It’s been a while since I managed to get out and do a plein air painting – I tried last week but it wasn’t to be. I threw my gear in the van and set off about town, looking for something “easy” to do, to get myself back into the swing of things. It was a hot humid day with thunderstorms a distinct possibility. As it happened, the thunderstorms never came but the clouds did.

I found some interesting spots but without sunlight they just didn’t grab me enough to justify getting my brushes dirty. So home I went.

Today, however, was warm and sunny – windy too but with clear skies as far as you could see. So off I went in search of something new. I think I found it, on a back road/track, just north of Narrikup.

This mostly-gravel road has a few interesting sandy sections that give the landscape a very different feeling, somewhat like “warm snow”. The shadows have a purply-grey coolness about them with stark warm highlights in areas where the sun breaks through. I enjoy painting sandy tracks more than gravel ones. They “feel” more natural somehow.

This section of track featured a WA Christmas Tree (Nuytsia floribunda) which stood out like a beacon against the other trees and scrub. It begged me to paint it.

wa christmas tree plein air oil painting

It’s early in the flowering season yet for Nuytsias, but this one was a little ahead of most in the region. I’ll have to remember to take another look in a couple of weeks as there are still a lot of unopened flowers on it.

 (No, I didn’t stand in the middle of the road while painting.)

I had to work fast on this one as I could see the light was going to change dramatically. Not only did the track fall almost entirely into shadow, as you can see above, but the sunlight warmed considerably, giving the green-grey shrubbery a warm orange glow.

Plein air painting… you don’t have to be mad, but it helps.