Shirley Peters presents her portfolio, which brings her Australian homeland to life. Visit her website to see more from this talented artist.
I started art school in the early 70’s with the intention of becoming an art teacher. I focused on painting, but soon found disappointment with the unruly teenage classes I was given during my “practice teaching” periods.
I wanted to paint, not fight with teens all day, so I dropped out after two years and transferred to Graphic Design. Here I learnt colour theory, design principles and painting techniques that have helped my fine art career immensely. I was lucky to have this practical training. (It is almost impossible to find this in art schools today.)
My first serious art job was as a layout artist for Walton’s Advertising. This involved sketching the ads: the headline, the lines of “copy”, and the product. This could be anything; a sofa, a kettle, a bra! Photography was used for the final advert in most cases, but the products were firstly illustrated for the production “traffic”. After four years in graphic design, I branched out as a freelancer. Illustration was my strength, which directed me back to fine art.
I worked for a while with a book publisher, and this opened the door to children’s book illustration, especially the picture book. What an opportunity to paint, and make a living! I jumped in and illustrated my first book. It was shortlisted for the Book of the Year award, (Mervyn’s Revenge by Leone Peguero 1990) and so I continued to illustrate many books for trade and education, both in Australia and America.
In 2008, I made the decision to discard all commercial work and publishing and focus purely on painting. I enrolled at a local fine-art course as a refresher, and then established my own practice with annual group shows in Sydney, and a solo in Melbourne. I am represented by Gallery V in Woolloomooloo, Sydney and continue to have a solo show each year, as well as open studios when time permits.
Oddly enough, I have returned to teaching. Adults only though. Last year I taught art and held workshops. This year I will make some painting videos to add to my existing “Colour in Your Life” episode.
What inspires me? Landscapes, seascapes, cityscapes; the world around me! I think every painter is moved by beautiful views, even those who eschew realism. Later in life they just want to paint what they see. Like Hockney.
I have developed a loose, big-brush style, and I paint on large panels of paper. I use acrylic paint, and work it like watercolour. I then change to “oil” mode, and finish each work with thick opaque paint. The paper is later mounted onto canvas using my own secret formula. It does not need framing, and does not have glass in front. It is strong and permanent.
I am about to start a series of landscapes due to my recent move to the rural outskirts of Sydney. We came from the city, but now have five acres of trees, lawns and bush, with kangaroos and birds as constant companions.