A BRUSH WITH A MASTER ARTIST
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