With the school holidays over and the weather starting to cool down, it seemed like a good idea to take a couple of weeks exploring all the little beaches and coastal villages to the south of us.

We left home with clear skies and blazing sun, but my wish was for threatening clouds and dramatic light along the beaches – I guess you can’t have everything.


Perfect camping spot on a sunny headland with kangaroos and sea eagles at Diggers Camp.


Sunrise on Redcliff Beach



Cool, clear mornings and deserted beaches


After a few days zigzagging in and out of all the southern beaches, rainclouds started moving up the coast and the swell picked up.


Looking towards Solitary Island under threatening skies. Great for photographs – not so good for painting watercolor.


Painted in haste with a cup of sea water between showers as the tide came in.

tidal shelf

Back home in the studio, shuffling around ideas for a large wet and rainy painting.

26 thoughts on “DOWN THE COAST

  1. Beautiful John! Very inspiring. Thank you for sharing. I try to visit BC coast (from my desert city) annually; really relate to inspiration of the coast.
    Lovely, lovely paintings:)

  2. Beautiful area! I love your moody, rain paintings, John. We get plenty of that in the UK! Does the sea water make the paint granulate a little as it dries? I’m just thinking of how the paint reacts to salt being sprinkled on a damp wash.

  3. Hi,
    I am always thrilled when I see new post from Splashing paint because I know it will be interesting reading and more so a feast for the eyes.
    One question – whenever I splash guash or gesso over the watercolor painting to make the central point stand out the color beneath smears but when you do that same thing it doesn’t. I am using a soft brush to feather it out as you suggest in your DVD-s and the painting is bone dry but it smears anyway. Any advice?
    Thanks for sharing.
    Best regards,

  4. Thank you always for sharing what a master can do! So much energy with beauty that you expertly brush onto paper.

    • I don’t think sea water is a good idea – I only used it because I had nothing else! Salt attracts moisture and would cause mildew. I dont know what other microscopic critters would be there causing problems. It will be interesting to see how it looks in a couple of years time.

  5. G’day John. Your watery surf painting inspires me to try this up close and personal approach to the seascape. So many sea paintings are vast things; I like your way of being involved in the landscape… maybe its the sense of immediacy of this work.

  6. Hi John, am trying to figure out where Redcliff beach is in northern NSW…do you mean Red Rock, which is just north of Woolgoolga? I used to live in Grafton a few years back. We’ve camped in these areas years ago, and your photos have inspired us to do it again!! Great memories. Robyn

  7. Hi John,

    Great photos and work! The area looks a lot like the Big Sur Coast in California. My wife and I just drove down HWY 1, which hugs the coast of California. It’s very curvy but is terrific for the views. I love the paintings….. seawater huh?.. maybe some critters will start growing on it down the road (Ha!). Once I used real mud (a beautiful green/brown color!) just to see what would happen while painting in a little slough off the San Francisco Bay… and it did start growing…. mold of course, but looked nice before the mold took over!

    Thanks for sharing your always superlative work John! I really appreciate it!!

    Bill Dunn


    • Hi Bill,
      Good to hear from you.
      Dianne and I drove down that Big Sur coast a few years ago, but had to turn back because of fires. What we saw was spectacular and we look forward to doing it under better conditions sometime in the future.
      I’ll let you know what happens to the salt water painting. If it starts to grow I will post it on this blog!

  8. Incredibly beautiful – both your photographs and paintings. We don’t have scenery like this in Indiana. It is primarily farm country with corn and soybeans. The upper part of the state is very flat and the southern has small hills. If we want anything similar at would be the beaches along Lake Michigan. Your post was a treat for me.

  9. Hi John,
    This is off subject for this post. I am doing the “chicken” exercises from your new book. Can one mix gouache with water? You cautioned not to let water touch the background wash but I was not clear how you could make up the wash without water? This was a fun exercise as the chickens just got crazier and crazier. Hope you are well and thanks,


    • Hi Judy,
      Glad you enjoyed the chicken exercise. You can mix gouache with water to thin it down and apply it, but once it is dry, dropping water on it will cause marks. The beauty of using gouache in this way is the velvet like flatness it creates – a couple of stray drops can wreck it.
      Looking forward to being back in the US next year.

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