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Painting With John Russell

Painting is about counterpoint. You take Van Gogh’s least known portraitist, the Australian John Peter Russell. There’s your starting point. You skip past Russell’s better known painting of Van Gogh and go strait to the faded drawings he did in 1886, Five studies of Vincent van Gogh, now gathering dust in the catacombs of the Art Gallery of NSW. You dust them off and take them to the edge of the bush, wait for the sun to drag itself from the sky and you paint him under the pale green light. You let those paintings wander through barren fields to glean what they may from Millet. Persuade them to go way down where the stones meet the sea. Then you search for the light Monet must have seen where Russell lived on Belle Ile and wonder what difference there is between the crags of France and harsh edge of Australia.

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