Gympie artist on the rise with mammoth following
THEY'RE hanging in galleries in major cities, have decorated walls on cult reality TV show The Block and graced the pages of one of the nation's biggest lifestyle magazines.
It's the art of Amica Whincop; an emerging Gympie artist who is humbly taking the art world by storm.
Working from a shed tucked behind the Queenslander she shares with her husband and three children in inner-Gympie, Amica takes her inspiration from the nature of the region.
The result is a colourful and evolving body of work, that depending on how you look at each piece - shows the stones of the ocean, the nuances of a sandy beach or the twinkling of the night sky.
Layed down in stages, often over the course of a week, water-based acrylics and ink are poured - finding their own way across the canvas as Amica guides and teases out the structure, using white paint to fuse the escaping colours into natural forms.
Lovers of Amica's work describe it as an ever-changing scene.
The often neutral brown, deep blue and popping pink creations are intoxicating, unique and soothing; all at once.
From fleshing out her own contemporary style three years ago, to being a sought-after exhibitionist, the evolution has been a whirlwind for the artist.
The busy wife, mother and former art teacher is now painting full time to keep up with demand.
A six-month long waiting list for commissions and an ever-hungry Instagram page with 20,800 followers makes producing, showing, managing and selling her art a full-time job.
But one she wouldn't trade for the world.
On the back of successful exhibitions at Art Images in Adelaide and Soho in Sydney earlier this year, Amica is getting used to her art changing, alongside her climbing place in the Australian art scene.
She presents her success in an understated way.
"It feels like my work's getting better and stronger,” Amica says over a cup of tea in her warm and open kitchen.
She said the galleries dictate the prices and have now driven her art from "more affordable to higher end.”
"It feels like it's always changing and I've got to learn how to navigate new and different things.”
Amica, who grew up beside a rugged English coastline on the Isle of Wight, has always been able to paint.
"I taught art and I could do anything - but I never felt like I had my own style,” she said.
"When I left teaching all I wanted to do was have one exhibition, before I died, that was my little goal.
"But I was so nervous because I didn't know what it meant or what it was about.”
Then Amica began studying the art scene.
"There were hundreds of artists making it and I knew I could paint at least at the same level as some of those artists,” she said.
And then simply put: "I started and people liked it.”
Balancing three busy sports-driven children, a husband with his own business and house renovations means Amica takes solace in the simplicity her work gives her.
"(My husband) Clayton and I are always trying to simplify - life's so busy and we have so much going on - we're always trying to cut back,” she said.
Amica finds her painting style cathartic; a state of mind that pours into her work as she pares back the simplicity from the colour-mixed chaos.
"That's what I'd like people to feel - relaxed when they look at it,” she said.
"Even if a piece is really full on and colourful, I want it to be softening.”
To achieve this balance, Amica has had to turn away from a more rigid form.
"I used to paint really realistic, perfectionist stuff. I'd get very frustrated and really impatient,” she said.
She describes the way she paints now though as a process that takes her out of her own criticisms.
"You don't have time to think about it and you have to get out of your head.
The reward of relinquished control is in seeing the "tricky” things that emerge from the paint - things that you can't make happen - "they just happen themselves”, she said.
While the world wants a piece of Amica, her feet will stay firmly planted in Gympie.
"I really like living in Gympie, you can't get this feel in the city,” she said.
But new heights will always be on the horizon.
"It feels really exciting, like you could really do anything, you just have to set your mind to it.”
Amica's work is currently held in several public collections including Tramway Interiors, Port Douglas and Olympus Medical, Sydney and in private collections in Greece, Panama and Australia. Her paintings have been featured on The Block and Grand Designs Australia. Amica's work can be viewed at amicawhincop.com