Life & Style Weekend - - MAGAZINE | ESCAPE -

I con­sider my­self a rea­son­able tal­ent with a pen­cil or paint­brush. I can stay in the lines, at the very least, and go be­yond a mere stick fig­ure. But I felt like a child back at square one while sit­ting down with David Cameron.

The Kun­win­jku artist is an artist in res­i­dence at Jabiru’s Crocodile Ho­tel, of­fer­ing paint­ing les­sons in the ho­tel’s gallery where many of his pieces are on dis­play.

Us­ing the tra­di­tional ochre paints in red, yellow, black and white, he uses paint­brushes made from fresh­wa­ter reeds to cre­ate the fine lines which mark the sig­na­ture style of his skin group.

Scan­ning the gallery for sub­jects tra­di­tional for Kakadu, I de­cide on a bar­ra­mundi.

A background colour is painted first, then the out­line of the fish, fol­lowed by de­tails like gills, scales, a mouth and an eye.

The thicker brushes are easy to work with, but the fine reed brushes – just three or four fi­bres thick – take a steady hand and a lot of prac­tice. Who knew straight lines could be so hard?

A softly spo­ken man, David is a pa­tient teacher with a cheeky sense of hu­mour. When­ever I curse my­self for a wob­bly line or thick blob of paint, he chuck­les and says “we’ll fix it later”.

True to his word, he helps to fin­ish off my piece with a painted frame and lily pads.

Putting reed to canvas with a lo­cal mas­ter not only gave me a much greater ap­pre­ci­a­tion for the art I saw in Kakadu, it also gave me a price­less sou­venir bet­ter than any­thing you can buy in a gift shop.

– Seanna Cronin

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