Hi Kellie, thanks so much for taking the time to speak with us about your eco-conscious work!
To start, please could you tell us a little bit about your personal history that led you to start making art? How did you learn how to paint?
I have been creating art for as long as I can remember. As soon as I started high school, my art teachers helped me to refine my skills. My medium of choice at the time was graphite and charcoal, with a little dabble into painting here and there. Once I graduated from school and had more time on my hands, I started to paint more and developed a love for the medium. I painted a gorilla from a nature book I had laying around and surprised myself with the detail I achieved! This painting hangs proudly and constantly inspires me to create new work.
I studied at the University of South Australia, and graduated in early 2018 with a Bachelor of Visual Arts, specialising in painting. While studying at university I experimented with new mediums and discovered oil paints, which is now my medium of choice. University didn't exactly teach me how to paint, as my painting skills had already developed during my gap year, however, I did learn new approaches to creating art that I never would have thought of otherwise.
What is your biggest inspiration for your art?
Simple answer, nature and animals. I've always loved animals, and naturally this love has constantly inspired my art. I drew a lot of tigers during school, but in more recent years I have focused on Native Australian Fauna and marine life. One of my hobbies is rock climbing/bouldering - this sport takes me all over the country looking for new rocks to climb. Being constantly outside has given me a huge appreciation for the environment, and heavily influenced the direction my art has taken.
When did you first realize that you wanted to address environmental issues in your art?
There was an assignment in my second year at university, where we had to create work that focused on the material, rather than the imagery. For this project, I painted sea life on plastic bags, to highlight the plastic pollution in the ocean. I was starting to become more aware of the impact that humans have on the environment and after further research for the project, I made drastic changes in my everyday life. I have been striving for a zero waste lifestyle since then, and incorporating these values into my artwork.
Why were you drawn to trying Natural Earth Paints in some areas of your practice?
Despite my love for oil paints, the brands I used contradicted my lifestyle values. I went on the search to find something that didn't impact the environment, and that's when I stumbled upon Natural Earth Paints. I've been using these paints for a couple years now! I still have a ton of watercolours to use up, but will hopefully make my own NEP watercolours in the future.
We really admire your quest to go zero-waste. How has striving for a greener lifestyle impacted the art supplies you use in your practice now?
As tempting as it is when walking past art stores, I use what I have first. I have a huge collection of watercolour paper from over the years to use up, but once that's gone, I will be on the search for a good quality recycled paper. I also have a few sheets left of PastelMat paper but have found an australian company who create recycled art pads (brown paper) which will be perfect for my pastel drawings. As for my oil paintings, I no longer buy canvas. My material of choice is wooden panels from discarded pallets. I really love the imperfections of the material and often leave the wood show through in the background. Finding the right material is half of the fun. Whenever I'm at bunnings, I rummage through their off cuts to see if there is anything suitable. I use marketplace (on Facebook) and GumTree to find free or cheap pallets to pull apart. I'm also in the process of creating my own "canvas" from up-cycling plastic bags.
Do you have any tips for artists who want to start to live greener or foster dialogue around sustainability and environmental issues in their art? What made this process easier for you, and what has kept you motivated?
Change is always easier when you take it one step at a time. Small changes, such as refusing a straw or only using reusables for take away food/coffee, can make a drastic impact. I think if you're passionate enough about something, that will be your motivation.
My favourite quote, " We don't need a handful of people doing zero waste perfectly. We need millions of people doing it imperfectly."
Where can our audience view and purchase your art?
For any Adelaide locals (South Australia), you can view and purchase from our collective makers store "OmMade Meet the Maker" at either the Adelaide Central Markets or Westfield Marion. (There are also 17 other local and handmade businesses at these stores too).