Watercolor sketch on the roadAs I write I realize this is the 12th time we have done this road trip across Australia but…the last time was 28 years ago. It is an unexpectedly interesting experience sitting in the car hour after hour. Of course our conversation touches on all sorts of topics. Commenting on how this or that is different. Our conversation moves in and out of the trivial stuff of travel, on how much our petrol consumption is, or we hazard a bet on what the coffee in the next small town is likely to be like. Other times as the road stretches out before us our talk turns to  times past and to review some period in our lives while also noticing the wildlife of emus, hawks, kestrels, kangaroos and Pelicans. Rain clouds build on the horizon and wind buffets the car.  Or we act like two old people and complain at other drivers who appear fatigued or lost. We  observe the health of the land, new industries and old industries gone.  In some parts of the country the land looks sicker in other the land looks healthier. Wind and Solar farms are noticeable additions to the view. The miles tick on and conversation wanders …

This sketch is done in watercolor, graphic tint pencils, watercolor pencil, and Pitt pen in a Hahnemühle “Draft and Sketch” book which is made up of 140gsm natural white paper. It is not really made for watercolor and wet media but seems to be handling it OK.

This is my first contribution towards #WorldWatercolorMonth

World Watercolour Month will run during July. The aim is share and inspire people to paint with watercolor or gouache in the process also highlighting the importance of art and creativity. Anyone can join, create something with Watercolour,aquarelles gouache Simply tag any art that uses watercolors (or gouache) with #WorldWatercolorMonth.

Full details are on the official site www.worldwatercolor.com

100 miles for fish and chips…

So Sharon woke up this morning and says:
“I want to feel the wind in my hair, and walk along the shore.”
I looked at her. “It’s minus 2 Centigrade.” I protested. “And the lake is a bit manky”

“But I want to feel the sand beneath my feet…”
I reminded her that we do in fact live 160km [that’s about 100 miles in the old money] inland.

“…and have fish and chips for lunch. F r e s h fish and chips.”
Ah, now THAT was the right thing to say. The best fish and chips on this side of Australia is in Bateman’s Bay, on the New South Wales coast. And it would be warmer on the coast.

What followed was a small flurry of activity – Sharon packing drawing gear and me, my camera and a few kilos of lenses. The car didn’t bend too much when we finally got it loaded.

Should be about a two hour drive with a quick shimmy down the mountain, a sharp right over the bridge and left onto the beach.

Two hours later, after traversing two patches of dirt road, and three sets of 40kph road works – devoid of any actual road workers – we were at a complete standstill halfway down Clyde Mountain. For an hour.

It seems that the truck driver who was trying to get home quick before he had an accident, ran out of road before he ran out of corner. He was fine, but his semi-trailer needed to have the round wheel bits vertical, and on the bottom, not horizontal and on the side.

Truck accident

Truck accident

And so to Bateman’s Bay. The last time we ate at the Boathouse, there was a friendly manta ray swimming beneath the jetty. This time we had a pair of pelicans. It took some time to be served, so Sharon went ahead to find a table – and perhaps a little time to sketch.






Pelican – compact travel version

At length, I found that Sharon held a prime spot on the waters edge – first sitting in one place, then when someone moved, so did Sharon, until like a well crafted chess game she had reached the prime spot she now occupied.

Fish and chips

Fish and chips

I asked how the sketch went and Sharon looked a bit sheepish. “They moved.” she said simply, and shrugged. Clearly that explained everything.

The view across the bay was stunning

Bateman's Bay

Bateman’s Bay

When we emerged from the cafe the road was closed – it seems that a car rally was on its way and the inflatable finish line was being erected across the road.

We didn’t hang around, but headed off further down the coast to Broulee where the beach sand is fine and the familiar dire warnings against swimming filled the entire billboard – beware of rips, swift currents, sudden drops in the ground, sudden shallow bits, rough surf (I’ve never seen gentle surf), and if you survive the water, there’s always the manta rays, sharks, jellyfish – to add a little excitement to any paddle. We like to remind visitors that ‘Pandora’ – the planet of David Cameron’s epic movie Avatar – is where Australians go for rest and relaxation…

Beach safety sign

Beach safety sign

As for the beach itself there’s no vehicles, no camping, no horses and no fires. Ah a truly welcoming place. it was quite busy – so you could almost see from one family group to the next, and so on to the horizon. The sky was clear, and the sun surprisingly warm. I remembered a lighting trick from photographer Karl Taylor – and arranged the sun to highlight Sharon’s hair and used the flash to provide fill light for her face – I was quite pleased with the result – despite the lack of wind 🙂



The light through the seaweed was quite magic



It being Winter, and close to the shortest day we decided to pack up and head home before we’d have to do the Clyde Mountain drive in the dark. We remembered the rally cars that would be coming the opposite direction, and as the last of the light disappeared we headed into Braidwood. The bakery supplied much needed bread and delicious country-baked cakes called lamingtons – a sponge coated in chocolate and coconut – very yummy 🙂

And thence to home. Yep – just a quick run down to get some fish and chips and a good time was had by all… unless you’re a truck driver. 🙂

Van Gogh’s night cafe – then and now

At Arles in Provence, Vincent Van Gogh painted a delightful evening scene showing a cafe under the stars, lit by gas lamps. He did the painting for the cafe’s owner in order to pay for his meals as he was always broke. Today that painting is in the Netherlands. It is known as the Café Terrace at Night and is worth millions.

The cafe itself – as you can see – is still there on the Place du Forum in Arles, and these days it is known as “Le Café Nuit” – or The Night Cafe.

Sharon and I had a wonderful dinner there – very French – with a nice carafe of wine. It was a magic evening 🙂

Night Café, Arles

Night Café, Arles [photo: Jerry Everard]

And here is what it looked like in 1888 when Van Gogh painted it

Cafe Terrace at Night

Cafe Terrace at Night [photo of display reproduction on the Place du Forum at the position from which he painted the painting – photo: Jerry Everard]