Mostly we photograph tawny frogmouths during the day, perched on a dead branch with their eyes closed, pretending to be a stick.
We found this one when we were spotlighting at Basket Swamp, near Tenterfield in NSW in January 2016. (More of my Basket Swamp photos can be seen here.) It was stunning seeing the bird like this with its eyes wide open and I wanted to make this the major feature in my painting.
The bird was quite small in the original photo and the lower half of its body was obscured by the thick branch it was sitting on.
I cropped it so that the bird filled up most of the image, making the eyes as large as possible. I really wanted the eyes to dominate the painting. There is very little colour variation in the res...
In Wollemi National Park we woke up every morning to the sound of male lyrebirds performing their repertoires on the other side of the dam.
On our side of the water there was a pair of somewhat elusive young males that hung around together and were sometimes spotted on the paths and in the undergrowth within the campground.
I had this photo of them (right) with a beautiful little patch of ferny undergrowth in the background. The photo was taken at Dunn's Swamp in Wollemi National Park during our camping trip there in February/March of this year. (You will find more photos from our stay at Dunn's Swamp, here, if you wish.)
Could I turn it into a painting? As you can see it has a great big out-of-focus tree trunk on the...
Sometimes things come together perfectly, the bird lands in the right spot with a good active pose so that you can see its face, the background and lighting are great, and you know that you have a photo that you just have to turn into a painting.
This was one of those photos. It needed cropping but everything else about it worked.
The subject is a male Superb fairy-wren and the photo was taken while we were camping at Cox's Creek in Coolah Tops National Park in central NSW in February of 2016. You will find more of the photos from Cox's Creek in my gallery, here.
I cut away the out-of-focus tree trunk in the background and made a vertical composition with the bird in the top left-hand corner.
I have put a map along with aspects of the history of Halton in the Family History section of this website but I have had a few comments from a relative that have made me think that it would be a good idea to write an explanatory blog post.
James Lawrie, his wife Jean (nee Greig) and their five children came out to NSW as Assisted Immigrants from Scotland in 1849, on board the "Kate". They settled in the Hunter Valley, and gained employment on the "Caergule" estate. A few years later they bought "Halton" and parts of the property remained in Lawrie family possession for the next 150 years.
Jimmy Lawrie, the last remaining Lawrie descendant to live at Halton, had in his possession a newspaper cutting that was an advertise...
We are very lucky in Australia to have a number of brightly coloured parrots, like the very common crimson rosella.
It was the white tree-trunk behind the rosellas that inspired me to paint this picture. I wanted a bit of relief after the nocturnal blackness of my possum painting!
This pair of rosellas was photographed at Junction Pools in Barrington Tops National Park (more photos from this trip here). They were preoccupied with searching for a nest hollow so I was able to approach them quite closely. My source photo had glorious colour and barely needed any cropping, but there were some problems with it.
I felt that the left hand edge and the top of the picture needed cropping to move the birds upwards and make the bi...
Different possums seem to dominate the areas around different campsites, and at Junction Pools in Barrington Tops National Park ringtail possums were by far the most common. We were finding six or eight of them each night, while out spotlighting.
This one presented an interesting picture for painting.
As you can see, the original photo definitely needed cropping!
So I cut off the edges to create a vertical picture that encompassed the whole of the possum and a little of the background.
With this painting the difficulty was going to be in making it look as if the light was natural rather than a spotlight. I haven't actually achieved that in my painting because, I suppose, "natural light" would have been moonlight w...
One thing that can be said about our Australian bush is that it is almost never tidy and I like my paintings to reflect this messiness. So I am inclined to steer clear of nice neat scenes.
I would be happy if people could smell the eucalyptus and feel the hot hot sun when they look at my paintings. I want my birds to look alive, as if, a second later they might fly away - which is usually precisely what happens (in real life - not in the painting)!
With my effort to post photos from our last camping trip in my photo gallery I have fallen a bit behind in my painting blog posts and am now a few paintings in arrears! I came back with ten and a half thousand photos from our weeklong trip away, and with interruptions such as a...
The road in to the camp-ground was simply awful, taking an hour to travel 11 kms in our 4WD truck, but the setting was stunning, perched on the edge of the Barrington River. The sunny days and crystal clear mountain air were ideal for photography, and I came home with a rich source of images suitable for painting.
I have an unwritten personal rule that every camping trip has to result in at least one painting in order to justify the expense of my wonderful camera and telephoto lens. The photo that I choose to paint depends on my mood at the time of choosing, ie. what sort of challenge I feel like taking on at that moment. Quite often this results in a painting of a quite ordinary species - one that we commonly see everywhere we go, rather than an exotic one that truly represents the location. Oh dear!
In this case, I wanted to try working on a painting that was mostly grey-neutral in colouring, in which the birds were the brightest objects.
I selected a photo from amongst a collection of photos of red-backed firetails, taken at our M...
When I was a small child I had to walk by myself about a mile along a country road to get to school.
"It's not fair!" I blurted out, with the truculence of a five year old.
"You'll be all right," said my mother who remembered that when she had been my age she had had to drive a horse and sulky six miles to reach her school.
But I was not convinced.
Perhaps the biggest hazard on the way to school were the magpies and it was not I who bore the brunt of their attacks, but my little brother (at least he was little then).
About a hundred metres down the road from our house stood a couple of big old gum trees that were a favourite nesting site for magpies. And they were fierce! On one occasion they hit the back my brother's...