If you’ve followed my blog at all, or even if you just know me, you’ll know that the nature of my work in the Offshore Oil Support Industry takes me all over the world. Technically, I believe that, Antarctica is the only Continent that I have not visited and worked in. Obviously, in the current times of the Covid-19 pandemic, travel has been more problematic than usual, though work itself has continued for me pretty much unabated.
The vessel that I am currently assigned to, the PLSV Seven Oceans, is operating in Australia in support of Woodside’s Julimar Phase 2 project. As such I had to travel to Australia to join the ship for the second part of it’s campaign there. This involved undergoing a mandatory 14 day quarantine period in a hotel with government oversight. While contemplating the idea of 14 days forced confinement in a hotel room – no matter how luxurious – I debated how to deal with the inevitable boredom and sought ideas on how to avoid becoming ‘Stir Crazy’. Melisa suggested taking watercolor paints with me, as I had previously expressed and interest in trying them again as an alternative to oil painting. Watercolors are much easier to transport, and cleaner to use, and less of a potential mess to clean up, also the finished paintings dry a lot quicker and can be packed away easier.
It was an inspired suggestion, and that is what I did. Internet access from the hotel WiFi allowed me to view numerous YouTube channels full of simple tutorials for beginners like myself, and with my simple travel set of paints I was able to do quite a few paintings. I don’t know if my skill level is improving, but as I have gone on, my paintings – to my eye – have progressed from “fairly cringe-worthy” to “not totally offensive”. I have found limitations with what I brought with me; my watercolor set of ‘half-pans’ does not have any white – apparently quite common for pan sets as opposed to tube sets. I also forgot to take masking tape, handy for taping down the paper so that it doesn’t wrinkle, and for keeping your painted horizons straight and level. The lack of tape was temporarily mitigated by the fact that I also had a watercolor ‘block’, a pad of paper where the sheets are essentially ‘glued’ together, allowing you to paint without the paper wrinkling, then the page can be separated from the pad with a knife when the painting is dry. I later found a roll of electrical tape in my bag, not perfect, but it does hold the paper down adequately.