One of my favourite places is Rainbow Beach. I have lovely memories from my childhood, and have a fun bunch of terrific rellies to visit there… I just feel really connected to the place.
I visited last weekend and finally made the time to sketch the Rainbow Beach Stairs. These are a pretty recent phenomenon – they were just normal, concrete stairs until 2018 – and they’re one of those things that make you think… why didn’t someone think of this sooner? They really are just wonderful.
One of the most important reasons I draw and paint, is because I tend to rush around a bit. And drawing slows me down, to really appreciate what’s around me. So, last Saturday, I drew (with a Prismacolor pencil) then coloured (with watercolour) a sketch of these cool stairs. (You can find links to my art supplies here.)
I noticed the progression of colours, and that there were two steps per colour (I already knew there are 72 steps in total as I’ve climbed them many times lately).
I noticed how the trees each side shaded the stairs and almost met 3/4 of the way up.
I noticed that people are around 12 steps tall.
I noticed the deep shadows under the trees and the pale sand each side of the road, and the perspective of the crossing lines on the road.
(As an aside, for those people who hesitate to draw in public, no-one approached me at all. I drew in peace.)
Then, that afternoon I had a few goes at painting the same subject with acrylics – with a goal to loosen up and work on my ‘impression’ of the stairs. So Version 1 was quite tight… it took some time and I was still discovering new shapes and relationships.
Then I may have had a drink… and tried Version 2 – sketching with a Posca paint pen and only adding colour to the stairs and people (colouring the people was actually my 10 year old daughter’s suggestion).
And then I had another drink… and drew the person in Version 3, then masked her off with tape before swiping the colours across, giving the impression of the stairs. It’s not quite what I had pictured in my head, so I’ll try it again one day soon.
My next step is to take all this experience and knowledge and try a bigger painting (these three were A4 sized) on canvas. And I’m looking forward to it, and know that there’s still so much to discover about the subject and the ways it could be painted.
And draw it again and draw it again. And keep drawing and painting it as long as you enjoy it. Monet did HUNDREDS of waterlily paintings. They were his ‘thing’. Discovering ‘your thing’ is a wonderful process and makes your life richer.
So why not pick up a pencil, and have a go!