I have actually been doing a bit of painting in recent weeks. I just haven’t been doing any blogging.

This will fix that, at least for a while.

On a wonderfully hot day a few weeks ago, I jumped in the car and drove around aimlessly for a few hours. I headed down roads I’ve never been down before; out near Tambellup in the southern wheatbelt.

I ended up at the northern border of the Stirling Range National Park. It’s amazing how often I end up at the Stirlings despite having no plan to go there.

It was getting late when I saw this whitegum growing just inside a farm fenceline. There was room to park the car and to safely set up and paint. So here it is…

plein air oil painting of white gum, wandoo in western australia by Andy DolphinNorth Stirling White Gum
25x30cm oil on board.

© Andy Dolphin

And here’s the location shot. As you can probably tell, I finished just before sunset.

plein air oil painting lof tree - ocation photo in rural western australia

I’d like to do a bigger studio painting from this sketch – and I’ll have to decide then whether to still include the roll of rusty fencing wire. My gut feeling is it attracts too much attention to itself and I’d be better off with a few sheep instead.

Yesterday, I met up with the Albany Plein Air Group and found a new place to paint – at the old Albany Railway Station. I’ve wanted to paint here for a long time but on the one or two occasions when I’ve checked it out, there’s been no subject matter that interested me. But yesterday there was a freight train parked in the perfect position and in good morning light so I set up the easel and got to work.

I began by snapping a few photos, because there was some cloud around and it was likely to get worse before it got better, so I wanted a little “insurance”. Then I did a quick pencil sketch to get the main shapes and tones in my head.

After a quick chat with an inquisitive engineer who told me the train would be staying put for a couple of hours, I set to work on my painting.

Less than five minutes in, another train arrived at the freight yard – and stopped. And this was my view for the next half hour…

freight train blocks view of painting a railyard

There was no moving to a better position to regain my view as these trains are well over 500m long and I couldn’t see either end from where I stood. (Looking at it now, I could probably have done a new painting of this scene!)

So I continued painting using my sketch, the small image on my camera’s LCD screen and my memory. And things progressed surprisingly well.

Eventually the train moved on and I could see again. Things had changed a little – and the clouds were being…clouds, but I had enough information to get the job done just before my subject train moved.

freight train, railway, rail yard plein air oil painting by Andy Dolphin - albany western australiaAlbany Railyard
20x34cm oil on board.

© Andy Dolphin

For my first-ever train painting, I’m pretty happy with it. I hope to do more if I can get the timing right and find decent places to stand.

freight train plein air painting by Andy Dolphin - albany western australia