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A recent interview with the media
When did you first feel the desire to be artistic and realise you had talent?
I have always been creative from a young age but mainly with crafts and have dabbled in sewing, designing clothes, basket weaving, leathermaking, pottery, calligraphy and jewellery. I have in my ancestry Portia Geach, a feminist activist infamous painter from the 1800’s. My father was also a maestro gypsy violinist. I think when you have creativeness gene in your DNA it is bound to come out sooner or later. For me it was prior to turning 40. When I started my first painting class in Derby North Western Australia and it dawned on me that this is what I want to do with my life – to be a painter! I exhibited these first ever early works and sold them all at the opening. The next painting I created I sold and won an art competition. Therein started my art career.
Where did you learn your art?
I participated in 6 lessons with that first series of classes and developed my own style since then, which makes me a self-taught artist. I try and attend an art workshop once per year for my professional development. Some workshops have included the learning of perspective techniques while in Tuscany, and traditional Iconography painting from Russians. Usually I don’t use any of the new techniques that I have learned but I do enjoy the challenge of investigating and stretching myself with something new.
What inspires you most?
First of all and foremost it is the passion and insistence of my inner self to express myself outwardly in the form of painting. Originally when I first started painting about 17 years ago, it was the powerfully wild and raw landscapes of the Northwest and Southwest of Western Australia – polar opposites in colour, depth and feeling. As time progressed I have found that it is new landscapes and ancient cultures, experiences, and adventures that I have while traveling around the world that influence me the most when I paint. I have experienced many wonderful and sometimes remote places like the isolated Easter Island, Patagonia, Bougainville Island in PNG, Nauru, India, Finland, Sardinia, Uruguay, Iona Island in Scotland, Transylvania, Guatemala to name a few. I visit many sacred sites, temples, monasteries, cathedrals, and museums – whatever the culture has to offer. After a trip, I spend some weeks absorbing and reflecting on all these experiences and then put brush to canvas. As for an artist that inspires me, I love Jackson Pollock’s work and his action style of painting. I visited the controversial Blue Poles gigantic canvas in Canberra many years ago before I became an artist and I was mesmerized by it. Since then I have sort out his works in museums throughout the world but I think this is his best work.
What are your achievements?
I feel very lucky to have entered some great national art competitions including The Archibald Prize, The Doug Moran National Portrait Prize, the Portia Geach Memorial Art Award for Women in Sydney, the Black Swan Portrait Prize in WA and National Works on Paper in Victoria as well as countless in WA. I have won a few art awards, and I have exhibited within most Australian cities. My exhibitions overseas have been in Manila Philippines, twice in Singapore, I investigated an exhibition with Murano Glass while in Venice, met with Directors in 2 galleries in Paris and Lyon France, and experienced an artist-in-residency in Northern Spain. I have some wonderful commissions and more often for venues that offer healing practices such as in hospitals, churches, wellness clinics, naturopaths, podiatrists, plastic surgeon’s foyers, cosmetic surgeon’s rooms, dentist theatres, psychologist’s rooms, doctor’s surgeries, beautician offices, masseurs, public libraries, restaurants in Tasmania, Perth hotels, Perth wine bars, and even a council office in Japan. I have painted life size replica cows, hand-painted wine labels on auction collector’s wine, and wall-sized murals.
What message are you sending to the viewer of your art?
I wish the viewer to gain an insight and to be able to connect on a deeper level when looking at my works. I imbibe all my works energetically with positive intentions, love, happiness, joy and prayer so the viewer will gain these benefits as well. I can’t paint when I am sad. Each painting will have its own individual story and personal meaning for me. The viewer may just see 2 flowers, yet for me there I may be interpreting a memory of a moment I experienced while on a mountaintop in the Himalayas, or a sentence someone whispered to me while in Monet’s garden in France, or a fragrance recalled while hiking up Machu Picchu. The image will represent the feeling and emotion I have had at the moment.
Describe your studio?
My space is very private and I would call it an organized messiness of paint bottles, canvas, paper, brushes implements and trestles tables. At the start of a painting session is it super tidy but by the end of a few weeks, I cant find a space to lay a paint brush. I use a shed in the backyard as my paint lands in all sorts of weird and wonderful places including the ceiling. One cant be too precious about keeping it paint free. I prefer to paint flat on trestle tables or directly on the floor.
Describe your typical day of creating art?
I paint only at night. I’m not concerned with using the day as light as I have industrial lights to help me see clearly. I think about what I am doing and fiddle around in the studio during the daytime preparing, refilling paint bottles, photographing and studying intensively what I have created the night before. The real physical work of painting starts around 6pm but I start to get into the flow from 8pm. I prefer to paint in the night as this time is free from distractions while half of the world is asleep. It is the perfect time to focus and go deep within. I go into a meditative state. Time passes very quickly when I am painting. Sooner than I know it, I hear the morning bird call, the sun rises and it is time to get to bed.
What mediums do you use and why?
I love to use textured leather papers, canvas, board and 100% cotton rag thick rough watercolour paper handmade in Spain. I use a lot of impasto and binders to build up the texturous layers. Most of my works have up to 20 layers of the image before the final outcome. I work mainly with inks and acrylics, and sometimes with enamels, sprays and glass paints. When I use gilding in my paintings, I use an antique 23.5kt gold leaf and 925 pure silver leaf. I have a shoebox full of this quality that I sourced from a Melbourne signwriter who worked with it in the 1900’s. It’s very fragile, special as a precious metal. It has such a soft lustre that I haven’t been able to find in gold leaf produced these days. Gold leaf is a difficult medium to work with as a slight breath out from my nose can send it flying across the studio.
What are you working on now?
I am working on a personal and private painting for myself that is about my journey of investigative discovery of the saint Mary Magdalena, who is revered all over the south of France and in Tuscany. It is a portrait of her using my own interpretation and artistic license with lots of texture and an abundance of gold leaf on canvas. I also have a competition coming up with the theme ‘seasons’. I contemplate many ideas in my head for the weeks preceding before putting brush to canvas.
What do you love most about what you do?
I love the freedom of expressing myself and the joy it brings me when someone else really ‘sees’ and ‘gets’ my work. I love it when people have really connected when I see them emotional and crying in front of a really emotive work. The titles I use for each painting complete the statement of what I am portraying within the work.
Where can you see yourself in 10 years time?
That’s a big question. Foremost is alive and healthy! In the next 10 years, I would have liked to have exhibited and sold in New York New York, participated in G’day USA in Los Angeles. Enjoyed another artist-in-residency somewhere in the world. I see myself continuing to be an artist, being satisfied and rewarded personally with what I create.