My memories of the first painting I ever did are very strong. I was sitting on the balcony of a beautiful apartment on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast, overlooking a lush rainforest and the vibrant greens of the fairways of a golf course. My father was bringing me glasses of fresh water and tasty snacks whenever I requested and I painted for three hours without pause.
It sounds blissful and romantic but the truth was far removed. I was thirty-seven years old, my fourth baby had been born four months previously and I was in the depths of a raging, devastating psychosis. My mental state was severely altered and I was painting in an attempt to quell the torrent of bizarre thoughts that were occupying my mind.
The concept for the painting emerged easily and flowed effortlessly onto the paper. I didn’t know how to paint other then the rudimentary lessons gleaned from childhood and the paint-set I was using was a basic watercolour one, a fact I only discovered a year later when I happened to actually read the labels on the tubes.
So began my foray into the art world on February 1, 2005. My psychosis was cured by a visit to an amazing spiritual healer (a whole other story in itself) and assistance from a metaphysical healer who told me that I was undergoing a spiritual awakening. My creativity and intuition were certainly awakened. The experience was frightening and fascinating at the same time.
I had entered the state of satori which David Suzuki in his book “An Introduction to Zen Buddhism” describes “…satori means the unfolding of a new world hither to unperceived”. My new world became a very different place to the one I had known until that point in time. I had a strong yearning to paint and to learn more about art, a strong departure from my previous career as a general practitioner.
After we returned to our home in St George in southwestern QLD I obtained my late great-aunt’s art materials. She had loved to paint, mainly in oils. In her collection she had a wonderful book by Betty Edwards “Drawing Using The Right Side of Your Brain”. I related well to the book not only because of my medical knowledge but through the process of the psychiatric turmoil I experienced I’m sure I changed from being a left-brain dominant to a right-brain dominant thinker or perhaps with a better balance between the two. By following the book I taught myself to draw. I could not draw previously and I found it completely astounding that I was learning how to do so.
I painted when time permitted with acrylic paints on canvas and read as much as I could in magazines and books.Later that year in a weekend workshop in St George with artist Lyn Diefenbach, I had my first introduction to pastels. They seemed an ideal medium, being able to create a beautiful painting in vibrant colours in a short space of time with little preparation and clean-up time, great when you have small children.
A few months later in February 2006 another artist Maxine Thompson taught a weekend workshop in portraiture in pastels and I painted a little Aboriginal girl “Ruby” from one of Maxine’s photos. This work was a big boost to my confidence. It unleashed a passion for capturing people’s expression, character, and their heritage in pastels. I love painting the human form and studying what it is in their expression that gives them their uniqueness.
In the same year I was lucky enough to attend the McGregor Summer and Winter Artist’s Retreats in Toowoomba. They are an excellent opportunity to be immersed in art, to be surrounded by like minds and to benefit from excellent teaching and the chance to do life-art drawing.
Fortunately my husband is encouraging and supportive and is capable of looking after our children on his own! Without him and our families around to lend a hand I wouldn’t be able to dedicate as much time to my artwork. I was thrilled to receive a commission at the end of last year to paint from life. A friend asked me to paint her nude in the eight month of pregnancy, as a birthday present for her husband. It was an honour and a beautiful thing to do. It was the first painting I had done with a live subject outside of the McGregor School class. www.pgjones.com
The prospect was a little daunting and my proportion and perspective went a bit haywire but the challenge is good and the feeling captivated by the painting in that setting is more powerful than one done from a photograph.
In an edition of Artist’s Palette magazine last year I was mesmerised by the wonderful work of another Queensland artist Anna Rubin. I contacted Anna and we have since become good friends. Anna gives me lots of excellent advice that has been useful in establishing a career in art. I have found it really helps to be in contact with other artists and to benefit from their experience especially when you live in a rural or remote area.
I would like to learn to use oils, acrylics and more watercolour techniques. I wish to try these mediums and then see what suits my style the best. It is exciting to know that there is so much more to come.
This story appeared in the Artist’s Palette Magazine No 52. 2006 Written by Rosie Jones. Edited by Trevor Lang.