‘Sacred Kingfisher’ by Kathryn Lovejoy. Due to its popularity, this image is sold in two sizes. Each Limited Edition is under 25 Archival Canvas Prints. ‘The first attempt at painting my drawings in colour. Commissioned by Dr Mark Ferson, President of the New Australian Bookplate Society NSW for his personal bookplate. When I did this I never ever thought that this work would be so often posted and published in so many books and magazines.’ (Hand Drawn Ink and Acrylic Painting) Artwork courtesy of Kathryn Lovejoy.

Artist Watch

The Artist

Kathryn Lovejoy


Teaching has to be well-rounded. You can teach someone how to draw and paint but to teach them to be an artist is impossible. 


‘We didn’t visit any art galleries when I was a child but we did travel. My father always loved art and made a habit of pointing out the beauty in trees, paintings, artefacts and hand-crafted items from everywhere, including Japanese art, tribal art and Australian and Aboriginal art. He was a big influence on me and I shared his love of these things so I always listened to what he had to say.

‘In Grade 8 I took art classes off my own bat. The teacher was a harsh man, to me at least. My auntie agreed that this was the case as she used to work in the tuckshop and knew him. A few weeks after we started he became really cross with most of the class. I remember other classes where kids were caught spit bombing the blackboards when the teacher’s back was turned. Going to school was very different then and sometimes the work was dreadfully boring.

‘This class wasn’t like that, but he was still cross with all of us for no good reason that I could see, except for two kids with very obvious talent and skills. Personally, I remember him as a lazy person who had no real interest in teaching. I was anxious to learn but I went home that day feeling really disheartened. I wondered what there was to look forward to. If I couldn’t learn art, what was there?

‘I confided all this to mum and even cried my heart out – well, I was only 12. She didn’t know why I took art class and said no one in the family was really very artistic anyway so not to worry about it. She encouraged me the best way that she knew how then, and introduced me to shorthand. I took shorthand in school which mum felt was sensible. I could eventually learn typing too, she said, and find a good job in administration work.

‘It wasn’t all gloom and doom. Music was encouraged in my family, both to enjoy and to play. Mum played the piano and encouraged me to learn. Interestingly, my 18-year-old son taught himself to play piano from the age of seven and later followed it up by studying with two teachers. Now he plays beautifully, composes occasionally and teaches prep children in schools under the direction of his first teacher.

‘My grandmother, on mum’s side, loved to paint. She painted a mural in her house, something I too want to do one day. I would love to do something really, really big! But my first art teacher was my mother-in-law. When she visited, she showed me the basics of painting over the course of three paintings. She lived in North Queensland, however, and after she returned home I practiced by myself.

‘The first adult painting I did on my own was from a biscuit tin, a D’arcy Doyle painting titled ‘For Keeps’. Then I ventured out to find a teacher in Brisbane. Some of the rotten early experiences I had with a few teachers must have stuck in my mind and I really thought that I had to have something really good to show them before I approached a teacher. I tried one woman, but she painted over my mistakes and I didn’t like that, so I left.

‘In 2001 I found Glen Gillard in Mitchelton who ran a lovely friendly art group. Glen was experienced in oil painting, pastels, water colours, sketches and had done many murals, especially in Bowen. He was just a lovely kind man and never discouraged anyone. His manner of teaching was to encourage and enhance something that was already waiting to come out and he always seemed to know where to hold the show and when to let go.

I continued to take lessons from him for ten years and thoroughly enjoyed it. I missed a lot of lessons because my children were still young, so I tried to work on my own at home. Glen was always very relaxed about it and told me to come when I could. He was the same with all of his students.

‘Teaching has to be well-rounded. You can teach someone how to draw and paint but to teach them to be an artist is impossible. Emotion has to be part of an artwork too. We all have something different to contribute and have to learn to take the best and the worst from people and the world we live in, and find some kind of balance.

‘As a beginner, I started with water colours. At Glen’s classes I started with pen ink, then moved on to drawing an artwork of the beautiful terrace houses in Sydney and the ships in the harbour, an exercise in perspective drawing that took over 120 hours to complete and I loved it. But later I found that I was in an artistic rut and nothing interested me. I did draw a few portraits, animals and people, but this wasn’t enough for me.

‘In 2009 a good friend encouraged me to draw every day to find my way. To take a book everywhere with me and just draw whatever I liked – not for any reason or for anyone else. About a year later, I produced something unreal, a drawing that looked like a peacock, had a tribal look, and was elegant, with a kind of Japanese influence. There was emotion in it, the design was good – all in black and white pen ink. And it was at that point that my new style began.

‘That’s how I learned about what it is for me to be an artist. Skill, maths, science, emotions of love and pain, colours, black, white, tone – everything at once! Sometimes though, you do think, ‘why am I doing this?’

‘Inspiration for me comes by chance. You never know when it will hit you. However, you do need to know in general where to look for it – whatever it is that you like. For me inspiration is sometimes in the work of other artists, often music, the bush, forests, nature in general and the seaside.

‘I start to drift when I feel like I’m one with nature and then my imagination takes hold. Whether I’m alone or not I see things – creatures in plants and rocks, shapes everywhere come alive. When you really look, there are so many similarities in the shapes of the clouds to the shapes in the sand, in sea shells, in trees and plants and in insects too. Everything is connected.

‘The moon is also amazing to me. I love astronomy and try to visit the Brisbane Planetarium for the shows as often as I can. Inspiration hits me when I learn something new, at the moment in which I feel intellectually alive.

‘We are lucky in Australia to have such a beautiful country. I once mentioned in an article that when we first moved here from Papua New Guinea I felt that the Australian landscape looked burnt. The trees were all so dry and the air in summer was dry to breathe. That was because I came from the tropics.

‘Much later I fell in love with Queensland’s Girraween National Park, but before that, it was through the paintings of Arthur Streeton and other Australian landscape artists that I could see the beauty that they were seeing.

‘I love wildlife, birds especially, and lizards and possums. If I see something that catches my attention, I’ll stop to take a look or take a photo for later, although sometimes being in the moment is enough to take everything in.

‘The thought of damage to the environment worries me, particularly through floods and fires, but I understand that the damage is nature’s way and we have to adapt to problems as they arise.’

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‘Sir Octopus’ by Kathryn Lovejoy from Universal Bookplates. ‘Sir Octopus is taking a personal adventure to find his way around his book in eight days! As I painted this artwork, I listened to British-American rock band Fleetwood Mac.’ (Hand Drawn Ink and Acrylic Painting) Artwork courtesy of Kathryn Lovejoy.