Up the Garden Path
After one art class revived an old passion, Wendy Peters explores her love for native and foreign flora on the canvas. Georgia Beard discovers how our cover artist immerses herself in the details of still-life botanicals.
Artistic inspiration finds Wendy Peters in the ordinary, unpretentious moments of life.
As she walks her spoodle, Ralph, along the lush, wooded roads of her Noosa neighbourhood, she sees it all come to life as if on a canvas.
“Nature is my muse,” she said. “I’m inspired by the seasons and the transient nature of the botanical world.
“I find beauty in a bud, a flower in bloom or one that is dropping its petals.”
In the immeasurable scope of the natural world, it’s enough to capture one leaf or blossom – simple at first glance, but just as intricate as the landscape around it.
With only a few years of experience behind her paintbrush, this is where Wendy’s artistry flourishes.
“Many of my paintings are large scale with close-focus blooms,” she said. “This creates a contemporary and modern feel as well as showing beautiful details from afar.”
“I’m also fascinated by the reflection of light through glass which led me to paint a series of small glass vessels holding a single native bloom.”
Chosen for our front cover, The Fluted Vase features a yellow grevillea sprouting from a glass vase, painted with the precision of a botanical scientist.
The same can be said for Wendy’s entire portfolio – complex and vibrant studies of tulips, poppies, gum nut blooms and the occasional pet portrait.
Wendy’s eye for detail developed from a life in the creative industries, working in fashion and interior design, restoring historic houses and building country homes.
Since moving from the UK to Australia with her husband in 2004, she was a cosmetic tattoo artist before shifting from a skin canvas to a cotton one.
The last time Wendy held a paintbrush, she was 15 and attempting to recreate the album cover of Marvin Gaye’s I Want You.
More than 40 years later, she taught herself to paint small watercolours of pets, flowers and beach landscapes. Then she experimented with new mediums such as large canvases, acrylics and oils, and found her passion.
“A couple of years ago, a friend suggested we attend a watercolour workshop where we learnt how to paint a palm leaf,” she said.
“I was hooked. The very next day, I bought a set of watercolour paints and spent every spare minute painting.
“I felt I had come home, and it was as though I had no say in the matter. I had to paint.”
Alongside botanicals, she now paints abstract works on wooden panels with oil, alcohol ink, cold wax and natural materials. Her most recent abstract piece – a gift for her nephew’s wedding – layers the waves and shoreline of a shifting blue seascape, with sand from Noosa mixed into the paint for texture.
When painting the flora she encounters in daily life, Wendy uses photographs to outline her piece before altering the colours with her own colour palette.
She also considers light sources, which are integral to creating shadows and highlighting the many hues and tones visible in what audiences would consider a single colour.
“Some of my paintings might take weeks to finish, as I work in many layers and glazes to create richness, saturation of colour and depth to the artwork,” she said. “I want to bring a piece of nature into the home through my paintings and create an emotional response.
“Being in nature creates a sense of calm and peace, and I would like my paintings to evoke the same feeling.
“I would also like the viewer to be drawn to the incredible detail that can be seen in a single flower, leaf or plant and feel like they can reach out and touch the petals, as if they are floating off the canvas.”
This October, Wendy’s lifelike botanicals will bloom from her home studio as part of Noosa Open Studios.
The Art Trail invites locals and visitors to explore Noosa’s artists and artisans in their workspaces over nine days.
Wendy is also creating an exclusive range of works depicting ginger flowers, featuring at the Ginger Factory.
All will be available as prints in the coming months.
To view or purchase Wendy’s botanical and abstract artwork or request a commission, visit www.wooart.com.au