I was camping by a river bed in the Leichardt Range not far from Ravenswood, a decaying old gold mining town in northern Queensland, Australia. I’d been there for a few days, completely out of phone or internet contact, isolated with just Rupert and a few passing cattle for company.
This was a beautiful evening with stunning vistas everywhere. I’d taken Gertie the Jeep up the rather ambitious rocky climb out of the valley I was in, high up the side of the hill amongst some old mine diggings. The view was unbeatable and the light was perfect. I set up for plein air painting and got to work. A photo of the site with the painting under way can be seen on my Instagram feed here.
I’d left my phone in the Jeep as I could only use it for GPS and map navigating the last few days when suddenly I hear it start chirping. Apparently, the universe had shifted slightly and at my increased altitude I started to get some signal – good old Telstra! – It was the first time my wife had been able to contact me for days and she wanted to talk. I spent the next half hour climbing further up the hill to improve reception, abandoning my easel, wet palette and half constructed painting.
The light faded away as I watched the Sun disappear over the hills towards the west and evening moved in, the stars coming to life. When I finally hung up, it was dark. I cleaned up and packed away my painting gear by the aid of torchlight. Needless to say, no more work got done on the painting. I mooched back down the hill to camp and stashed the wet canvas away to dry.
Back in Western Australia in my studio, I got to work on the canvas and finished it with the aid of a bunch of reference photos I’d had the good sense to take at the time before I started painting.