For almost twenty years now I’ve roamed with my sketch pad to the wild and remote coastal Australia, the quiet and calm of eucalyptus forests, or the bustling tourist throngs of inner cities and always I am happier with the results of sketching than the snap-shots from my digital camera. Maybe if I had read the instruction the results would be better, but still for me there is nothing like a sketch to transmit a true feeling and sense place and having sat for ten minutes or more observing thoroughly the surroundings I am easily transported back to those places by that simple sketches, a sketch that contains in every mark of the pencil or flick of the brush a direct connection with being there. The top shelf of the armoire is filled with my carnées de voyages from Scotland, Spain, Brittany, New Zealand and above all Australia. Many are now lightly splattered with oil paint as they served to create a studio study and a few have been cannibalised in an effort to sell the occasional water colour sketch but on the whole they remain in tacked as a testament to my travels. In early years they took on the form of a visual diary but increasingly the writing has been kept apart with just the occasional comment. This latest trip to the south west corner of Western Australia has filled another sketchpad that conveys the summer of 2013 as being a relentlessly hot one. There have been delightful encounters with the wild life and the discovery of more early ruined homesteads and rusting fishermen’s shacks. The relentless coastline and beaches north of Perth often seem devoid of interest and featureless, giving every outcrop of crumbling limestone disproportionate importance. In contrast much of the accessible Southern Ocean coastline is filled with curious granite outcrops and headlands. Driving inland the more interesting roads are red, rutted and dust filled, much has been cleared for cereal production and the remaining bush interspersed with crystal white salt lakes that occasionally sport a colourful algal bloom. Fire is a constant worry and although I smelt bush-fire smoke several times at night there was nothing that came too close. I arrived in Esperance a week after a serious fire had curled north of Pink Lake leaving burnt out vehicles and the remains of a caravan in the bush bordering the road. Now in the quiet of my studio looking back at these sketches there is an immediacy that I will struggle to convey in any oil painting but that will not stop me trying.