As mentioned in the ‘About‘ page, my introduction to art came from my Pa. As a youngster I loved his paintings because he was my Pa and I was his favourite grand-daughter. (I should mention I was his only grand-daughter!)
I recall sneaking into his studio on many occasions when I was little. I’d wander around looking at his work in progress, admiring an almost completed painting, letting my little fingers wander, fascinated, over the rough texture of the dried paint on his home-made palette. I’d fossick carefully through the self-made cupboard which held boxes of his sketches, old paintings, photos, slides and other nostalgic relics hidden behind the curtain which served as a cupboard door – all the while being careful to put things back as I found them so I wasn’t discovered.
As I grew older I learned to appreciate his talent. I loved that he painted what he saw in places he visited. He would visit the South Australian Flinders Ranges (Arkaroola was one of his favourites) to get his inspiration. When he was younger I believe he would paint on site. Other times, particularly as he got older, he would take photographs and then paint from them when he got home.
When I visited the Flinders Ranges I instantly recognized the landscape through his paintings. I felt at home as soon as I arrived. The impossibly large gum trees standing like sentinels along the dry creek beds, the golden fields with mysterious remnant buildings of an era past, long forgotten farm machinery just left where it expired. This sun-faded landscape held a certain charm for me. I loved that his paintings not only looked like the landscape but that he was able to capture the feeling and charm also.
My first trip to Arkaroola, after he’d passed on, held special significance. I camped in the very place that inspired him, it was like a part of him still lingered.
For one of my birthday presents I was invited to pick one of his paintings to keep from his home gallery. I was stoked.
This is the painting I have of his in my home now.
I can’t tell you about his technique, brush stroke or use of colour because I don’t know about such things. I just know I like his work because it makes me feel good, less “homesick” for the bush as I live in the city. It reminds me of places I’ve been and liked, of school holidays with cousins on their “farm”. I think his work accurately reflected the landscape he obviously loved. To study his paintings now makes me miss him intensely which makes my heart ache but at the same time it is a beautiful reminder of my childhood and my Pa – the only person I could sit in a room with in comfortable silence.
I could make obvious comparisons to renowned artists in a similar genre, like Hans Heysen, but I won’t in this instance. This art was produced by a man I loved dearly and still miss so much so I’m going to leave it at that.