The dusty colours of the outback drew landscape painter Tim Winters back to his easel.
Story By Emma Mulholland
The call of a butcherbird ready to nest filters into the old bakery where Tim Winters paints. Standing by the window, Tim marvels at how lush and green his property has become with the recent rain. “It’s something I’ll just have to learn to deal with,” he says, half-joking in his English accent. Although Tim grew up in London, he’s not the sort to pine for the manicured lawns and delicate roses of an English garden. In fact, for many years the accomplished landscape painter avoided working with green. “The dry areas of Australia – that’s what makes me want to paint,” he says. “I love the heat, the dusty colours and the openness.”
The ochre colours of the old bakery site in Stuart Town, near Dubbo, NSW, have inspired Tim’s work since he moved to the property almost 30 years ago. Tim and his wife Lynn came across the place while holidaying and, then and there, decided to leave their Sydney home and spend their lives making art. “I fell in love with the light and the colour here, it’s very different from the coast,” he says.
Now in their 50s, the couple spend their days immersed in work or sharing cups of coffee in the sun. Depending on deadlines, the quaint and well-kept property (complete with a tabby cat) is a place of tranquillity or one buzzing with the fusion of creative energy. Lynn works in what was once the bakery’s shopfront, creating realistic pictures with oil paint and gold leaf. Where her husband’s work is bold and spontaneous, hers is painstaking and intricate. But when deadlines are lurking, Lynn admits that Tim is the more patient of the two. “He would hate me saying this,” she says. “But he is extremely sensible. He is very calm and perseveres until he arrives at a conclusion.”
As a teenager, Tim was selected to study at London’s Hornsey College of Art, but when his parents immigrated to Australia he abandoned his studies to come with them. He enrolled in an interior design course at the National Art School in Sydney and went on to work as a commercial designer. He enjoyed the challenges and limitations of designing restaurants and office spaces but it took time and energy, and his art suffered.
It took his 30s – and vast kilometres of the Australian outback – for Tim to find the fuel that had driven him in his youth. While staying on a friend’s property near Burketown, Qld, he flew over Queensland’s Channel Country in a helicopter. It was his first venture into remote Australia and the perspective he saw – the land from above – has been used in his paintings ever since.
This story excerpt is from Issue #58
Outback Magazine: Apr/May 2008