Immersed in the joy of art
Artist Jacklyn Foster is every bit as vibrant and engaging as the wonderful abstract paintings she creates.
Her voice radiates enthusiasm as she describes her work as being inspired by a desire to bring happiness to others through her depiction of everyday items injected with a sense of fun.
To scroll through her Instagram feed is to be taken on a journey through a joyous palette of bright colours, citrus fruits, bold florals and a celebration of the familiar such as orange juice cartons, tomato sauce bottles and soup cans.
“My work is abstract and quite quirky,” she says of her still life creations.
“I really enjoy painting everyday items and creating work that is fun for the viewer to look at and that brings a lot of joy and has a playful element to it.
“Often they will have a funny saying or things that make people laugh.”
Her work has resonated just as she intended and is now sold worldwide.
In June last year she won the Fortyfivedownstairs “Emerging Artist Award” and prints of her work are sold through the likes of Urban Road and Temple and Webster.
She also runs sold-out workshops across the country, does private commissions and has featured in several solo and group exhibitions.
But Jackie is the first to admit that her path to becoming a full-time artist has not been without its challenges and set-backs.
An only child, Jackie was a crafty kid who won plenty of colouring competitions and sold her first painting at the age of 16.
She was also Dux of her high school in the subjects of art, visual communication and studio arts.
However, the pressure to get what she believed was a steady occupation saw her put art on the backburner for several years.
“When I was 18 art was never sold to me as a real job so I ended up studying occupational therapy because literally I was like ‘oh, it seems okay – it’s a real job and I can do art on the side if I want’,” she recollects.
“So, I moved to Geelong from Mildura and I studied that for five years. I hated it when I started but I thought ‘I need to give it a go’.”
In the end it was making her extremely unhappy and Jackie had almost finished the course when she decided to walk away.
“I left in quite dramatic fashion three weeks before graduating,” she says, able to laugh about it now.
“I was on my final placement and my mental health took a dive. I got my husband, Nethaniel, to take me to the doctor one night at about 10pm.
“I was chatting to the doctor and asked him to give me something to get me through.
“He said ‘you don’t have anxiety, you are just hating what you are doing’. And that was a really pivotal moment in my life.”
Jackie took a year to rest and work part-time.
Then she started to paint again and something inside her was sparked.
“I went to Spotlight one afternoon to get some paints and I thought to myself ‘oh, I’ve missed this’.
“That painting sold and then the next one sold and that was back in 2019.”
Fast forward to today and she is not only working as a full-time artist, but she also has her own podcast, runs art workshops, mentors emerging artists and speaks at schools and conferences about the benefits of art for mental health.
From her home studio in Marshall, with her trusty and much-loved fur baby Ruby by her side, she is now fully immersed in the world of art she was destined for.
A major career highlight came after being selected to paint a “Uoo Uoo” as part of the Royal Children’s Hospital 150th Anniversary in 2020.
Titled Art Can Change Your World, it was auctioned off for a whopping $11,000 which was donated directly to the RCH.
“I was absolutely stoked,” she says of the amount raised.
“This has been one of the most important and meaningful projects I have been involved with throughout my career.”
Another wonderful charity collaboration was the RSPCA’s 150th Anniversary – Wombat in the Room project which saw her “Willow” wombat acquired by the Mildura Arts Centre.
Jackie has an upcoming six-week solo exhibition titled Vibrant that will be hosted by the Mildura Arts Centre in September featuring old and new works.
In the meantime, she continues to host her podcast – The Jacklyn Foster Art Podcast – and runs her hugely popular workshops which she says are definitely not your typical demonstration where “everyone paints the same thing”.
The July workshop in Geelong is sold-out but there are plans for more this year.
“I really wanted to create a workshop that was about the experience so I teach people how to use these different tools and I work with them to create their own artworks.
“I didn’t want to create something where you look at the person sitting next to you and theirs looks like the bowl of fruit and yours looks like garbage.
“They kind of get lost in the process and really create without expectation.
“The feedback I get is that it inspires people to keep creating at home. They realise they don’t have to create a masterpiece every time. They can just create for the sheer joy of it.
“People will message me days or weeks later and they will send me photos of their work that they’ve done at home and that’s a real highlight.”