Just Like Breathing
by Maree Cameron
From Artist's Palette no. 71

I was born some decades ago at Charleville in western Queensland — due to the simple fact that there was no doctor at Augathella where my parents lived.

Primary school was at the Augathella Convent; then I was off to boarding school at All Hallows Ladies College in Brisbane.

Mother insisted that I should do a commercial course ... but the shorthand class was beside the art room and often I would wander in and see what was happening.

I worked as a telephonist at the Augathella Telephone Exchange for a few years. Then in 1971, I married a local grazier and we moved to nearby Tambo. My husband Jim had purchased a cattle property at Tambo in 1969 (with his two brothers); and because we were newlyweds Jim wanted a change of lifestyle — so we bought a trucking business in Tambo.

We sold the trucking business in 1973 and moved to a new home 36 miles from Tambo. For the first 15 years we had no telephone, electricity or mail service; but we did have a lighting plant. We had two children — Robert and Sandra — who I taught by School of the Air. The School was based at Charleville and it was our connection to the outside world.

Our property was sold in 1989, and we bought a grain and cattle farm at Jandowae which is still our home today.

Flying Arts tutor Mervyn Moriarty used to travel out from Brisbane by car to bring painting techniques to the outback. His workshops were the start of my serious painting career.

In 1979, I joined Flying Arts... and today I am the Flying Arts representative for the Dalby area.

For ten years I painted in oils, but I never showed my work because I thought I wasn't good enough. Finally — in 1985 — I entered a portrait in the Charleville Show. I won my first prize, and sold my first painting. David Andre was the judge.

For the past six years I have had entries accepted in the Flying Arts Awards at various places including Brisbane, Townsville, Rockhampton and Logan City.

Recently I have judged competitions at Jandowae, Dalby, Tara, Chinchilla, and several other places including Wondai.

I have now won numerous prizes and been involved with several rural art groups. I have held a string of successful solo exhibitions in rural Queensland.

My passion for art is just like breathing and many have said that my work comes from the soul. I have an enduring hunger for knowledge which has led me to attend many seminars and workshops.

I am not a hobby artist. I sell some of my work for an income, and I do commissions. Perhaps I am semi-professional. It seems pointless to continue painting if I am not turning work over, but I like to set realistic prices.

So far, I have not had an opportunity to approach a renowned city art gallery.

In 2007, Art-West asked seven artists including myself to take some of their work to Brisbane; and every year for more than a decade I have had entries in the Brisbane Agricultural Show. I also regularly exhibit at Toowoomba and Dalby.

In Jandowae, I display work at the Cultural Centre and Country Style Gift Shop. My fourteenth solo exhibition will be held at White Gums Gallery, Chinchilla, in May 2009.

Probably one of the most outstanding pieces of work I have produced is my self portrait. I love doing portraits although I am still learning the skills to effectively capture a likeness. I did a sitting with the famous R.M. Williams when he was 92. He told me to take the painting to Canberra ... I replied that I don't go past Brisbane. My son has possession of that picture now.

Harry Hart, Tom Offord, Warren Palmer, Jenny Kelly, Irene Amos, Don Hamilton and Peter Griffen have all influenced my progress. Years of valuable influence and learning have brought me to a point in my career where I can now teach and encourage others. I am Art Tutor of the Jandowae Art Group and I have also taught adults and children in other situations.

I believe that art is a gift and a challenge. As an artist I feel compelled to give something back to other people ... so that they too can enjoy a special sense of achievement and creative satisfaction.

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