Awash with JMW

There are few pleasures in an Australian summer to compare to hanging on the ocean side of the Merewether Baths, watching the waves rolling in over the rock platform, and for an extra frisson enjoying a wave washing up and over the edge of the pool.

Having enjoyed a holiday plungeor two I was reminded of that other aficionado of the seaside Mr JMW Turner. While my efforts are in no way comparable I couldn’t resist a Turneresque title for my simple sketch.

Coal ships off the port of Newcastle – waves breaking over Merewether Ocean Baths, water temperature 20°C, falling tide , 19 January 2018

North to Newcastle

We’ve just had a quick visit to see my family in Newcastle (on the Hunter River in New South Wales, not the city in the UK). I managed a few sketches along the way.

On the drive north we stopped for a cup of coffee at the small town of Marulan, where I had a view of the beautifully restored Royal Hotel, which I think is now a private home.

The Royal Hotel, Marulan, NSW, pen and ink, 4 March 2015

The Royal Hotel, Marulan, NSW, pen and ink, 4 March 2015

In Newcastle we went into the city where we had dinner at a pub on the harbour. This place has been built inside, what I recall, as originally being one of the ‘sheds’ on the No. 4 Lee Wharf. This part of the harbour foreshore has been undergoing a major re-development in recent years. The view on the harbour-side of the building was over to the working side of the port, including the grain loader and the docks for the harbour’s tugs.

Tugs in Newcastle Harbour, NSW, ballpoint pen, 5 March 2015

Tugs in Newcastle Harbour, NSW, ballpoint pen, 5 March 2015

The beaches that line the coast are always a magnet when we visit. Unfortunately the seas were high and rough and the beaches were closed for swimming. That didn’t stop us and all the other beach-goers, walkers and coffee drinkers taking a seat and watching the local surfers riding the waves.

Surfers at Merewether Beach, NSW, pen and ink, ball point pen, 6 March 2015

Surfers at Merewether Beach, NSW, pen and ink, ball point pen, 6 March 2015

It was difficult to catch the moves the surfers were making as each position of their bodies was only held for seconds. I settled for making very quick sketches with my  pen. I was interested to note how often the surfers’ arms appeared to just ‘hang’ in the air, ready to follow the body as the surfers shifted their weight on the board to move across the face of the waves.

Catching the surfers, catching the waves, ball point pen, 6 March 2015

Catching the surfers, catching the waves, ball point pen, 6 March 2015

After a fun few days on the coast we headed up the Hunter Valley into the country for the weekend. It was great to be able to put my feet up and look out across the paddocks to the nearby mountains.

The view to the mountain, near Branxton, NSW, ball point pen, 7 March 2015point pen

The view to the mountain, near Branxton, NSW, ball point pen, 7 March 2015

It was also fun to try and capture the poses of the Welcome Swallows as they sat and preened on the pool fence in the early morning.

Welcome Swallows preening, pen and ink and watercolour, 8 March 2015

Welcome Swallows preening, pen and ink and watercolour, 8 March 2015

And last but not least I found a source of inspiration for a watercolour. Forget the rural idyll, stacked up near the stables were a pile of pre-cast concrete panels, with plenty of interesting passages to test my skills with depicting depth and placement. I was so busy focusing on the details of the panels that I didn’t really stop to look at the overall painting until it was finished.  I was really pleased with the way it came together.

Concrete panels, watercolour 8 March 2015

Concrete panels, watercolour 8 March 2015