For many Australians, the beach is the place where summer weekends begin and end, where meditative winter walks provide sanctuary from the hustle and bustle, and where families, friends and lovers gather to picnic, watch the sunset or walk the dog.
In this article he takes you behind the scenes of the book’s creation.
I call my new book ‘a picture book for grown-ups’, not for the bookshelves but the coffee table, for everyone to see. The Beach took me many months to create. I missed the first deadline, had to reset the schedule when we moved house and then I needed to find time to visit all the beaches at various times of day, sketching different aspects in all kinds of weather and light conditions. For the beaches I couldn’t visit, I borrowed photos and used my wits.
I think if you’re a Western Australian, all beaches have a particular appeal and they have a kind of personality. A person can get to know the local beach as though it were a friend. Some beaches are quiet and peaceful while others are dangerous and spiky, just like people. I’d say that North Beach is my favourite local beach. I lived in the suburb for about 10 years and joined the walkers on the coast road many times. I lived in Scarborough during my teenage years so I’d say that would be my next favourite beach.
I don’t think there is a painter’s medium best suited for beaches, and for this project, in all but one or two, I used charcoal and pastel crayons. There is a kind of freedom in the action of the mark making using charcoal and pastels. To me art is the language of emotion and a lot of the activity is instinctive, urgent and carefree. If you’re creating art, I recommend you be urgent and a little careless as you work, allowing your instincts to deliver meaning. To me being absolutely correct isn’t the name of the game – getting an emotional effect is what art is!
Before I was a full-time artist, for about 25 years my day job was in the printing industry, so it was a pleasure for me to get involved in publishing. I felt at home at Fremantle Press and with the people working there – and I still do! This is the third book in my coffee-table book series, and my sixth book project with Fremantle Press. I was the illustrator for Dianne Wolfer’s Light series, including Lighthouse Girl, and my other two coffee-table books were The River and Rottnest Island. I think The River will always be my favourite. It was the first of my own books and the most exciting for me. For weeks after it went on sale I couldn’t go past a bookshop without going in to see my book on the shelf. It’s a feeling I can’t describe.