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First Prize for Realism 2002

Waratah - Nature's Glory

Artist: Nikyla Amanda Smith
Home: Australia
Medium: Oil on canvas

Art Dept Interview

As the winner of your category in the 2002 International Art Contest, being selected by such a diverse group of artists from all around the world, how do you feel?

I feel stunned, extremely proud and very humbled! This is an honour that I never expected considering the immense talent and the large number of other artist's I was up against from all around the world.

I have only been painting professionally for 2 years and so want to thank all those who voted for my painting, as well as the organisers of this excellent contest, for giving me this wonderful opportunity to show my work worldwide. I would also like to congratulate the other entrants for the outstanding quality in their works and wish everyone "happy painting" and a prosperous 2003.

Please describe your current works and any plans for forthcoming exhibits.

Currently I'm concentrating on Waratah paintings for the Galleries that I exhibit in and I'm also completing some commissions, as well as a painting I'm donating to the Royal Australian Flying Doctor Service.

If any, in what ways have you seen changes in attitudes towards "art"?

Personally I feel that our modern world uses the word "Art" and the title of "Artist" far too liberally and in doing so the traditional "brush and paint" artists along with their mystique have somewhat been lost in the mire... or am I being too old fashioned? Do you think a person can call themselves an "Artist" when they claim an empty room to be a "work of art"?  Of course this is just "my" opinion but I do find it rather sad and quite frustrating!

Do you think that the fine artist will survive as technology replaces our skills?

Most definitely, because I do not believe that technology could ever replace or emulate the heart and soul of the human spirit. A painting isn't just a picture like a photograph, no matter how realistic, it is a part of the artist.

What advice could you give to those embarking upon a career as an artist?

Considering that I have only been seriously painting for a few short years, I think the most important advice I can give is... If painting is your passion – follow it! I did, and although it was quite a gamble to take, I know I will never regret it. And even though at times it can seem like a very long and bumpy road, it is also an incredibly rewarding one, especially when you see the pleasure and delight on a persons face when they first see your paintings. To be an Artist is a true privilege, because every day you are giving others the gift of seeing a part of the world through your eyes, which they may never have noticed before. So be brave, be bold, be patient and be true to yourself by painting what is in your heart and never be deterred by criticism or set backs and enjoy your paintings, because when you do, others will even more so.

Why did you enter the Art Dept contest and what decided your selection for entry?

Quite honestly I entered the contest in the hope that it would lead people to my website, which had only been online for a few months and in that way get more exposure of my work out into the big wide world, which to my immense amazement and pleasure is exactly what has happened. I had not long completed "Waratah - Nature's Glory" when I learnt of the contest and being quite happy with the paintings result decided to enter it.

Is there anything about being an artist that you do not like?

Other than the usual financial struggles with being an artist and the occasional but very frustrating times when inspiration flies out the window, I can honestly say that I really don't dislike any aspect of being an artist. To me, being an Artist is "everything" and I truly love what I do and I consider myself incredibly blessed and privileged to be able to paint and bring pleasure to others through my work.

Would you sell your most favourite artwork, or keep it?

Since beginning my art career I have painted a few works that became, for a variety of reasons very special to me, but due to the necessity of the bank account staying out the "red" I have had to sell them. However parting with these special paintings isn't too difficult because I know that who ever has purchased it, has felt a connection with the work and therefore I know the painting is being enjoyed and treasured.

However my most favourite and extremely precious painting has to be the very first one I painted, back in 1994, through which I discovered my passion. This humble little disaster of fabric paint on calico is now framed and hangs proudly on my studio wall as a reminder of how and where my career began.

How important was education and training to you?

Being a self taught Artist and only having had the most basic tutelage in the "do's & don'ts" of oil painting I don't really think I'm qualified to answer this question. However I will just say that for me personally, reading books by other artist's on their techniques and ideas and studying the old masters has been invaluable and I will always continue to do so.

Is there anything in your art career that you would have changed?

Not really, except that I wish I had listened to my Mother years ago when she would tell me how 'Artistic' I was, and started painting 15 years earlier than I did!

If you were invited overseas to exhibit your works, where would you like that to be?

I have actually just recently been invited to exhibit my work in Scotland at the wonderful "Syllavethy Gallery" near Aberdeen, which I am delighted about and so will be sending some works to them in the very near future. I am happy for my work to be shown anywhere where there is genuine appreciation for Fine Art.

Are you looking forward to entering the contest for next year?


Do you recommend use of the Internet for an artist's publicity?

Most definitely. My website has only been online for 10 months and the difference it has made to my career is astounding. Not only is it easier for me, no more lugging around of the bulky portfolio everywhere I go, but it nicer for others as they can peruse the website at their leisure and view my work without me hovering around.

It is also far more professional when approaching Galleries, in which you'd like your work to be Exhibited, to simply give them a website address rather than send a portfolio or a bunch of photographs for them to see your work. Believe me … technology will never surpass the Artist but it can certainly assist them!

Would you change anything about how the contest is organised?

I don't believe so, as I found the site and information to be very well organised and set out and had no problems when entering the competition. The only thing I am disappointed about is that due to being away on holidays I was unable to participate in this interview until a week after the announcements of the winners was made and therefore wonder if it would be possible for the Winners to be telephoned in the future.

How can the Internet be made better for working artists?

I believe it is up to the individual Artist to make the "Internet" work for them.


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