On the Wings of Imagination with Tara Spicer
Contemporary artist Tara Spicer celebrates the wonderous and the bizarre as normality. Georgia Beard discover how her paintings encourage audiences to reconnect with their inner child and embrace the impossible.
When our front cover artist Tara Spicer was at school, her teacher expressed on her report card: if Tara would stop staring out the window long enough, she might actually get some work done.
A few decades later, Tara still hasn’t looked away. But her gaze takes her far beyond the view, imagining new worlds and whimsical possibilities with the freedom of a child.
When she settles into her art studio at home, her imagination comes into being on the canvas.
Surrealism reveals itself in every painting, placing her subjects in dreamlike landscapes that are part-Wonderland, part-Cirque du Soleil and part-Australian Gothic. The only inspiration she needs is a line from a song or a few poetic words from a fellow traveller.
“I try and keep to light and inspiring topics,” Tara said. “I’d rather people have positive associations with my art and use it for inspiration, motivation and lightness of being rather than tapping into whatever dark demons they have dwelling within.”
Growing up in Wollongong in the 80s and 90s, art wasn’t really considered as a viable career. With this in mind, Tara studied sports science at university, painting only for herself. It wasn’t until she had established her personal training business in Sydney, and started a family that she began exhibiting her art.
After gathering the courage to approach galleries, Tara found a growing artistic community just as captivated by her dreamscapes as she was.
Galleries and collectors adore her whimsy and the story-telling qualities of her work and it is these qualities that have endured and developed through Tara’s career as an artist spanning over 20 years.
Over this time span, Tara has taught art classes and taken on painting full-time with ongoing Fine Art Gallery representation. She now lives on the Sunshine Coast with her husband and kids, taking every opportunity to expand her artistic reach.
“I love to work in an allegorical style, using my own symbols to communicate certain stories, qualities of people and journeys through life.”
“For example, paper planes convey qualities of connecting with the inner child, exploring boundless horizons in life and aiming high in what you can strive for and invite into your day. They communicate life direction and release of conscious and unconscious restrictions.”
Tara encapsulates this feeling of liberation in Young Aviator, the photorealistic artwork featured on this edition’s front cover.
Inspired by her son’s love for life, a young boy launches paper planes into a limitless sky. From his perch on the ladder, there’s no place the gliders couldn’t take him!
These fanciful dreams enter our reality as Tara grounds her pieces with oil on linen, showing the woven fibre texture of the raw linen through the paint.
“First, an ungrounded image or concept pops into my mind through seemingly magical pixie dust,” she said. “Then I take photographs and find the props I need that ring true and honour the original image. There’s an old adage, ‘If you don’t use it, you lose it.’ If I feel as though I don’t honour these concepts and images, themes or ideas that pop into my mind, that I will lose the grace of their seemingly unending, flow of arrival.”
As she translates these concepts to canvas, Tara keeps her emphasis on storytelling. She often throws open her studio doors and turns her canvas to the rest of the house, allowing her to catch the painted image, during it evolution from all angles. As she walks past, as the light of day changes, each fresh glance reveals the next step needed in her artistic process.
It can take her anywhere from three weeks to three months to finish a piece. Although she still paints for herself, she strives to evoke the release of happy chemicals in the audience’s minds.
“I hope my art transports them emotionally and mentally to a space they would rather be and inspires them to bring that energy into current day,” she said.
Recently, she has worked with wooden rounds to explore the effects of oil on wood grain and has plans to create a series of marine works celebrating the poetry of water and its relationship with the female body.
Tara has several exhibitions lined up across Australia including featuring 17 works in a group exhibition at Stevens Street Gallery, Yandina until the end of June. She’s also set to exhibit works themed around Healing Waters at Montville Art Gallery in November and beyond the Sunshine Coast, she will be part of Glow, a group exhibition at Lethbridge Gallery in Paddington from 12-30 August; and in September, another collection will explore The Poetry of Water at Traffic Jam Galleries in Sydney.
As Tara’s subject matter evolves with her career, her gaze will stay fixed on the horizon, searching for worlds beyond. Wherever her imagination takes her, Tara’s heart will be there too.