Featured Artist – Paula Payne

We present our featured artists to give you an insight into how they work and what drives them!

Paula Payne
Photo: Louis Lim

For over three decades, alongside a career in arts education and exhibition development, I have been expanding my painting and drawing practice. In 2021, this led to the completion of a Doctorate of Visual Arts, with a focus on history and environmental themes – specifically semi abstract landscapes.

My fascination with these ideas has its foundation in my childhood, when I took long sea journeys with my mother, to and from England, visiting lands I’d only imagined. They continued to develop and take shape as memory-maps, tracing the parameters of global environmental anxiety. Visions, informed by large expanses of land and water, and the infinity of the night sky, are of particular interest to me.

My father’s engineering works also influenced my ideas through my constant exposure to technical drawings rendered by hand. I went on to study technical drawing myself, and the elements of fine line graphic renderings are integrated into many of my landscape works. I feel that the linear component is my response to both historical ways of capturing the landscape and as a form of contemporary mapping that reflects on the anxious world humans now inhabit. The line renderings extend to cartography, including lines of latitude and longitude. I am interested in the ways humans have named and claimed the globe through physical explorations and expansive ways of viewing the world – by a desire to define the land, sea, and sky.

Check out Paula’s solo online exhibition!

A View from the Edge

Until the end of July

How would you describe your art in five words?
Stories, colour, depths, shadows, layers

Paula Payne at ARIA Studio on Cordelia Street

Painting up a cyclone at ARIA Studio on Cordelia Street 2023
Colour and layer the beginning of a story.

What’s exciting you and/or inspiring you about your work at present?
Pictures are developed through observations and ideas developed from ongoing interest in waterways; wetlands; ecosystems and sediments; receding or flooding tidal zones; and patterns on the edge of watery lands and oceans, I intuitively attempt to channel the echoes of deep time that exist in littoral zones. I feel that liminal qualities are present in such places. I adhere to the notion of wetlands as archives that have roots and sediments in archaeological history.

By considering the relationships between the climate crisis and water, and human integrations into urban environments I attempt to express stories of how humans relate to land and sea- or to country- or to place. But my paintings also belie my interest in the processes and materiality of paint. Layered techniques are used to create depths and moods that speak of the subject matter, or place, or experience. Visual resources are gathered from personal photographs and drawings, specific sites, media and the internet and historical references. My painted works can be described as mind maps drawn from personal experiences: from places that I have walked across; edges of water that calm me; and the vast spaces that enchant me.

Gorge walk influence

Gorge walk influence, Minjerrabah

A recent painting by Paula Payne, influenced from the gorge walk, Minjerrabah

A recent painting, influenced by the gorge walk, Minjerrabah

In an alternate universe where you couldn’t be an artist, what would you be doing, and why?
I think maybe I would have enjoyed being an architect as I really like drawings that expand into three dimensions and ideas about buildings that can become homes. I really love music and enjoy singing in private, I also love different dance styles and regularly take dance classes. Have for many years.

Architecture for unknown worlds and influences for more paintings

Paula Payne’s interpretations of architectural influences

Paula Payne's interpretations of architectural influences
Paula Payne's interpretations of architectural influences
Paula Payne's interpretations of architectural influences

Do you dream? Do dreams influence your art in any way?
I used to be a very lucid dreamer I don’t dream much now, but when I do I really think about the message that may be in the dream. Often the dreams I have are full of metaphor and often anxiety. Usually driving a car that is out of control or watching one of my loved ones in an out of control vehicle. Sometimes in highly coloured landscapes. MAD

Paula Payne - Highly coloured dreamscapes 2023

Highly coloured dreamscape 2023

Paula Payne - Highly coloured dreamscapes 2023

Highly coloured dreamscape 2023

How does your background influence your art, and can you give a specific example in one of your works?
My creative works started in my childhood, when I took long sea journeys with my mother to and from England and visited lands that I could only imagine, and they’ve continued to develop as memory-maps that also trace the parameters of global environmental anxiety. Visions informed by large spaces of land and water, and the infinity of the night sky are of particular interest and were formed during this time.

My father’s engineering works also influenced me as this included my constant exposure to technical drawings rendered by hand. I studied technical drawing, and these elements of fine line graphic renderings are integrated into many of my landscape works. I feel that this linear component of the work is a reflection on both historical ways of capturing the landscape and a form of contemporary mapping that reflects on the anxious world humans now inhabit. The line renderings extend to cartography, including lines of latitude and longitude referring to ways that humans have named and claimed the globe through physical explorations, world travel, and expansive ways of viewing the world by defining the land, sea, and sky.

Paula Payne - Geological Time Trace 2021

Geological Time Trace
acrylic on canvas, 2021
210cm x 135cm

Paula Payne - Geological Time Trace Melting 2021

Geological Time Trace-Melting
acrylic on canvas, 2021
210cm x 135cm

What’s the most bizarre source of inspiration you’ve ever had?
A vacant mine site…

Mine site
Paula Payne - Mine Matters 2022

Mine Matters
Acrylic on canvas 2022
122 x 91cm

Paula Mine Matters 2023

Mine Matters
Acrylic on canvas 2023
210 x 130cm

What is your typical daily schedule?
On a non-work day, I get up and I get on my computer to check emails or apply for things. Often after breakfast I head down to the studio under my house and I come up for air around 12pm. Always working on the development of paintings.

Often I take walks by the sea first thing in the morning and then head to work in the studio or my work as a tutor at the CAIA unit at Griffith University..

What’s the most unusual technique or material you’ve ever experimented with in your art?
In the late 1990s and early 2000 I did a lot of installation works with many different materials; either metal works or environmental works.
Drawing with carbon out of an oxy torch. Pure carbon is omitted on the paper or stencil as was the case for me.

Paula Payne - Shroud 1998  a response to my mothers passing

Shroud 1998, a response to my mother’s passing

How do you balance creating art for yourself versus art for your audience or clients?
I create art from places, people and experiences and often images come from a place of fairly intuitive and personal responses to the materiality of paint and the ideas that I am embracing at the time. I’m not too sure that I do consider my audience most of the time. I think I paint for me but I do consider aesthetics and time and place, current themes. I am usually working through contemporary situations and ideas and discussions.
Hopefully my audience will find something within the imagery that attracts them.

Paula Payne - Work in progress Studio Games 2022

Work in progress Studio Games 2022

Can you share a time when a mistake or accident in your process led to an unexpected breakthrough or result?
Oh my gosh so many.
Usually, my mistakes or unresolved works get painted over so they don’t last too long.
I believe in keeping working until the image or form does work. I often keep elements of the unresolved work to add to the new and evolving work. Many of my paintings have a completely different work underneath.

What exciting projects, exhibitions, or events do you have lined up in the near future?
Currently, I am working on an upcoming exhibit at Logan Art Gallery in Gallery no 1, from 19th of July to the 7th of September.
I am very excited that The Brett Whiteley Retrospective will be in Gallery 2 and 3 at this time.
The exhibition is titled A View from the Edge- Living Waters

About the exhibition
I continue to develop bodies of work themed from the title, A View from the Edge’ which opened in July 2023’ at the Redlands Art Gallery.
Further developments have led me to the edge of watery places drawing attention to the living oceans of the world.

These works started in my childhood, when I took long sea journeys with my mother to and from England and visited lands I’d only imagined, and they’ve continued to develop as memory-maps that also trace the parameters of global environmental anxiety. Visions informed by large spaces of land and water, and the infinity of the night sky are of particular interest and were formed during this time.
I continue my interest in landscape through the lens of personal history, as well as the history of landscape painting. While painting land and sea I consider how the impact of the Anthropocene affects the ways we relate to land and sea – or to Country – or to place. But these series of paintings also belies my interest in the processes and material of painting.

I draw from experiences of living close to the ocean at different times. Yet they also offer refuge as images that can soothe as much as they can raise concerns. In these works I consider that how we represent the landscape is a key issue into how we think about and treat the landscape.

Paula Payne  studio work 2024 The Farm acrylic on canvas 150x 91cm

The Farm
acrylic on canvas, 2024
150 x 91cm

Paula Payne 2022 The Pause acrylic on canvas 200 cm x 140 cm

The Pause
acrylic on canvas, 2022
200 cm x 140 cm

If you could send a message to your younger artist self, what would it be?
Go to art school at 19 instead of 28, maybe focus on design and architecture instead of fine art.
However I appreciate that my journey of making fine art and teaching has been good to me in many ways, and through sharing with many artists from the local community I feel proud to be a part of the bigger picture. Success for me is not always financially based although it really does matter because being an artist is costly and we need more patrons. However, I live in gratitude and appreciate and feel that it is good to be happy with the choices made and make the most of them.

Paula Payne - Architecture For Unknown Worlds

Architecture for Unknown Worlds
Acrylic on canvas, 2022
135 x 135cm

What’s a question you wish people would ask about your work but they rarely do?
I like it if they ask about the process because ideas are so personal. I like to talk about the relationships between emotion, mark, and colour.

Paula Payne - Making Tracks

Making Tracks
Acrylic on canvas
91 x 91cm, 2022

Paula Payne - Latitude

Check out Paula’s solo online exhibition!
Until the end of July

A View from the Edge

Peter Breen - Bee Landing

We look forward to interviewing
Peter Breen
In August as our Featured Artist!

Please write in our Visitor's Book!