Monday, 13 August 2012

Why I Picked Up The Paint Brush

It all started a few years back on a return trip from South Australia's Yorke Peninsula. I'd picked up a brochure for an art gallery in Kapunda called Salon Rouge – the glossy brochure had some lovely flowers on it, but that didn't prepare for what I was about to encounter. Kapunda is situated between the Barossa and Clare Valleys and has a strong mining heritage – but the hidden gem is indeed artist Jacqueline Coates and her art gallery. Walking into the gallery for the first time could only be described as a life changing experience for me. The gallery was filled with an abundance of breath taking florals – large canvases overflowing with voluptuous and vibrant blooms. I had never experienced anything like it. Whereas I had always been inspired by the beauty of Nature I had never been inspired to pick up a paint brush.

I joined Jacqueline's mailing list and bought a packet of exquisite greetings cards and left the gallery not realising seeds had been planted for the future. Months later I bought one of Jacqueline's painting kits and set about having a go at painting a frangipani – I don't even remember painting anything at school so this was definitely a new experience for me. When I heard that Jacqueline was coming over to Melbourne to run a workshop I signed up for a 3 and half day journey of self discovery. We painted on what seemed to be huge (actually 1.2m x 90cm) canvases and at the end I took home a bold painting of Just Joey roses.

Passing through Kapunda 6 months later I was back at the gallery and lucky enough to spend a whole day with Jacqueline – we stood out in the Barossa vineyards on a perfect Autumn morning and painted a landscape, lunched at Maggie Beer's and then headed back to the studio for an afternoon painting quinces from life – I couldn't believe that this was happening to me! On heading home Jacqueline said to me “Try to paint something once a week and you will really see things change with your art”.

So I started painting – I painted fruit, I painted from photos, I painted from books and DVDS, I painted family pets and I bought an easel and painted nervously in the open air in rain, wind and ant nests with strangers looking on. And I did start to notice things – not so much about my paintings but about me, about how I was changing – how I now had a need to paint, if I didn't paint for a while I became restless and had feelings of self doubt, and with most paintings I would go through stages when I thought “this is a disasterand should I pull out?” just to find that if I kept pushing on some magic would happen and I would be satisfied with my painting and the whole experience.

And then Jacqueline ran another workshop in Melbourne – this time painting fruit and flowers from life in thick oil paints and this time the experience wasn't so daunting, I felt more confident and relaxed. It was then Jacqueline mentioned about her programs she was thinking of running and once again I didn't really think I would be doing them – yet here I am in my second month of a year long transformational course learning not only how to paint but how to become an artist. Where I was happy plodding along doing my little paintings I now feel like I have woken up and that the whole world has expanded in front of me.

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