1. What initially drew you towards becoming an artist?
I think I was always interested in art and I remember how excited I was to get my first set of oils at the age of nine. But the strongest event in shaping me as an artist occurred when I was fourteen. My friend, the sixteen year old girl next door, showed me some old masters art books that her parents owned. There were many nudes. She then offered to pose nude for me to draw her. It was all very innocent but it had a profound affect on me. From that day onwards I saw myself as an artist.
2. How would you describe your own personal style?
I don't think I really have a distinct style. I wish I did. But I get tired of repeating the same motifs or style. Even when I'm working on a series I try to approach each so that it feels to me like an entirely new experience.
3. What pushed you in that direction and how can you see your work evolving in the future?
Ive always painted or drawn what I see, feel and experience. Every artwork is in some way autobiographical. It doesn't feel authentic to me otherwise.
I don't know how my work will evolve. At the moment I only enjoy painting the female nude and I have one muse in particular who I work with regularly for both painting and video performances which I film and edit.
4. What inspires you in your work, is there a driving factor that draws you to the easel?
I'm mainly inspired by other artists. Paul Gauguin has been a favourite since I was young. I now find Colin Davidson's portraits to be very inspiring.
5. Are there particular individuals who have encouraged / inspired you along the way, friends, family, teachers, maybe even other artists?
My first tutor, the landscape painter, Frank de Silva, was very encouraging. I only knew him for eighteen months, when I was in my early twenties and he was an established artist in his late sixties, before he was tragically killed in a car accident.
6. Which Australian artists do you find inspiring at the moment?
The two Australian artists I find most inspiring are Ben Quilty and Dan Kyle.
7. Which Australian deceased artist do you most admire and why?
I've always admired Fred Williams for how he was able to interpret the Australian landscape in a completely new way.
8. Which exhibition that you have visited made the greatest impact on you and why?
A Lucian Freud exhibition in New York when I visited there in the mid-90s had the most impact on me. I loved the way he layered the paint, leaving the heavy underpainting brushmarks and build up of paint.
9. When it comes to creating your work, do you have a preferred medium, certain types of brushes or tools you love to use?
I've tried just about everything at one time or another but the only medium that truly satisfies me is oil painting with brushes.
10. When it comes to the subject matter of your work, what draws you to those themes?
I've always loved the landscape and the female form. When I get out into the country it generates enthusiasm for painting landscapes. Working with nude models, whether life drawings or video, drives my passion for figurative paintings.
11. Could you describe the process behind your art? How do you get from concept to execution?
I don't have one set process. For nudes, I will often work from photographs of video stills from photo shoots that I've done. I create digital works using Corel Photo Paint, manipulating and collaging until I get a range of images to use as reference. I usually sketch the figure onto the canvas, then gradually create a painting that draws inspiration from all of the digital images.
12. Do you have any rituals or habits involving your art-making that you can tell us about?
I always start a new painting by firstly drawing a rough vertical line through the centre of the canvas and then horizontally, using a brush and thin yellow ochre usually. They distinguish areas on the canvas that I want to be very careful of as I work up the composition.
13. What do you like most about being an artist?
What I like most about being an artist is the actual time I spend in the studio, especially the starting of a new painting when there's so many ideas buzzing in my mind and so many options as the painting develops.
14. How do you handle bad days when you experience artist's block?
I remember something that John Rigby told me when I was at art college and he was one of my tutors, that is to just keep working on your art, go into the studio even on days when you don't feel 'inspired' to paint, go through the process of squeezing out and mixing your colours, and you'll be surprised how often that will get you 'fired up' and excited about painting.
So I basically paint whenever I'm able to, rather than relying on when I feel inspired to. Unfortunately, it doesn't mean that I don't have days when nothing seems to go right. The best way that I found to recover from those days is to start something new.
15. What is your greatest achievement as an artist to date?
Something that I feel most pleased about is the whole experience of meeting and painting the portrait of Chris Nyst, the high profile Gold Coast lawyer, award winning novelist, screen writer and film maker. He was a childhood friend of my older cousin and I'd met him a couple of times when we were both in our teens. I wasn't sure if he would remember me or perhaps even my cousin when I first emailed him at his work address. I was surprised and thrilled by his immediate reply stating that of course he remembered those great days.
Following a sitting at his home, I worked on his portrait for six months. I was very satisfied with the final painting, which Chris liked when he saw it and which was a semi-finalist in the Doug Moran National Portrait Prize. Initially the judges chose only 39 semi-finalists, of which I was one. A few days after being notified of this, the organizers insisted on having additional semi-finalists and the number increased to 150.
The portrait was later awarded third prize at the Andrew Fisher Portrait Prize in Gympie. It now hangs in the home of Chris Nyst on the Gold Coast.
16. What are your plans for the coming year?
At the moment I'm concentrating on figurative works, trying to make sense of some vague ideas. I will also be commencing a nude commission soon and then intend to finish a second portrait of Australian swimming legend, Tracey Wickham, who I had the privilege of meeting for a sitting after the Commonwealth Games in 2018.