Saturday, May 30, 2009

Bella At the Dinosaur Dig

Last week, Annabel went out to the Eromanga Dinosaur Dig, being conducted by the university of Queensland. She is artist in residence there. The photos above show Annabel sketching in the middle of the dig site. Part of the experience of being an artist en plein air in the outback.


Arrived in Quilpie itself after 14 hours driving over 2 days. Feeling great and ready to head fro Bunginderry - another 80kms - but stopped off first a a new restaurant in town which has been set up by Lou Dowling-Manns. Called Fresh on Brolga. It is fabulous. Great food. Wonderful coffee - not always easy to find in the west. While having lunch, the Camp cook, Dee Crotty came in and saw me. You run into people easily in the outback. She needed some help to load supplies from a local cold room so I packed my vehicle to the hilt. Saw a great local exhibition by Quilpie artists Leah Cameron and Ben Hall. Then set off for Bunginderry. Met by Stephen and Bella, Skye, the nanny and the Tully tribe - Lachlan, Sophia, Harriet, Hugo and Eve. They are pictured above. Lesley Cowper, an artist from Longreach was there and Bella was keen to show us the studio that Stephen is building her. Amazing space about 8m x 8m. Every artist would love it. Stephen is one of those amazing bushies who can do anything, fix anything and invent whatever is needed. The great thing about Stephen is that he does everything so well. have a look at the studio - above. Then, dinner with the family and a few wines and off to bed. Slept well after the long journey.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Great day today as I make final preparations to head west to Bunginderry for our annual Artists' Camp. Out at Bunginderry, they have been flat out all week, getting the quarters ready and planning the five day itinerary. Stephen has killed a beast to help feed us for week, but also for meat for the property. He makes his own sausages, which are really tasty.
And five little Tullys - Lachlan, Sophia, Harriet, Hugo and Eve will be getting very excited. They love the company and the change from routine that the artists bring with them.
On Saturday, Dee, the Camp cook will arrive. Dee is from a property south of Quilpie. She produces wonderful food and is a great storyteller. Adds to the enjoyment of the week.
You will have noticed above, five paintings by Annabel and myself. They are, from top, Noel's Boulders (my work), Coonbarry Creek (Annabel's), White's Tank (Annabel), Gerard's Lookout (mine) and The Ram's Paddock (again mine). This is just some of the diversity of Bunginderry that allows us to paint in a different place every day and produce very different canvasses from one day to the next. It is such a beautiful place. Desley Rolph (see below) was over at my home on Tuesday for a cuppa and she said once again that she likes to be back in Brisbane but she longs to just walk out the door and be back in Bunginderry. The trouble is that there are over a 1,000 kilometres between us and there. So tomorrow and the following day, I am in for a long, long drive. I will be in touch from the outback - from Bunginderry.
If you have any questions at any time, pleas leave a comment, or email me on Any artists who paint en plein air anywhere in the world are welcome to send me their work and tell their story of a painting adventure.

Monday, May 25, 2009

The Middle of Somewhere

This time next week, we will be painting on the land that Annabel (Bella) has painted above in her recent painting: Headwaters at Bottle Corner. For some time, she has been working on a series depicting the topography of Bunginderry. The works are quite large - sometimes as big as 2m. by 1.5m. You can see more of Annabel's work on her website:

Annabel and I met at our first Artists' Camp which was run by the Flying Arts Schools at a wonderful place called Bingara, owned by Peta Warner and her husband,Shane, west of Eulo, which is about the same distance west from Brisbane as Bella's place, but in a slightly more Southern direction in outback Queensland. I always used to say places in the outback were: "in the middle of nowhere". And Bella said to me one day. "The middle of somewhere, Noel". People live here." So, these days I say- Bingara "in the middle of somewhere". It's true. I hadn't thought about it until Bella pointed it out.

So, twenty of us, mostly city or regional people, but with a smattering of country people, came together with two tutors for a week to paint with and learn from each other. One tutor was the amazing Mandy Martin - who taught us how to use found ochres and natural pigments. The other tutor was Michael Pospischil, who taught us the use of oil glazes. Both of these techniques and media were new to most of us. I still use both techniques extensively in my work.

Now the reason that Annabel and I got to know each other well is a good story. We all stayed at the shearers' quarters at Bingara. A huge place that could easily accommodate the thirty people, including twenty artists who were there. The quarters are good but pretty basic. The walls are a single sheet of corrugated iron. Only a thin sheet of iron separated our heads along the rooms as we slept. You see, the point of this is that I am a snorer. After the first night, Bella told me she had a bad night's sleep as I had kept her awake all night with my snoring. Her bed was in the room next to mine. "Bang on the wall," I said. Then I wil roll over and stop. And bang she did. So for the rest of the week we both had bad nights as I woke her up with my snoring and she scared the hell out of me banging on the corrugated iron. It is so hard to sleep in a shearer's iron bed which has a big dip in the middle without kinking your neck and snoring loudly. So, from then on when we have camped out in the bush on painting trips, Bella has set up her tent as far away as possible so as not to be disturbed by my snoring. (My partner, Craig has a lot of sympathy for her).

I can hear you thinking that it might not be such a good idea to come to our Artists' Camp. What if you are next to a snorer? The solution is to save your ear plugs from your next air trip. And anyway, the walls are lined on both sides in the shearers' quarters at Bunginderry. The soundproofing is a lot better.

That first Camp was such a wonderful time and we made some great friends that we still keep in touch with today. Peta Warner's work is great to see. Go to:
Mandy Martin has an exhibition coming up in Canberra. She is an amazing artist and a real Australian character. Look at her work on There is another painter whose work I really love. Her Grass Series began at that Camp west of Eulo. Her name is Yvonne Mills-Stanley. See her at Fireworks Gallery in Brisbane:

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Desley Rolph - An artist who came in from the Outback

This is a painting by Desley Rolph (it is a study called "painting 3"). It is a great piece, and incredible once again how we each see the land from a different perspective and tell our story in different ways. I love the way it spills down the canvas and tells the story of the country ravaged by droughts and flooding rains. It suggests to me the ancient nature of the Australian outback that makes all your present problems seem quite unimportant. There is nothing like the rawness of nature to bring us to back to basics. It has a spiritual quality.

Des has just returned from a week at Bunginderry painting with her friend Maddy - and with Annabel. Like the rest of us, she has been captured by the soul of Bunginderry and, like the rest of us, will be called back again and again to paint in the bush. She uses oil paints in her paintings. One of the problems with oils is that they take a while to dry. For this reason, they are hard to transport back to Brisbane. So, Des and Maddy came up with the novel idea of painting a series of studies on square cnvasses that fit exactly into a pizza box, so they could be stacked and transported while wet. Extremely inventive.

Des wrote that she enjoyed painting her studies and especially spending time painting with Annabel for a couple of days. She is now back in her Brisbane studio working through the process of creating bigger works that are inspired by those studies. Des has an impressive career as an artist and has been a finalist in a number of national prizes. Very collectable. If you would like to find out more about her and see some of her work, log on to: Des shows in several galleries, so she can direct you to where her most recent work is. She also teaches. Contact her. She would love to receive an email from you.

So, I am now counting down to our next Bunginderry Artists' Camp. All very exciting. Meanwhile, this technical dyslexic is not only paking supplies but also trying to work out how to take videos on my camera and mobile phone so I can download some visuals each day for you. Stay tuned. All this is very challenging for a 60 year old who lacks understanding of the digital language. So, bear with me. At the very least, there will be images of the work we do each day and photos of the country. You will then see why we have this overwhelming love of Bunginderry and painting in the open.

Since I started this page four days ago four artists have already contacted me to ask if they can show their work and be part of the blog. Of course! So, a never ending feast of visuals from a variety of artists is coming your way. Please, make comments, give critiques, ask questions. Landscape is for everyone. Art id for everyone. We don't need to be artists or experts to say what we like or what we think could improve an image. Go for it. Most artists I know think it is wonderful to receive any feedback. I often wonder why it is so easy for us to comment on an item of clothing or the way a room is decorated but we feel intimidated by expressing our thoughts on a piece of art. Is it because of the mystique and elitist attitude that the art world has built around itself. Most of us as artists want you to say what you feel. Most of you as viewers should feel confident in saying: I like this or this does not grab me .... and why. You have full permission to contribute to the debate.

So, stay with us for the next couple of weeks as our experience in the outback unfolds. And tell us what you think.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Something about Annabel

I told you about my friend Annabel who owns Bunginderry near Quilpie. That's about 12 hours drive from Brisbane - if you are Annabel. And about 14 hours for the rest of us.
This is one of her paintings of Bunginderry.
It is called: North Bunginderry
Bunginderry provides endless beautiful subjects for artists and I am always amazed at how each of us sees it differently and interprets it differently. I love Annabels' work. We have travelled around the outback together in the past painting as we go. And she produces wonderful work using found ochres and natural pigments as I do. But I always think her paintings of her homeland are especially beautiful and touched with a love that only she can paint. (By this stage she of course will be making motions as if she is puking, but it is true.)
Before I get to Bunginderry for the Camp next week, I am showing you some of the artists who have painted it. When I am there next week, I am planning to post our progress each day and introduce you to a new group of painters. The excitement is mounting for us. Some of us are going back for the third time (for me the eighth wonderful time) and we have a great cook, Dee who is from the west. I want you to meet her as well. One of those wonderful people that come from the bush. You will meet her next week.
Let me tell you a little about Bella. She is a young mum of five children, all under 8 if my memory serves me, and they are full of life. Bella and Stephen try to make sure they do not miss out on much being in the bush and of course, they have so many skills as kids who have to participate in a full life of a busy sheep and cattle station. Stephen, as a Tully, is related to the Duracks, a famous rural family from early settlement. You can read all about them by searching the name Durack. mary Durack wrote the Australian classic "Kings in Grass Castles". So he has a love of the outback that is all-encompassing. An incredible love that he expresse so well. At night we sometimes sit around and Stephen tells us stories of the area. I will relate some of them next week as well. They are a great couple who love to shae their lives and their home with those of us who love to paint it.
If you would like to see more of Bella's work, you can go to where you can also buy her work. Annabel has just won second prize at the Waltzing Matilda Art Awards in Winton.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Getting Ready for Artists Camp

I would like this blog to be a space for artists who paint landscape all over the world and especially in remote places to discuss their work and their use of media and what to expect when you travel to a new destination. I am lucky in visiting the outback and the tip of Australia each year and regularly travel to Antarctica to work and paint.

Lots of excitment at the moment as I get ready to head out to the bush for our next Artists' Camp.

My friend, artist Annabel Tully lives and works on Bunginderry, a cattle and sheep property west of Quilpie. Each year, and sometimes twice a year, Annabel holds one of her popular Artists Camps. All artists, from experienced painters to beginners are invited to come to Bunginderry for a week to share the experience of painting the surrounding country, including the Grey Range and Channel Country of western Queensland.

Annabel has made this a great retreat for artists who love the outback. We stay in a basic but comfortable shearers’ quarters which has a huge common area. Each day we visit a different place on the property to paint in the open air (see my paintings of Bunginderry above). My part is to facilitate the five day artists’ camp. I have painted with Annabel in western Queensland and appeared with her in the television documentary series, Painting Australia. The Artists' Camp is either a workshop for those who would like to paint in the media used by both Annabel and me – found ochres and natural pigments – or each artist can choose to work independently in their preferred media. Everyone is also given a one-day workshop in printmaking. It is an opportunity for artists to work with and learn from each other and to use new media in their work.

We have a great time. Contact me if you are interested in attending at any time.
As I get ready to go, I will be showing some of Annabel's paintings of her homeland.