John Wilson's love of trees is evident in his beautiful paintings - and you can do it too if you learn all there is to know about your subject.
"There is no doubt, we have the most fantastic country in the world, and for the landscape painter, almost every subject imaginable.
Some of my most enjoyable painting trips have been along our beautiful Murrumbidgee River, painting its moods and the majestic river gums that line its banks and billabongs. The Flinders Ranges offers a different landscape with its subtle pinks, purples and vibrant earth colours. Here again, the great gums are usually found along dry creek beds and eroded water courses." - John Wilson
The sheer intensity of light in the Red Centre threw John Wilson for a loop, until he spent time working out the logic of colour, light, atmosphere and terrain. Then he looked beyond the visual to feel as well as see.
"It was a beautiful clear autumn morning when I boarded Flight 86-Sydney to Alice springs. Already stowed in the cargo hold were three drying boxes filled with fifty or so blank canvases. Hand luggage was my old French box easel, bulging with extra paint and brushes. I was embarking on a painting trip to the Macdonnell Ranges in Central Australia.
I am sure some people think professional artists just sit down and paint brilliant pictures. Of course this is not so. A successful painting is directly related to the amount of thought before and during the painting. Each new subject or area has its own set of problems that have to be placed into an understandable order."
As this issue went to press, John was battling the swift onset of a serious illness. Despite this, John was intent on passing on to other artists one of the secrets of a happy life - how, whether you make money at it or not, painting on location can make you rich beyond belief.
Well it's a clear sunny morning here in the mountains. My French box easel is in the back of my old four-wheel-drive and I'm heading for the office, which today will be the beautiful Megalong Valley, located just west of Katoomba in the Blue Mountains of NSW, Australia.
Like most professional landscape artists I work on location whenever the weather and light are good.
........Just like the early Australian Plein Air painters, today there is an ever increasing numbr of artists who are discovering our landscape and the rewards gained from working on location. There are few professionals who would not insist that working on location is the best classroom in the world."
I was lucky to be able to paint plein air with artist, Les Graham, for a number of years and every time I had difficulty with a new or different subject Les's advice was always "Search it out." When you think about it, it is just common sense. How can you possibly paint a particular subject if you don't fully understand what it is you are attempting to paint.
Students often ask me, "How do you paint a gum tree?" and it's a fair question to ask and not so easy to answer without demonstrating the process. So in this article I will show you how I paint them. However, for me, it is important to capture the character and individuality of each tree, so the process you use should not override the purpose of painting. Otherwise, you are painting what amounts to just another gum tree.