UP THE STRZELECKI

Leaving Arkaroola we headed north along the Strzelecki track. It skirts the Strzelecki, Simpson and Sturt’s Stony Deserts. Most of the track was in good condition, but very dusty, which didn’t bother us much, since there was no traffic.

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88 (1)North Mulga Station – a long way from everywhere!

103Sturt’s Stony Desert

114Santos manage to suck oil out of all this dry sand.

90 (1)In 2010 this rig and all the others in the lower Strzelecki sat in 2 meters of water for the best part of 12 months. It’s hard to imagine that volume of water spread out over this incredibly flat land.

118These cattle must live on dirt and rocks – there doesn’t seem to be anything else to eat.

 

We spent a night at Innaminka on Coopers Creek, then wound our way over a slow track full of bad corrugations, washouts and bull dust. This took us to Coongie Lakes – a strange sight after winding over desert sandhills. The lake is massive and supports all sorts of birdlife

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91Caspian Tern

101Corellas

102Pair of Grass Parrots

97

Serious looking Willy Wagtail

92 (1)Dingos howled most nights but they are very cautious and hard to see. I managed to get a photo of this guy early one morning.

ARCHITECTURE

These are some of the best examples of bush architecture we encountered along the way.

77Windorah – Once the old court house, now a comfortable abode

111Dynevor Downs shearing shed – like much of western Queensland wild dogs have forced a change from sheep to cattle, so this once mighty shed is in decay.

125 Yowah Qld – Corrugated Iron Paradise

124 Beltana SA – What cant you do with corrugated iron?

123 Maree SA – simple but effective

122Warrego Hwy – This old place has been added to and extended over the years – sadly, now abandoned and slowly disintegrating.

 

 

FLINDERS RANGES

From Maree we headed south into the Flinders Ranges via the ruins of Farina and the soon to be abandoned town of Leigh Creek.
The Flinders Ranges contain some of Australia’s most spectacular landscape. We zig zagged our way from the south, back and forth up through the ranges until we reached Arkaroola in the north.

© John Lovett 2016
Farina chicken run

© John Lovett 2016The country surrounding the ranges is flat, dry and vast.

© John Lovett 2016This distorted grass tree looks almost as old as the country surrounding it.

© John Lovett 2016Camped in a ring of ancient mountains

© John Lovett 2016Walking in these ranges is compelling. You can’t help walking to the top of the next hill or exploring the next stony outcrop.

© John Lovett 2016Beautiful colors, textures and shapes are everywhere.

© John Lovett 2016 © John Lovett 2016 Watched by wedgetails.

© John Lovett 2016 © John Lovett 2016

© John Lovett 2016

The Arkaroola Ridgetop Tour is something not to be missed. Almost 5 hours exploring some of the wildest four wheel drive tracks and gazing over the most spectacular views I have ever seen. These landcruisers get just 2000 kilometers from a set of tyres!

© John Lovett 2016 © John Lovett 2016 © John Lovett 2016

The Yellow Footed Rock Wallaby makes it’s home in some of the remote parts of Arkaroola.

© John Lovett 2016 © John Lovett 2016 © John Lovett 2016    © John Lovett 2016 © John Lovett 2016 © John Lovett 2016 © John Lovett 2016  © John Lovett 2016 © John Lovett 2016 © John Lovett 2016 Wild white horses along the track into Arkaroola

© John Lovett 2016

© John Lovett 2016

© John Lovett 2016Early morning Drink. This guy was sharing a tiny, cereal bowl sized waterhole with half a dozen of his mates and a couple of noisy Galahs.

BIRDSVILLE TO LAKE EYRE

Lake Eyre rarely contains water, so hearing of rising levels and heavy flow in from the north, we decided to drive out and have a look. We plodded our way slowly out to Birdsville then headed south along the Birdsville track

© John Lovett 2016Birdsville Track – dry and flat

© John Lovett 2016 Goanna Feasting

© John Lovett 2016Vegetation in this area is sparse but interesting. Mostly Saltbush, Mulga and Desert Oak.

© John Lovett 2016

Early settlers along the Birdsville Track lived a hard life. This is the grave of the two youngest Scobie children who died of pneumonia in the 1890’s.

© John Lovett 2016

We called in to Etadunna Station and picked up a key and directions to one of the large lakes, already full of water, to the North of lake Eyre.

© John Lovett 2016

A slow trip through the sand dunes finally brought us out at a huge lake filled with water and surrounded by a crust of white salt. A strange sight in the middle of a desert.

 

© John Lovett 2016 © John Lovett 2016

© John Lovett 2016

There are some interesting old relics scattered along the Birdsville Track. I’d love to know the stories behind them.

We continued South to Maree – a sleepy little town with a Pub, “Yacht Club” and remnants of the old Ghan Railway Line. Maree marks the southern end of the Birdsville Track and is the best access point to Lake Eyre. We obtained maps and information from the Yacht Club and headed out to see the Lake.

© John Lovett 2016 © John Lovett 2016 Old Ghan Railway Bridge

© John Lovett 2016Remnants of a railway siding and full moon.

We camped on a waterhole at Muloorina Station and drove out to Lake Eyre South, across the Goyder Channel and on to, a still dry, Lake Eyre North. It’s an amazing sight to see a brilliant white salt pan disappear over the horizon. As you walk out into the lake the sand dunes begin to disappear and all you can see is blue sky and white salt.

© John Lovett 2016 © John Lovett 2016

© John Lovett 2016

A couple of days at Muloorina waterhole gave us a chance to catch up on some washing and photograph some of the birdlife.

© John Lovett 2016 © John Lovett 2016© John Lovett 2016 © John Lovett 2016© John Lovett 2016 48 © John Lovett 2016 © John Lovett 2016

Muloorina waterhole is fed by an artesian bore. Boiling hot water bubbles up and creates a steamy mist early in the morning. By the time it reaches the waterhole it has cooled enough to support fish and yabbies.

SOUTH THROUGH LIMMEN

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)
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This little Azure Kingfisher spent a lot of time patiently watching the ever diminishing waterhole for fish.
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Pillars of sculpted rock.
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Heading south east, we camped at the Ayrshire Hills. Another spectacularly weathered landscape 70kms out of Winton.
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ANNECY, FRANCE

With a couple days up our sleeves before the French Painting Workshop started, we had time to get our bearings and explore the lake and old town of Annecy. The town is just over the Swiss border and sits on a a series of canals that run out of a beautiful, spring fed lake. The town and lake are surrounded by the spectacular French Alps, so that postcard feeling of alpine bliss is everywhere.

 

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DSC06811Two small Painting Inspectors watch with a critical eye.

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There is very little the French wont eat. We enjoyed snails, frogs legs and a selection of various internal organs transformed into mouth watering delicacies in this little restaurant.

FRAN1644Annecy hosted the International Animation Festival while we were there.

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This giant inflatable screen and elaborate sound system provided a lake side outdoor venue for the festival.

FRAN1512Red chairs in the rain.

DSC06668Lecturers from the Annecy Conservatorium pose for us as we paint the ancient entry door.

FRAN1531We had rain on the first day of the workshop then, fortunately,  fine weather for the remainder

FRAN1533Annecy public gallery in the old castle.(Noreen dancing sideways)

FRAN1688Wild wooden horses

FRAN1652     Border confusion.FRAN1560

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FRAN1485Produce Markets keep the town busy three days a week.

FRAN1480 Fromage

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FRAN1428Tiger riding bike

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FRAN1377  FRAN1370Straw to line the nest.

FRAN1361 This dog carries brandy to lost soles in the alps

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DSC06677x Day one, painting in the rain

 

TASMANIA

Two weeks in Tasmania and not a sign of rain! The workshop was great and all the foul weather plans were unnecessary – talk about lucky. After we all said goodbye in Launceston, Dianne and I found our truck in the car park of Launceston Airport and headed south to explore some more of Tasmania.port arthur

Port Arthur from the cold waters of the bay.

oatlands mill

Oatlands Mill

island of the dead

Island of the Dead – Port Arthur

hells gates

Hells Gate Lighthouse on a rare sunny day.

gulls

Six obedient seagulls – Bruny Island

graves

Long forgotten graves

mountains

Fog towards Cradle Mountain

winter wood

Winter wood – New Norfolk

graves ross

Convict graves – Ross

georgetown lighthouse

Low Head lighthouse

foam

Ripples on the Gordon River

dummy

Shop Dummy – Ross

cradle mt

Painting at Dove Lake – Cradle Mountain

bootmaker otlands

Architectural Minimalness -Oatlands

bicheno

Bichneo fishing boats

zeehan

Architectural Practicalness – Zeehan

tamar banks

Banks of the Tamar

sale

Cheap Beer

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Port Arthur get away car

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Archictectural Impressiveness – Ross

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Architectural Awesomeness – Rosebury

AUGUST STUDIO WORKSHOP

We have just finished two full on weeks of workshops in the studio. Some familiar faces and some new faces. This is the first time we have had a completely new group for the second week, so I thought it would be interesting to repeat some of the demonstrations with some variation.

These two landscapes based on recent photos from Western Queensland were started with transparent washes (Quinacridone Gold, Cobalt Blue and Permanent Rose) Then the trees and other details were added with more opaque mixtures of Ultramarine Blue, Phthalo Blue, Alizarin Crimson and Quinacridone Gold. Graded washes were used on either side to create a band of light through the focal point, then various layers of gesso and White gouache glazes were worked through the sky and distance.

I have painted this Old house on Sydney Harbour from various angles and thought it would be a good workshop subject, having problems of symmetry and conflicting focal points to be sorted out.

I was surprised when we started drawing, to find that one of the students had lived in the flat behind the house back in the 70’s – when Brett Whitely lived and painted a little further around the bay.

These paintings were done with the same simple palette of Quinacridone Gold, Alizarin Crimson, French Ultramarine Blue, Phthalo Blue and Permanent Rose. I also used Charcoal pencil, White Gouache, Gesso and Burnt Sienna Ink. The vibrant blue window in the top painting was painted with Ultramarine Gouache.

Not far from Venice is the small fishing port of Chioggia. These weather beaten trawlers make an interesting subject with their confusion of masts and rigging and the complicated backdrop of ancient buildings. The idea here was to suggest all the complicated detail without trying to carefully render it. We started with under washes of Permanent Rose and Aureolin and gradually built up detail over the tinted paper.

A different subject using the same transparent under wash technique. This time graded washes of Cobalt Blue and Permanent Rose formed the under wash.

Painting these Lorrikets was a lot of fun – balancing sharp detail with loose suggestion. The wings and much of the body were roughly washed in with an old 1/2″ bristle brush. Detail was built up around the head and body with a 1/4″ flat brush and a #1 rigger. Finally the wings were attacked with gesso and a white charcoal pencil to get a feeling of movement.

Everyone enjoyed painting these rocks and sapplings. The purpose was to shuffle around the source material to create an interesting composition, then to build up textures and depth with watercolor, gouache, ink, charcoal pencil and Gesso. We used a number of techniques – splashing, splattering and spraying to build up the textures and gesso glazes to soften and push back the distance.

Another exercise in rearranging  the subject. This time a soft abstract foreground to lead the eye into the focal point of trees and buildings.

So thanks to everyone that attended the workshops and thanks to Dianne for the mighty cakes – back to dry biscuits now!