River at Snake Gully - Home of Australia's ill-tempered Tiger Snake
This canvas is the most complex of the artist's early Australian series and uses a wider range of techniques than that of other works completed in the same period. The canvas was primed with a soft burnt umber tinted gesso on which the design was outlined in white. Some fragments of this are still visible in the silhouette of the upper right hand side trees. The painting originated with a pen and ink drawing showing the trees to be located to the left, a wide flowing river in the background, and a grass covered mound appearing at the point where the river widens. On the nearer bank is a rock-strewn area and a small pool from which reeds are growing The original drawing also shows three figures, with shovels and pickaxes, engaged m opal digging.
In the subsequent painting the figures have disappeared and the relatively simple pen drawing is transformed into a canvas of some complexity. The grassy mounds in the centre of the river have now moved centre left of the canvas. Its shape, the rocks protecting above the water and the movement of the river itself are all indicated by a warm mid-green colour The colour continues into the lines of ripples becoming tones of cadmium yellow and mixtures of yellow ochre.
Apart from the lower right quarter of the canvas the rest of the work, including the river and its movements and the various features dominate the canvas in a mixture of greens which run the gamut from very light tones to greens with am orange undertow. The flat green bank on the lower right, dotted with rocks and inlets, extends leftwards assuming shapes which evoke the forms of the artist’s earlier surrealism. In place of the three figures fossicking* stands a eucalyptus tree. This is painted in tints of of deep cobalt, ceruleum blue and white. The darkest tone of the work is the tree's foliage, executed in a deep viridian. The foliage seems to unwind and continue into the dark centre of the and mass. It is repeated in the rocks and the grassy banks in the reminder of the canvas.
*An Australian term, originating in the Cornish gaelic language, meaning prospecting for gold or precious stones.
The Australian Paintings are available for book illustrations, annual reports, paper and packaging, giftware, related products. You can license them in the following format: Original transparencies in 6 x 6 cm. (2¼ in.) format, high-resolution RGB drum scans on DVD or efficient and quick E-Mail or FTP upload.