Tasmania Painting Retreat Workshop
Returning home from our wonderful Tasmania painting retreat with Artable this week, I am filled with so many new wonderful people and beautiful new memories in my life. As I say, painting is so much more than the practice itself. These events are about R&R, self care, feeding hearts, souls… and bellies too! As much as anything else, these workshops are about human connection and building positive friendships around the things we love. One of the best things about teaching is the people I get to know along the way, but to see my students connect and form long lasting friendships from the experience is just excellent.
That said, we sure did a lot of painting and learning through the week too. Settling in to Gillians new Tasmanian space, Enclave for the first time since opening, we felt warmly welcomed from the moment we pulled up to see Gill waving in the driveway, armed with a spread of colourful cocktails and a delicious platter to pick through… served under a perfect country Tasmanian blue sky. Dinner together and a rest saw us gather, regroup and settle in, ready to start exploring and creating.
Kicking off our studio week, we had the luxury of starting out in the field, talking about the reference gathering and observation stage of the painting process. Tasmanias wild north east corner certainly has lots to offer. We started at the jaw dropping Blue Lagoon, in search of the fabulous, yet elusive on the day, Banjo Frogs… a long time fascination of mine thats for sure. We gasped at the beauty of this place and wandered around the area to the far side of the lake exploring happily.
Our next stop took us to the leafy, textural riverside further along the track where we continued our exploring in search of all things fascinating. Soon enough we had a large box of treasure collected, a good dose of this magical outdoors area and we headed back to the studio to start drawing… another luxury of time one struggles to indulge in. But here we had all the time we wanted and so the process of creating, connecting and slowing the pace down began.
This workshop we started with a simple egg illustration, and it proved to be a perfect place to start with our colour work, and understanding the basics of watercolour painting techniques. A series of simple exercises and practices saw my students determination come to life almost immediately which was so brilliant. Just like that, they tried it again, and some again… With every attempt came such a rapid improvement it was encouraging, and with that sense of encouragement and direction being so evident, came the hunger. There was plenty to come!
With our field work, graphite drawing and our eggs coming to life, we stepped into our Magpie studies, exploring new depth of the medium and challenge. Now we learned about applying pigment rich washes, simple colour use, tone, texture, technique and how to make those darks really sing. My students did SO well! Soon enough our magpies came to life, each with their own personality and uniqueness… each just sooo beautiful!
The down times of our mornings and afternoons were filled with outings, visiting the Mirror Lake and morning walk in search of platypus, ancient fern groves just a step away from the freeways edges into another world, and a wonderful visit to a wheat and opium poppy farm not far from Enclave. Here, the fields are amass with paddocks of golden wheat, the colour and texture shifting endlessly in the breeze.
Beside were the poppies, flowers long gone, we were left to wander amongst the gentle tinkering sounds of the dried seed capsules rustling softly in the quiet of the country. The earthy blue brown haze stretching to the horizons before us. It was somehow soul restoring to be in such peace and beauty, and at the same time we were so abuzz in this beautiful environment.
We raced against the fading light to collect reference of this stunning subject for another day, leaving the open golden fields to pass by the dahlia gardens of the homestead again, flushed with brilliant colour and blooms, back to the countryside in a fading low light that set the dry paddocks and hillsides alight with a million silver edges. The trip home was short, but filled with inspiration and stories waiting to be told… so back to the studio we went, ready to give the task our best shot.
Lets not forget the flowers, time lost chasing the fattest bumble bees youve ever seen, trusses of fruit setting in the orchards, sweeping landscapes of shifting light and colour, sunset skies on old tin roofs, days topped off with glasses of bubbles, hot coffee and tea, delicious food, evening strolls and may I say, perfect weather. The morning starts early now, waking to the low drone of the bumble bees in the garden outside my window and we start our next painting challenge illustrating the tricky little Banjo Frog.
The Banjo Frog shifts everything weve learned to a completely new balance. Now were working tiny, creating complex colour combinations, using incompatible colour, and now were creating an entirely new kind of texture. With this comes a whole new level of learning and a fantastic, practical cross section of painting approaches and techniques and my students jumped right in with everything they had. I was so impressed and proud, as I always am with my students, their positivity and willingness to give new things a go. This makes everything possible, and in the very least, makes such a fun experience together. Absolutely, definitely, the attitudes of this group allowed me to pass on so much knowledge and thats always, just the best.
As our painting week came to a close, we became a beautiful, calm and cohesive creative group… and this is always my goal. I am so impressed with the work that came from our efforts. Gillian was so impressed, she put them all ‘straight to the pool room’ for a wonderful viewing. This was such a lot of fun! We chatted, sipped bubbles, celebrated and welcomed a steady stream of locals in to the pub who came to share our moment and achievements with us, and that was truly, truly amazing and heart warming. How fantastic it was to sit there in such wonderful company in such a beautiful place and space, and to reflect on our weeks paintings all together in this way.
Alas, all good things do come to their end, but we certainly wrapped up in the best possible way, and we were set to leave feeling renewed, uplifted and ready to return to loved ones and of course, our fur babies too. Id like to thank Andrew Haysom and Bruce Thomson for allowing us to work from their lovely images for our knowledge sharing week 🙏🏻🙏🏻🙏🏻 Thank you Gillian and Steve for hosting us and a HUGE thank you to my amazing students for making this week so special. Ill be missing you all and look forward to seeing you again ⭐️
want to join us on the next retreat?
Its not confirmed yet, but we are working on the next Tasmanian painting retreat for later in the year. If you want to stay in the loop there are a few ways to do this. Let Gillian or Lara @Artable know youre interested and they will put you on the notifications list for future events. You can also email them firstname.lastname@example.org
You can also check in on my WORKSHOP BLOG POST for 2024 throughout the year. I keep it up to date with new news and opportunities as they come to light. All the booking information and contacts you need are in each event post so you can check in, see what appeals and join me when the fit seems right.
want to learn but cant make a workshop?
If you want to learn but you are unable to make it to a face to face event… thats no worries either. I have over 20,000 students joining me in my online painting tutorials, with a range of courses available for you to enjoy on UDEMY.
If youre after a community environment, I have also launched my Patreon Community recently. Its new but growing beautifully and I invite you to be a part of all that is set to come there! I post all kinds of content, as much as I am able to… the highlight being a painting lesson around a Natural History subject, large and small, once a month for you to enjoy. I look forward to knowing you better there ⭐️
I hope you find a way to connect in the mix! Happy painting everyone 🙏🏻