What a weekend – I had a retreat at Nimbin planned for six enthusiastic artists but rain and flood had other ideas so I held an alternative art retreat in my home studio! Sadly it was impossible to get to Two Figs Retreat just outside Nimbin where we had a wonderful retreat last August (and will again next August) everywhere around us was flooded after the devastating cyclone Debbie and many roads were cut. In Lennox we were safe and fairly dry, so it seemed a ‘no brainer’ to do an alternative art retreat in Lennox Head.

Flooded Ross Lane - the way to the alternative art retreat!
Flooded Ross Lane – the way to the alternative art retreat!

We gathered on Friday lunchtime, participants brought food and drink and we settled in to firstly a wander around the property (we have an acre) to examine the dam full of water lilies and now overflowing with water, to look at and collect resource material – trees, leaves, seed pods, insects and birds and of course the colours were really intense in the cloudy, rainy light.

Exploring the property
Exploring the property

We then had a lesson on the tips and tricks to making a landscape ‘work’ – how to create that sensation of distance and taking the viewer ‘into the painting’. Evening led to a pleasant soiree with music, wine, conversation and cheese and some of us ordered take away pizza.

Drawing a stone head and folded fabric
Drawing a stone head and folded fabric
Artist at work!
Artist at work!
Landscape skills
Landscape skills
Intense development of subject - slow art is so important.
Intense development of subject – slow art is so important.
Alternative art retreats needs a treat at the end of the day!
Alternative art retreat needs a treat at the end of the day!
Happy painters......
Happy painters……

Saturday dawned without rain and we quickly settled in to a teaching exercise on how to get the illusion of 3D into drawing with pencil and graphite. Robyn by now excited to work on folds of fabric covering a stone head from the garden, Jan working on a piece inspired by the cyclone, resources blown about by the wind and rain – feathers, leaves, flowers, seed pods and John Wolseley’s fabulous work on natural science combined with masterly drawing and painting skills.

Complementary colours 'pop'!
Complementary colours ‘pop’!
Lunch at The Point Cafe
Lunch at The Point Cafe

Di and Michaela tackled plants and landscape in different ways, both developing their own style and ‘stretching’ themselves (that is what an art retreat is all about!) Kim came in on the second day and worked on some colour theory with her brilliant orange on a purple background. We had a lesson on texture and textural techniques using moulding pastes and pumice gel and talked about the important of the ‘archival sandwich of paint and the various binding mediums and glazes’ in preserving your masterpiece over time – the professional finish.

We took off into Lennox Head village for a fabulous lunch at The Point Cafe and the rain stayed away! I enjoyed sitting and sketching for a while and provided some advice on creating a portrait by using a mirror to tackle painting yourself – always a challenge! Great to survey the day’s work sipping a good sauvignon blanc………

By Sunday we all had a routine, Robyn had to leave to help with the SES cleanup at Kingscliff, but Tricia was finally able to get along and worked her delicate watercolour style with some roses I had saved from the storms. I decided to start a new work inspired by the trees and swampy grassland at the end of our street – they had been first through massive bushfires in February and then flooding rain – with the green coming through again and the water lying on the ground, burnt tree trunks and the sun just appearing, it heralds the cycle of birth, death and rebirth.

Water among the burnt tree trunks - new growth appearing
Water among the burnt tree trunks – new growth appearing

Overall we had an absolute ball and a very productive time at our alternative art retreat – I think I will do it again!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *