Pen drawing with soft watercolour wash and the title words overlaying including the webpage address

The Painting-a-Day Holiday Challenge

Watercolour Workshop with Christine Porter - Colour mixing for Watercolour October2018

As self-motivated creatives we are in charge of our own learning.

We choose classes with particular teachers, or buy particular magazines, or follow particular art-influencers on the socials. We decide how many hours we work, and we can also, deliberately, set ourselves learning projects as if we were our own teacher.


gallery wall showing small paintings + text

In reality we are learning all the time.

Like how meeting an exhibition deadline includes not just learning how to negotiate the gallery systems, create the paperwork, allocate dollar value to our creativity, etcetera ad infinitum, it’s also about recognising how our skills develop under pressure; how the necessary extra-pressured studio hours result in artwork that is more fluent than when there’s time to be tentative.

A painting by Christine Porter of the view across a blue bay to hills with Norfolk Islan pines on it. Overlaid are the words "The 35 things I Learnt" and the web address

If the learning curve is steep; the results can be profound.

Vis-à-vis the aforementioned exhibition.
It’s too easy to just collapse in a heap when a challenge has passed. What gives it more value is to make a list; it recognises the magnitude, and cements the learning. Read these thirty five things I learnt when I went to Norfolk Island early 2020, which was a pivotal artistic experience for me. 

photo of bare feet in beach sand

It’s coming up to the Christmas Holidays again.

I love this time of the year. I’m planning my holiday which will be the similar to all the other Christmas holidays since my family bought the old beach house on the mid-north coast nearly fifty years ago now. Like all the other people who flock to the beach in January up and down the coast, this time is not-negotiable.

Photo of Christine Porter's artwork from Place series. Pencil drawings and found objects in perspex boxes

I do take a little project with me, just to assuage work-guilt

I try not to work when I’m at the beach; the year tends to run together if there’s not a break over the summer. (read more) Sometimes I have to though – like the year I had ten small acrylic paintings to complete, for delivery January 4 in Toowoomba. Or the time I added twenty or thirty of the “Remembering how to fly” miniature bird paintings to the series, ready for the exhibition later that year. Or when the putting together of the “Sense of Place” series (pictured) into their perspex boxes was much easier to do at the beach. 

Last year I set myself a challenge that would combine holiday and work.  

It would be learning and relaxation. I would fill my sketchbook with drawings and paintings of Hat Head, painted on site, every day. I would deliberately use differing media, styles, and materials. By the end of the sketchbook I would know more about how Plein air painting could move from a planning and prep integral part of my painting process, 

a photo of an artist sitting under an umbrella in a blue raincoat

The Process

Every day, depending on what else was happening, I’d take my sketching gear and whoever felt like coming with me, and set off somewhere in and around the village and paint. One day we circumnavigated the headland, stopping to paint at various places around. From this activity evolved the “Walk around the Garden” plein air workshop for adults, and the Step Away program for parents and children.

drawing and painting of a mob of kangaroos in front of the ocean

paitning of a green mountain headland looking along a beach and the hinterland

The Result

Each day it felt more normal, easier. I noticed an increase in accuracy, fluency and enjoyment. It was an excellent way to really drill down to the experience of this time at the beach. It gave focus and a very legitimate reason to sit and enjoy the absolute joy of the Aussie beach summer. Which, I might add, included not the traditionally picturesque, but also the sort of ridiculous amusement of watching the Pitt St Cowboys lining up, in their freshly minted 4WD, to try to cross the sandhills for the obligatory beach driving component of their holiday.

Photo of a sandy track going through litoral rainforest towards the beach

Would I do it again? 
Absolutely ! 
Did I learn things ? 
More than I can list. 
Would I recommend it to my friends? 
In a heartbeat. 

Grab a sketchbook folks, and go and find a tree to sit under: it’s one of life’s great pleasures.
Holidays can be all things to all people – even if sometimes it’s technically work. 

sketchbook drawing of a creek, mountain and mangroves


Grab a sketchbook folks, and go and find a tree to sit under: it’s one of life’s great pleasures.
Holidays can be all things to all people – even if sometimes it’s technically work. 

---My Plein Air Kit---

A photo of an open sketchbook showing a painting, as well as pens, palettes, brushes and water bath.
1 sketchbook, 1-2 pre-loaded palettes, 3 pens, 3 brushes, 1 screw top water container ...
Photo of a clear plastic pencil case through which is visible a paint brush and sundry watercolour items a clear pencil case
photo pf a hand holding a sandwich. in the background is a bush track and the sea
SOMETIMES ALSO: a sun umbrella, a small tarp to stand on, a small chair to sit on, a cold sausage sandwich wrapped in paper, cold tea in a glass bottle.

A Selection of Other Posts For You

Photo of Chrisitne Porter apparently adjusting a video selfie with the words "I've discovered a new Way of telling stories" over the top and her website below it.

I’ve discovered a new way to tell a story

2020 was not the year any one in the world anticipated. For artist Christine Porter it was compounded by an eye injury that kept her out of the studio for a large part of the year. It didn’t keep her from the laptop though, nor from learning a whole new way of telling stories, and teaching. Video became that modality. And this is what she’s done.
So far…

Read More »

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