SAID to be the first of its kind in Australia, a plein-air (in the open air) painting event along the Macquarie River in Dubbo will see about 16 of the country's best landscape painters converge in the city.

The aim is to promote the endeavours of RiverSmart Australia and support community-based efforts to see the Macquarie River better appreciated and used sustainably. 

Members of The Australian Plein-air Artists Group (APAG) will participate in the inaugural event in April and their efforts will culminate in an spectacular exhibition. 

RiverSmart CEO Dr Bill Phillips’ aim is to draw attention to the beauty of the river through the series of paintings.

The artists will position themselves along the banks of the Macquarie across a week and provide an opportunity for art lovers and river users to watch as paintings are created by some of the country’s very best. 

Wongarbon-based artist Brett Garling and member of the APAG, will be participating in the event and believes it will a feather in the cap of Dubbo.

“It’s a rare thing to have this many top quality artists in one spot, particularly here in Dubbo,” he said.

The plein-air painting event will begin at Sandy Beach and will follow the Tracker Riley Cycleway to the boat ramp.

“People can come along and watch the artists paint and ask questions and even bring along their own paints if they like.”

Mr Garling said the week-long event will culminate in an exhibition of works done along the river. 

The works will be sold via the exhibition and all proceeds will go to RiverSmart to further the development of their promotional and educational work.

Mr Garling said plein-air events are uncommon in Australia but are popular in Europe and North America.

“Why that is I don’t know, because it’s been an art form popular in Australia,” he said.

“We’ve had your Streetons and McCubbins and Hans Heyson, all those guys painted plein-air,

“It’s an aspect of their work that was never really looked at, it was just taken for granted.”

The artist said there had been a “real swing-away” from nature.

“There’s still enough of us out there that are doing it though.”

Mr Garling believes any “real artist” works from life at some point in their career.

“Yes, you do your studio works as well but to develop your studio works you have to be inspired by something and that something is nature.”

“You work outside and you capture the light and tones as they are - it’s authentic art, where studio work can become stiff, overworked and tired.”

Mr Garling said the artists would be coming to the Central West from Victoria, Queensland and other parts of NSW.

He said in the future more artists would be invited along and already there had been enquiries for next year’s event.

The exhibition of ‘wet works’ will be opened on Friday, April 26, at Garling Gallery by Dr Bill Phillips, CEO of Riversmart Australia. The event will also officially launch the new Art trail under the Macquarie River Trails initiative. 

For further details go to or

Inquiries can be made to Brett Garling on 02 68 878518 or 0408 477 956 or you can visit or

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