Art of Genevieve Neale

I can still make that drawing my mother taught me when I was 7. It was a drawing of a Malay attap house on stilts with a coconut tree next to it. The sun shining down, some bits of grass on the ground. I remember it because I won a prize for Primary one drawing competition with it. The next foray into art was when I was in between countries over 30 years ago. I wanted something to remember my roots and a Chinese brush painting workshop came up. The “Shih Fu” (Master) showed me the beauty a single brush stroke can do, that forever instilled the love of this interaction between brush colour, water and paper. It was the beginning of an itch.

Then reality of life, the corporate world, the world of bits and bytes and programs and systems came a calling. I had satisfaction in my career. As a Vice President in a large international corporation, there were perks and travel opportunities; I saw a bit of the world. That itch however, could not be scratched. When I retired, the planets began to align. I moved to Hervey Bay, a 2-minute drive away from the home of the Hervey Bay Art Society. I saw a flyer for a Drawing Class with Brett A Jones, and my husband agreed to come drawing with me. I had 2 beautiful cats and I was desperate to learn to draw them.

And so it goes. And as it was in the beginning, it is still true now that my art journey is very much about the teachers of art in my life. From my mother and the Shih Fu, the planting of the seed. Brett Jones taught me how to “see”, to have patience in finishing a piece of art. Teachers of colours, perspective, composition. The Master Pastellists. Richard McKinley, who put me on the path to letting go of the reference photo. It’s all about the story. You see what’s there, and then what may not be there, but the purpose of which can be found looking with your mind’s eye. Hey, I learnt from my husband, Paul, when I try to show him the “right way” to do something; and instead he showed me that there is no right or wrong way, just what works for you.

In my art, I feel young again. A 10-year-old on a journey so far. I am still learning; my life is more colourful; I don’t just see sky or ocean – I see shapes and colours, patterns, light and shadows. The world is new again. I learn to see the gnarled beauty in a gum tree, it’s twists and turns in response to the elements inflicted on it. Blades of grass seeking water and nourishment in a hostile sea of sand. The sparkle and spirit behind the eyes that is the essence of a person in a portrait. The magic of fantastical landscapes, filled with light and shade and hidden corners, mysteries awaiting just around the corner. These and more, I have captured in my art and I feel richer.