I’m led to a field, acrylic paints and chalk pastels at the ready. Its 6pm, January. Summer. It’s hot. 41 or 42 degrees celsius. Dry. This feels like Australia, and more specifically the mid north of South Australia, a few kilometres out of Mintaro where my cousin lives in a converted renovated 19th century stone horse stable. We’ve taken a few days to visit, and to paint. We’ve driven about 16 hours west from Sydney, and I’m in my home state. The destructive heat of the day has subsided and we set up on a hill.
The scene is reminiscent of a Van Gogh painting, round haystacks dot the paddock. I see the sky. I position myself with the sun behind me. I see a line of trees, a fence, a valley, fallen trees, gums. Out come the paints, the paper, and the work begins. I’m delighted to be here, then the light changes. A cloud passes over the sun and the shadows disappear, colours mute. I get a new page. Paint fast. The light changes again as the cloud passes by. Then that moment happens, the sunset drops into a redness, a pinkness, an orange. Its that moment that happens for about a minute every sunset. Intense. And I pull out some more colour, a new page, two.
I paint for a couple of hours, it takes a while for the sun to set. I’m painting in darkness, again trying to capture the colour, the inky blues now. The temperature is such that I’m in shorts and a tank top. It’s dark and it’s still 40 degrees. At last I can’t see my paper without turning on the lights in the car.
Back in the studio, the scene reoccurs for months on the canvas, iteration after reiteration, full of emotion, joy, love.