On the weekend of 26th – 29th August 2016 I ran an art retreat at Nimbin in the magnificent Northern Rivers, in the shadow of the Nightcap ranges. This is the story of that adventure.
In fact the venue was Two Figs Retreat, about 6kms from the town of Nimbin, a lush garden and bush escape of some 20acres. It is owned by a friend of mine, Pam Craven, and when a group of my students asked me to put on a painting and drawing weekend, I immediately thought of her as there is accomodation for 8-9 people – a perfect number for a small group. You can see more about the resort here.
The program was organised around the students’ needs – there were seven women artists and one husband stayed and although he did not paint, was great company and did the washing up every night! On day one which started at lunch time, we covered creative drawing exercises and explored the property for interesting subject matter – leaves, trees, flowers, fungi, landscape, and water. We were thrilled to have wallabies as interested observers!
On the first evening during happy hour we discussed the impressionist movement in France during the latter years of the 19th century and ranged over subjects as diverse as the rise of religious and representational art.
The early mornings were a magic time and I took the opportunity to explore outside Two Figs before breakfast and classes each day – you can see the morning mist over the Nimbin valley by clicking on the link to a little video I made; Early morning walk – mist in the valley
On day two we started with exploring ink and wash drawings and moved on to painting backgrounds and brush strokes – morning tea was wonderful scones baked by our hostess. People experimented with the media I brought and did their own ink, pen and wash work.
After the morning session we drove to the Blue Knob Hall Gallery where we visited the Farmer’s Market (I was so excited to find Hemp Charcoal and bought a box), a ceramic studio in full swing and then had a satisfying lunch in the Cafe.
Afternoon on day two was devoted to free painting, plein air or drawing or a siesta! I explored the town of Nimbin before returning to paint plein air.
Our surroundings were fascinating – not just the botanical and landscape, but also the art deco house, cottage and studio accomodation…..
Each evening we all gathered for drinks and nibbles around the pot belly stove (cold when the sun disappeared!) and then our hostess arrived with dinner and dessert – magnificent food all weekend.
Day three started with a demonstration of still life painting, including composition, making a start on a canvas (can be daunting) and then adding paint in shapes rather than doing a detailed drawing.
The rest of the time was spent in free work – painting, ink work and drawing – some of the participant work can be seen below…….
We farewelled each other on the morning of day four – some stayed until morning tea (brownies) and completed work or worked on their visual diaries.
The group is keen to have a repeat of the retreat next year – so watch this space!
Afterwards I had a lovely in an email: