Private 18

The artist spent the earlier part of his life living by the beach at Wynnum Manly (Qld). In this painting, people are depicted enjoying activities on a small headland in the bay.

The painting, (Private 18), has similarities to paintings done by Charles Condor, who pursued coastal themes. (See Condor’s painting Ricketts Point, Beaumaris, 1890). Condor became a member of the Heidelberg School, Melbourne, founded in 1891. It was the first important art movement in Australia.

As a structural rule, the artist roughly applied the ‘rule of thirds’, and broke the painting into nine sections. The foreground with the tiny, softly splashing waves, takes up the lower third. The principal subjects, (the people, especially the two central figures), and a section of water, take up the central third, whilst the secondary objects (sailboat, houses) are in the top third. The sign on the left has been placed near the left, vertical line and on the upper left ‘eye’ of the painting. By spreading images of people across the canvas the landscape appears wider to the viewer’s eye. 

The artist used impressionist techniques and short, quick, broad strokes to capture light and colour. Soft blue colours are spread throughout the painting, as are the pastel tints of the sand. The red-violet touches on the sign on the left, are repeated along the shore in the background, and this allows the viewer’s eye to travel around the canvas easily. The sky has some cloud, yet light reflects gently from the water.

Attention has been paid to detail. There are trees on the hills on the horizon, and mountains in the distance. The mood of the painting is a relaxed one.

Acrylic on Masonite, date unknown.

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