There are moments when I know why I am an artist, and then there are moments when I don't - Carmel McGregor


When I know

  • when I am completely consumed by the desire to draw and paint after waking from a dream at 2 a.m. with the inspiration for my next work of art
  • art is the only thing to which I can give 100% of myself

When I don’t know

  • when I sit and stare at the canvas, unable to make the first mark

These days there are a hell of a lot more moments when I know why I am an artist than when I don’t. But it took me quite a while to realize it.

From the age of two I grew up with a pencil in my hand, always scribbling, colouring in and drawing pictures of whatever crossed my path. At age fifteen I told my parents I wanted to be an artist, and incredibly, they agreed! So in the summer heat of early 1983, my mother took me to enroll at Qld College of Art, however, I didn’t go for the interview! What? Why the bloody hell not? (I hear you say) Unfortunately, I was extremely shy and couldn’t bring myself to walk through the door. I was crippled by my lack of self esteem and fear of failure.

Instead of art school, I got a dead-end job in retail and later hospitality, and administration, for 25 years I turned my back on art and drifted through life without so much as a doodle on a magazine, something my father used to do often, drawing mustaches on faces of cover girls as I recall. Regrettably, my creative energy was dulled by partying and drinking heavily most weekends, although somewhat satisfied by dressmaking, (I’ve sewn everything from wedding gowns to ice skating costumes), and calligraphy, (invitations and the like for family and friends), but it wasn’t enough. The creative part of me was always there, asleep in my subconscious, waiting for me to wake it!

Then suddenly, at age 40, as a divorced mother, with 3 amazing children, I rediscovered art. Enlightenment came in the form of a girl with a pearl earring, well it was the movie of the same name actually! The star of the movie, if you don’t already know, of course, was 17th century Dutch artist, Jan Vermeer, master of light, and painter of “The girl with a pearl earring”. I was so inspired by Vermeer I faced my fear and enrolled in TAFE for Art classes. Near the end of my first year of juggling work, kids and TAFE, a wonderful art teacher named Fred, recommended I study the diploma course, I was so excited I crashed my boyfriend’s car on the way home that day! (true story!) After two more of the most gratifying years of painting, drawing and studying art history, I graduated at the end of 2009, a moment when I definitely knew why I was an artist!

Fast forward to 2012, the painfully shy, awkward young girl is long gone, in her place, a wiser, quietly confident woman (with a few grey hairs and laugh lines), paints portraits in studio 4 at Jugglers, and knows why she IS an artist!