Jodi Masters is a local Bellingen artist who possesses an eclectic and refreshing style. As she prepares for her April exhibition, Breaking Out, we talk to her about her inspirations and the highlights of her career so far.
Where do you hail from?
Born in Newcastle, NSW. I’m an east coast girl. In the past I’ve lived here and there, spending a large part of my childhood in the USA. My early working life as a nanny took me to Canada and England, as well as WA. My family now live in Perth, WA.
Ten years ago I met David, now my husband from England, while over there on holiday. After spending 16 months in the UK with him, we bought a property along the Kalang River, just outside of Bellingen. We love it here; this is our home, and we have no plans to leave.
How has your career in art evolved?
The art initially started with the idea to write a children’s book about Australian animals, and after attempting some illustrations and then comparing them to my favourite kids’ books, it was clear that I had a lot to learn.
So I’m sort of an accidental artist. Mainly self taught, I’ve done a few short courses – one of which was a fantastic week course at Camp Creative, Bellingen’s learning festival. This acrylic course opened my eyes to wet in wet, texture and special effects. The fire was lit. I absorbed art magazines, visited galleries, joined the local arts group. Always carrying my camera, I photograph things that may be future ideas for paintings. The red Flame Tree, for example, seduces me to paint it every time it’s in bloom. The extraordinary red so bright – how can I refuse?
Painting has now completely taken over. I spend most of my days in the studio working on 4 to 8 paintings at the same time. Still evolving and learning, I’m enjoying the journey and continue to discover new techniques. I have a true passion for it.
How long have you been exploring your artistic creativity?
I have always been the creative type and with 10 years of child care work, I have a strong connection to play and imagination. We are all artists as children. I started taking painting seriously 5 years ago. Soon after, I took part in a group exhibition with great success, selling almost all of my paintings. After that, I knew I was on the right track. A year later I had an exhibition, with 8 paintings selling on the opening night! Now 5 years into it, I’m a prolific producer, having 2 or 3 exhibitions a year plus commissions – and this brings me to the current exhibition in Coffs Harbour.
On the side, there is a new passion as a budding sculpturist currently exploring animal sculptures from recycled objects. This past December I had an exhibition with paintings and the first six sculptures, two of which were fish made from drift wood, old tools and yes, beer tops as scales. I called them Beer Battered Fish! Collecting the beer tops from the streets is also, in my own small way, cleaning up Australia.
Tell us about your studio and your creative routine?
My studio is a wood and mud brick house with a small balcony leading to expansive views down the evergreen Kalang Valley. No other man made structures are anywhere to be seen. Two huge Ringwood trees are my closest neighbours.
The wildlife share this space with me: birds, geckos, possums, and lizards, to name a few. It is a delicate balance keeping them off the paintings. A few times I’ve found little foot prints running across one of my creations. Thank God it only happens once in a while.
I love to dive into my morning session, coffee mug in hand. The energy in the studio is very important to my process. Affirmations, positive music and good light with the connection to nature all play their part.
When I come back out for lunch after the mornings’ painting, I’m usually covered in paint splatter, starving and exhausted. I paint with everything I’ve got.
Describe your style / the mediums you use?
I choose amazing Atelier acrylics – so versatile. You can achieve translucent glazes like watercolours, or thick textures similar to oils. I also use special medium additives to create extra texture or elasticity.
The process starts with a collage of photos, magazine clippings and other items that represent the idea of what I want. After the paint starts to hit the canvas, the painting just takes its own direction.
My style? Part accidental, again. I was trying to paint grass, blade by blade, with little strokes. Not very happy with the results, I got a bit careless, and the green paint built up on the brush and flicked off onto the canvas. As I went to clean it off, I thought it looked more like grass than the little strokes. What would hundreds of these flicks look like? So I did it. The result was good – in fact, it was great grass. Grass with movement and focus.
I’ve learnt to control the flicking, splattering and throwing of paint with lots of practice, intent and focus. So my recognisable style has become the throwing of paint onto the canvas. With the splatters, thick textures and globs, the work’s take on a dimensional factor.
You know when you’re looking at one of mine. My paintings have many many layers, with each piece going through a one to two- month process. My style is distinctive, unique and recognisable.
Where do you draw inspiration from?
Nature, nature and, oh yes … nature. I love it – always have. I’m a member of a wildlife care group and look after orphaned animals.
With the children’s books, paintings and sculpture, I aim to make a connection for the viewer to give the sense of the outdoors while indoors and hopefully inspire to respect and protect the environment.
Nature is my muse; she is boundless and always has something new to inspire me.
Who are some major influences on your work?
I’m constantly falling in love with other artists. When it comes to books, you can’t go past Dr. Seuss or Graham Base. We have some fantastic local sculpture artists, my favourite being Sue Gorrell, who builds fantastic boats. Not so local would be Andy Goldsworthy. With paintings, Pro Hart, Monet, Rolf Harris – too many to mention.
I believe that every original work of art carries the energy and intent of the artist. I aim to give a destination – a place where the eye can rest and the mind can soar. To freshen up a room with a bright punch of colour and to reconnect you to nature.
You’ll be exhibiting your work at the Coast Hotel in April. What’s the main focus?
The exhibition is called BREAKING OUT, because I’m breaking out of my local area to where the sea breaks against the shore. I’m breaking out of painting trees and diving into blue green water, golden sand and jelly fish. I’m pleased to have the chance to show my latest creations on the walls of the Spinifex Restaurant at the Coast Hotel.
So now I’m in your neck of the woods, why not roam through the paintings – you may even fall in love and take a little sea breeze home with you.
What are some of the highlights of your career so far?
The beyond all expectations response to the first exhibition I took part in, selling almost all of the works that were shown.
I had an exhibition at the Nexus Gallery, Bellingen about a year later, that had an opening night which sold 8 paintings.
About a year ago, a businesswoman bought two large paintings of mine to take back to Sydney.
Being The Angourie Rainforest Resort in Yamba’s resident artist in their gallery / reception.
A few months ago, a couple purchased one of my paintings – they were visiting from Germany and were going to take the work back with them.
Above all though, it is the great pleasure I see when people look at my work, whether they purchase one or not.
Where do you hope to be five years from now ?
I believe the constant search of how to achieve depth, light and texture will be continuing. I would like to have published my first kids’ book and be working on the next few. With my painting, I’d like to be successful enough to work and travel – to show my work at many different places around Australia and beyond.
Thank you Jodi.