Recently I sent an article to PASA in South Australia to tell of my art journey. Thi thought it might be good to share it with you also.
I can remember being very little and drawing. But art was not considered a job in my world. Being good at math made becoming an artist in the 80’s impossible for me. Somehow, I was able to fill in my own subject choices in high school and slipped art in instead of physics. Still don’t know how I got away with that.
Although I went on to study science and accounting art was always there. I always had a painting going on somewhere. And realism was my thing. The more detail I could fit in the better. Working with coloured pencil and acrylics on canvas, the threads on the canvas would drive me nuts as my single hair paint brush tried to add more detail.
I found pastels in the mid 1990’s. With Maxine Thompson as my tutor, one painting and I was hooked. No longer could I use detail with this big blunt stick of pastel. But my first result of Max the dog was (I thought at the time) amazing. Pastels were now “it”. No brushes to clean. No pallet to wash. I put myself in the playpen and let me children rule the house. I had found my medium.
image below..Max My first pastel painting with Maxine Thompson in 1996.
It took many years of playing on my own before I attended my first winter school in 2005. My first tutor was Lyn Diefenbach. It is at that workshop that the penny dropped on tone for me. The next winter school 2 years later was with Louise Corke. It is there that the lightbulb turned on of colour temperature. Louise, the ever encourager took me aside and said “I had something”. The president of the PSA was also at the workshop and encouraged me to come to their meetings in Brisbane. To understand my commitment, I worked full time and after work would drive 1.5 hours to the 60 minute meeting and then 1.5 hours home. Often getting home near midnight. But the amazing passionate pastel painters I met there were truly inspiring. Always encouraging, mentoring, sharing. There is something about pastel artists that I have not seen in any other art groups. I had found my tribe.
I had a dream and set a goal to become a Master Pastellist with the PSA. It took four more years of extreme dedication making pastel the only medium I used and going to every workshop I could find. Mastering one medium rather than jack of all trades was my aim. And I realised that goal in 2011.
I started teaching my first class in 2008. For the first few years I think I learned more than the students. And by 2010 had made the leap to make art my full-time job. It was a scary moment to let go of your regular income, but once I leapt there was no turning back. Running 3 classes a week and holding demonstrations and workshops for the PSA my life was now all about pastel. I had found my career.
Tutors in my life over that time, Leonie Duff taught me intensity of colour. Regina Hona taught me you did not have to lose accuracy to be “loose”. Dawn Emerson taught me to let go and find my soul. Judith Carducci taught me that I didn’t need more tutors, I needed to paint. The medium of pastel has changed a lot in the 25 years I have played with it. The variety of papers and pastel brands at our reach now are amazing. And painting anything from life is my favourite genre. My style loves to play with the deep toothed papers like Uart, and Kitty Wallis. I love exploring the pastel boundaries and use underpaintings, and mixed media to see where I can go. My style has become more and more impressionistic as I learn to let go of accuracy and make it about the story I want to tell. Colour and its relationship to composition is my latest joy to explore. How to bring harmony and balance to your story. (The power of simultaneous relativity is mind blowing magic when you get into it.) I also make sure I start a new medium every year. Oils, watercolour, pen and wash, and charcoal are now on my list of mediums I use. Pottery still needs some work. You are always growing as an artist.
It is hard to describe the whirlwind that was wrapped up in the last 10 years. Winning awards, exhibiting in the USA. Teaching in New Zealand, Fiji, and every capital city and territory of Australia. But with all of those things you can put on a resumé, it is really about growing as a storyteller in my art. There is a point to it now, a goal of not accuracy but of a message.
There is something quite spiritual about putting your heart on the canvas. It is daunting, fear of failure often consumes, but I find the why of your art the key. I have a spirit within me that calls me to paint. It is my why. It calls me to tell the story of creation through the beauty of a sunrise or the powerful meeting of earth sea and sky. The light that falls on the face of a child or the velvet touch on a petal. It all hits my heart and connection with the Creator. I have cried while painting some of my work as I am overwhelmed by the moment. I have also been blessed to see a tear roll down someone’s eye as they looked at my work. Art has a power to tell a story beyond words. Then to have the privilege of teaching and sharing my knowledge to students is another joy. To watch it when they get a lightbulb moment is very special. And to see them grow and start to win awards of their own is a proud moment. I have found my calling.
I encourage you to keep finding joy in your journey. Keep sharing your failures and your lightbulb moments. And most of all encourage each other. It is on the encouragement of my mentors that I am where I am. Explore, play, risk failure, find joy in accomplishments but most of all, find your story.
Enjoy My adventures into the joys and tribulations of