batchelor map

Outside the town of Batchelor, we camped under a huge old Southern Cross windmill. The kind that turn and creak at the slightest breath of wind.


I started to sketch it but every time I looked up the wind had changed and it looked completely different. I decided to ignore what it looked like from where I sat and draw it square on from in front.

Once it had shifted around a few times I had enough information to disregard perspective and make the drawing flat and mechanical.


The initial drawing was done with Charcoal pencil, then washes of indigo and Burnt Sienna were put in fairly loosley with a 1″ and 1/4″ flat brush. The windmill was old and coated with rust and grease. I wanted the sketch to give the impression of reliability while indicating the wear and tear of a hard life.

Burnt Sienna ink lines were added then the drawing was broken up slightly with washes and splashes of White  Gouache.

windmill detail

This detail shows the Burnt Sienna ink lines, some left hard and sharp, others sprayed and softened with a mist of water. You can also see lines of white charcoal pencil adding to the detail and loose splashes of White Gouache.

These mechanical subjects are a lot of fun to paint. You can fill them with atmosphere and character, saying more about their life and function than their actual appearance.


  1. John, I love the sketch and I love it when you share pictures of your painting supplies too. I have a thing about art supplies – I LOVE seeing them and seeing what other people use. John, with all these wonderful things you’ve been able to see on this trip day after day, I’m wondering how much time you are spending painting each day – I’m just curious. I’m sure what you are sharing on the blog is just a small bit of what you are getting to see and I’m just wondering if you are painting several hours a day trying to get everything you see down on paper.

    • Hi Sandi,
      As much as I’d like to paint everyday, when traveling, I usually only paint or sketch every two or three days. Lots of time spent walking, driving and photographing. I will be conducting a workshop, from Darwin to Kununurra in a couple of weeks. During that time I will be painting most days and usually 2-3 demonstrations a day.
      Im also a sucker for art materials. I cant help buying new stuff when I go to the art supply store. Most of it I try once and never use again, but every once in a while something really good will come along and I add it to my small list of essentials.
      I will review some of this stuff on the blog soon.

  2. John,

    I undersdtand fully not be able to use your photos because of future copy rights. however, can I paint your painting demo, as a lesson like your DVD instructions.


    Happy Painting

  3. John, I’ll be looking forward to seeing your review on art materials! I’m wondering if the art supply thing is just an artist thing – are we all in love with art supplies??? I CAN NOT pass up an art store if I’m traveling and see one – must go in it! My husband will ask if I’m looking for something or need something – no, just looking. But I’ll usually end up buying something I don’t need either. I end up spending money on things I’ll never use too – but when you come across something great it makes it all worth it. I’m really enjoying your blog! Have you thought about putting a link to it from your web site? I tell lots of people about your web site – especially my art students.

  4. Howdy John, This old windmill reminds of west Texas, in the U.S. — southwest of Lubbock where the soil is the color of Burnt Sienna and most of the year it is awfully dry.

    I’m really glad I found your blog. It’s a fun read.

    _ Joe

  5. I have an eight foot white windmill and want to paint it the colors of a rainbow.Have you done this before? Do you have a picture of one?
    Laura Dee

    • Hi Laura Dee,
      No I haven’t painted a windmill the colors of a rainbow. The closest I have come to that is in this post here

  6. Hi John. I recently was surfing Google for some inspiration for a cake I was making for someone when I came across your beautiful windmill. I’m no where near the artist you are but I replicated your painting onto my cake and it’s quite the showstopper now. Thank you for the inspiration. I’d love to send you some photos and credit you in my Facebook post 😊 thanks, Rhiannon

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