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.


Six obedient seagulls – Bruny Island


Long forgotten graves


Fog towards Cradle Mountain

winter wood

Winter wood – New Norfolk

graves ross

Convict graves – Ross

georgetown lighthouse

Low Head lighthouse


Ripples on the Gordon River


Shop Dummy – Ross

cradle mt

Painting at Dove Lake – Cradle Mountain

bootmaker otlands

Architectural Minimalness -Oatlands


Bichneo fishing boats


Architectural Practicalness – Zeehan

tamar banks

Banks of the Tamar


Cheap Beer


Port Arthur get away car

ross church

Archictectural Impressiveness – Ross


Architectural Awesomeness – Rosebury


After our workshop at Dillmans in Wisconsin, we picked up a hire car from Rhinelander airport to drive up to Sudbury, in Canada, and visit my brother Wayne and his family. We ordered a mid sized sedan but ended up with a Mercury Grand Marquis  with all the electric fancy bits, a big V8 engine, full leather lounge chairs and shiny wood trim that looks like plastic (or maybe plastic trim that looks like wood). Anyway, it takes up a lot of road, gulps down gasoline and would have looked really ugly, even in the 1980’s.

The Northern region of Wisconsin / Michigan  is known as the Northwoods. It is a flat, green maze of lakes and creeks. Much of the country is covered with heavily wooded forests of birch, maple and a variety of conifers. In winter the region is covered with feet of snow and the temperature stays below freezing till spring. The green grass and  dense growth of the woodlands was a surprise in such low temperatures. We managed to spot a coyote, many squirells, chipmonks, deer and loons, but bears and moose have evaded us.

Northwoods towns are quaint and tidy

Patriotism is always evident.

The rural properties try to out barn one another.

Waving Chipmonk


Towards the end of last year our youngest son, Tim, kicked of Studio Breeder, a post production/ film/animation company based in Brisbane. We are mighty proud of the amazing stuff they are producing. This is an add they have just finished for the Red Cross to help rebuild Japan.



Do you have a collection of dried up paint tubes you just can’t bring yourself to throwing out?

Here is a way to bring the paint back to life.  I found a small pestle and mortar hidden in the back of a kitchen cupboard. It turned out to be the perfect device for grinding the contents of all those dried out tubes into a fine powder, ready to be brought back to life.

The first thing to do is cut open the tube and empty the dry lumps of pigment into the motar

Next step is to grind them to a fine powder. The pigment sticks to the pestle, so a metal palette knife is handy to scrape and loosen the pigment.

Once the pigment is a fine even powder, slowly stir in some water. Just enough to make a thick, creamy consistency. Keep grinding the paste for a few minutes to make sure there are no small, unbroken lumps left.

The final step is to scoop the recycled paint into a container. These little plastic sauce containers come from the local Thai restaurant – a couple of dollars for a plastic bag full. A piece of masking tape with details identifying the brand and color is a good idea before you throw away the empty tube.


Some pigments contain heavy metals such as Cobalt and Cadmium (check the warnings on the tube). Be careful not to breathe in or swallow the dust off these. Wear a suitable mask if in doubt.



A few years ago I sketched this little cottage on Sydney Harbour. It was late in the afternoon and there was no activity – no sign of life at all. As I did the sketch I started wondering what had gone on here in the past. Such an amazing location, I could imagine parties on the verandah, kids running around, boats in the water, but now, nothing – just a little cottage gazing out across the water. It had a kind of empty sadness – a little neglected with vague evidence of lively past.


Quinacridone Gold, Alizarin Crimson,  French Ultramarine Blue,  Phthalo Blue, Medium Magenta Acrylic, White Gesso, White Gouache


White pigment Ink, Burnt Sienna Pigment Ink


White Charcoal,  Black Charcoal, Dark Brown Derwent Inktense




We arrived back in Darwin, put our vehicle into storage and met Amanda and Gordon, our tour guides, at the Mindil Beach Markets. After wandering  around and watching the sun set into the ocean, we all headed back into the city for dinner.


Monday, the 26 people that form our group got to know each other over drinks on the balmy veranda of the Holiday Inn.


Tuesday, our first painting day,  we headed down to Government House , spread ourselves out on the rolling lawns opposite, and filled in the morning painting under the shade of a banyan tree.


The afternoon was hot, so we found a shady spot opposite our hotel and painted the fringe of vegetation between us and the Arafura Sea


Off to Kakadu and three days at Cooinda Lodge, Our coach driver had a tremendous knowledge of the aboriginal people of the area, having lived and worked with them over the years, He took us around Nourlangie and filled us in on many of the aboriginal customs and beliefs.




Whistling Ducks – Yellow Waters. Except for the fact that these guys are walking around, they are the most artificial looking animal I have ever seen. They don’t  like getting wet either, happy just to stand beside the water.


We watched this Croc cruise past our boat accompanied by a large Barramundi with a death wish.


Red Lillys – It may not look like it, but every bit is edible!


Pair of Jabiru (Male with dark eye)


Cruising Black Cockatoo – they fly slowly in formation like a flock of B52’s on a mission.


Wetland Waterlilies


In the afternoon heat, an old Akubra in front of our lodge was a more comfortable option for a painting subject. Just so things didn’t become too comfortable, we limited ourselves to just two colours.


Home Billabong at Cooinda Lodge was dotted with shady clearings looking across the water – great places to paint.


Home Billabong – Cooinda


If this little fellow hadn’t hopped, we would never have seen him


South Alligator River, meandering across the wetlands


Arnhemland Escarpment


Ranger Uranium Mine


South to Katherine


Gold rush architecture, Pine Creek NT


Another shady Banyan tree, this time in Katherine


Some transparent watercolor washes and a lot of pale Ultramarine Gouache made this demo a lot of fun.


Splashes of Alizarin, ink marks, charcoal pencil lines and fine rigger strokes suggest a lot of complicated detail without being too descriptive.