Highgate Hill artist Claudia Gillies was nurtured in a creative home with a family who encouraged handpainted wrapping paper, homemade soaps and competitive colouring-in competitions.

Raised by an architect and a family photographer, painting, drawing, sewing and crafting played an integral part in Claudia Gillies’ upbringing. “I loved to write and illustrate little ‘books’. Cards were made in our house, not bought. We used to give handpainted bed linen sets as gifts. And colouring competition entries did not stop at colouring ¬ we were to keep experimenting, incorporate different media, and cover every inch of the page.”

At school, Claudia was happiest in art class. At university, she studied for her Law and Business degree in a room littered with stacks of paintings in progress, home sewn clothing, and snaps from a disposable camera.
Now still, whilst an associate at a city law firm, Claudia continues to take photographs and paint colourful landscapes that she describes as abstract representations of places or, more particularly, feelings she had in those places.

“I see things as their parts, or their part in a bigger context ¬ colour, light, lines, and repetition. These elements are everywhere. I notice them every day, and I itch to capture it all. I take furtive snapshots of things to jog my memory and remind me, and I make lists,” she describes.

“Tucked inside a bistro in Paris at night, the rain blurring the traffic and street lights. Or a six-hour drive to Roma in Queensland, the yellow wattles lining the side of the blue-grey bitumen blurred with speed, against the blazing blue sky and rust-coloured dirt.”

Claudia is creatively influenced by colour and movement, and takes a paint-by-feeling approach in her art. She names Boundary Street and West End as a source of inspiration, claiming she could consider its shopfront silhouettes and mix of old and new architecture for hours. “I also love film photography, because it so accurately captures what my eye sees. I don’t edit my film photographs because they already communicate mood. I appreciate the detail and grittiness,” she explains.

“With my paintings, however, I’m attracted to strong colours, interesting faces, and symmetry. I want to paint strong, stylised portraits, and loud landscapes.”

Claudia comments that she one day plans to study fine arts, and would love to become a full-time artist (all while noting that ‘the grass is always greener’). For now, though, she is content to continue painting whenever her spare time allows her. “My larger pieces can invariably take several weeks or months to complete. Nothing is ever finished, though there is a point you must let go,” she admits.

“It’s crucial to take time to reflect and view the piece in different lights, different moods and noticing different details. Finishing a piece is about finding the feeling of balance, and I can judge the balance of a piece best after some time away from it. I can get a piece to 90 per cent within a day or so, but the last 10 per cent may take months to perfect.”