Elaine Watts
Watercolourist and Printmaker


(posted on 28 Feb 2014)

Here in Australia they make it easy to remember the seasons--instead of the 21st or 22nd of the month to coincide with the solstice it's the first of the month that marks the changing of the seasons. Somehow coming from a country where even civilized parts of it are currently measuring temperatures of -30 degrees without accounting for wind chill (whether that's Fahrenheit or Celsius it's still bloody cold!) it might seem a bit premature to be declaring spring right about now! But, I digress from my purpose of writing about "practising the art of globetrotting"!

So here goes. I had a fantastic day trip to Lady Musgrave Island which is at the south end of the Great Barrier Reef (one of the great natural wonders of the world--definitely worthy of your bucket list at some degree of expense just about anywhere you can access it). No one had been able to get out to the lovely little island with a beautiful protected fringing reef for 12 days but on my one day I was there the weather cooperated. That said I was happy I had taken the recommended anti nausea medication as almost everyone around me on the 90 minute trip was very sick (not to mention happy to get onto land and have a walk when we got there!)

These are two of the endangered Loggerhead turtle hatchlings from the hatching I described in the last post.

To continue a theme from prior posts, this little island is also a nesting site for sea turtles and from Australia Day til Easter is closed to camping because of the turtle traffic. At the time we arrived it was estimated there had been 1,000,000 eggs laid on the island and as we walked through the campground it looked like a war zone with piles of corally sand and holes everywhere. But the best was yet to come as we walked onto the beach there was a huge green turtle who had come up to lay and gotten herself wedged under a fallen tree.

Unable to dig herself out, or back up, she was exhausted and dehydrated (they come up at night and it was afternoon by this time). All the visitors set about digging her out and pulled her around (no small feat taking 4 strong guys to shift her) to see the sea again.

She was anxious to get back to the water once she saw it but still needed a bit more help before she got her head down and pulled herself in, swimming away a bit "bum up" for a while.

We watched keeping our fingers crossed that she would survive and amazed by the experience. Definitely a highlight of the walkabout!

That was the most northerly point of my travels so I turned and worked my way back south towards New South Wales, enjoying stopping at art galleries and studios as I drove. I realized as I was journaling that I am starting to immerse myself in many forms of art. I've bought myself a harmonica and have been teaching myself to play, almost mastering "Waltzing Matilda", and attempting to play along with my favourite tunes as I drive along (when the keys match--who would have known harmonicas come in different keys??) And I've had two evenings of singing harmony (well, attempting! ) with my cousin's community choir which gave me additional insight into the art of making music. I can hardly wait for my new CD of Bluesland "Down in New Orleans" to arrive (a Calgary cousin plays in the band & recorded/produced the CD) for more inspiration!

Another of the arts being literature, I'm recognizing I've always loved books, and reading, and can see that I'm doing a fair bit of writing as well, counting journaling, emails and blogging as a form. And as for drama and the stage--my main form of appreciation is probably more movies than theatre but I'll be on the lookout for opportunities there too.

Coming to my main commitment to visual arts I've been particularly noticing some great sculptures along the path.

This on Sydney Harbour, a joint production with Taronga Zoo fundraising with artists and the corporate world--notice the "shadow" underneath is in the shape of a human.

Here is some work I visited in the NSW Gallery in Sydney--spent a gorgeous day along the harbour and looking at galleries, including a fabulous printmaking exhibition by my Bellingen teacher Seraphina Martin.

Was great to renew my acquaintance with the Australian Impressionists McCubbin, Streeton, Condor and the like there, as well as see some aboriginal sculpture and art.

I was also pleased to rediscover this watercolour I painted a few years ago!

And equally pleased to sell the first print of the year "Veiled Faerie"--an etching with a very sheer Chine Colle rice paper "veil" with little flecks of gold and silver woven into the paper. The collector has commissioned me to do two more in the series so that's an exciting development as well.

So, all in all things are well in my world--although back in the Okanagan the Summerland Studio Tour group has run into some significant challenges. More about that next time--meanwhile the 2014 weekend dates have been cancelled although studios (including mine) are definitely available to tour--by arrangement or by chance. See you again in a few weeks!