$0.000
An Interview with Sally Edmonds – Perth Hill’s Talented Artist

An Interview with Sally Edmonds – Perth Hill’s Talented Artist

Interview with Sally Edmonds

There is something special about Sally, it makes you feel instantly comfortable when in her presence. Standing in her little studio in Kalamunda, we could hear birds chirping in the background. It was soothing. Sally’s passion for birds and painting radiates from her. We hope you enjoy learning more about Sally’s passion and painting. 

 

Where do you come from Sally?

I’m English and I emigrated here in 2008. Had to pop back for a little while and now back, in 2012, beginning of 2012. We’re here permanently now and we’re based in Kalamunda.

When did your passion for painting start?

When we first came back to Perth, I wasn’t really doing any art at all, just things for friends occasionally, very occasionally. Then I was working for my husband in his smash repair company, which was so boring! I ended up surfing the net a lot, and I was looking online at what other people were doing. Christopher Pope the artist, that was something that inspired me. I never thought that I would do this.

At the same time we got a bird, a budgie, Mister Tweet. His little swing’s still here, because I’m just mad about him. He’s been gone a while now, nearly four years. It just got me hooked on birds again.

Sally Edmonds at Kaarakin
Sally with Kimba and Missy, two red tailed black cockatoos. Sally kindly donated a painting of Kimba for our upcoming auction.

Did you have birds when you grew up in England?

When I was a kid I grew up with birds, my dad had birds, but you leave home, you get your own children, and you work. I went away from it. Then we got this bird for my daughter, and we all absolutely fell in love with him. This tiny little bird just changed the course of my life, because I just clicked! I just absolutely fell in love with him, and then from him it went on and at the same time I saw the article about art competitions, and I thought, “Oh.”

Did you enter this art competition? 

Yes, I did! I saw a photograph online that was taken by the very lovely Melissa Zappelli who’s a good friend of mine now. I didn’t even know her then. It was of an egret. I thought, “I’ll ask her if I can draw it.” She said yes. We’re really close friends now. She’s just lovely. I drew the bird. It took me six months, and I’ve still got it. I’ll never sell it. I entered it into the Stirling Art Award and it won local artist. I thought, “This is easy!” Of course, that was the worst thing that could have happened, because then the next art competition I went into I didn’t win anything, and I’m like, “What do you mean I haven’t won anything?”.

What happened next?

It was a bit of a comedown from there. I’ve thought, “Well, let’s see what I can do next?” I just kept going. It went from me taking six months to do one drawing, because I was doing other things, to literally being in this room seven days a week working full-time and just drawing and drawing and drawing, and absolutely loving it. I’m obsessed. It’s addictive! I really enjoy it. I’m just becoming more and more in to birds and love birds.

What about these birds we hear? Are they yours?

Yes, I’ve got six birds of my own who share their house with me. I just can’t get enough of them. I think for the kind of work I do you have to really love them, because it’s so detailed. It would drive you crazy if you didn’t absolutely love them. I also listen to books and things to keep me focused. That’s a bit about me. Then as far as my subject matter, as I say, it’s pure love. I’m not trying to say anything profound about birds.

What do you mean by that?

If I’m trying to say anything it is, “Look at these creatures and how wonderful they are.” Especially the really common ones like galahs. Where I come from, you don’t get really pink birds anywhere. Birds here are so raucous and so loud and dramatic. I love that and I love how dramatic the landscape is here and how dramatic the plants are. They look like they come from Mars some of them. The birds are the same. They’re so exciting to an artist!

Sally Edmonds at Kaarakin
Sally taking photos in our interactive aviary

What about the black cockatoos?

The black cockatoos, I absolutely love the colors. You look and say, “Well, it’s black.” No, it’s not. There’s a million colors there. There’s so many different shades of blue and turquoise, purple. For me the most important thing when I’m drawing a bird is the character. My first thing is character, then color, then composition. I’ve got a graphic design background. I was a graphic designer in the UK, and I ended up working in the print industry, and ended up in quite a large print company where in the end I wasn’t really doing anything very creative.

How do you express your creativity with your painting?

With black cockatoos their character is just so beautiful. They’re so gentle and lovely. I think they’re such characters and I just try to portray that. I’m not one of these deep and meaningful artists. I’m not trying to tell you anything or say anything profound. I’m just showing what I see and what I see is just pure beauty. I just love them so much. I think my passion shows through my work. I hope it does anyway. That’s all I’m trying to say with my work.

Did your graphic design background help you with your painting?

Obviously, I’d got that graphics background, which I think forms my work. I’m not really interested in backgrounds, unless they’re really necessary to the image. It’s all about the bird, which is why I really like a nice bright, white background to my birds, because then you’re not looking at anything else. Sometimes you need a background, because maybe there’s a light round the bird, or something like that where you need it. Generally it’s all about the bird for me.

Looking back, how would you rate your artistic journey?

I really enjoy the process! The picture that took me six months, I still think it looks good, but I reckon if I did it now it would probably take me about six days, not six months. It’s purely because I’ve adapted my processes. I’ve learned a lot of lessons. I’ve made a lot of mistakes, and I’ve learned from them. I just work in a more efficient way now. I’m always looking to challenge myself the whole time, because that’s what excites me.

Is there any downsides to painting full time?

I’m a terrible insomniac. I’m the person awake at half past three in the morning thinking about my next picture and what I’m going to do for the next one. I’m always trying to think how this picture’s going to make someone feel when they look at it. So far people seem to like them, so I shall keep doing what I’m doing.

How long does it take you to complete one painting?

As far as how long each one takes, it can be anything. For a small watercolor with some color pencil, it might take me an hour and a half, and the longest I’ve worked on an artwork is, I believe, five weeks. That wasn’t a bird, it was a rhino! It was enormous, absolutely enormous! But it did have a bird in it. It was an oxpecker on its back. Had to have a bird. Average I would say minimum of three days normally for a pastel, up to, I don’t know, maybe couple of weeks is really my average time.

I’m always looking for new ways to put the pastel down and make it brighter or deeper or more three dimensional. I love working with out of focus, and I like the way that cameras affect, so I always work from photographs. I know lots of people get funny about that sort of thing. I always work from photographs. I love the things that the camera gives you that you don’t see with your eye. Sometimes the curve of a beak will have, I don’t know, turquoise on it or bright pink just where the light is going round that curve that you wouldn’t see with your eye. I like those things that the camera gives you.

Tells us about Kaarakin

Kaarakin! Now, I’m so lucky to be able to go to Kaarakin. I’m really grateful to the people that have taken me through, Brandon and Bradley. It’s just such a fantastic place. The work is so important. I do feel that sometimes as an outsider almost, although I’m nearly a citizen. I’ll get my citizenship next month if I pass the test, but as an outsider looking in it does seem generally that our wildlife isn’t a priority for the powers that be. I think that’s a real shame.

I do think that people like the people that work at Kaarakin, Kanyana, all of the rescue centres, the work they’re doing is enormously important. I can’t really do a huge amount to help, but I do what I can. I hope that in the future I’ll be able to do more. I’m only one person, but down the track I may be able to help a little bit more with fundraising and things like that.

For me as well, I benefit too, because I get access to these birds. I can go and hang out with Randy or Sky or Kimber. It’s like a dream, honestly. It’s my happy place. I send pictures back to my daughter, “Guess where I am?” She said, “Oh, mum. Why didn’t you tell me you were going?” Because she loves birds as well. I just absolutely love going there, and it’s such an amazing set up.

Sally Edmonds at Kaarakin
Sally with Randy in the interactive aviary

What do you like so much about black cockatoos?

I don’t know. They’re just such lovely characters, so gentle. I must admit to having a bit of a sniff as well. They do smell really lovely, which I know is really weird! I think it’s an amazing place. I try to push it as much as I can. I tell people, “Go and see it. You can do this.” Whenever I visit, I get photographs. I post it on my social media and, “You can do this too. Go and see them. Go and hang out with them.”

Going back to birds, is there a message you’d like to share with our readers?

You know the thing that people say that I really, really can’t bear, it’s when people say, “Oh, it’s just a bird.” I’m like, “Are you mad? Do you know what you’re talking about?” Every time I see a galah or an Australian ringneck parrot or a black cockatoo, I think there’s a character with a whole full life going on. They’ve got their family. They’ve got their mate. They’ve got their friends. They’ve got their personality. All of them are different. They’re living this full life. There’s no such thing as just a bird. They’re all completely different to each other.

I know from having six birds of my own, even the same type, they’re completely different to each other, and so much going on in their little brains. They’re always thinking and calculating. There’s no such thing as just a bird. I think the more people that can actually visit with them and get to realize what they’re really about, the better. Then maybe, maybe people will start to appreciate them and think about how they can help to keep them here. Because I fear that they won’t be here for much longer the way things are going. It’s such a shame.

You see these big housing estates and roads and the trees coming down. Why can’t they leave the trees there and go round them, or leave the trees in the housing estates. Trees make it beautiful. Go and look at Subiaco. How beautiful is it with all the lovely trees? Why would you chop them all down? It’s crazy. Anyway, that’s just what I think. As far as supporting Kaarakin, I’d like to donate pictures for the online auction. They’re limited edition prints and so hopefully people will bid on those. They did last time.

It’s very kind of you Sally, thank you so much!

My pleasure! I’d like to supply cards and things, because I do greetings cards. I’d like to be able to supply those to Kaarakin as well, just their birds. I’m building up a … I think I’ve got four, and I need to build up a collection of about six, and then you’ll be able to buy the sets of cards, all Kaarakin birds. That will help a little bit, I think.

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.