Sentinels - Silver Wattles stand guard over a myrtle rainforest.
Sentinels – Crowds in Landscape No.2

Sentinels 2021 Oil on Linen 1220 x 760mm $5800

Silver Wattles are the largest of Australia’s wattles. Wattles are usually a nursery tree enabling gums to grow protected. But the Silver Wattle provides the opposite function for the rainforest. In this case, they keep the gums away from the rainforest so the Myrtles can grow into the canopy. Thus, the Silver Wattle is a sentinel guarding and protecting the deep forest within. This work was done on location at Liffey Falls Camping Reserve.

The Australian landscape is populated by trees, not people. My paintings which are exclusively of trees explore the figurative and sculptural presence of the tree in the landscape.

 My method is a combination of Plein air and Renaissance painting techniques. I am imbedded in the landscape for 30-40 hours painting directly from life. No photographic sources are used. Plein air painting methods are used but with a pre-impressionist palette. This along with using glazing methods normally confined to studios makes my work unique. It is the process of distilling hours and weeks of live observation that brings to the fore the deep spiritual essence of a place.    

Painting the Sentinels

A behind-the-scenes look at the painting processes used by Russell McKane to complete a masterpiece. Russell provides the commentary where he demonstrates and discusses the way he distills light, time, and place onto a canvas over many, many weeks.

This is a winter painting so look out for the changes in wooly wear.

Plein air takes commitment. Sentinals is an oil painting completed totally Plein air. That means on location without the air of a studio or photographic sources Plein air over 40 hours on one painting takes guts. But the rewards are many – because it gives the artist eyes that are not found in a studio with a highly organized study of composition. No, it distills light. It enables seeing. It enables understanding. and the result is a richness on the canvas few achieve.