Big Challenges: A Journey Through Landscape Painting

Big Challenges: A Journey Through Landscape Painting

This Painting Almost Finished My Art Career!

A few months ago, I took a leap of faith and asked my social media followers what 'new' subject they would like to see me paint. I found this decision risky as someone whose typical work revolves around impressionist botanicals in watercolour. The responses poured in, and to my surprise, the majority voted for 'Landscape.' Despite my apprehension, I decided to embrace the challenge. Little did I know that this journey would test my skills and determination in ways I never imagined.

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You see, I'm not a landscape painter.

Whispers in the Wild - Watercolour by Kathy Edwards

My background as a horticulturist and naturopath has trained me to observe the intricate details of botanical subjects meticulously. The thought of depicting an entire landscape, with its vastness and complexity, was daunting to say the least. However, I was drawn to capturing the beauty of a botanical-based landscape, particularly a tree fern nestled in a shaded gully behind our home. Its detailed foliage, interplay of light, and hidden shadows intrigued me.

Negative Painting in Watercolour

As I embarked on this artistic endeavour, I consciously decided to push the boundaries of my painting practice. Employing a technique involving many layers of transparent paint to build depth and pattern, I began tackling the tree fern’s intricacies. Working on a larger scale, 60 x 60 cm, added to the challenge, but I was determined to see it through.

Painting in watercolour, as opposed to other mediums, presented its own challenges. The process begins with the lightest washes and progresses towards the darkest tones, reversing the norm. I devoted eight to nine hours each day to layering washes and adding details for ten to twelve days. As the days went by, the minutiae of leaf patterns consumed my thoughts, even infiltrating my dreams at night.

Hidden Treasure

Yet, amidst the struggle, there were moments of joy and discovery. I found delight in weaving hidden animals—a Satin Bower Bird, a Green Tree Frog, and a Green Tree Snake—into the tapestry of foliage, infusing the painting with whimsy and intrigue.

However, as the days passed, impatience threatened to derail my progress. By day eight, I yearned for completion, longing to escape the confines of my studio. The thought of abandoning my lifelong dream of becoming an artist crossed my mind. It was a moment of reckoning.

Insights and Lessons

Ultimately, I realised it's okay to take a break, step back, and recharge. Months spent tending to my garden gave me the solace and inspiration to return to the studio with renewed vigour. And so, after a hiatus, I find myself again drawn to the studio, captivated by the beauty of leaves.

Reflecting on this journey, several lessons come to mind. Embracing challenges, however daunting they seem, is essential for growth and exploration. Perseverance in the face of adversity is critical to achieving artistic mastery. Attention to detail elevates the quality of our work and deepens our understanding of the subjects we depict.

Nature Nurtures Inspiration

Finding inspiration in nature and allowing ourselves time to recharge are vital for sustaining creativity. Moreover, prioritising quality over quantity in materials and practice sessions fosters skill development and experimentation. Perhaps most importantly, learning to balance impatience with patience and embrace the journey rather than fixate on the destination is a lesson that transcends art and applies to life itself.


In the end, the final artwork, titled 'Whispers in the Wild,' now hangs proudly in my private collection—a testament to perseverance, growth, and the enduring power of creativity. While the journey may have been arduous, the lessons learned are invaluable. And for those who may feel 'rusty' or uncertain in their artistic pursuits, I offer this advice: embrace the challenge, trust in your abilities, and never underestimate the transformative power of creativity.

Limited edition prints of 'Whispers in the Wild' are available. They are a reminder of the journey that almost ended my art career but ultimately led to new horizons and endless possibilities.

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Watercolour Flowers Workshop

Sunday June 9th, 9-12.30 At Eungai Hall, New South Wales. Details here