I was inspired by a painting begun by my daughter. The ultramarine sky and red earth colours were wonderful and I was excited to start a painting the same way. Then I remembered I’d done a book cover a few years ago with the same colours and feel.

I learned something invaluable: I was excited to see what she would do next. Not to see a finished painting of such-and-such, but to see what marks my daughter would create on that surface next. I’d get to see a bit of her. Which finally taught me something which I knew intellectually but at last really “got” - that my paintings too are a bit of me so it’s wonderful to go where it takes me rather than where I think anybody else might think it should go. And maybe others are excited to see what’s in MY head!

It was exciting to get stuck into my own new painting - nothing was deliberate so much as flowing onto the canvas much like improvised dance. I love putting colours together that buzz and zing against each other.

Then I was busting, although terrified, to go on to a huge canvas which has been hiding behind my drawing table. Onto it flew memories of the desert in northwestern New South Wales where I spent several weeks in 1976.

Sturt Desert

It was exhilarating to re-create cracked clay pan, red earth, scrubby bush, the feel of distance, and a bone which we found embedded in the hard sand.

The freedom and looseness and colours were wonderful, but could I apply that to non-desert scenes? It is fantastic to have a base of red and orange and yellow against which to play greens and mauves and blues, but could it be done the other way around?
My back verandah

So far OK...I was trying to achieve the feel rather than physical accuracy- so I got to draw the chairs as they feel - like creatures sitting out there, rather than getting them structurally correct. What a blast!

But...could the same looseness and play with colour apply to a very green Canadian scene?...

This is the B&B I stayed at when I visited Annapolis Royal in Nova Scotia, Canada, in August 2008. And yes, I could start with the blues and greens then add touches of reds and oranges and pinks.

One more huge blank canvas sat in the study. I wanted to paint a beautiful bit of countryside in France, on the lowland below Saint-Flour. The trick was to allow myself to play with colours and go where I wanted with them, and to do suggestive bits and pieces rather than trying to achieve reality. At one stage the top half looked realistic and the bottom half playful, but after I put the photo away and began to work with and enjoy colour and shape as separate entities from the scene itself, it took off.

Below Saint-Flour, France

A baby brush turkey has been scratching around the garden - body about the size of a grapefruit - cute as anything!