Happiness. That’s what Vanessa Porter wants you to see in her artwork. Because that’s exactly what she feels as her brush dances across the canvas when she paints.
Creator and designer of Pepi Wren Original Artworks, Vanessa’s journey into art began in Sydney in her early twenties. “I loved art, so I decided to do some classes and take private lessons,” Vanessa says.
“From there, I was offered a job in retail selling fine art supplies by my art teacher, and I stayed there for 15 years before moving up to the Sunshine Coast in 2006 to be closer to my mother.
“I went to TAFE up here and continued my study while I was working in retail, fine art supply/picture framing in the beautiful town of Eumundi where my husband and I decided to lay down our hats and purchase our home. I actually started selling my own art at the Eumundi Markets and did that for almost 10 years too.”
Standing in Vanessa’s home, peering out over the mountains she wakes up to each day, through trees filled with the soothing sounds of the birds; pops of colour on the horizon, it is easy to understand where a lot of her inspiration comes from.
“I have a strong connection to birds and flowers in my art, and I believe a lot of that inspiration comes from where I live,” Vanessa says. “We get such a great variety of birds here, it’s so peaceful too. In fact, it’s hard to leave the house sometimes,” she laughs.
“Each day I wake up, walk outside and look at the mountains, I sit and have my coffee, contemplate the day, take it all in and then the thought process begins,” she says. “I suppose the plan for the day depends on whether I am part way through a piece or about to start something new.”
Currently, Vanessa is working on another magpie series for the Hearts and Minds Gallery in Noosa
“I am represented by the Hearts and Minds Gallery,” she says. “They are fabulous! All my work goes to their gallery and they sell it for me which is fantastic,” she says. “I have done a lot of magpie pieces for them and they are so popular I am working on another series,” she says.
“I have also just finished up a piece from another popular series of pianos. Each has a theme behind it and this one is pretty special; it is called Single Pigeon as an ode to the Paul McCartney song. I love Paul McCartney and the Beatles,” she smiles.
“Birds, pianos and flowers are my main subjects to paint. I have really only done a few pieces over the years that aren’t birds and flowers. My work is whimsical and feminine, colourful and definitely happy. And the magpie pieces are definitely my favourite to paint. One day I will paint a few for myself too. I think they are really cute.”
Inspired by artists like Margaret Olley, Paul Gauguin and Chaïm Soutine, Vanessa uses acrylics and an array of colour to bring her pieces to life.
“Usually the concepts come easily, I decide on the bird or floral arrangement, then decide on what the birds or flowers will be perched on. Maybe its an intricate piano piece, or something else, it just comes to me,” Vanessa says.
“I might put the flowers in a vase, or have them laying on a bench or other object, and then I start working out the colour from there. I do go through different stages with the colours I like to work with.
“I am very much enjoying white and grey with a touch of brightness now, but not long ago I was using a lot of hot pink, orange and turquoise,” she says.
“I suppose the colours and the changes might be representative of what’s going on in my life at the time and how I am feeling, then I express that in my art.”
“I do keep a photo gallery; a sort of inspiration board too in case I am stuck. But I never force the process, if I need, I will walk away, take a day or two and let it come to me naturally but thankfully that doesn’t happen too often,” she says.
“I express a lot of myself with paint because I find that I have trouble communicating in words why I do what I do. All I can say is I get up every day and stand at my easel and paint and I absolutely love it,” Vanessa says with a smile. “It is cliché I know, but I do believe if you are born to do something you follow that. It’s in the genes, it’s instinct, it’s what I love to do and I hope people get happiness out of what I do.”