I'M LUCKY ENOUGH TO LIVE AND WORK IN TANJA on the New South Wales south coast. Over a year ago we rented this house on a farm, and my longing for big skies, flat land and a rural outlook have been assuaged.

My studio is a shed ­that was already on the property – bush poles and corrugated iron on a rough slab – but I’m glad for the space and the vista, much improved by the addition of the beautiful cedar doors and windows Wayne installed. Certainly helps the airflow and dispersal of oil paint fumes – the ‘ol corro iron is a wee bit hot in summer and cold in winter (insulation and heating/cooling appliances help too although last winter I remember working in my long woollen overcoat and had thoughts of fingerless gloves!)

Love this view out into the paddocks.

That’s not a complaint about the cold BTW, I still love it and have been getting excited as we have been enjoying a few waves of cooler weather as autumn makes its readiness to descend. I’ve been eyeing off our fireplace, looking forward to cosy nights; but it is the skies at this time of year that really mark the change of season.

The cow shed, my muse!

The most dreamy cumulus seem to be at sundown, that time when the pinks and golds glow brighter and surreal set against vibrant cerulean, dramatic grays, cobalts, mauves and the last light of the sun as it catches the bright green on the tops of trees.

God skies I call them.

Or Fatima light – the result of many childhood school holidays watching whatever movies were available on the two TV channels we had to choose from – hence religious themes were shown at certain times of the year. At the time I thought they were boring, especially if there was singing involved, but somewhere in my memory, the ‘god skies’ struck a chord. (Not to mention what early viewing of Monty Python and the  graphic cloud animations of Terry Gilliam did to my young and impressionable visual mind. More on him another time.)

Dreaming at Tathra Beach



I'VE OFTEN FELT INSPIRED TO PAINT CLOUDS, which may also be attributed to early impressions of Magritte, and his many skyscapes that made his work instantly dreamy and appealing. My teenage paintings often included an open door filled with clouds beyond as though the floor ended at the architrave to step out into open space – falling or flying!

Alice in Goose Land, 2012, oil on canvas, triptych, private collection.

While living in Darwin was a tad too hot for me, it's a great place for cloud lovers. At certain times of the year, the sky puffs up like a floating landscape in the air, other worlds drift through the backlit glow of a sun setting on the horizon. The drama of tropical skies is so attractive I felt compelled to include them in some of my work. 

Where the Wild Things Are, a Vision Splendid Lurks Within,  oil on linen, Togart Contemporary Art Award, Darwin 2013

More recently I have been drawn back to skies. As an artist there is a constant seeking from others, learning, improving, exploring and connecting with those who share a similar vision or idea. In my quest for three dimensional fluffiness, I found the work of Dutch artist, Jan Hendrik Dolsma and his aptly named website Painting Skies. I bought one of his videos which has not only been a wonderful tutorial, but has also given me the joy of watching someone else paint! Artists often work in isolation and living remotely I sometimes long for shared studio time. It was affirming to see that even artists as adept as Dolsma can rub paint off when the composition is not quite there yet!

In my next post I hope to share one of my more recent skies – and figurine with a surrealist bent! 

For now, it’s still blissful at the beach, as the summer sun hasn’t quite left us yet.