2 Plein Air Paintings/Fishing.

I woke feeling inspired today- well, ‘not completely trashed’ for a change, shall we say? I burned the candle at both ends recently: recording keyboards for my band album , layering sounds, doing some vocals-  and watching World Cup soccer over a few weeks. 


Today was a beautiful calm winters day, so I drove down to our local beach. I walked along beside the water, carrying my painting and fishing gear . 

The fishing spot dictated the scene I’d paint (no rocks to get snagged on). As I cast the line out with my surf rod, I cast all my worries away to the horizon , as I usually do. I put the rod in a holder (stuck in the sand) and started getting my painting gear organised. 

While doing this, I’m breathing the sea air in, listening to the gentle waves break on the sand. I scan the horizon for feeding seabirds ( will a dolphin come by today? ) and generally soak up the vibe, become part of the scene, really. I feel connected to nature so quickly when I’m by the sea. 

I talked to my mum on the phone as I pencilled in the basic shapes of the horizon, the land, the  beach (multi tasking !). She loves the beach. I described what I was up to . She thought it was pretty funny, me attempting to do all this at once. I was looking south toward Mornington, from Moondah beach, Mt Eliza, (Vic, Australia). 

The acrylic paint took a bit longer to dry today, with the cooler winter temperature. So the paint lasted longer on my palette. In the hot summer sun it dries really quickly, can be frustrating. 

The 1st painting took shape quickly. I painted the sky (darker at the top, fading toward the horizon ), then blocked in the land. Then did the ocean …just keeping moving all the time, making sure I didn’t get bogged down anywhere. It’s about capturing the feeling, not the details, for me, painting en plein air ( on the spot ). 

I finished the phone conversation somewhere along the line. When I took the ear plugs out I was amazed at the crystal clear sound of the waves on the beach. The sound of the breeze in the trees on the bluff, the odd seabird cry. The senses are amazing, you really notice when one is restored if it’s been taken away for a while.

I enjoyed painting the rocks in the foreground. I painted the shapes with a red brown couloir, then did the dark shadows ( ultra marine blue & dark brown) . 

I added more detail to the trees and scrub and hills in the distance.

I put in a few extra rocks, white waves , specks of almost black and white in the foreground, suggesting pebbles and shells and it was done. 

moondah beach plein air 1 blog sml

Moondah Beach plein air #1.  30cm x 12cm $95

My right leg was completely numb. I like to sit on the ground, ( very Lo fi: no tripod -or beret, ha! – for me. ). I checked the bait on my fishing line -gone. Although I placed my rod in my field of vision, I completely forgot it for the most part. I could’ve had a whale on and not noticed. 

I cast the line out again, turned around 180 degrees and surveyed the scene. The sun was bouncing off the water , the breeze had picked up a little. I was completely relaxed. Something happens to my vision, my perception, when I paint on the spot like this. Everything is of interest, is almost luminous. Everything seems vital. By observing everything so closely, it’s almost like you can see how all the elements are knitted together to create the scene which I feel very much part of.

Set receive colour

Any thoughts of recent conversations, plans for the future, what I might have for lunch cease to exist. My world is peaceful. I might as well be a piece of driftwood. 

It’s only on reflection that I make these observations. One might say it’s a meditation, a way to raise my energy, if you use that language. 

Spoken/written language is a rough course brush. Our words ‘block in’ concepts but most of what we attempt to convey is either lost in the gaps or put across in a simultaneous subtle manner. 

I do talk to myself occasionally, while painting . Like “brilliant!” If I happened to drop some paint on the picture in the wrong spot. Or: ”I think we’ll move on here, Peter.” if I feel like I’m in danger of getting bogged down in one part of the painting. It’s strange: I’ve just realised, when painting, I always address myself as Peter-most people call me Pete (Or else I call myself something unprintable) . It’s important not to take yourself seriously at all- you get out of the zone so quickly, if there’s any hint of perfectionism starting to creep in. 

I also enjoyed doing the second painting. I could only see one beach box from where I sat, which I was quite pleased about, today. There are quite a few in a row on our beach and they take a while to paint, these man made things – takes me longer than painting the natural shapes of nature.

It came together in much the same way as the first painting. The order in which I paint sky/ land / sea / beach/ etc. I guess that’s my technique, my process.

moondah beach 2 plein air blog sml

Moondah Beach plein air #2 .   30cm x 12cm  $95

I finished up, took photos of the scenes and of my paintings. I felt like the ocean and the breeze had washed over me. It’s a satisfied, slightly euphoric feeling , standing up and engaging with the world as a human again, starting to slip back into my normal consciousness, eg: lunch is beckoning, what’s next on my list to do today? 


No sign of a whale on the line…


A man walked with his dog towards me -The only other person on the beach in 2 hours – “did you get any?”  he asked, taking in the rod still in it’s holder, line in the water. “Yeah, these two- a couple of small ones.” and I held up my paintings. He smiled and had a close look. “Great by the water eh?” “Sure is, we are so lucky , aren’t we?”. And he carried on his way, walking after his dog who was off and running. 

art of fishing

I’m more than happy for people to view my paintings as I work. Or for them to look at the final product. It’s not an ego thing. I hope it shows them the beach I’m painting is beautiful, hope they feel more connected to it, and hope ultimately others may too- and choose to look after it. 

At the top of the steps that wind their way up the bluff, I turn and breathe in the ocean once more. Back in my car i’m thinking about how the paintings are going to look in a frame. It’ll feel good to have them on my market table on Sunday. 


…and still no fish…