After several years in the planning, my family and I did a camping holiday down to the south coast of New South Wales. Our first attempt (back in 2019) was postponed because of the black summer bushfires that devastated the area. Then several years of Covid restrictions came along. This November we finally hit the road with camper trailer, dog, swimmers and a large dose of excitement at the possibilities of exploring new places {me} and revisiting some favourite spots {Ian}.

I made up a travelling kit of art materials. I found a handy-dandy little suitcase to store my watercolour paints, brushes, sketching pen, a pad of watercolour postcards and several sketchbooks. I also threw in a bag of Derwent inktense pencils {just in case}. One of the sketchbooks was a concertina book I made using 300gsm watercolour paper from Winslow.

On the way south we stayed at a couple of campsites – all nestled along NSW beautiful coastline. Although my usual landscape painting style is abstract and from an aerial view, I found it really enjoyable to park myself on a picnic table somewhere near the beach and just paint the coastline and the sky as I saw it.

Watercolour paints are not my usual medium and so I found it at times a bit frustrating to get the light and the contrast as I would’ve liked it. When that happened I switched to doing colourful abstract patterns using the watercolour paints and the intense pencils. It keeps me enjoying going back to the paints.

We spent most of the holiday at Narooma beach. Our campsite had a stunning view of the coastline south to Glasshouse Rocks – those large pillars of stone eroded by wind and water – and east to Montague Island. I decided I want to capture the changing light over the rocks during our stay, so I took a photo several times a day from roughly the same spot in front of our camper. I edited these into a little video.

We visited many spots in the area and the variety of rock patterns were fabulous. I took lots of photographs as I clambered over the rocky cliffs and brought their inspiration into my paintings.

Below our campsite along the beach and around a rocky headland was a lovely little secluded beach that was completely enclosed by rocky outcrops north and south and a sheer cliff to the west. A perfect place for Lulu {our frisky pointer} to run around. In our 9 days, I rarely saw anyone else there.

I would visit each morning on my walk with Lulu. After a particularly big storm one night, I noticed that a yellow ochre pigment had leached from the rocks across the sand. I was keen to explore what other pigments might be available in the rocks around the headland.

On one of last days at Narooma, the weather was superb – blue skies and light breeze. {Ever tried to paint plein air on a concertina sketchbook in a strong wind? It doesn’t end well!!}

I grabbed my art materials and headed down to the little secluded beach to see what I could find in terms of natural earth pigments. I gathered different coloured rocks and tested them with my Pentel water brush to see if I could get any colour from them.

There was a really good red iron oxide, an orange pigment and a pale, yellow ochre. I also picked up some charcoal from someone’s campfire on the beach. With my home-made concertina sketchbook, I enjoyed a blissful morning of plein air drawing and mark making.

You can see the video I made here of my adventures >>


What’s your favourite art kit for traveling? I’d love to hear. And if you know the area around Narooma Beach, I’m keen to get areas to explore next time we are down.


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