Not so long ago I was sitting in a factory sewing hundreds of vertical blinds. I needed the cash, and it was all I could find to fill the gap. But OH, how soul destroying that was!
The things you do when you need food on the table!
Not long before this, I had burnt out badly from overworking as a Media Manager & Graphic Designer whilst bringing up 4 young boys; my body just could not sit at a computer like I had been doing for years, and on top of that I was struggling with some pretty difficult emotional trauma from past events.
I needed a job that didn’t require me to think much and find a place to heal, but the factory job gave me no fulfilment, and I began sinking deeper into depression.
Around that same time I had begun painting and I’d found this creative process really helped keep me sane. It became my go-to when needing to zone out of the anxiety and fatigue. It didn’t take too long for me to realise perhaps sewing blinds was not my calling!
I had to take the risk; leave the mundane, repetitive mind-numbing job and lean into my dreams. I thought:
maybe if I take painting more seriously, the trauma would decrease and I could find purpose again.
Was I being crazy for thinking I could make living off my art?
Soon to turn 50, I knew there was nothing to lose, so I went for it! With my friend’s encouragement, I entered some big Art Prizes and surprisingly, I got great recognition! I sold some big pieces for a really good price and even internationally, I was getting some traction!
Before I had finished my 4th painting, I couldn’t help to begin dreaming about what was ahead: my passion was to paint photo realistic images of the water and reflections that brought me so much life and healing, and as soon as I finished one painting I was onto the next!
I was coming alive again, I felt like I was coming home, and the depression was lifting.
It was at this time I knew I needed to make some big life changing decisions before it was too late. I met with a friend who was a professional Curator and asked her how I would go about having my own exhibition.
She gave me some life changing advice. She said. “You have two choices when it comes to your direction as an artist. The very first thing you need to do Heather is ask yourself:
“Do you want to have your art on one person’s wall? That very special one-off piece that only a handful of people will see and it becomes a collectors piece, OR
do you want each painting you do to be reproduced so that others can see it over and over again?”
It didn’t take me long to realise my paintings had a story, that needed to be told.
They had a life that needed to be seen and experienced by more than a handful of viewers. They had brought me healing and life and I wanted others to experience that too.
It all clicked into place and I knew that was the direction I wanted to go. She said I needed at least 8 pieces to hold an exhibition and to step boldly into the direction I knew I needed to go.
My art had heart, skill and story.
I knew this was the right way forward. I knew I wanted to reproduce my work for many others to enjoy.
Before I knew it there was a book, followed and prints and cards and exhibitions that gave me high recognition for my skill and work!
Wow! Was this real?!
All of that was only 6 years ago! So much has fallen into place since then. I have produced around 27 large paintings, selling for really decent prices, and I’ve been recognised in large national exhibitions!
I now own my own gallery and studio in the storybook picturesque Dandenong Ranges, teaching over 30 students each week. I can’t describe how grateful I am, and thankful for people around me who have encouraged me to follow my dreams and my heart.
Just yesterday I had someone tell me that one of the prints they had bought of mine (called ‘Forgiven’) was sitting up above their bed, and is a continual reminder that life is worth living and gives them hope for each day!
It is moments like that that I knew I had made the right decision to not lock my paintings away in one person’s home – it has made me start dreaming of new ways to make my art more accessible.
These days there are so many ways, and I am SO excited to see what comes.
With over 25 painting now, I am producing calendars and books and some very exciting new things coming down the pipeline (so stay tuned for more on that adventure! 😉)
I’m SO glad I leaned into my dreams;
this certainly is the artist I wanted to be!
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“In creative corner, we feature the inspiring thoughts of fellow artists. Today’s article is from Heather Bradbury.
Heather was born in Rochester, Victoria, Australia in 1966 and currently lives in the Dandenong Ranges, Victoria. (also lived in Tasmania for 18 years) She is a mother of four boys and has worked in the media and graphic design industry for around twenty-six years, connecting with people from all over the world. She loves drawing and painting large photo realistic images inspired by nature, reflections and water droplets. She is the Managing Director and owner of KAPI ART SPACE, a Studio Gallery in the Dandenong Ranges, Australia, where the mission is to bring individuals and groups fully alive in their creative dreams!”