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Art Talks with Frew Halbert

 "I feel confident when I create, I still make mistakes, but I can fix them and making these mistakes, sometimes becomes the best part of the artwork."

Frew Halbert Yogat Artist

 

Tell us a little about yourself. Who are you, and what do you do?
I’m Frew, Mum to 5, married for 26 years, Art teacher for 20 + years and lover of colour. I love to pass on my knowledge of Art and inspire and instil a passion for art in my students. I live in Ceduna, which is a remote town on the West Coast of South Australia. It’s a coastal community with beautiful beaches close by and I have a sea view from my front deck of the Thevenard Port. My husband and I enjoy planning art-focused collabs for our business and we have trialled my art on several products with great success.

How does creating art make you feel? 
Painting makes me feel relaxed and I can lose hours at the easel. Building layers of colour and putting colour combinations together is exciting and challenging. I paint straight onto the canvas and rotate the canvas in the first few stages to balance the shapes and the colours for the base layers. I feel confident when I create, I still make mistakes, but I can fix them and making these mistakes, sometimes becomes the best part of the artwork. I also enjoy showing my students that mistakes are part of creating and can always be fixed. 

Did you know you would always be an artist?
Art was always a part of my schooling and my favourite subject by far. I always had a drawing book with me when camping or travelling and loved to doodle in my not so favourite subjects! I majored as an Art teacher when I finished school and had several exhibitions with fellow artists, selling many works. I went into a Leadership role, doing Secondary Counsellor for 11 years and the balance of art and work changed for me. Missing teaching Art I started to offer classes for adults and children in my local community, which filled the creative side that was missing. In 2021 I decided to turn my focus to my art and combine hubby’s skills with recycling timber and my art on products to see if it was viable. Winning the Yogat Art competition was a turning point for me to start to recognise myself as an “Artist” and helped me gain exposure as an emerging South Australian artist.

Why is art important in today's society?
Art can evoke all kinds of emotions and complete a room. I think with the new normal with COVID in our lives, people want their homes to be welcoming and their happy place. Art plays a big part in creating a happy space.

What influences your style or approach to creating art?
Colour and pattern that surrounds me. A beautiful Summer day will inspire a beachy colour scheme. If I have had a long day at work I will reach for bright colours to change the mood. I am better at structuring my time now, if I’m working on a commission, I try and do an hour or so after work and a large chunk of weekends. Reducing to 0.8 from my teaching role has been a game-changer this year.

How has your practice changed over time?
My most successful artworks have been Abstract, which is what SeaSalt Creations is known for. My earlier works were always fish and flowers. As I’ve gotten older I opt for quality paints and canvases and jump around between colour schemes. I’m more confident in my colour choices as well as quicker at the easel now. I also have more time to paint and experiment now that my kids are older.

What jobs have you done other than being an artist?
An art teacher of students from year 3 to Year 12. Secondary counsellor, Bar attendant, Waitress, Pharmacy worker and Shell roadhouse was my first paid job when I was at school. When we travelled around Australia when our kids were little, I did signwriting and face painting at caravan parks as well as taught art lessons at some of the Surf camps.

Some would say the artistic life can be lonely? Do you agree, and if so what do you do to counteract it?
I think my husband would agree being married to an artist can be lonely! I do get lost in time and have to make myself put brushes down and check-in with the family at times! Living remote can be hard at times as exhibitions are rare and seeing Art in the flesh is so special. Social media is fantastic to find inspiration and there are many talented artists on the Eyre Peninsula that are very supportive of each other.
 
Name three artists that inspire you?
I have always loved Georgia O’keefe’s work and in my earlier, realistic works studied her blending techniques. I’m regularly inspired by so many contemporary artists; Lizzie Alsop, Lordie Dordie (Georgie Forbes) Jacklyn Foster, Katie Wyatt and Joan Blond.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?

Work to live, not live to work. Work-Life balance is so important.


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