Frequently Asked Questions:
Where do you live?
I live in Mount Gambier, South Australia.
How long have you been painting?
I began painting in 2013 after several years of drawing classes and a lifetime of wanting to be involved in art. I held my first solo exhibition in Penola, South Australia in 2016.
What is your inspiration?
My inspiration is the natural world. I am particularly known for my depiction of trees but both Australian flora and landscape are jumping-off points for me.
What materials do you use?
Currently, I use predominantly ink both on paper (heavy gauge watercolour paper) and canvas (primed with an absorbent ground). I also use acrylic paint in conjunction with the ink and I use charcoal and pastel on pieces that will, ultimately, be framed behind glass.
Where do you sell your work?
I have work hanging in Koopman’s Gallery in Dunkeld, Victoria and in Karatta Gallery in Robe, South Australia. The remainder of sales come from shows and competitions, my exhibitions and from me personally.
When is your next exhibition?
That’s a good question. A couple of events scheduled for 2020 have been interrupted by the pandemic. Hopefully they will be presented in 2021 instead.
What did you do before you were an artist?
I have had many different jobs over time. I was working as a secondary teacher (English and Maths) immediately before my departure into the visual arts. Among other things, I have also worked as a classical singing teacher, a bookkeeper, a dressmaker and a dishwasher.
Have you always painted in this style?
I began with much more traditional styles and using more traditional media – essentially, watercolours and acrylic paint. Gradually, though, I expanded and explored to find my current style but I certainly hope that expansion and exploration hasn’t finished! I look forward to seeing what is ahead.
Do you have a favourite artist?
Not really. I like many Australian contemporary artists (Angus Nivison, Jody Graham, Denis Clark, Stuart Boggs) and the absolute masters, of course, are always amazing to look at. I probably have more of an interest in 20th century work but also love to see the techniques that have been used for centuries.
Where do you get your worked framed?
I use a local framer in Mount Gambier who does a wonderful job – an artist in his own right.
Where do you paint?
I have a small studio in my house. The carpet is covered with layers of plastic tablecloths which is just as well because I do much of my work on the floor. The kitchen is handy for water and cleaning purposes. Although it is a small space, it works very well. Sometimes I do drift out to the kitchen table but usually pack that away as soon as I can. Shouldn’t take up the whole house, after all!!
Where do you get your materials?
I try to use local suppliers if possible. When I need more specialised equipment I either visit Melbourne or Adelaide or use the online options from those stores.
Do you have lots of art hanging in your house?
We have quite a bit ranging from my daughter’s childhood pieces, to family photos, to my work and the work of others. There is not a lot of room so sometimes things get moved around and rotated. Not a bad idea as you can re-appreciate something when it is in a new location.
What do you do with all your paintings?
Obviously, I sell as many as I can. Unsold work is carefully stored in our house. Really special ones are hung up.
What else do you like to do?
I write prose and poetry and I write a blog (kirstenjohnstonarts.blog) and a newsletter for interested followers. I like to read. I like watching sport on television on a lazy afternoon. I like treating myself to a café coffee (and sometimes a cake as well!)
Do you paint every day?
I paint most days. I travel a bit (when we’re not locked down) so it is difficult then but, when I am home, I would generally do something, even if it is small. In September, 2019 I made an undertaking to draw every day so I do that no matter where I am.
How do you know how to start?
Sometimes I don’t. On those occasions, I will dive in with some random marks or colours and see what emerges.