Humble beginnings

I was born in Croydon in England in 1956. It would be fair to say that we came from rather humble beginnings. My Dad worked three jobs and Mum stayed home to look after the four kids. I do recall there was never a lot of money but there was always food on the table, love in the house and we made do. We had a large extended family of nans, granddads, aunts, uncles and cousins.

In the late 1960s, there was a change of government (I won’t get into the politics of it), and my very conservative father said, “That’s it, we’re going to Australia!” So, we did! We boarded a ship as 10-pound Poms and after some eight weeks at sea, we landed in Australia in 1969.

When I think back to that time, I realise how brave it must have been for Mum and Dad to pick up and leave everyone and everything behind to try to find a better life for themselves and their children. This goes for the many other thousands of families that did the same thing during those years.

Life was still hard but there were certainly far more opportunities in Australia than in England. The number of kids grew from four to five as another sister was born. I was the oldest, then two brothers and two sisters.

The early days

I left school at age 15 to start work as an office junior in Sydney. I had two main jobs, feeding the parking meters for the insurance agents, and delivering and picking up a lot of mail. One year of that was quite enough!

I moved on and got a job as a clerk for a furniture manufacturer and ended up being the bookkeeper for both of their factories for a couple of years.

Being young and foolish, I got married and then had my daughter. By age twenty, I was on my own again and a single parent. I moved back to Mum and Dad’s for a year.

I needed to work so I got a job in the aged care home where Mum worked. I was a nurse assistant, cleaner and worked in the kitchen and laundry. After a year, I was given a clerical job due to my past experience.

Work, work and more work

I stayed with this company for the next forty years and ended up as Chief Executive Officer! I managed all of the business and the homes, including the building of new facilities. It was quite a tough few years as I had to raise my daughter by myself and also work some 60 – 70 hours each week.

Over the years, I presented in many forums on aged care, held numerous workshops and instigated many new projects to improve standards in residential aged care.

During this time, most of my family moved to the Central Coast, about an hour and a half out of Sydney. We lost Dad in 1995, at age 61, which was a major blow to the whole family. Mum lived with me for a bit in Sydney, but then returned to the Central Coast. I finally made the move myself in 2004 and bought my first house in Springfield.

I continued as CEO until 2010, then resigned. I felt that life was passing me by and all I had done was work. I bought a house in Berkeley Vale on the Central Coast, overlooking the beautiful Tuggerah Lakes. Mum came and lived with me and this is where we both live today.

I stayed with the company as a member of the Board of Directors and continued in the active role of facility development.

Time for a change

In August 2016, I had a game-changer, which probably drove some of my next decisions. I had a fall and broke some bones in my foot. The problem was that the injuries were quite complex, and I had to have surgery. I also had to be totally off my foot for three to four months! I was in a wheelchair until December 2016. Mum no longer drove a car at this stage, so we were housebound for most of this time.

I had a lot of time to think about things and where I wanted to go with my life. In January 2017, I decided that it was time for a total change.

I resigned again and finally left the organisation. I planned to have some time off and then do some part-time contracting work, but due to health issues and caregiving responsibilities, I remain ” retired.”

Discovering creativity

As a single mum with heavy work commitments, art did not play a big part in my life in the early years. When my Dad passed away, Mum came to live with me for a year or so. She was an occasional oil painter.

Together we started a new artistic journey. We took up scrapbooking, decoupage, cottage crafts and then watercolour painting.

I picked art up and put it down over the years. It was only when I became wheelchair bound that I took a real interest in painting again.

Discovering travel

Five years ago, I discovered a whole new world, literally. Due to work commitments and finances, I never really travelled much outside of Australia. In 2013, I went on an overseas trip with my niece for nine weeks. We went to the United States, the United Kingdom, France and Italy.

I have since gone on two more significant trips and revisited some countries and discovered a whole lot more: Turkey, Greece, Hungary, Prague and some of the Baltic countries.

When asked what inspires me, I would have to say travel. To experience different cultures, art, architecture, food, music and meet so many different people is enough to inspire anyone. The word “amazing” is not enough to describe the wonders I have seen.

I think that my appreciation of all things beautiful including art has tripled since my travels.

Life is too short. Do see as much as you can. It is worth it!

My artist's journey

In 2017, I had much more time and could commit to painting.
I paint for me. I am a self-taught artist, mainly working in acrylics. I am continually evolving and would say that I am a slow, methodical painter always striving for perfection, that I don’t often achieve. My art is “real” and reflects me, imperfections and all.

I would have once said that I don’t have specific themes in my artwork and this is evident in my earlier work. I chose different subjects to help me learn different techniques such as colour mixing, brush strokes and painting many diverse styles and subjects. I love bright and bold colours, which has become one of my signatures. Pastel colours are not for me!

The majority of my works fall into a few categories: skyscapes, fantasy, the living world, abstracts, and a collection fondly called “The Girls,” which celebrates women in a variety of styles and settings.

Influences and inspiration

I’m not influenced by any one artist although I have learnt a lot of techniques from the Art Sherpa on YouTube. Those videos sparked my love for working in acrylics.

My inspirations come from other paintings, drawings, and even cartoons that I see and like. When I look at something I like, I get a mental picture of how it would look if created in another way, e.g. with different elements, colours, etc.

I always start with a very specific mental image of the end result and then I start painting. That does not necessarily mean that the finished piece will end up how I initially imagined it. Often things can change midway and the painting can have a mind of its own!

The journey continues

I have been painting now since 2017, and I would say the first year was, in my mind, one disaster after another. I watched more YouTube videos than television, I painted over more things than I got right, but I learnt, learnt and then learnt some more.

I do not paint to make someone else happy. I paint to make me happy. Am I a great painter? The answer is no. Will I ever be a great painter? Maybe, maybe not, but I know this: the more I paint the better I get. The more techniques I learn, the more confident I get.

My art is my sanity. It is my “me” time when I can focus on what I want to do, rather than life’s everyday demands. Whether it be one hour or six, I grab time wherever I can find it!

My life and artist’s journey are still changing, and I look forward to what the future brings. If I learnt one thing from it all, it’s that there is no right or wrong in art because it is YOUR journey.

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