Artist Steve Jannar remembers as a boy launching a handmade plywood canoe in the tranquil back-waters of the Wattamolla lagoon.
"The backdrop was a huge sandstone curtain wall," Jannar said.
"I thought then as I still do, that Wattamolla is one of, if not the most beautiful beach (and lagoon) that I have ever seen, especially before dawn when you are the only one there, apart from nature."
An architect by profession, Jannar said he had been painting the beach and "the Royal" most of his life, but most intensely during the past 10 years.
The Padstow man has had recent success, having won from more than 300 entries the top prize in the Combined Art Societies of Sydney award.
Jannar describes himself as a figurative painter, being influenced earlier by the Heidelberg school of Australian impressionists.
Since 2008 he returned to painting in acrylic paint rather than oil, on a larger scale, and freeing up his style.
His architectural background has contributed to some of his earlier works being the built environment, with the more recent paintings being waterscapes.
Jannar is unabashed about which direction he would like his future in art to go: "I would like to survive by being an artist, to make it pay for itself; that is very difficult," he said.
"Galleries are doing it hard too; galleries are closing."
Steve Jannar's creations are being exhibited at Hazelhurst Regional Gallery, 782 Kingsway, Gymea, until Tuesday, February 3; details: stevejannarartist.wordpress.com or 8536 5700.
What do you think is the most beautiful spot in the Royal National Park?
Gallery's big night
Mixed Medium: A night of art, music, food and markets at Hazelhurst Regional Gallery, Gymea, will begin a new era of evening openings on Friday, January 30. The gallery will open from 6pm to 9pm with visitors able to view the Glazed & Confused: Ceramics in Contemporary Art Practice exhibition. In the regional gallery visitors can join a 10-minute tour of the exhibition. At 7pm, there will be an illustrated talk on different perspectives of ceramics. There will be talks by exhibiting artists about their residencies at the Ceramics Design Studio, Gymea. There will be live music by Kirrakamere, and a special "suitcase" Wild Ones' Market from a highly curated selection of contemporary Australian design wares. There is the chance to have a cocktail and tapas in the cafe, relaxing to live music. A photo booth will inspire visitors to throw on some 1970s-inspired props to be photographed on the spot. Details: hazelhurst.com.au.
Versatile: Czech-born Libor Smoldas, 32, has been an avid musician since his youth, starting with the recorder and trumpet, before learning the guitar at 12. After initial forays into rock and blues, he became interested in jazz, mainly due to his fascination with the recordings of Charlie Parker. The Libor Smoldas Quartet have gained recognition in Europe and US. Smoldas will appear at 7pm tonight at the Brass Monkey,in Cronulla.
Big Mac: Dramatic lighting is how the Running In The Shadows tribute band show has helped re-create the atmosphere of their musical rock-blues inspiration, Fleetwood Mac. RITS is session musicians with vocalist Ursula Cain, who does the parts of Stevie Nicks. It was formed in 2001 by Gary Stewart and Ursula, and will play at Sharkies on February 14, and Penshurst RSL on March 28.