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North by North West

Recently, a contract for Flying Arts sent me to the town of Winton, in beautiful remote Queensland. My job was to present a two day workshop for The Matilda Centre and The John Villier's Trust about youth entering art prizes. As I wrote my presentation weeks prior, I had no idea what I was in for.

I had heard from close friends and family that Winton was a magical place, but I had never travelled that far west before. The weekend that I visited also happened to be the Winton Opal Festival and the closing weekend of the Vision Splendour Outback Film Festival. Very good timing for me.

The workshops were a success. Although they happened on the busiest weekend of the little town's calendar, I managed to connect with young artists and a local educator to go through the ins and outs of applying to art prizes and how to develop concepts for artworks around a theme.

Theory aside, the practical components of the workshop were so much fun. I had the opportunity to introduce the group to a new medium (yay for gouache!) to create their own colour palette. We used references from magazines and photographs to explore mixing unique colours outside of the traditional colour wheel. Everyone picked very different images so there were many different colour schemes to mix from scratch!

The biggest takeaway from the workshop for both participants and myself was - make mistakes. Mistakes are gold. They are a necessary part of learning something new. We tackled this idea head on with warm up drawing exercises that included blind drawing, continual line drawing and upside-down drawing.

What seemed frustrating and somewhat impossible at the beginning became a way to let expectation go, to stop putting so much pressure on creating a "perfect" image and begin to relax and allow new ideas and techniques to flow.

Outside of the workshops I was fortunate to have a legend of a tour guide that showed me some truely breathtaking places that I will never forget. I met so many wonderful people, I ate dinner in every pub in the main drag, I sketched at every opportunity, I watched the sun rise and set everyday and came home with 1,000 photos, an opal ring and a new favourite place in Queensland.

A big Thank you to Flying Arts for this dream job. Thank you to Karen Stephens for the support throughout my visit, and to John Elliott for his hospitality and making sure I experienced the marvel of Winton.

See Winton here:

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Follow my journey here:

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