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Great outdoors inspires water colour artists

By Patrick Nelson

Arts trainer Henry Smith makes a technical observation in a student’s water colour work of Dog Rock Arts trainer Henry Smith makes a technical observation in a student’s water colour work of Dog Rock

Charles Darwin University arts students in Alice Springs have turned to Central Australia’s unique natural beauty for inspiration.

A class of Certificate IV in Visual Arts students last week swapped the indoor setting of their campus classroom for an outdoor vista where they put into practice the theory they have been learning during a unit on water colour painting.

Trainer Henry Smith said the group had set up school at Emily Gap last week, and at Dog Rock the week before.

“The focus has been on trees and rocks,” he said.

“It’s fascinating to watch how different people vary in their interpretation and expression of the same scene.”

Mr Smith said the nine-week unit began with a general discussion about water colour painting.

“We proceeded with a step-by-step demonstration of how to paint trees, rocks and the ranges endemic to central Australia.

“They watched and copied and then began practising.”

Mr Smith said that with a scene such as Dog Rock, one would usually start with a wash made with a diluted paint mix.

“By starting with lighter colours you give light a chance to bounce through the paint, and this will give you an atmosphere that is fresh and alive.

“Then you make choices about the level of detail; whether to include clouds, grass and shadows, but it’s not a photo; you don’t want to include everything.”

Mr Smith said most of his students had been art students in the past.

“We don’t have any beginners in this group. Most of them wanted to learn a new technique in art.

“Water colour is not easy to learn. It is challenging to master, but with practise you will get there.”