I am back from taking twelve days to step right away from my life on the coast. I flew to Alice Springs and joined a group of artists and writers on a retreat to the heart of the Australia. We camped for a week in the East Macdonnells, in a remote river valley, at Ruby Gap.
Slept at night in a swag under a naked sky, to be woken with birdsong, and verses from the Ruba'iyat of Omar Khayam sung out from the camp kitchen by the camp host, under the fiery glow on the escarpment which features sheer walls and folded rocks. Each day I struggled with unfamiliar media, gouache, watercolour, oil crayons and pastels, so different from the rich vibrant versatile oils I'm used to. I fought with the paint and paper, took risks and scraped it off, tried and failed. Only towards the end of the camp did I feel my hand connecting with my eye, find enjoyment in the process, rediscover freedom in precise yet loose marks, touch the centre, begin to find the elusive something in painting that I love.