Like many artists, my start in the world of art was not an easy one. While my paintings sold well each month at the St Kilda Markets, my marks for art at high school were underwhelming. My passion and talent for drawing did not translate into anything above the high 60% mark at school. So when I turned up at RMIT (Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology) with a lot of fresh-faced hopefuls starting their art career I felt very intimidated….Everyone else seemed to have Distinctions in art – 90% plus was the norm – one girl even had 99%…..That was almost the end of my career before it started.
However I was fortunate enough to be taught by several good teachers in my 5 years at RMIT. When I met Ray Honeysett he encouraged me, giving me both hope and good marks for the first time. Paul Warner, a talented watercolourist, was another who saw my potential and encouraged me to be the best artist I could be.
As a 20 year old I painted a Superb Blue-wren lurking under tree ferns…the reflected light from the foliage onto the breast changed it from white to green. The WASA gate-keepers hated it and gave me a dressing down as the bird should have been blue and white not blue and green! Without the support of these teachers I may not have had the confidence to challenge the WASA (Wildlife Art Society of Australia) establishment with my work.
These set backs were not easy to surmount and gave rise to crises of confidence and self-doubt at times, but I believe they helped forge who I am today. They gave me the resilience I needed to succeed despite what others said. If my stingy art teacher from high school or the WASA naysayers hadn’t been a part of my journey – if all I ever heard was praise – I may never have got as far along the road as I am now. For that I am indeed grateful…..in hindsight at least!