A Beautiful Life
Ingrid Nelson caught up with artist Warren Salter to discover the magic behind his work and what inspired him to chase the career of his dreams.
Noosa artist Warren Salter describes his work as painting the world how he would like it to look. Whether it’s a flower or a tree, his signature style
is an enhanced form of the natural beauty around us.
“I reinterpret nature in a more embellished way I guess. I basically paint how I want the thing to look rather than how it does. It’s a representation or a celebration of what it is in a way by exaggerating it,” Warren says.
Having always had an affinity with art as a child, Warren found a sense of freedom and comfort in drawing. Describing himself as a somewhat “reclusive kid” with a very vivid imagination, he would spend hours recreating paintings he had seen and making things with his hands.
“I found a certain sanctuary in drawing,” he said. “I would see a painting as a kid and I would be so taken by it
I would recreate it from memory. My dad was a bit of an inventor. If he needed something he just made it. I used to watch what he did and followed his lead.”
It wasn’t long before Warren’s natural ability started to draw attention and although he doesn’t like to use the word talent, his craft continued to blossom.
“I don’t like the word talent – I think it’s something everyone has an opportunity for, it just depends how much time you put into the training. It’s a bit like learning a musical instrument,” he said.
Finding an outlet for his creative side, that also paid the bills, Warren initially worked as a Signwriter in Tasmania where he honed his skills on big budget projects.
“I had the opportunity to get really involved in very creative stuff and I basically had free reign to come up with ideas with an unlimited budget at times, which was fantastic as an artist,” he says.
However, fast forward a few years to running his own signwriting business, and Warren found himself in a budget-oriented market where his artistic flair was not being utilised.
It was at this point that Warren decided to take a leap of faith and start working seriously as an artist full time.
“I got into a big gallery in Sydney, where I did a 10-year stint
with them on a contract basis. I was doing five exhibitions every year all around Australia and it was fairly full on. But I was a bit like a machine, punching out all this work,” says Warren.
“Although I was producing very saleable work, I didn’t have a connection to it or a direct relationship with the client.
“I look on those years as a signwriter and with the gallery as my 20-year apprenticeship where I learned all the tricks and the pitfalls before I went out on my own.”
With enough work coming in to sustain him in his Noosa studio, Warren has recently renovated his workspace into a gallery where he can work from and invite people to view his paintings. It’s been a long journey, but he has finally found his nirvana.
“This year has been incredible,” says Warren. “I actually have to pinch myself it’s been that crazy. I love what I do.
“I didn’t always love it as much when I was pandering to retailers, where you are just a number. How can a retailer or gallery represent you properly when they are trying to do the same for 200 other artists?”
As a mainly commissioned artist, Warren says one of his favourite things to paint is the forest, somewhere he has always found solace.
“Trees are a big thing for me. I have a connection with forests and trees,” he says.
“If things get too much in life I go and sit amongst the trees and feel ok. I did that a lot as a child. I find comfort there.”
And when it comes to offering advice for up-and-coming artists, Warren has some great words of wisdom.
“You have to work hard. The work doesn’t beat a path to your door, that’s for sure,” says Warren. “Just don’t sell yourself short. When you take leaps of faith in your career for the right reasons you are always going to get the results you want if you believe in yourself enough. Do it for the love and the rest will come.”