Throughout his career, Max Middleton painted diverse subjects – all of them infused with vitality. Most of Max’s paintings were of the Australian landscape, based upon small oil sketches he painted on location. As an en plein air painter, he faithfully rendered what he saw in lush and juicy oil paint. His profoundly keen observations resulted from the excitement he experienced watching the transforming effect of light on the world. It is light that informs all his work. Often small sketches were painted under extremely difficult circumstances. The harsh realities of 5am starts on frosty autumn mornings in central Victoria, hands stiff and numb with the cold, and eyes strained from hours of staring into the rising sun, never held Max back from doing what he loved most: painting outdoors.
Max consistently referred back to nature for inspiration. His love of rural life dates from childhood excursions to the country, and time spent on farms. He admired traditional farm life, and believed the old farm sheds and barns of country Victoria worthy of preservation.
Max loved painting Victoria’s rain forests, particularly his beloved Sherbrooke Forest in the Dandenong Ranges where he lived for 28 years. Max regularly trekked into the forest with paints, easel, and a seven-foot umbrella to paint large canvases in wet conditions. He especially relished the forest on cold misty mornings, and was an avid conservationist.