I recently travelled from Launceston to Hobart during an 8-day stay in Tasmania, Australia’s island state. On this occasion I was a passenger and I used the opportunity to take about 90 photos with my iPhone as we passed by some of the parts of the Midlands area that I have been drawing for over a decade. Many people think that because Tasmania has a cool, temperate climate it’s always cold and wet. Well it’s not. Rain often fails to fall where it’s needed and drought is some parts of the state isn’t uncommon. Irrigation has helped to some extent, but the impact of climate change is evident.
The colour of the Midlands’ landscape is more often than not, that of straw, due to an insufficient yearly rainfall. I call this type of landscape and its people ‘stoic’. This is at times, tough farming in a landscape that so often has a dry, thirsty look about it. For visitors to Tasmania it must be a strange sight-seeing such large areas of dry land between Launceston (north) and Hobart (south). Irrigation has helped certain parts, but a glance towards most of the hillsides paints a very different picture. Imagine my reaction when all I saw was GREEN. Everywhere I looked I saw more shades of green than one would ever see in an art shop! It was a magnificent sight, more so for the resident farmers than me I must admit, but nevertheless, it was a sight that sparked my imagination. The Midlands rarely receives decent amounts of rain, but when it does the landscape responds almost immediately with new growth and new hope for those who make their living from the land.
Upon my return to Port Macquarie I reviewed all the photos that I had taken and I’ve set about working on a ‘Green Midlands Landscape Series’ over the coming year. I was quite surprised at the amount of green shades I collected from my pencil stocks. I won’t mix greens, as I prefer clean, even colour in my hard-edged style of work.
I’m pleased with my first 2 drawings and I’ll be interested to see how many come from this series. One drawing that I intend creating will be a 50/50 split of a scene one side wet the other dry. I rarely draw a landscape once, preferring to (physically) visit it a number of times to note any changes and any fresh ideas that may arise. On this occasion it was the extreme change of colour that has promoted a new, personal response. Have you ‘re-visited’ subjects that you’ve drawn in the past? I recommend you try this approach if you haven’t done so already.
Our landscape is constantly changing and as artists, so should our response be to it.
To illustrate the contrast in the Midlands landscape I have included some work from much ‘drier’ times. Note the occasional examples of irrigation.