Australian Fine Artist

Who Am I?

After watching the video about Gordon Bennet today in Research and Analysis, we had a discussion about who we are as artists. We were asked to list the things that we think describe us.

OK not as easy as you may think. I for one do not go around trying to think of brief descriptions about who I am in this time in my life. Anyway, gave it a good go and below is the result.

Business Partner
Animal Carer and Lover
Gardener/Rural Property Owner
History Buff
Movie Buff
Reader and Lover of Books

OK that list was a lot longer than I had anticipated.

We were then asked to what extent the above list is recognisable in our art.

  • My love of Australia’s landscape and wildlife comes out in and is a major part of my art
  • My care for animals shows in my animal portraits (including commissions for clients)
  • I often put in objects from ancient history as part of a design for an artwork
  • I like to draw on artists that I admire from the past as inspiration and to learn techniques from (Turner and Australian and French Impressionists for example)
  • As a practising artist I attend a lot of demonstrations by established artists to learn from them and take on ideas and techniques to apply to my own work
  • The tasks assigned at TAFE this year as a student have given me new directions to explore in may painting in the future

How much has my identity changed in the last five years?

Our homework assignment from all of this: Identify what I see as sympathetic or challenging to the identity that I have described. IE: What circumstances etc will help or hinder my achievement of growth as an artist? Identify the big changes in my self identity in the past few years. (I was able to ask for a period since May 15 2009 for a specific reason)

In May 2009 my then employer did me what was to become a big favour. He made me redundant. At the time it was devastating – especially financially as we were paying off a mortgage and barely getting by as it was. Why it was helpful is because I had been burnt out by years of stress, deadlines, office politics, nasty co-workers and generally rotten employers and long hours. I was very sick and had no idea how bad it was. It took me two years to recover with the help of medication and some great doctors and the support of an amazing husband.

I have had a few contract jobs in the mean time but after a lot of consulting and some gut instincts I made the choice to make my priority gaining qualifications to help me run my own business and to teach. I then thought of going on to complete the art qualifications that I failed to get in the 1970s.

So the pros are:

Supportive spouse and business partner

Supportive friends and family

Support and positive networking with other artists in guilds and at school

Positive feedback from suppliers and clients of my art practice

A growing supportive network of business professionals and suppliers

Art Awards

Self respect and confidence and a surety that I am on the right path

Joy in my work and study

Great grades at TAFE

The Cons:

Less than half the income per year I had before

Stress of living month to month on a small income

Loss of some acquaintances from work life

Long hours dedicated to study and building a career

Having to put off having a home of our own

No holidays due to low income

Going without “stuff” like a night at the movies, a dinner out, new shoes, hairdresser etc.


Since May 2009 my life has changed a lot. I carried the financial burden for us and the stress of employment that was probably going to kill me. I was very unhappy, very tired, very stressed, not sleeping, shaking, emotional, basically a nervous wreck ready to fall in a huge heap. I had lost all confidence in myself as a person, a wife, a woman, a professional and an artist.

In the first six months after losing my job I gained some direction with my therapist who also studied art. He helped me to direct my path back to fine art. My husband and friends were also pointing me back in the same direction.

In the following 18 months I was able to hold down a few different graphic design contracts and the temporary work suited me. It allowed me to paint and enjoy getting in touch with a lot of new artist friends and find out for sure that I wanted to devote my whole attention to a future producing art, running an arts practice and teaching art. This was to the point of going back to part time study and doing very well to obtain a Diploma of Management and a Certificate IV in Training and Assessment in 2011 (two twelve week courses one day a week).

This along with winning artist of the year at art guilds and some sales and commissions really boosted my confidence.

The financial meltdown worldwide, although a nuisance in my plans has given me the opportunity to decide to study full time whilst the country works itself out. My plan is that by the time sales begin to pick up in the lower to mid area of the arts market, I will have completed my diploma and an advanced diploma. Another great foundation for my arts practice.

I have been able to help get our business premises furthered and work on projects for the other divisions of the business as well as improving my studio and getting a good list of exhibitions to show my art in for most seasons of the year. I have also started volunteering at McClelland Gallery in the educational department, something I couldn’t have done a few years ago.

At the end of three years I am now a healthier and more confident person (even given the tendon problems and colds this year which I think I have recovered from better than I would have a few years ago).

I have a new direction (or actually the original one) and am learning that I have the skills to make a go of it. I have a secure relationship and supportive partner and we are working on making a future for ourselves. Stephen has really stepped up in supporting us and being there for me.

Things have changed a lot. Three years ago (the future) the light in the tunnel was a freight train rushing to flatten me. Now its a bright new career and it can be anything I want it to be. All it needs is for me work hard and get it done. I have all the support I need!

I am Janice Mills. I am a Talented Fine Artist, Art Student and Art Trainer. A Business Woman and a REALLY Great Wife! 

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