We all had dreams when we were young but how many of us never let go of them?  How many of them were squashed by a careless comment made by a teacher or parent?  Jan knew from an early age that she loved to paint and she never let go of her dream.  Here she shares with us her story of how she became an award winning artist later in life….

I grew up on a small dairy/pineapple farm just south of Gympie, Noosa was about an hour’s drive away and we visited and holidayed there regularly. From an early age I’ve been drawing, painting and creating, the combination of a country and beach up-bringing inspired a love of nature which is evident in many of my paintings today.

While these experiences enriched my childhood, there was never money available for artistic materials or endeavours.  At high school in the late 1960’s art was an academic subject and I was not! I was also interested in Technical Drawing but that,  was only open to boys!  And so, I never had any formal art education. I left school at fifteen, worked as a window dresser and ticket writer happily using my creative skills and being paid for it.

I started painting more seriously after my first child was born. Endeavouring to master oils, but gave up after my son poured a container of turps over himself resulting in turps in his eyes, month, ears etc.  So drawing, sewing and other creative pursuits became a “safer” option, whilst the children were young painting would have to wait.

It just so happened that my long awaited first art lesson was the same day my youngest child started school, and whilst the other mothers were crying at the school gate……I was off and running! We were living in Gordonvale near Cairns at the time and the day before cyclone Winifred had hit the region, but nothing was going to stop me getting to that art lesson I had waited far too long for this moment! The lesson was in Cairns with well-known artist Joy Stewart,  there were no mobile phones then and no working landlines to contact her, so I just showed up on her doorstep she couldn’t believe it!  I had dodged powerline repairmen, garden sheds, fallen trees and lots of debris on the 30km trek to get there!

Because of my husbands transferable job, over the next ten years we lived in several different places. I was busy, working, raising my children and finally when I was 40 went to university, not to study art but sociology, which was related to my work as a Community Liaison Officer with Education Queensland.  My love of art continued and I took art classes and workshops at every opportunity, broadening my knowledge and skills in many mediums and techniques.  Then in the early 1990’s I discovered watercolour; in particular the wet in wet technique.  I immediately fell in love with the medium, its challenges and unpredictable qualities.

By the mid 1990’s we had settled in Brisbane where I was able to further my knowledge by attending more classes and workshops. I had started to sell more and more paintings, and so  I decided to leave the workforce and devote more time, developing my watercolour skills.  Since then I’ve won many awards and in 2006 I was asked to teach watercolour classes at Royal Queensland Art Society Brisbane. Later that year I held my first and very successful solo art exhibition at the RQASG Brisbane.

 In 2006 I was fortunate to be invited to take part in the Hamilton Island Gallery’s artist in residence program. Over the past 10 years whilst participating in the programme I’ve had numerous exhibitions and conducted countless classes.  Through the Hamilton Island Art Gallery, Noosa’s Hearts and Minds Galleries and various others, my paintings are now held in private collections in Australia and overseas. I have taught workshops and classes in many locations throughout this time.

I guess the thing that keeps me going, is that I never tire of exploring new watercolour techniques and trying to improve.  It’s not monetary gain that keeps me painting (although it does support my creative habit!!!) but the buzz from the fact that someone has connected with my work enough to buy it.

I’d like to share a few pieces of wisdom that I have learnt over the years, and that have kept me going: –


Don’t listen to your critics, listen to your heart.

Trust your instincts, If I’d not trusted mine to give up work and to paint full-time, none of the opportunities I’ve been blessed with, would have come my way.

Remember time spent lamenting the past is better spent planning the future!


Having lived in a myriad of places I have come almost full circle back to Noosa, a place that has always been constant in our lives for holidays and weekends. I no longer teach on a regular basis but I do still conduct occasional watercolour workshops, and of course I am always painting..


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