Hi! I’m Louise De Masi from Coffs Harbour, Australia, (follow me on Instagram, Facebook and visit my website and Etsy store.) Coffs Harbour is on the Mid North Coast of New South Wales. It’s a beautiful place and is a popular tourist destination for many Australians. My husband and I built our home on 25 acres there.
Being creative has always been a part of my life. Art was my favourite subject at school and I was rarely without a pencil in my hand. In my late 20’s, I worked as a signwriter but it gave me no joy. I painted shop awnings and windows while standing on a plank of wood suspended between two ladders. I was out in the hot sun and as you can imagine, signwriting quickly lost its appeal for me.
When I put away my signwriting brushes for the last time, I decided to take some folk art classes at a studio near my home. I learned to paint flowers and teddy bears on wooden pieces with acrylic paint. It wasn’t long before the owner of the studio asked me if I’d be interested in teaching classes there. I took her up on the offer and I taught for 14 years. Although I met some wonderful people during that time, painting with acrylic paint began to lose its joy for me.
One day, while I was ironing, I heard on the radio that the university near my home was taking enrolments for the Bachelor of Education course that was starting the following year. Ever since I was a little girl I wanted to be a school teacher. My grade 4 teacher inspired me.
She would read a chapter of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory aloud every afternoon and she transported me to a wonderful place of magical Oompa Loompas and chocolate rivers. So, when I heard that information on the radio I knew I had to enroll. The next day, I visited the University and submitted my enrolment.
Four years later, I was a fully qualified school teacher and pleased with myself for completing my degree with first class honours. I didn’t realise, however, how difficult it would be to secure a full time teaching position so for a while I was a relief teacher. I would often sit at home and wait patiently for the phone to ring.
To keep myself occupied on the days I wasn’t working I decided to teach myself how to use watercolour paint. I’d tried it once before and found it too difficult. This time, however, I persevered and I’m so glad I did. Watercolour is such a beautiful medium to use.
I painted little birds on A5 size paper and after a couple of weeks I had a few paintings that I decided to list on Etsy. I painted some more and kept adding them to my online shop. Eventually I started to sell some and that was all the encouragement I needed.
My husband found work in Sydney in 2014 and he and I made a temporary move there. Instead of pursuing teaching work in Sydney, I decided to focus my attention on my painting.
I am so glad I did because last year I co-authored a watercolour instruction book for Walter Foster Publishing called The Art of Painting Seal Life in Watercolor. I also have an agent in the US – Jan Draheim from Painted Planet Licensing, who works hard on gaining licensing contracts for some of my work.
In my home in Coffs Harbour, we have a huge room that we use as a study and I paint in there. It’s big and filled with light. In Sydney however, we live in a tiny 2 bedroom apartment and my painting table is squashed into a corner. It’s not ideal but I make the most of it.
When I paint, I work from photographs. I adore animals and birds so they are my main subjects. I have also been enjoying painting flowers over the past 12 months.
There is a florist opposite the supermarket where I get my groceries and once a week I poke my head in the door to see what pretty offerings she has in her cool room. I take photos of the flowers I buy and I paint from them because they never last long enough for me.
My paper of choice is Arches, hot-pressed. It has a velvety smooth surface and is good for all of the layering that I do. I also use cold pressed paper. I love handmade Da Vinci brushes. They are expensive but they are worth it. I use Daniel Smith, Winsor & Newton and Schmincke paints. I keep all my paint in a fishing tackle box because I can separate the colours into little compartments.
I adore painting with watercolour. After using acrylic paint for 14 years, I have to say it is a magical medium and I am well and truly under its spell. I tend to paint tightly and I am trying to loosen up. I love the work of John Lovett, an Australian artist and also Karl Martens. They use watercolour as it was meant to be used. Their work is free and loose and uninhibited. I don’t think I will ever conquer watercolour, but I will have a wonderful life trying to.
Thank you Charlie for giving me the opportunity to share a little bit about myself with the Doodlewash community.