Tanya Sarianti Ashworth – Parallels of artists and writers

Tanya Sarianti Ashworth

Tanya Sarianti Ashworth

I’ve always wondered whether artists were any different to writers in their approach to their work so I thought I’d ask one. This week I’m welcoming to my blog Tanya Sarianti Ashworth, a North Queensland artist, whose paintings, ceramics and t-shirts have found homes all over the world. She’s now also available at Glaskins Gallery.

Tanya, lovely to have you visiting. Tell us a little about your journey – how long have you been painting, when did you decide to pursue it full time?

I first recall enjoying art as a child at primary school. It was there I had a fascination for beautifying assignments. Content was always second to the cover page. It had to have the wow factor. From there it continued into my high school years where my passion for drawing, painting and design became more apparent. My art books which I still have today reflect the way I felt about my art and how detail plays a very important role in my work. While still at high school I decided to take the plunge and make some pocket money from my art. I screen-printed t-shirts and tea towels which I sold at the local Cotters Market in Townsville. It was there my reputation as an artist grew with overseas visitors returning year after year to buy my work. In 1990 I registered Sarianti Designs as a business. I completed my Bachelor of Visual Arts at James Cook University in Townville graduating in 1991. It wasn’t until 1999 when I relocated to Cairns that I pursued painting full time.

teapot 2 TSA

Hand painted teapot

I can just see you handing in beautiful assignments for school! And those T-shirts would be collectors items now. You work in very diverse mediums – which do you prefer and why?

I use digital art, gouache and acrylic but my preferred medium is acrylic. With acrylic I’m able to thin it down like watercolours, and continue with overlays. But the most interesting technique I enjoy with acrylics is my blends. The challenge is to achieve an almost airbrush finish.

I have a painting where you used that technique and it looks stunning. Where do you get your inspiration? I know North Queensland has a big impact, but does a scene, a person or an event inspire you to paint a particular art work?

Scenes are a factor in my artwork, especially here in far North Queensland. But what really gets my artistic juices running is when I go to art exhibitions whether they are here in Australia or overseas that leave me with the desire and excitement to explore new ideas. Sometimes the art exhibited is so intriguing the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. Art publications are also a major inspiration for me. I have a huge collection of art books on illustration.



How do you work? Do you have a set routine? What’s your studio like? I know many full time writers treat it as any other job and get up in the morning and work from say 8 to 4. I squeeze writing in between everything else at the moment…

Because I’m a freelance illustrator working from home I am very disciplined with my work hours. I work a solid 7 hours a day, 5 days a week. If I’m on a roll it can sometimes continue into the night. I don’t and can’t afford to be an “in the mood” painter. My studio is 4.5m by 3.5m consisting of one huge table, an office desk, computer, printer and storage. Usually a day would consist of filling orders of my hand painted ceramics for the many galleries in the Cairns area, painting commissions, group exhibitions and the continual administration of my business.

Sounds like working to a publisher’s deadline to me – the muse cannot be allowed to slack off! As a writer we pitch our ideas first and hope someone likes it. As an artist you need to be able to interpret someone else’s vision and produce a painting they love. How difficult is it to paint on commission?

I love to produce paintings from my own imagination and concepts that I come up with, but when I am given commissions I take them as a challenge where I have to interpret my client’s wishes.

And I know you have very happy clients who love your work. I think listening must be as important a skill for artists as it is for writers.  Where to from here for Sarianti Designs?

I want to get my website up and running, and publish the 2 children’s books which I illustrated.

The children’s books are gorgeous, Tanya. And thanks for sharing some insights into your work. I think there are many similarities between your work ethic and that of a writer. What do you think, folks? How do you go about organising your day if you’re working from home? Do you hang out in the track pants all day or do you get up, get dressed and get down to business?

One lucky visitor will receive one of Tanya’s stunning hand painted dipping sauce dishes, so leave a comment to be in the running. We’ll announce the winner on Friday night.

See Tanya’s work at Glaskins Gallery, Trinity Beach Rd, Trinity Beach

What We Have

What We Have


25 thoughts on “Tanya Sarianti Ashworth – Parallels of artists and writers

  1. John, I have to agree! Tanya should be flaunting it on a website.

    I hope her little foray into the world of blogging helps push her in that direction! She deserves a much wider audience for her lovely work.

  2. Hi Anita, thanks for dropping by.
    And you’re so right – Tanya’s ability to paint in such diverse styles would be the equivalent of a writer producing stories across a variety of genres.

    I first bought some of Tanya’s beautiful ceramic work. Then I had to have one of her lean, clean vibrant paintings. The latest one my husband bought for my birthday is a heron in the same style as the Brolgas. I love it!

  3. Having known Tanya and followed her art for sometime I have watched her develop into a delightful young lady/artist. I am captivated by the clean colours,the vibrance which emanates from her work and the energy that her work exudes. I, and my family, have some of her work which has takes pride of place. Now for the website Tanya!!! When you’ve got it, flaunt it!!

  4. Hi Anita, I suppose I just can’t sit with one idea. I have always believed that it is important to vary my skills for the wider audience. Living as an artist is hard work and the more styles I have the more chances I have at picking up work. Thanks for the feedback love it! I not sure if this applies to a writer.

  5. Jumping in late to say I’m very jealous on two accounts. The first is having a day to just focus on your art. I have two reasons why I can’t do that and they are 4 and 6… The second is being so versatile in your craft. Your Brolga’s to your teapot to the more modern ‘what we have’ (which I lurv) – I can only imagine it would be like trying to write a sweet romance, then a paranormal and finishing with erotica. I’d be a crazy lady if I tried to do that.

    Great blog Helen and Tanya.

  6. Tanya, thanks for being part of my blog today – it’s been wonderful to learn more about your craft.

    And no, your lovely dinnerware is in safe hands – you are welcome to visit it as often as you like!!

  7. Hi Helene, I know you love my dinner set but if you ever get bored with it and want a change. Don’t forget I’ll buy it off you!!! I love it too, you have the best collection of my work. Thanks to you and Graham, my number one fans. We can’t wait to have our own collection of Helene Young novels too on the book shelf.

  8. Thanks for the Wow! Sue. Glad you like my work. Yes, the website is the next thing on my list. By the looks of it I better do it soon. I admire Helene for embracing the internet and using it as a tool for self promotion to the wider audience around the world. Galleries are had to find and get into these days. As far as revisiting a painting before I think it’s finished could be endless. Usually I know when to stop, I can’t tell you how I know, I just do. My method sometimes is to let it sit and view it from a far. Sometimes work is better viewed from a distance. If I can see that nothing can be done no more, it’s complete. There was a lot of revisiting done to the brolga painting. The eye and wings were ongoing. I’m sure it took me half dozen times till I thought I was happy with it. I don’t no how this works for a writer. I’m sure they like a bit of critique too from a second party. Thanks Sue.

  9. Wow Tanya – they are stunning pictures. Do you have your own website where you show all of your art work or do you just display your pictures in galleries? How often do you revisit a painting before you believe it is finished.

  10. Hi Sandy, so glad you picked up on the perspective. My greatest challenge is to acheive it and improve each time. The gold is to make the viewer think they are looking at several layers of canvas. I’m glad to tell you both that my choice of work wear at home is pretty daggy but I haven’t got to the PJ stage.

  11. Hi there Rob, Thanks for your lovely comments. Welcome to my world. Yes the process of an artist like that of a writer is a lengthy process. The end product whether it be a painting or novel has a lot of hidden layers – drafts, proofs, marketing, time, business administration and dedication. I’m sure you’ll enjoy Glaskins Gallery, like Helene did. Thanks Rob.

  12. Hi Kylie, Glad to hear you love my vibrant colours in my artwork. Yes, commissioned works are challenging. Usually if the client has any visual references it helps/photo they’ve taken. Usually I would research for imagery appropriate to the commission – if the client doesn’t have any. Once I’ve collected those images, I either sketch or computer generate some sort of rough draft and I mean rough. Once we’ve come to agreement on the composition we go to the next stage/painting. Once finished I usually hold off varnishing until client is totally happy with it.
    Even though I love my own style, some viewers can’t relate to it, that’s why I have to be versatile with my techniques as a painter. Yes I would love to do workshops, at times I think I should do one in my garage. Maybe I should look into that. Hope I’ve answered your questions. I’m sure a writer comes up with these challenges as well. Cheers!

  13. Hi Barbara, Great to hear we have a lot in common, though I could never fill the shoes of a writer. Just coming up a with creative title is a challenge. Thanks for your feedback especially “on routine.”

  14. Hi Rob, like you I didn’t realise just how disciplined Tanya is. As someone who can procrastinate for hours before getting down to serious writing I’m in awe…

    Hey Sandy, we’re all wannabes in some form or another. But I now have this image of you in your pj’s decked out in gold and silver tapping away at the computer 😉

    I love the the way Tanya’s art has changed and evolved over the years but I love her ceramics – I have the most beautiful collection of serving platters, bowls, teapots… Regardless of what sort of day I’m having in the kitchen, my food looks beautiful served up on a Sarianti plate!

  15. Wow, I step out for a coffee and a chat and the blog’s had visitors!

    Barbara, your words paint such wonderful pictures I’m not surprised that you had to choose between being and English or Art teacher.

    Hi Kylie, thanks for dropping by. Tanya would be fabulous at running workshops or tutes. I don’t know whether she’s considered that??

  16. Hi Tanya and Helene, Tanya I love how ‘clean’ your works are. I see deep perspective in clear cut images in ‘What We Have’. And I think we’re all agreed on the colours – very refreshing, like a dip in a cold rainforest stream on a hot day.
    As far as Helene’s question is concerned I’m a bit of both. Sometimes I can still be in the PJ’s at 11 o’clock and others I’ll be wearing something dressy with every bit of jewellry I own on. Of course, I’m still a wannabe, but I’m committed – or should be 🙂

  17. Hi, Tanya,

    Having seen your work over the years, it was fascinating to get a deeper insight into how you develop your ideas and to understand, more fully, the process and the discipline you have in place to bring about a finished product. I’m off in a bit to see what’s on exhibit at Glaskins Gallery. Thanks very much for sharing your thoughts and your process. Cheers!

  18. Funny how the kernel of an idea takes seed and grows from there – your screen printing t-shirts and gaining a reputation with tourists while selling them at a local market. From that you’ve initiated your career as an artist.

    I really like the vibrant colours and designs of the work in the photo’s – it is coastal North Qld.

    Tanya, with your commissioned works how does that process work as far as discussion/interpretation of the concept/ideas of the client go? Do you do a draft, modify if the client doesn’t like something and go again until you reach an agreement?

    You mention sending your work out to galleries & group exhibitions. Have you ever held/would consider holding workshops or tutes?

    The parallels between writers and artists are very similar, eh? 🙂

  19. Thanks for a very interesting interview, Helene and Tanya. I do think artists and writers have a lot in common. We’re both interpreting the world around us, and both creating something out of nothing. My first writing efforts (as a child) were always illustrated. They were my own graphic books, I guess, and when I left school I knew I wanted to be a teacher but it was a toss up between being an English teacher or an art teacher. I’m sure the English route was the right choice for me, but art is still a great love. (Other people’s art, that is.) I love the very tropical feel of Tanya’s work and her daily routine sounds very familiar to me.

  20. I’ve reposted this from my FB page. It’s a comment from Toni Tapp Coutts.

    “A typical North Australian woman, passionate, smart, clever, disciplined, focussed and outstandingly creative. Maybe one day I will get to cairns and see some of your work.
    I was the same at school, all my books were works of art. My best friend and wrote a book to each other the year after we left boarding school. We sent the excercice book back and forth, from myself on a cattle station in the NT to her on the Gold Coast. We wrote our letters to each other in that one book witih illustrations. She sadly died of breasat cancer at 40 and I have long lost the book in my travels, but it is all very clear in my mind, 35 years later. Love the teapot.”

  21. Hi Tanya, when I put your post up I couldn’t help thinking that the colours of your art suited my website perfectly – but of course we both use the colours of the north!!

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