While living in far north Queensland, almost every swim in the tropical waters of the Barrier Reef featured Green Sea Turtles. On a night dive I saw a massive turtle sleeping in a rock cave. I saw turtle heads gulping air between the waves on the beach. I was left enchanted by Green Sea turtles. Aboriginal Art depicts Green sea turtles frequently, alluding to their attractive round shells and beautiful patterning. I wanted to create the mass, the elegance and intricacy of these beautiful creatures. Creating a solid infrastructure for the shell was imperative. I needed to create a solid gentle sloping dome shape which is skewed to one side. I knew that I didn’t want the fins to be symmetrical. When witnessing turtles swim, their fins move very independently, especially when making turns or adjusting their buoyancy. These are the moments of magic that I wanted to capture- The relationship of the turtle with the ocean. Somehow, she makes light work of the heavy waves, reacting with such beauty and composure.
I recently had a go on a digital panting tablet, and god it was incredibly fun! Using a software called procreate (I highly recommend it) I created a sea life piece inspired by the painting ‘reef delight’ by artist Didi Labaysse. The coolest bit is watching the piece back!
While a digital piece can never replace an original on paper/ canvas, its an extremely useful learning tool and can produce beautiful work. There’s a selection of pens, colours, textures and layers. the options are ENDLESS.
I was requested to make a painting of a species of butterfly seen commonly in the tropical jungles of north Queensland. The Ulysses butterfly. These insects are iridescent blue, never seem to settle, and fly with speed. They are so magical see in the wild, contrasting with their deep green rainforest habitat.
A good friend once told me butterflies are a good omen. If you keep this thought with you; and travel to areas with lots of butterflies it gives you such a buzz.
Over my time in Australia, I have been lucky enough to set up artist’s stalls at various locations. Its has been great connecting with locals, having lovely stall neighbours and living my art dream. Also its another excuse to soak in the Aussie sun.
Its pretty crazy just how different peoples styles are. I have been displaying ranges of work just to gauge what styles are popular; and frankly I still don’t know what is! I have had people chose random two second sketches from my workbook (which wasn’t even on display) over complex paintings which have taken me forever.
All in all, its beautiful when people can buy something they resonate with. When you get a photo the next day of your painting on someone else’s wall, its a beautiful feeling.
‘Tumble young turtle, whip through the wonders of life, swim with purpose’
This was such a fun commission. At my market stall I ran into a doctor named Joe, who wanted a huge A1 turtle with the haiku, ‘tumble young turtle, whip through the wonders of life, swim with purpose’. HOW COOL IS THAT?! That haiku is some pretty bang on life advice I think.
I wanted this turtle to be colourful, beautiful and free. The strong yellows were inspired by a real turtle I recently swam with, off the coast off Eastern Australia. Below the water, the turtle’s scales and shell looked dark brown, but when he intermittently came to the surface for a gulp of air, he was a luminous yellow. Turtles are absolutely stunning. Good choice Joe!
Over my time in Australia, I found time to just draw. Since the age of two, I have been drawing animals and I have loved revisiting this profound artistic strength of mine. Drawing is man kind’s fundamental medium of artistic expression, performed for thousands of years. Ancient cave paintings are a beautiful example of this. It is a mindful and appreciative practice.
To draw skillfully is to deeply understand the truth of form, spirit and movement. It’s a form of love and worship for me. The natural world offers boundless inspiration for drawing, and I’m realising it is the core of my artistic style. Animals and the natural world are a huge part of my existence!
With these pieces, I aim to convey not only the look of the subjects, but also their spirit and essence of movement.
Its lovely drawing peoples pets. Its highly personal and gives people such joy to see their little family members captured in something beautiful and permanent! This one is of a sweet little Frenchie pup named Barry! How cute is this little man?!
While achieving realism forms an aspect of portraits, I still prefer a degree of abstract paint application- after all, the magic of real life is more than that of a simple photograph..
A slightly more unusual commission I was asked to do was a 1.5 meter wide charcoal drawing of a great white. (The kids of Australia are so inspired by and in awe of nature I love it). This was an incredibly fun piece to draw because I had scope to play with light and depth. Keep the nature commissions coming Australia!! I love the pilot fish hanging out in this one.
Over our time in Cairns we have had three encounters with cassowaries. Cassowaries are giant two meter tall flightless birds, they eat a diet mostly of fruit and are a protected species. They are MAGIC. With deep black plumage and a scaly dinosaur-like bright blue head, its obvious they are a magnificent sight- (and frankly scary).
The most special encounter we had was with a male cassowary and his chick when out walking in Barron gorge national park. The little chick saw us as we trudged past and let out the tiniest squeak; spurring its enormous dad to lock eyes with us, and stare us down. Since then I knew I had to do a painting of a cassowary.
Male cassowary in the jungle sizing up to us!
Another great place to see cassowaries is Etty bay, a super chilled beautiful beach around a 90 minute drive south of Cairns. There you will find a resident cassowary. He is tame but bold, and spends his days posing for paparazzi, and wreaking havoc over peoples picnics.
Cassowaries are stunning creatures, and we must make efforts to conserve their environment and protect them from threats such as speeding drivers and wild pigs.
There’s something so captivating about clownfish. I hate to admit, but I was the basic child that had major clownfish love after the release of Finding Nemo. My fascination for their movement and appearance has definitely stuck since. I remember nagging my parents for a nano reef tank to have a go at keeping one. Honestly after snorkeling in Zanzibar, I have come to the conclusion they are their most beautiful in the wild. (However now that these fish are tank bred, I may just have to give keeping some a shot!)
There are many species of clownfish; percula, maroon, tomato. They all swim with that kind of classic charming paddling motion which I find so captivating. This painting aims to capture their movement and vibrancy.