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.
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.
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.
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.