Australian artists and hobbyists don’t have to look very far for inspiration. From the golden sands and turquoise water of our beaches to our lush green rainforests and quintessential bush settings, inspiration is all around us.
But how do artists go about their creative process? What gives them that spark to capture what’s in front of them? We asked five Australian artists to chat about their love of the arts and inspire you to start something bigger in the artistic space today.
Meet Digital Illustrator Brent Turner
Brent Turner spent his childhood drawing, finding inspiration in nature while exploring the fire trails and waterfalls near his Terrey Hills home, where he would stumble upon cute critters. But when the Sydney-based artist traded his pencil and paper for tech, he fell in love with digital drawing. His brand Brentos (which he created with his partner, Tash) is a testament to his love of Australian bushland and features dreamy pastel interpretations of the nation’s most beloved flora and fauna.
Start by Finding What Inspires You
Inspiration is the force that motivates creativity, so it’s important to dig deep and find what drives it. Heading into wide-open spaces is Brent’s tonic. “I’ll often spot something, like a wattlebird feeding on a banksia or a red-bellied black snake patiently waiting by a stream for a frog, and I’ll write down these little moments and refer back to them when I’m in need of inspiration,” he says.
Work in the Right Environment
“I have creative friends who require complete silence and others who can, and do, work under the most chaotic conditions,” Brent says. “I’m most creative on weekends when I’m free of the stresses of the inbox and I can sit outside with a beer and a Bluetooth speaker and draw with a clear headspace.”
Brent’s Top Tips to Get Started
If you're new to drawing, digital or otherwise, Brent suggests practising by creating work from analysing the artists you admire most. “As a creative exercise, copy their work to get a sense of their techniques and nuances,” he says. “Once you understand what gives an artwork consistency and a style, you can begin to think about how you can apply your own techniques to your creative work to begin developing your own style that’s 100 per cent yours.”
What You’ll Need
- Winsor & Newton A3 Visual Art Diary 110gsm 60 Sheets Clear
- Born Sketch Set 21 Pack
- Jasart Sketch Set 27 Pack
- Wacom Intuos Pro Small Creative Pen Tablet Black
- Microsoft 13" Surface Pro 9 EVO i5/8GB/256GB Graphite
Meet Oil Painter Lisa Nooin
For some it was sourdough starters, for others it was binge-watching Tiger King, but for Sydney-based oil painter Lisa Nooin, it was her return to painting that gave her a reprieve from the COVID-19 pandemic. “The soothing process of mixing colours and the gliding of paint on the canvas reignited my artistic passion,” she says. Since then, Lisa has made her art a full-time focus, along with running her own jewellery business, Lady Nooin.
Find Something That Sparks Joy
It’s the slow and “deliberate” process of oil painting that brings Lisa the most joy. “Oil paint’s slower drying time compared to acrylics allows me to savour the creative process,” she says. “Additionally, as a colour enthusiast, I appreciate oil paint's vibrant and true-to-life colours, unlike acrylics, which tend to dry darker.”
Define Your Own Style
Lisa’s unique style, which emulates the vibrancy of stained glass windows, was born from “experiment and play” over the course of her artistic journey. “For those seeking their own artistic style, my advice is to persevere by consistently creating art and experimenting with various styles,” she says. “Over time, you'll discern your preferences and dislikes and, as your artistic journey progresses, you'll naturally cultivate your unique artistic voice.”
Lisa’s Top Tips for Getting Started
For the oil painting newbies out there, Lisa says to start small. “Rushing into larger works can be expensive and challenging, especially when you're still experimenting and developing your skills,” she says. “Begin small, gain confidence and then transition to larger projects when you're ready.”
What You’ll Need
- Reeves Oil Colour Paint Set 12mL 18 Pack
- Royal & Langnickel Essentials Oil Paint Set 15 Piece
- Born Thin Canvas 8 x 8"
- Gamblin Refined Linseed Oil 125mL
Meet Graphic Designer and Digital Artist Jack Turner
When a primary school teacher admired his vibrant drawing of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, it gave Melbourne-based Australian artist and designer Jack Turner a “warm and fuzzy feeling” and ignited his passion for creating. Now affectionately known as Hey Stubby, Jack’s cheeky, outgoing personality shines through in his art. As the creative director of Skwosh, a line of resort wear for adults and kids that he co-owns alongside his close friends, he spends his evenings letting his imagination run wild.
Trust in the Creative Process
Just as finding inspiration is personal to each individual, so is discovering your own creative process – which is Jack’s favourite part. “I always love drawing shapes and objects first … it feels more organic and more like me,” he says.
Leaning into the elements of art you find the most enjoyable will help you develop your own process. Jack draws by hand first before moving to the computer. “I spend quite a bit of time during the hands-on stage and it vastly outweighs the digital aspect, but that’s what brings me ultimate joy,” he says.
Take the Pressure Off
Whether you’re practising or refining a skill, love of the art is key. To foster creativity, Jack takes time out to look after himself by “having a nice hot bath” and “going for a nice long jog”. Whether it’s some pampering or getting out to move your body, he suggests a little bit of self-care to “spark some serious creativity”.
Jack’s Top Tips to Get Started
Jack advises taking a free-range approach before you hit the digital tools. “Always have a doodle with a pencil first … spend more time brainstorming your artwork as I feel that’s the most enjoyable and exciting part. Our world is getting extremely tech-savvy, which is great … but don’t forget about the pencil!”
What You’ll Need
- Royal & Langnickel Sketching Pencil Tin Art Set 12 Pack
- Derwent Academy Sketch Pencils Tin of 12
- Derwent Academy A4 Visual Art Diary Portrait 120 Page Navy
SEE ALSO: 10 Best Tools for Artists and Creatives
Meet Oil Painter Libby Haines
The pandemic rekindled Australian artist Libby Haines’ passion for oil painting. With the beginning of lockdowns in 2020, and the closing of her jewellery business after six years, the Melbourne-based painter sought to fill the “creative hole” in her life. “Once I started, something was awakened in me. I hadn't felt so much passion and drive to create in a long time,” she says.
Three years on, Libby and her art are thriving. Her works, made with water-mixable oil paints and using the alla prima (wet on wet) technique, are an evocative portrayal of life’s simple pleasures and expose the joy in domestic moments.
Make Art for Yourself
While art is a wonderful way to express yourself, Libby says it's also a cathartic form of therapy to help cope with life’s stresses. “Painting, for me, is a form of escapism; a chance to step outside of myself, my own thoughts, and be entirely in a moment,” Libby says. “I get so much pleasure focusing on colour and texture and bringing a concept and feeling to life through paint.”
Find What Works Best
With three solo exhibitions already under her belt, Libby’s passion continues to flourish. “My advice for someone trying to find their own creative process is to dive right in and learn by doing,” she says. “Try lots of different things and challenge yourself to do something out of your comfort zone. I learn best by doing and making mistakes as I go.”
Libby’s Top Tips to Get Started
Riding the highs and lows of creating art is an important part of the process for Libby. She encourages those who are looking to start painting to embrace the failures and “not focus so much on perfection, but rather on creating”.
“A big thing that holds people back is fear of failure – you have to push past that,” she says. “You would be surprised what you can create if you just keep moving forward and lean into what feels good.”
What You’ll Need
- Winsor & Newton Watermixable Oil 37mL Cadmium Yellow Hue S1
- Born Hog Paintbrush 10 Pack
- Born Wooden Palette
- Born Deep Canvas 20 x 24"
Meet Acrylic Artist Tulli Stevens
With the beaches and bushland of Mullaway, near Coffs Harbour on the north coast of New South Wales, as the backdrop of her childhood, Tulli Stevens grew up with a love of art and culture as well as the nature around her. As a proud Gumbaynggirr woman and Indigenous Australian artist, it’s her connection to her culture and Country that shines through in her paintings. “I love the idea of creating a beautiful artwork that tells a story, something to make people feel a certain way, to inspire,” she says.
Be Prepared for When Inspiration Strikes
When an urge to create art comes, Tulli always has travel-sized essentials on hand and her acrylic paints are never far away. “A small art journal is something I use a lot,” she says. “It’s perfect for writing notes, thoughts of inspiration, sketches, jotting ideas or testing colours for new paintings. A miniature set of watercolours is [also] ideal for travelling or creating little artworks while you are out and about.”
Make the Creative Process Your Meditation
Tulli finds her craft is a form of relaxation. “I have often been someone who finds it hard to sit still in meditation, until I realised that meditation can come about in many different forms,” she says. “[Painting] opens a space for you to release emotions, to feel relaxed, to explore thoughts and ideas. It’s a beautiful way to become present in the moment, to just be, without any external thoughts or worries.”
Tulli’s Top Tips for Getting Started
Sometimes a trick of the trade or a handy tool makes creating art much easier and, as Tulli runs art workshops with Mullaway Creative Co, she has a few to share. “A spray bottle of water will be your best friend while working with acrylics. It helps move the paint in a much smoother way, creating consistent colours,” she says. She also recommends using wet palettes to keep your paint from drying out while you’re working.
What You’ll Need
- Born Spray Bottle 50mL 2 Pack
- Born Round Flat Paintbrush Set Natural Hair 7 Pack
- Born Acrylic Paint Set with Accessories 50 Pieces
- POSCA PC 5M Paint Marker White
- POSCA PC 5M Paint Marker Blue
- POSCA PC 5M Paint Marker Sky Blue
- POSCA PC 5M Paint Marker Light Blue