I didn’t set out to an artist. I spent the first half of my working life as a publicist representing artists and performers and promoting theatre, concerts and events.
Art by comparison is a roller-coaster of wonder and trepidation and more challenging than the most temperamental demanding super star.
I worked with talents like Shirley Bassey, David Bowie, Tom Jones and Leonard Cohen. It was Leonard as well as the comedian Phillis Diller who encouraged me to follow my own artistic path. During that part of my life, I was also a radio rock announcer and a state editor for Go Set a national music magazine interviewing people like Johnny O’Keefe, Elton John and John Farnham as well as bands such as Led Zeppelin and Daddy Cool. The music scene was vibrant and exciting. I was lucky to be part of it. But unless you are the Rolling Stones, a showbiz career flashes by like a comet, bright and brief. Then I became a mother so national tours and late-night concerts were put aside.
Having always painted in my spare time I enrolled in Julian Ashton’s Art School in Sydney where tutors Francis Giacco and Richard Porter taught in the spirit of Classicism. In 1997 I left for Italy to study at the Charles Cecil Atelier in Florence where ‘sight-size’ was taught – a method thought to have been practiced by Titian, Van Dyke, Velazquez, and John Singer-Sargent. I continued my training with maestro Michael John Angel, a leader in the re-emerging interest in realism and founder of The Angel Academy of Art in Florence. He liked to quote Isaac Newton, “If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants,” when explaining why he spent years researching masters of the Italian Renaissance like Caravaggio.
I try in my images to give nature a voice. If I can show some essence of an animal, or the miraculous detail in a shell, egg or an oyster or the precise engineering in a bird’s nest then, I am mostly satisfied. I am absorbed for weeks and often months in each painting.
Aristotle said, “In all things of nature there is something of the marvellous.”
Stepping into the studio is a commitment and there are times when only the words of legendary painter John Olsen get me over the threshold. “Don’t wait for inspiration,” he said. “Just plan on spending ten or twenty minutes at the easel.” It works every time. I find myself cleaning my brushes hours later wondering where the day went.