NEW CHRISTMAS TOYS

Santa Claus was good to me and left a box of shiny new paint from Japan. These trays of  watercolor are handmade  by the Ueba company in Kyoto. They were established in 1751 and still operate out of the same premises, so they must be doing something right. The main ingredient of the paint is finely ground scallop shells. The process they use to create these paints can be seen on their website (click on Factory Tour)

To experiment with these new paints I painted this Barramundi.

Starting with a loose charcoal line drawing, I then washed in some shadows with a mixture of the rich purple color and the yellow ochre. The pigments are very intense and more transparent than I expected, considering the high ground shell content.

After the first washes dried, more detail was built up with Indigo and the pale Turquoise. Scale shapes were painted on and some fine detail marks were applied with a rigger brush. A patchy wash of the orange/red was worked through the upper half of the fish before some spots of the white pigment were applied. I expected the white to be similar to white gouache, but it is more transparent  and dries to a beautiful, pearl like sheen. When the white is used to tint other colors the resulting mixture also dries with this unusual sheen.

Finally, because the Barramundi is an elusive, almost mythical fish, I decided he shouldn’t be presented so blatantly. A big rough brush full of gesso and some scribbly white charcoal marks pushed him back into murky water. A green/grey wash around the head suggests the milky green of a tropical waterhole.

I love these new paints and look forward to playing with them some more. My only fear is that I’ll become hooked on them and then they will run out!

OUTBACK WORKSHOP 3

OUTBACK WORKSHOP 3
It was interesting to see the landscape change as we headed west from Katherine.
The sparse savannah of the Northern Territory gave way to dramatic escarpments and weird vegetation as the West Australian boarder approached.
Boab Trees and Kapoks take over and spear grass is replaced by Cane grass.
Roadhouses are few and far between and the cost of diesel climbs as the distance from major centers increases. It appears there have been big changes at Victoria River roadhouse.
Temperatures were creeping up into the 40’s so we found a big sandstone overhang, just out of Kununurra and settled down in the shade for a morning painting.
We flew to the Bungle Bungles the previous day and walked into Cathedral gorge. Because of weight restrictions, we couldn’t take painting gear. This spot, close to Kununurra, offered similar rockforms and was only 10 minutes from town.
I love the contrast between transparent watercolour and flat, opaque gouache. I also used Burnt Sienna Ink and a sepia pastel pencil on this demonstration.
We left Kununurra by coach and headed down the Gibb River Road to El Questro. Being the end of the Dry, all roads were open. During the wet they can all be closed.
The landscape here is magnificent. The time to see it is just after sunrise and just before sunset. The middle of the day is hot and the light is flat and overhead.
On El Questro Station are Zebedee springs. They are a series of thermal pools, tucked under an escarpment and jammed full of beautiful Livingstonia Palms. We spent a while swimming there, but had to be out by midday. Guests from the Homestead (paying $3,000 a day) are then ushered in to relax without the distraction of folks paying less.
El Questro’s airstrip is a busy place. When we arrived there were a dozen small planes lined up.
Another impressive feature of El Questro is Chamberlain Gorge. We did a boat cruise up the gorge and were amazed at it size.
The Gorge is full of archer fish, Catfish,and Barramundi.
These two Barra were around a metre long.
Archer fish archering. I have never seen it before, except on telly. Thanks to a 12 shots per second frame rate, managed to get a photo of one. They can squirt water a couple of metres with pinpoint accuracy.
Our coach made a couple of unsuccessful attempts to climb the steep dusty track out of Chamberlain Gorge. Finally, with a long run up and no passengers it made it out.
…we were left to walk.
Our accommodation at El Questro were interesting, triple skinned tents with timber floors. Designed for the tropics, but struggling to cope with 40 plus temperatures.
The air-conditioned option is “The Homestead” but at $3000/night, a bit expensive!
Emma Gorge, where we stayed on El Questro, is a great walk and early morning swim.
Our last painting day with the workshop was at, or in, the Pentacost river behind El Questro township.
We started out packed into the shade of a large paperbark, but soon spread out into the river.
An endless supply of clean, cool water
The cattle couldn’t quiet figure out what was going on.
Farewell dinner at the Emma Gorge restaurant with the roof open.

KUNANURRA, EL QUESTRO

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It was interesting to see the landscape change as we headed west from Katherine.

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The sparse savannah of the Northern Territory gave way to dramatic escarpments and weird vegetation as the West Australian boarder approached.

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Boab Trees and Kapoks take over and spear grass is replaced by cane grass

.

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Roadhouses are few and far between and the cost of diesel climbs as the distance from major centers increases. It appears there have been big changes at Victoria River roadhouse.

.

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Temperatures were creeping up into the 40’s so we found a big sandstone overhang, just out of Kununurra and settled down in the shade for a morning painting.

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We flew to the Bungle Bungles the previous day and walked into Cathedral gorge. Because of weight restrictions, we couldn’t take painting gear. This spot, close to Kununurra, offered similar rockforms and was only 10 minutes from town.

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I love the contrast between transparent watercolour and flat, opaque gouache. I also used Burnt Sienna Ink and a sepia pastel pencil on this demonstration.

.

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We left Kununurra by coach and headed down the Gibb River Road to El Questro. Being the end of the Dry, all roads were open. During the wet they can all be closed.

.

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The landscape here is magnificent. The time to see it is just after sunrise and just before sunset. The middle of the day is hot and the light is flat and overhead.

.

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On El Questro Station are the Zebedee springs. They are a series of thermal pools, tucked under an escarpment and jammed full of beautiful Livistona Palms. We spent a while swimming there, but had to be out by midday. Guests from the Homestead (paying $3,000 a day) are then ushered in to relax without the distraction of folks paying less.

.

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El Questro’s airstrip is a busy place. When we arrived there were a dozen small planes lined up.

.

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Another impressive feature of El Questro is Chamberlain Gorge. We did a boat cruise up the gorge and were amazed at it size.

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The Gorge is full of archer fish, Catfish,and Barramundi.

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These two Barra were around a metre long.

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Archer fish archering.

I have never seen it before, except on telly. Thanks to a 12 shots per second frame rate, I managed to get a photo of one. They can squirt water a couple of metres with pinpoint accuracy.

.

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Our coach made a couple of unsuccessful attempts to climb the steep dusty track out of Chamberlain Gorge. Finally, with a long run up and no passengers, it made it out.

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…we were left to walk.

.

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Our accommodation at El Questro were interesting, triple skinned tents with timber floors. Designed for the tropics, but struggling to cope with 40 plus temperatures.

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The air-conditioned option is “The Homestead” but at $3000/night, a bit expensive!

.

Emma Gorge is where we stayed on El Questro. It is a great walk and early morning swim.

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Our last painting day with the workshop was at, or in, the Pentacost river behind El Questro township.

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We started out packed into the shadow of a large paperbark, but soon spread out into the river.

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An endless supply of clean, cool water

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The cattle couldn’t quiet figure out what was going on.

.

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Farewell dinner at the Emma Gorge restaurant with the roof open.

STRANGE ANIMALS

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Small green frog – thinks he’s a handsome prince

hairy chook

Weird hairy chicken

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Turkey with over decorated head

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Small green frog – happy just to be a small green frog.

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Fishbones from Darwin Museum

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Scrub Turkey with moderately decorated head.

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Children’s Python – not because they eat them, because they play with them

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Brahman Bull profile

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Quiet Wallaby – confused by sound of flowing water

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Apostle Birds – because they hang around in groups of twelve

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Fluro Blue Butterfly

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Blue Faced Fig Bird with bad haircut

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Poor old camp dog –  may have been bitten by a snake at some stage. The cure was to cut off the tips of the ears and tail to bleed out the poison! Or maybe he’s just the victim of too many camp fights.

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Big Pig