Kirsten Bailey: Art


A little about me – my artistic history

80s Crayola Case

This is similar to the case of crayons I received one memorable Christmas as a child in the 80s

A lot of people ask me about how I got started with painting, and what my training has been.

As long as I can remember, I have loved to create in a variety of ways.  As a child, one of the most memorable Christmas presents I received was a set of Crayola crayons.  I was so excited by all those colours!  Then, when I was a little older, I received a tin of Derwent coloured pencils, which I adored.  As a child I also went to after-school art lessons, with a lovely lady whose name I can no longer remember in her backyard studio.  I loved these classes because we were encouraged to try out different mediums and new techniques.  It was at one of these classes that I first saw a van Gogh – the teacher showed me his Sunflowers in a book and I was mesmerised.  He is still one of my favourite artists today.

vase of flowers children's painting

I was around 11 when I painted this at an after school art class. It was my first ever painting on canvas.

I’m still really proud of some of the things I was able to produce in that class.  My favourite is a watercolour of a flamingo.  I used watercolour pencils to make it and it was the first time I had used watercolour paper.  I remember being impressed at how much better the colours came out on the watercolour paper than on the ordinary paper I was used to using.  It was also in this class that I painted on canvas for the first time – this made me feel very professional and grown up.

Later on, in high school, I did art in grade 8, but did not choose it as an elective subject in year 9.  I wanted to, but my parents convinced me to do something more ‘useful’, so I took typing instead.  While I am very grateful for my ability to touch type (something that has come in very handy over the years), I am still a little sad that I allowed myself to be talked out of taking art.  Looking back though, it’s hard to be too regretful, because I have been able to explore my art in my own way, and to learn through experimentation.  I wouldn’t have come up with my ‘signature style’ for backgrounds without this experimentation.

child's flamingo painting

A flamingo created using watercolour pencils when I was about 12 years old

Throughout high school and university (where I studied Primary Teaching), I did little pieces of art here and there, just for fun.  I did lots of doodles during lectures because I find it hard to sit still and listen without doing something with my hands.  Often I would cover a whole notebook page with doodles, and would have the people on either side of me looking over my shoulder at my work.  I didn’t do any large paintings during this time, mostly because I didn’t have the time or space to do so.

When I finished uni, I moved out of mum & dad’s place to my own unit with my then boyfriend (now husband).  We had very little money as I had only just started teaching and he was studying and working part time.  I was eager to decorate our little townhouse, and since I couldn’t afford to buy art, decided to create some of my own.  I experimented with using oil paints, and found that while I loved the results I got, I was getting sick from the smell, impatient for the paint to dry and hated the clean up.  I also experimented with using pastels, and liked the soft look they created, but once again the OCD part of me didn’t like the mess.  I reverted back to the old familiar acrylics and watercolours.  At this stage I was still creating art just for me and my own home – I didn’t dream that anyone else would want to hang my artwork on their wall.

WInter to spring triptych painting

Winter to Spring – the triptych that started it all

A few years later, my husband and I (we were married by then) decided to buy our own house.  Once again, I decided to decorate with my own artwork.  We had a large blank wall that I was excited to fill.  I created a triptych acrylic on canvas, featuring a tree which came more into flower with each panel.  It looked great on the wall and I was very proud of it.  It still hangs on our lounge room wall today.   Once again, I was painting just for me, and didn’t expect to ever sell my art to others.  Then, something amazing happened.  A friend saw the painting and loved it, and offered to pay me to do something for her own wall.  I was thrilled!  I started to think that despite my lack of formal training, maybe there would be others out there who would appreciate my artwork.  That was when I really started to create more, and to offer my paintings for sale.

Now, I have sold paintings to people from all over the world, and I have been contacted by many people to create custom made commissions for their own walls.  It fills me with joy whenever I sell a painting, because it means someone has appreciated the work I’ve put into it.  I love the idea of my paintings hanging on other people’s walls, all over the world.

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