CRESCENT Head artist Deb Broughton has based her living on painting the Aussie dream – Kombis and cracking surf.
Christmas heralded the busiest time for Deb, whose work has been imitated by some of Australia’s biggest brands and is stocked in airports and souvenir shops across Australia.
The talented artist creates from her studio home in Goolawah, along Maria River Rd, and sells them online to customers all over the world who long for a little piece of Aussie life. Her art can be seen at many of the Macleay Valley markets held over summer.
“I do most of my painting in winter and focus on markets and sales in summer because my work tends to sell so much better when the weather is warmer,” she said. “I love going to the markets because that’s where I network and meet my customers.”
Deb is a trained psychologist who worked with mentally ill hospital patients before becoming a graphic designer. A web design role took her from her home in South Africa to Australia, where she picked up a paintbrush for the first time since leaving school.
“I loved painting when I was at school and I started to miss it,” she said. “Mum had an artist friend who lived in the Hunter Valley and I went to visit her. She said, ‘why don’t you do a painting?’ She gave me some paints and a canvas and I began to paint for fun. I always thought it would be a hobby. Then I decided to try to sell some, just to pay for the materials.”
What happened next is a story most aspiring artists can only dream of.
“I put a small picture on ebay and there was a bidding war over it!” she said. “I was earning $13 an hour in my web design job and my painting sold for $70. I thought, maybe this could be something. So I set up an ebay shop and there were more bidding wars over my work. Eventually, I had to make the decision to take the plunge or play it safe. I never looked back.
“My big break came when I was travelling on the Great Ocean Rd and I found this shop that had some great placemats with painted
scenes from the area. I rang the company and said, ‘I’m an artist, can you make my prints into products?’ They rang me back and said, ‘we love your art’, and offered to make, produce and distribute these products with my work on them. Turned out they were the largest company of their kind in Australia and that’s how I got my art to all four corners of Australia.”
After living in Sydney’s Dee Why for years, Deb met her partner David, who was living at the Goolawah community on Maria River Rd.
“We’ve lived here for four years now and I love it,” she said. “I’ve come from living in an apartment to having my own studio overlooking the dam.”
Deb’s painting has slowed down since she became a mother to three-year-old Joel, but she couldn’t be happier.
“I used to paint every day,” she said. “Now I paint once a fortnight. It’s made me a quicker artist – I used to be a real perfectionist and end up doing paintings all over again. Having Joel has made me finish them – and the quality is probably even better.
“When I started painting, I was confident in my work. Then people started paying me a lot and it really put the pressure on and made me overthink things. Now I’m more spontaneous and get better results.”
Deb’s work can be viewed online at artofaustralia.com.au or at the many markets of the Macleay Valley over summer.