Caravanning with Wep – Sat., 14th Aug 1937; Quiet times at Bylong Valley & Wondy Peak

Sat. 14th Aug.

Existence most inordinately quiet down here. Absolute remote hermit-like. Conversation confined between three of us. Me, Jess & Dawnie. An occasional school child falls into my trap. I learn the name of the mountain I have painted from 3 angles. Wondy Peak.

Twice a week I recontact civilization, such as it is, at Rylstone. A dull old town appearing as if made from debris of some old prison. A uniformity of ancient stone and morgue like quiet. Radio, consequently, working overtime. Have had to change batteries. Nothing of any consequence happening. Only excitements are furtively snooping water from school house and chasing canvas blown like paper before the howling gusts that swell down the valley. Returned from Rylstone this morning to find our calico lean-to razed to the ground. Had day off from painting & spend time shooting tins – with indifferent success.

Occasional cars pass towards Ginghi – loud whoops and squeals traverse the night. A mile or so down, the local dance. Complete with piano accordion & violin, cheap plonk, and “King hits,” so our local correspondent informs us.

How hard it has been trying to rain. Day finished with Wondy Peak silhouetted against tufts of salmon cotton wool languidly floating beneath a ceiling of blue grey dappled sky. The definite pearly quality of the landscape here. The incredible subtleties of blue, green, and pinks, & ochre deepen to dusk.

Caravanning with Wep – Sunday, 23rd July 1937, Skyring Creek, Qld., description of painting surrounding area and of local friendliness

23rd July Friday

Still at Skyring, but all ready for marching orders. Have been detained here a week now waiting on news from home. From civilization – which strange to say appears to be getting along quite well without us. Wrote down to Sydney on Monday, begging for information as to amount earned for past year and for official billet douxs on which to mail said remembrance. Expect to hear from city tomorrow or is the wish fother to the thought?

Have, in a way, been quite busy this week, wasting paint. 4 oil sketches on the worst canvasses I had. Choice examples of my manufacturing craft – genuine antique within a fortnight, complete with glue worms, dirt and dents. However think I have the substance for some future painting embodied in said sketches. One turned out quite well, one – bloody awful, & two, fair reference. Have re-experienced my Kurrajong troubles (the scale of greens & blues) but have managed a trifle better. The extraordinary luminosity of the rolling green slopes along the Skyring Creek! A darkish yellow green almost discordant in itself, clashing stridently with the intense yet lighter blue of the sky. The subtleties of golds & pinks that weave their patterns in the shafts of grass! Gorgeous, Gilded! Dark, sombre, & well packed, trees line the waterway, their edges crotched with shimmering light.

Damned if I can paint the totality of impression I receive by setting up my easel before the particular and transcribing it. Nature forces extraneous considerations upon my outlook and I cannot synthesise. Only possibility is to make a mental analysis & vague remembrance in paint from which to synthesise the whole. Away from the sheer immediacy of the scene I may be able to comprehensively combine the sum of impressions within one vision, a paraphrase of nature. Force my design upon the canvas rather than have nature force her riotous fecundity (indifference) upon me.

The light changes – a full moon rises beyond the opalescent ridge & clear cold rays percolate through gaunt yellow grayed limbs of the dead trees marshalled stiffly in great bayonet masses behind the dank rich foliage that lines the creek, a hundred yards across the field. The pale magic lantern of the moon hangs lemony on the bars of pink & blue which stripe the sky.

Visited Pomona about 8 miles off the main road, twice this week and were amazed at the friendliness and cordiality of the people. A pleasant cheerful crowd, spawned of warm and sunny hills.

Have been getting milk free from the folk up the road. The typical bush hospitality we have read about. And lettuce too!  Guess I’ve just about earned it all though listening to Miss Mackay & her experiences & views on an art or Edwardian, slag at dawn, vintage. Still, they went out of their way to be decent. Would choose to set my easel up on a main road & so incur the combined amazement & mirth of myriad school children, who daily arrived in two parties. First the bloody plutocrats on bikes and horses, would stare stolidly while their bloody ponies breathed down my neck, second, the proletariat arrive on foot, mostly girls, and twitter like a bunch of sparrows while I lose all concentration & think only of how hot my ears are getting. Finally they all disappear, twinkling colour dots vanishing far up along the pink and dusty road. That painting never did get a chance.