taking it easy gets you there quicker.

Koolpin - © John Lovett 2015
Koolpin Gorge is a string of waterholes linked by waterfalls in the wet season. The three lower pools are the home to salt water crocodiles, but beyond those it is safe to swim.

Koolpin - © John Lovett 2015
Koolpin - © John Lovett 2015
Walking up through the gorge is spectacular. The track cuts up over the ridge in places with great views of the surrounding country.
Koolpin - © John Lovett 2015

From Koolpin we moved on to Red Lily Billabong. There are no facilities there, and the track in is pretty rough at the moment, so not many people head out that way. We had the place to ourselves. A young couple with a tent called in, and seeing the number of crocs there, decided it wasn’t the place for them.
Red Lilly Billabong - © John Lovett 2015

Red Lilly Billabong - © John Lovett 2015
The billabong is a large expanse of water and covered with huge red water lilies. Lots of bird life and numerous large crocodiles.
Red Lilly Billabong -© John Lovett 2015

Crocodile - © John Lovett 2015

Croc - © John Lovett 2015

Sandy Billabong - © John Lovett 2015
Sandy Billabong is a favourite spot. The early morning light, rising mist and lurking crocodiles make the twisted old paperbarks look kind of creepy .
Sandy Billabong - © John Lovett 2015

Yellow Waters Cruise on Jim Jim Billabong at sunset is one of the highlights of Kakadu. This is the fifth time we have done the cruise and it is always spectacular.
Croc, Jim Jim Creek - © John Lovett 2015

Crocodile - © John Lovett 2015

Sunset - © John Lovett 2015
Afternoon fires turned the setting sun into a glowing red ball.

Sunset Lillies - © John Lovett 2015

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Kakadu Birds                                                 Slide Show Not Working?

Water Buffalo - Kakadu - © John Lovett 2015We saw a number of small herds of water buffalo scattered through Kakadu. They had almost been eliminated but over the past few years are breeding up again.

Bull Catcher - © John Lovett 2015This old landcruiser was used to chase down buffalo back when they were in large numbers.

Kapok Flowers - © John Lovett 2015Kapok Flowers



After the Blackall workshops we headed out through Western Queensland and up into the Northern Territory.

xNT__0521Interesting architecture – Kynuna, Western Queensland

Ancient council caravan, seen better days.

xNT__0438Willie Mar’s Chinese Market Garden – Winton


We found ourselves in Katherine for the annual rodeo. The town was busy, but we were able to stay at the show ground where the rodeo was held, so we got to see all the practice and preparation before the events.

xNT__1315   xNT__1097_1

xNT__1460 xNT__1463


xNT__1190 xNT__1195


xNT__1566Abandon swings outside the rodeo grounds

xNT__0916On the morning before the rodeo we were treated to an impressive hour of hard core polo practice.



June, July and August have been busy months with workshops in Cairns, Gladstone and Blackall.DSC08475


DSC08493Cairns Art Escape is held annually in “The Tanks” – an amazing venue inside enormous old WW2 oil storage tanks converted to studio and performance spaces.

July we were in Gladstone at Gallery 67 for a 5 day workshop after which we reloaded the truck and headed out to Blackall for the annual artist retreat workshop.

xNT__0374  Blackall – Artists Retreat

xNT__0359Local Blackall drover, Stu Benson, kept us entertained with stories of the area and spoiled us with tea and damper.

Old shearing shed at Dunera Station where we were made welcome and enjoyed smoko and an interesting walk around the property.

Louise and Lexie, who drove out from Currumbin for the workshop, took Dianne and I out to Allendale, where Louise grew up. The old homestead is now abandoned and slowly decaying, it was great to look around at some of the relics remaining from when Louise was a little kid.



NT__0160Old Allendale Homestead


Blackall Sunset
NT__0033xNew Paint

Blackall Wool Scour
Machinery – Blackall wool scour

We were lucky to be in Blackall for the Camerata of St John’s, Queensland Chamber Orchestra’s performance. It was fantastic – all young, enthusiastic and incredibly well rehearsed players touring through outback regions of Queensland to help raise money for drought relief.


Western Australia’s mining boom might have slowed, but our recent visit showed a state still prosperous and positive, despite the economic downturn. Our first workshop was in Mandurah, 70km south of Perth. A spacious well lit venue in the RAAFA complex kept us busy and dry in the cold squally outside conditions.


In this demo the subject is finely detailed in contrast to the simple, understated foreground. A rough meandering brushstroke and pale splash of Cobalt Blue take the eye through the empty foreground and up to the focal point.

Placing muted colors in a field of grey, built up with a series of washes, gives the feeling of dampness and clearing rain.

SYD_4340x Washes of Phthalo Blue through the water and over part of the buildings tightens up color harmony and allows the warm focal area to dominate.

In Bunbury an old, heritage listed school building right in the middle of town has been handed over to a number of art groups as a permanent venue. The light was great and the old school had a fantastic character.

An interesting subject treated in a simple, graphic way. Disregarding perspective and focusing on the composition and simple color arrangement amplifies the character of these uncomplicated, white washed buildings.

Breaking waves are always fun to paint. Phthalo Blue and Green, Ultramarine, Alizarin Crimson and Indian Yellow create the unmistakable color of the West Australian surf.

Another simple, graphic approach – no perspective or surrounding clutter to take away from the weathered patina of this sea weary fishing trawler up on slips.

In Perth our workshop venue was spacious, well lit and not far from the city. We did three two day workshops, so new faces seemed to pop up all the time.

This weathered sandstone outcrop is full of color and texture. Eliminating most of the foreground and background gives the monolithic outcrop an understated simplicity. Ultramarine Blue gouache  dropped into the shadows contrasts with the warm orange and makes the shadows much more vibrant.SYD_4338x A predominantly warm color arrangement made from Alizarin Crimson, Permanent Rose and Indian Yellow  is relieved by Ultramarine Blue in the sky and small patches of Phthalo Blue tinted with White Gouache in the buildings. A simple abstract mark leads the eye across the open foreground and up to the focal point. trawler
Small calligraphic marks either side of this resting trawler suggest buildings, jetties and nautical paraphernalia without being too descriptive. This simplicity contrasts with the apparent detail in the trawler to engage the viewer and make the painting more interesting.


New $9.95 Instant Video Project

This ancient pair of garden shears make a fantastic painting subject. Years of wear and tear plus numerous adjustments, to make them as comfortable as they are practical, have given them a character way beyond their original appearance.

Join me in capturing that character using just three colors and a handful of brushes, pens and pencils.

snip snip snip

The great thing about this project is the fact that so few materials are needed and the results are surprisingly detailed and emotive.

Check out the Project here



A couple of new articles on

Painting Workshops
Exploring interesting painting destinations with a group of like minded people is a wonderful experience. Whether you are a raw beginner or an experienced artist, painting workshops are a great way to hone your skills, meet new people and have a lot of fun.


Paint Big!
Aluminium composite panel allows you to paint watercolor and mixed media any size you like and also does away with the need for glass. Here’s how to do it…