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.
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