Brush with Brilliance with Colin Passmore

Image source: Photographer Ian Waldie

Blues-loving Colin Passmore left surf breaks on the west coast for the idyllic east coast, to catch big waves and unwittingly morph into the Master Impressionist, extols Helen Flanagan.

Live in the sunshine, swim the sea, drink the wild air, share a house, dabble in art and air-brushed clothing – all these experiences are synonymous of young Colin Passmore’s life in the 70s at Margaret River, before he upped stumps for a beach house east-side. 

Surrounded by unique Australian landscapes, coastal imagery, and of course surf breaks, there was no turning back once he landed in Noosa.

Colin uses acrylic paint on large canvases often washing and rubbing back like a water colour to ‘extract’ light, so it is engrossingly expressive, richly coloured and executed with graphic sensibility, somewhat reminiscent of the impressionists. 

Artists of the period abandoned the traditional landscape palette of muted greens, browns, and greys, using instead quick loose brushstrokes, in a lighter, sunnier, more brilliant key while also building up objects out of discrete flecks and dabs by pure harmonising or contrasting colour, evoking broken-hued brilliance. 

The Gold Coast’s Art Gallery Schubert hosted Colin’s first exhibition in 1983, with the sell-out Australian Outback Desert series. The acclaimed Paperbark series followed as did 25 solo exhibitions and an innumerable series including the simply titled Pond, Tree, Grass and Two Green Birds.

His first commission in 1986, of 50 paintings for the owners of the Seahaven Resort in Hastings Street, Noosa Heads cemented his fame. 

Corporate, university and private collections including Terry Morris, the founder of Sirromet Wines, as well as galleries in Japan and Australia are proud custodiams and owners of Colin’s work. 

Michael Brennan, Artist and Gallery Director of the Noosa Regional Gallery described Colin’s work as canvases which “capture a fantastic tension between abstraction and the environment. At scale, they have an ability to transform a space, immersing the viewer in a field of colour and texture that might equally represent and expansive landscape or the microscopic detail of the ground beneath our feet. This quality of often just evading our grasp is what compels people to keep looking.”

Michele Knox, an art consultant with the prestigious Wentworth Gallery in Sydney’s Martin Place and Phillip Street, where Colin has been represented for several years, said “he is one of our most sought-after artists. Clients love the simplicity and natural beauty of his compositions – the way that they reflect the flora and fauna of his surroundings. 

“They are large format which affords real impact, sometimes quite ‘representational’ however also painted in quite an abstract form, with splashes of colour and movement, also the fine detail of birds he loves to include, are pure delight.” 

Art consultants at Nissarana Galleries, established in 2008 in the Victorian bayside town of Mornington and also on Hastings Street agree most clients are attracted to Colin’s work immediately. 

“I think it is the way he manages the many aspects from the composition, colour combinations, subject matter and brushwork,” explains Noosa Heads’ Deb Hutton, also an artist, and friend of Colin’s for 18 years. “His work appeals to a broad spectrum, the feel-good psyche, when you’re in front of his artworks. Much like music – hard to put a finger on it, but you enjoy the experience!” 

Understandably Colin’s Peregian Beach abode since 1982, where his two daughters grew up, has been stretched to the limits, doubling/tripling as a studio where he paints ten hours each day, as well as being a gallery. Time to relocate to Cootharaba near Boreen Point, where his home, studio and gallery will be surrounded by the landscapes, flora and fauna that have inspired his distinctive artworks. 

In itself a work of art, the labour of love for more brushes with brilliance, Colin’s Sunshine Coast Art Gallery will be unveiled in time for the 2022 Noosa Open Studios Art Trail. Don’t miss it! 


Colin will be part of Noosa Open Studios, Queensland’s Largest Open Studios Art Event with over 100 artists on 1-9 October 2022.

Visit Colin’s new studio and gallery at 1460 Louis Bazzo Drive, Cootharaba on 1 & 2 October and 6-9 October from 10am to 4pm, where he will be exhibiting beside friend and renowned artist Debra Hutton. 

At other times for enquiries, text or call about Colin’s open hours: 0428 775 154

About the Author /

Noosa’s sophisticated charm, vibrant food culture and the magnetism of a subtropical paradise surrounded by national parks, inveigled Helen’s manic world and flipped it on its side. She pursues the good life with gusto, instinctively understanding the joys of travel, the art of story-telling, a candid review and surviving another reno whilst thriving on the motto Live Laugh Love!

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