In Eltham A. E. Newbury used soft brushstrokes and carefully blended colour to suggest the stillness and light of a misty Melbourne day. He approached the composition with an economy of colour and form, and sought a similar balance and symmetry to that of Japanese prints. By truncating the gum trees he created an illusion of depth in the overall image. Newbury emphasises contrasts in texture, such as the rough bark base and smooth stretch of the larger gum. This attention highlights the tree against the more muted, almost abstracted planes of colour that form the background.
Newbury sought to portray the simple, strong beauty of the Australian bush. He concentrated his efforts on depicting his local surrounds, and spent much of his life painting around Eltham, the Melbourne suburb where he lived. He also occasionally painted at the South Yarra home of Frederick McCubbin. Between 1916 and 1920 Newbury painted a number of works in the tonal manner championed by Max Meldrum. He initially studied at Melbourne’s National Gallery School under Frederick McCubbin and Bernard Hall before attending classes with Meldrum from 1916. Newbury went on to develop works that were primarily concerned with the effect of light on the landscape.1
1 Peter Perry & John Perry, Max Meldrum and associates: their art, lives and influences, Victoria: Castlemaine Art Gallery and Historical Museum, 1996, p. 113.