Words: Sally Paxton
Photos: Julian Paxton
My art career started later than many artists. There wasn’t an opportunity for me to attend an art school or work in a creative industry, I did however love and cherish my art practice throughout all my schooling.
Fast forward a few decades, I found myself wondering if I still had the passion and ability to create. A university degree didn’t interest me, I wanted to explore the practical side of an art practice and use my hands. I enrolled in a visual arts course at TAFE and so my journey began.
Having five children has taught me many life lessons and in the process, I am very organised. Today I have one child still attending school and I no longer work for someone else. I have the time and the passion now to focus my energy into creating.
Life’s journey and environment are what fuel my creativity. I nurture my thoughts and allow them to explore where an idea could take me, along with being aware of my surroundings in everyday life. Walking through the bush or on a path there is always something new to see; a flowering weed or bush, wattle cascading and exploding down trees, leaves on trees or in different stages of decay on the ground and the beautiful markings on trunks and branches.
Australian Wildlife is so fascinating to watch, the way birds interact with each other, how bees work together and the way kangaroos socialise and look after their young. I could go on.
I take my art practice seriously and structure my day accordingly. It takes priority over house work and coffee dates. I do some type of art every day, my studio is in my home so it is easy to get the most out of every day. I photograph whatever takes my eye with my phone (the camera is great). I print things out constantly and have a large pile of images that get rotated on the studio walls. All my completed artworks are taken by an outstanding photographer, I am very fortunate that it just happens to be my husband.
If I’m not making art I am usually thinking about it or looking at it. School holidays are a time that my work slows down. However, my family are wonderfully supportive and encourage me to spend time in the studio, as I become irritable when I have too much time away from it. Being creative resets my mood and I am a much better person when I am creating.
I struggle to share my work when it is in the early stages, I am sensitive to other people’s suggestions, my work can be affected by their input. I feel exposed and vulnerable when I start a new piece, so privacy is key.
I tend to alternate between painting and drawing depending on my mood.
Painting is a pleasure and challenge all in one. Deciding on a subject matter, composition and colours can take some time. I love experimenting with paint and surprise myself by the colour combinations I create.
Drawing is a dream for me, I completely disappear into it. However, it is the most tiring, four or more hours can pass before I realise and stop for a break.
Listening to music in the studio is too intrusive to my thinking. It can have too much of an impact on the mood of my work. I do enjoy listening to Audible books and podcasts though.
I loved to draw as a child, I could go off into my own world where there was freedom from others. As a child I was a constant daydreamer, I had magical places to go in my mind. I don’t think we ever lose the ability to daydream, we just need to make time for it. It is okay to let our inner child out every once in a while.
Every piece has a story. A dialog is formed between us. It is like we are on a journey together, all completely made up of course. I appreciate and love my imagination and feel so blessed to have the time and support to put everything in to my art practice.
Sally Paxton’s Bio
My work is inspired by wild life, especially birds in their environment, and the nature of things in everyday life.
Repetitive pattern and shape, particularly dots dominate my work. I am obsessed with dots and see them everywhere, in everything. The work explores my connection with the world we inhabit, it is an expression of my reality but also my imagined world. Intricate and delicate forms intertwine in my work, just as my reality and my imagination blend.