I entered The Great Southern Art Exhibition 2015!!! This was my first ever exhibition (excluding the one my mum entered for me when I was 14!) I was pretty pleased to be given a Highly Commended for the Works On Paper Award! There were some pretty knowledgeable judges and a lot of great artworks from across the Great Southern (an area bigger than some small countries!) so this made me feel pretty awesome!!!

My painting is titled 'Butterfly Wing-Scales No.35'. It measures 960mm x 1300mm. It is cut out and floated under glass to accentuate the idea that this is a real sample of a piece of a butterfly or moth wing, but on a massive scale. (Can you see the shadows that show its raised up!?)

Here's the comment from the judges:

"A rich tapestry of colour and an intriguingly reductive work. The droplets of colour create a fluid but shifting movement throughout the work, sometimes creating an optical illusion of depth".

Here's what I said about this painting in my statement:


This painting is an illustration of the surface of a butterfly (or moth) wing, as seen under the microscope! The wings of these creatures are carpeted in millions of tiny overlapping scales in incredibly vibrant and varied colours. You know when you touch a butterfly or moth and you get a fine 'dust' on your fingers? That's actually these tiny scales coming off the insects wings and sticking on your skin!

The purpose of this painting is to share some inspiration, joy and wonder at the incredible magnificence that can be found in nature. I feel very privileged to have studied and worked as an environmental scientist and love to share the amazing insights gained from these experiences.

This painting is also has a message about focus, conciousness and choice. My inspirational moment came whilst lying within the small confined space of an MRI machine. Two and a half years ago when I was 24 years old, I had suddenly started collapsing and my state of health rapidly deteriorated. Doctors could not make a diagnosis. As a result, I consciously made the decision to focus exclusively on the joyful and inspiring to make the most of my life. In the MRI machine, terribly sick, in pain, alone and afraid, but determined to stay true to my resolution - I went inside my minds eye to visualise the most inspiring and joyful moments of my life. The first time I saw the iridescent scales on a butterfly wing under the microscope came to mind and I felt awe and delight wash over me. That night I recreated that image to put on the wall, painting for the first time since highschool, in order to help remind myself of this magical experience of nature and keep my mind in a positive state despite my difficult circumstances.

From this day, I became passionate about art. I continued to paint, albeit very slowly at first and began to gradually improve. This experience showed me that happiness comes from your choice of focus, not your circumstances. Art to me is a tool in triggering that focus. Everytime you look at an uplifting piece of artwork, you are consciously or unconsciously directing your brain to a positive state, possibly thousands of times a day. I am grateful to make something with my own two hands that makes people feel happy. I hope this painting can share some joy and wonder at how beautiful life and nature can be and help you to think about how you choose your focus each moment!

This painting is made with oil pastel, watercolour, gouache and coloured pencil. It is created in about seven layers to build up the depth, variation and intensity of the colours of the scales. I have cut out the piece of the 'wing' and raised it up and framed it behind glass to accentuate the idea that this is a real sample of a piece of a butterfly or moth wing, but on a massive scale. Framed behind glass like a sample on a microscope slide.

The exhibition will be on from the 03 April to the 16 May 2015, at the Vancouver Art Centre Albany, Western Australia.