Brisbane-based watercolour artist, Pip Spiro, made the best decision of her life when she took a leap of faith and threw in her corporate role in advertising for a far less certain, but infinitely more rewarding, life of an artist. We’re glad she did.
The arts can be a tough gig. Have you always been destined to be an artist?
I certainly didn’t start out this way. I worked in advertising for about five years before I began this journey and I don’t think I could have imagined that painting would one day be my job.
From the outset, the prospect of being an ‘artist’ seemed a bit pie-in-the-sky but it all happened very organically, from painting late at night as a wind down from work, to balancing it part-time with an office job. I finally took the plunge to make a go of it full time about three years ago. In hindsight, committing to it one hundred per cent was undoubtedly one of the best decisions I’ve ever made and has totally changed the direction of my life, and me as a person, in the best way possible.
How do you describe your work?
Every time I put paint to paper, my main aim is to create something beautiful. I think that beauty often lies in what’s familiar, which is why I’m interested in painting things from life around me. I am often told that my work has a real ‘Australian’ feel to it, which I think is a result of my take on watercolour being quite bright and vibrant.
I love painting all kinds of flowers – from my garden, from the florist or the back dunes at the beach, I don’t discriminate. I think the things that evoke nostalgia or fond memories for me, do so for my audience too. It’s these little snippets of the everyday that I like to re-appropriate to a beautiful painted scene, and this is what people connect with.
Who are your major influencers, personally or professionally?
Cressida Campbell is my painting idol. She also works in watercolour but has a totally unique technique using woodblocks to make one off screen prints. I have great admiration for her talent, but also love that she is unashamed in simply painting what she finds beautiful – hers is the art I would love to have on my wall.
Personally, my husband Nick is both my toughest critic and fiercest advocate and rightly or wrongly I value his opinion more than anyone else’s. He’s perhaps the smartest and most positive person I know. I feel very lucky to have him always in my court.
Where do you want to take your art? Is there an ultimate goal or are you already there?
I see becoming an artist as a lifelong pursuit that I am only just beginning but my hope is that I can continue to make work that resonates with people and sparks joy in their homes and lives. I’m moving toward producing more bodies of work for exhibition rather than so much of the commission work I currently do a lot of (though I still enjoy the contrast). I’d love to exhibit more down south and eventually overseas. Representing contemporary Australian art to the world on any level would be the pinnacle for me, a most humbling and fulfilling cherry to top the joy I get from painting every day.
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