On Creativity

As a full time professional artist I live the creative life. I get up every day, go into my studio and make paintings. I paint pictures about the sheep and wool industries, specialising in artwork about shearing sheds. I get to travel all over rural and regional Australia for inspiration, and I love what I do.

But being creative isn’t just about making art. It’s how my creativity expresses itself, but I see it expressed in other ways too. My garden is about design, colours, shapes. My house is a moveable artwork where furniture and objects relate to each other. When I plate up dinner, I pay special attention to its presentation.

For me, being creative is not just about the end result, it’s about that moment when the ideas happen. When I’m working on site in a shearing shed, there’s a stillness that comes from sitting and drawing. Ideas float past. It’s my job to notice them, and see where they lead. My most valued possession is my notebook. I record what I see, but often I write too. I make notes, map ideas, lists, thoughts.

Recently I was working in the shed where Tom Roberts painted“The Golden Fleece”. I noticed how much the shed had changed since his time. The resultant exhibition has paintings of the shed, but also a series of sculptures and etchings about how it felt to be there.

I allow time for creativity to happen. In my art practice that means that I give myself time for experimentation. If I get an idea I run with it – even if it’s just on paper. This is the thing that stops my art practice from being simply illustration or derivative, or boring.

My success as an artist is based on my skills as a painter and printmaker, but it is the opportunity to be creative on a daily basis that makes my career sustainable on all sorts of levels.



practice imagining – when you need to make a decision about anything (meal prep, problem solving, a certain path) be still for a moment and ask “What would happen if I did …. this”. If your idea is not actually viable, imagine it through to the end anyway. Or try it. You may surprise yourself.

journal – get a basic notebook and an ordinary pen. Write down what comes to mind. Allow yourself to be illogical or fanciful. Allocate 10 minutes of regular writing time each day. Don’t judge what you write.

turn off the TV – allocate a night a week, or more.

learn a skill – If you’d like to learn to paint or make art, find a teacher. Try U3A, ACE, TAFE, private teachers.

remember to play!

First published in the St Carthage’s home care quarterly newsletter “Life!” February2017