ART just makes you feel good and psychologists tell us that spending time in nature reduces stress. Their studies also show that viewing art helps you live longer. So, combining those two things by going to an exhibition of landscape paintings has got to be good, right?

The beautiful alpine region and the golden plains of the Monaro are celebrated in an exhibition at the Raglan Gallery at Cooma in August and September.

The paintings of Fiona Smith and Charlotte Whitby take in the natural environment of the Snowy Mountains and streets and roadside views of Cooma and down to Bega – familiar to locals and all the regular visitors who view this region as their second home.

Artists Fiona smith and Charlotte Whitby.

Fiona’s paintings are a reminder of the extraordinary regenerative powers of the Australian landscape, with a view out to Porcupine Rocks showing the silver skeletons of trees, which remain after the massive wildfires of 2003, which burned nearly 70 per cent of the park.

Fiona’s family have been involved in operating ski lodges since the 1940s. Her work can be seen in homes and commercial accommodation around the Snowy Mountains.

“I particularly enjoy painting those in-between seasons, where you have the ground cover breaking through the last of the Spring snow. There is so much colour and variety in the plants, which makes a great contrast to the patches of white,” she says.

Charlotte married into a six-generation Towamba Valley farming family, moving from Canada as a new bride to live in Cooma and work as a graphic designer in Jindabyne.

The artists both now live in Sydney and are drawn up the Monaro Highway multiple times a year.

Charlotte is sometimes seen working plein air with her oil paints, swatting away the insects, near the family farm or around Cooma. Her work depicts the golden treeless plains, the heritage townscapes and country-style still lifes.

“I love how Cooma is nestled in the valley, cradled by all those golden hills,” says Charlotte.

“The things I relish are the rows of tall poplars, the old buildings, the walks along Cooma Back Creek, moving cloud shadows on the hills, empty birds nests in naked winter trees and also that gorgeous sweep into Jindabyne, with that knockout first reveal of the lake.”

You can visit the Kosciuszko To The Monaro exhibition at the Raglan Gallery.
August 15 to September 26.
Raglan Gallery
9-11 Lambie Street, Cooma.
Opening hours:
10.30 am to 3.30 pm Wednesday to Sunday.

Grand Hotel Bega by Charlotte Whitby.

Skeleton Trees by Fiona Smith.