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Me at work  in the East Macdonnell Ranges, November 2008. It's a trip to gather paintings for my show at Bowral's Milk Factory Gallery in June 2009.

As you can see I've plonked myself down in the
 sand.....nuthin' like gettin' dirty and feeling the earth.

 Sometimes I stand or  I sit on a rock ( if available) or I sit on my portable tripod stool. It all just depends on the view or angle and perspective of my chosen motif.

Still out east. This spot's a favourite, sketched here back in 2005.
I returned with the intent to explore further. It's not on the tourist trail and nearby are some dolomite outcrops ( more about those later!) 
I got behind that particular range, occasionally coming across Stockmen's camp fires and camel tracks  I was mainly following the dry river bed,  stopping to sketch the rocky dolomite outcrops and the amazing river gums. And man, was it hot! Well it was November. Mad dogs......!

 The country around Alice is Aranda country.

The Aranda have given Australia 2 amazing men the Artist Albert Namatjira and the Social Activist Charlie Perkins.
Both men have made the country aware of their peoples issues. 2 way fellas!

Simpsons Gap
This is only 20 km west of Alice. I did a fair bit of work around here. Also the Larapinta Trail bypasses through here, so did sections of that to gather material too.
Twice during this trip the Todd River flowed, thus also filling this area.
Below 2 pics of the flooded entrance to Simpsons.
Decided not to attempt this crossing as 2 weeks earlier I'd had a few narrow escapes coming in from the west, 150km from town.

Simpsons Gap after the rains

One of Simpsons Gaps residents, a Rock Wallaby and it's demise from the rising flood waters.
Even though I depict mother nature's wonders She also has her destructive side. It's not all beer & skittles out in this terrain.

Too cute for words: this fella's safe up on his rocky perch.
Whenever I sat quietly at Simpsons the wallabies slowly appeared. As soon as a bus load of tourist arrived the wallabies scarpered.
One afternnoon I got about 3 to 4 metres away from one and whilst making a clicking noise ( like on TVs Skippy) a curious wallaby actuelly came towards me. A very special feeling....and me without my camera at hand!
2 of them then just drank from the waterhole only occasionally looking up at me.
One of the joys of sketching, sitting quietly and going slow.
Henceforth I am the wallaby whisperer!

The Woodland Trail: a walk near Simpsons Gap
I really love this area with it's diversity of desert flora and mulga. 

One of my studio oils.
That's Simpsons Gap in the background.
This is the view one sees from the Woodland Trail.

The ranges along Ilparpa, south west of Alice.

Ormiston Gorge & water hole
West Macdonnell Ranges

Out west
this is a view of Mt Sonder
about 160km from town

A thorny devil
Amongst the spinifex

East of Alice and of special importance to the Aranda, Emily Gap is one of 2 caterpillar dreaming sites.( The other being Jessie Gap 15 km up the road)  Both sites feature rock paintings.
When I left this scene was underwater. Hard to believe, so was glad to have gotten in to do this pastel as 3 years ago it was full too.

Jessie Gap
Old River Gum

the dolomite outcrop is part of a series stretching up to Corroboree Rock, out in the East Macdonnells.
This is another spot I visited often....just fell in love with it. A dry creek bed ran to the right of this stump and around the back of the outcrop. I'm doing one of my close up still lifes of that particular dry creek bed and it's rock & pebbles.
Also did other pastels of the gums & the outcrop too.

Corroboree Rock
Actuelly one of my 2005 pastels, now sold.
The dolomite outcrop as mentioned above. The story goes that the Aranda Men hid sacred objects up the top which has alcove like caves.
I find these outcrops hauntingly beautiful.
It was only after doing this piece that I saw the silhouette of a face(...the nose on the left.)
You can actuelly walk around or rather circumambulate Corroboree Rock, a natural stupa.

I sold this piece in 2007 although I was loathe to part with it. There are always some piece that I feel somehow contain more of me and the place I've depicted...but it's found a good home.
Corroboree Rock

An ancient River Gum  with the dolomite outcrop behind.
The roots had been exposed by the rains and floodwaters 10 days earlier. Absolutely astonishing what the waters achieve, for next to this gum was another fallen down, one which I'd sketched 2 weeks earlier...when it was still standing!

at work out east
Twisted Gum Tree
out east

Amongst the boulders of the aforementioned dolomite outcrop. The above pastel of the River Gum is to the far right of this photo.
I'm wearing a sort of french foreign legion style attachment on my cap. It fends off the heat on one's neck & ears, but once I put a fly net over it all it becomes a pressure cooker for one's brain.
Some would say...that explains alot!

The aforementioned dolomite outcrop

A note about colour

Here's me again! This time north of Alice at the Telegraph Station, the original site of Alice. There'd been a dust storm that day.....thus no blue sky. I love this effect.....a greyish to pale purple hue and the boulders which under  'normal' conditions are a strong orange or even a yellow ochre hue are more of a burnished orange, red ochre hue.
Each day varies and for me an effect witnessed earlier  may enter a totally different artwork, even months later.

There's a great interview by Geoff Dutton with paraphrase memory is key.

The people you meet...
.One day whilst getting away from the sun I sort refuge under the shade of the gums at the Telegraph Station.
Nearby a group of aboriginal women artists were working on what I later discovered was a huge lino print of  Bush Tomatoes.
The white woman with them came over to see what I was up to and asked if it'd be fine for the ladies to have a look at my work.
So there was I sitting barefoot on the ground when shyly they wandered over. Well, the shyness soon dissapated amongst us fellow artists and the women were intrigued as I use aquarelle pastels (or as they said crayona) so I gave them a demo.
 But they just loved my colours which I pointed out were almost a match for some of their dresses and beanies. We all shared a laugh.
Later when I went to view their work their shyness reappeared.
But all up it was a lovely exchange and I feel blessed that whilst doing my art I get to meet interesting folk.

Out east

at work

out east 

Big gums! 

Honeymoon Gap    is only 20 km or so out of Alice. You can do a loop to Ilparpa from here.
I came here a fair bit to work. The River gums  here are so animated and quite individual, just like people.
Once again, when I left I heard this area was under water.

Listening to Trees and Tjilpis
I was working at Honeymoon Gap one day when an old aboriginal fella, Jack, came by & started chatting to me.
He originally came from Cooberpeedy and now at 75 he & his wife came out of retirement to help on a government programme at the Red Cross.
I say 75 but as Jack's birth was'nt recorded  it's a guess.
 He pointed out some bush tucker up on this ridge & mentioned how his father still walked about naked & could've climbed up the top with his hardened feet.

We talked about Obama having just won
the election 2 days earlier; and we talked about country and our mutual love of the bush.
While we chatted he pointed out the little dust devils that had appeared whirling about my drawing board on the ground & I then spotted a kite hawk that was circling over our heads. Was it maybe eyeing Jack's little dogs or maybe eavesdropping.
Jack and I spoke for more than a few hours.
I told Jack how much I loved the gums & how I felt that for me it was like sketching people, some being more interesting than others.
Jack replied  that if you listened to those trees, I'm sure they'd tell you a story.
A few days later I kept on bumping into  that old Tjilpi back in Town and we both agreed how much we got out of our 'chat' that day.

The collection!
My pastels spread out in my cabin in Alice Springs.


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