If you’re looking for oils painter Richard Musgrave-Evans, he’ll probably be on a remote bush track somewhere in South Australia.

Story + Photos Ken Eastwood

Just follow the track,” he says. “I’ll be somewhere along there.” And sure enough, past the wheat paddocks, past the abandoned fishing shacks, on a remote headland overlooking a stunning, isolated bay with turquoise water washing onto rocks, is Richard Musgrave-Evans’ ute and specially fitted-out trailer, which he has designed to be able to paint beautiful oil landscapes in the most remote locations. He’ll live in the scrub on his own for a week or more at a time, patiently boiling the billy, observing and waiting for the light to be right, then paint with a frenzy of movement – not usually messing around with brushes but smearing oils together and slapping it on a canvas with a palette knife. 

The results are quite astonishing – a blend between impressionism and realism that he calls “contemporary impressionism”, with details cleverly implied with a flick and a spot of paint. “I’m trying to capture a more accurate picture of reality using less detail,” he says. “When I was little and we used to go to galleries, I’d always be interested in impressionist paintings where you had to stand back to see what it is. It looks real from a distance, but it doesn’t look real up close.”

Richard is rarely on the coast, like this spot on Spencer Gulf; he’s much more likely to be inland – such as in the Flinders Ranges – and he has a home in Quorn. “Here on the coast I can paint in the middle of the day because it picks up all those colours – like that brilliant turquoise there. But in the outback it has to be dawn and dusk.”

This story excerpt is from Issue #131

Outback Magazine: June/July 2020