17 Feb Warwick Fuller
Over the last year or so, I have been painting in a lot of interesting country. Inspiration is everywhere and it isn’t so much where I go, as there is mostly something worth painting wherever I am, if I’m in the right frame of mind. I am mostly inspired when I see the common or ordinary in a new light, with a fresh eye, when something within the familiar catches me by surprise.
I’m like the kid who was excited when she found a horseshoe. Grandpa said “good, all you need now is three more horseshoes and a horse”. When I’m out painting, I might see a note of colour on the side of a shed or a glint of light off the water that excites me. Right there is the horseshoe. I’m off and away painting and hoping I can find that horse.
On a recent painting trip to Silverton/Broken Hill, I parked my caravan amongst the Blue-bush near the home of my career-long friend and painter Albert Woodroffe. I was out early on a clear morning, and freezing in the dry Umberumberka Creek with a gentle Antarctic breeze on my neck. I was inspired by the sunlight reflecting up off the sand into an old gum. About twenty minutes into the mysterious alchemy of creating a painting, a 4×4 drove down into the creek-line and pulled up behind me. Albert jumped out and introduced me to the Barrier Daily’s journo. Ah, the serenity! Even the isolation of this location couldn’t protect me. Albert was only too aware that I wouldn’t be happy with the interruption; he knows my painting always comes first, but thought it was such a good opportunity. I chatted distractedly for a few minutes, then insisted on getting back to the painting. Luckily in this case I was able to get back ‘in the zone’. To use another analogy, when I’m deep into a painting, I feel like I’m juggling six or seven balls. When concentrating, I can keep them all in the air. If I glance away or I’m distracted, I’m likely to drop one and therefore the lot. On this occasion, I managed to keep them in the air.
I feel such a sense of unfulfilled potential and even distress when a painting falls short of my vision. Though they do often fall short, the occasional success quells my disappointment and I’m away again. Over the next few days of the Silverton trip I was ‘away again’ with (forgive the ham) a song in my heart. That Never Never country is so extraordinary and varied with so many exciting little cameos in every direction, I would have to have a heart of stone to not be totally inspired.
I reflect often on how I’m influenced by the contrast between locations. How inspirational it is to see new country; how when I’ve started to come to terms with the yin of one landscape, I’m dashed against the yang of another. This jolt, this contrast seems to sensitize my interpretations of its unique qualities. The dichotomy between (for example) Umberumberka Creek near Broken Hill and Gilmore Creek near Tumut, is in almost every way diametrically opposite; wet/dry, warm/cool, gentle/harsh. It intuitively heightens the way I interpret the subject.
As I said, I’ve been painting in some interesting country and so with some judicious and vicious culling, I’ve been able to assemble a collection with which I’m happy.