Loretta Thurtell, Flower artist

The greatest pleasure for me in painting oils or watercolours is the actual process of applying layers of beautiful colours and watching their effect on producing light and shade.

Image courtesy: Elisabeth Edwards

My involvement in art started when I went to the studio of Rachel Wilde in Orange and saw her wonderful paintings. She was teaching classes every Sunday morning so I asked three friends to come along and we went there for two years. Rachel was gifted in painting flowers in oils and teaching the skills.

Painting in watercolours came a few years later when I saw Loretta Blake give a demonstration and was completely hooked on it. Sitting down doing a watercolour is like "meditation with a paintbrush". Practice in this unpredictable medium develops skills and is a lot of fun. I urge more people to try it.

Flowers have a universal message as the embodiment of beauty. However, I also enjoy painting landscapes, still-life with fruits, street scenes and seascapes. The vivid colours of autumn in Orange, local gardens, fruits and blossoms on the orchards all provide subjects to paint. Painting en plein air in Cook Park or at Lake Canobolas are further subjects.

I'm learning botanical art with Mary Ann Mein. This is very precise and makes you look intensely at each subject before you even start to draw. It helps me to paint other subjects because it trains the eye.

The techniques of watercolour painting are not difficult to learn. You often have to brush a layer of clear water on before you put paint on. You've got to watch just how dry the paper is but you gradually learn that control. It's also a pleasure to observe the enjoyment of my students as they concentrate and gain skills.