STORY BEHIND THE PAINTING
Waiting For Lee-Anne
[An Extract from Trekking with the T-Team: Central Australian Safari 1981]
I opened up my art pad, squeezed out the primary colours from Mattise acrylic tubes and then dabbed the paint on the paper. A ghost gum, that’s what the lady down my street wanted. I looked around to see if any ghost gums were visible. No, not today. Not in the Ormiston Gorge car-park. I had to paint one from memory.
‘What are you painting?’ asked a middle-aged woman who leant over my shoulder.
‘Um, a ghost gum.’
‘I have to do it from memory.’
‘It looks very good.’ Hard to tell if she meant it. ‘You must be talented.’ She walked off.
‘Ooh! An artist!’ A man with black hair and a moustache hovered over me and ogled at the painting. At this rate, I won’t get anything done.
My face flushed hot and prickly. Too much attention. Failing to get a response from me, the man also walked away.
With no more interruptions, I dibbed and dabbed, splashing reds and yellows for rocky mounds, a dash of burnt sienna for the ground, a wash of cobalt-blue sky, and white outline for the ghost gum. There, all plotted in. The leaves’ll have to wait.
Shadows lengthened, and darkness crept over the landscape, and me. I packed up my paints and then sauntered over to the car-park. The Rover sat under a giant river gum, my brother and older cousin (C1) parked in the front seat.
‘There you are!’ C1 said. ‘We’ve been waiting twenty minutes. What is it? Waiting for Lee-Anne day?’
‘Sorry. Had to wait for the clothes to dry,’ I said. Actually, I got carried away with the painting, but I wasn’t going to admit that. ‘Why didn’t you come looking for me?’
‘We did, but we couldn’t see you anywhere.’
‘I was right—’ I pointed in the direction of the tree where I’d been sitting, ‘there!’
‘No, you weren’t,’ Richard said who obviously didn’t look too hard.
‘Well, I was there. Other people saw me. They commented on my painting.’ I piled my painting equipment into the rear of the Rover.
The guys helped me pick the washing off the line. My brother complained the clothes were still wet. See I told you so! I made a big deal of the clothes’ dampness to justify my paint absorption.
At base camp, I hung up the damp washing on the line strung between two spindly and leaf-challenged bushes. ‘See, they’re still damp,’ I emphasised, throwing a glance in my brother’s direction.
Meanwhile, in the dark, Dad prepared our tea—potatoes, spam patties, soup and for dessert raisin cake with custard.
After a full and triumphant day of a physical work out, followed by a creative work out, and feeling full and clean, I knew sleep would come easy. And it did!
© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2017
Painting: Ghost Gum Red Cliffs © Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2010
[I commenced this painting in 1981 after my return from Central Australia. Then, a few years ago, I discovered it, unfinished, in my cupboard. I “finished” it at Art group, and, not entirely happy with it, it has sat in a temporary frame in our lounge room while I try and work out what else needs to be done to it.
The original, the one I painted at Ormiston, I touched up and gave to our neighbour who’d requested it. She was very happy with the painting and gave me $20 for my effort.]