Paula Zetlein is an artist living in central Victoria. The former arts teacher recently made the leap to pursue her art full time. She shares valuable advice about this transition below, as well as great insight into her creative practice…
Tell us about your work?
Drawing is something I have always done and been passionate about. I’ve always drawn (doodling) with pen any spare moment I had, but it wasn’t until two years ago that I started taking my drawing with pen seriously. I was busy being a mum and working full-time as an art teacher and was frustrated that I was not creating any of my own artwork.
I was sharing my frustrations with a creative friend who was experiencing the same thing, so before going off on separate holidays we challenged each other to a drawing a day! The challenge was that each day we had to find something to draw, draw it and text the drawing by the end of the day. We were on a beach holiday and I was armed with my visual diary and a small pencil case. I started drawing from nature with the small amount of art media I had with me, which was a few graphite pencils and a fine liner.
I had never really done any real drawing with a fine liner, so I was amazed with what I could create with it. My drawings started getting a lot of attention so I started exhibiting my work and then started selling my limited edition prints at markets. This has now grown into a small business that this year, I have taken the scary leap to leave teaching and work full time on.
A little about my creative practice…
I always draw directly from my subject to truly capture the intricate detail. I start with initial sketches to study my subject and to understand and capture all the detail and pattern. I then like to play with the composition to create a dynamic rhythmic composition.
Once I have outlined my final composition in pencil, I use pen and ink and rendering techniques to build up layer upon layer of hatch and cross hatch to create tone, texture and detail. I pay particular attention to creating the intricate pattern of each botanical subject and get lost in the mark making process.
Describe a day-in-the-life of Paula Zetlein…
My day always starts with one of my most important roles, getting my daughter ready for school and doing school drop off. I then go for a walk to clear my head and get some exercise. From there it’s a coffee while I check my emails to see if I have any inquiries or orders to action. I then plan out my day working towards upcoming deadlines.
Each day is so varied, running a small business means I now have many roles to fulfill. The first and most important one is being an artist, but the reality of being self-employed is that this often takes a back seat to other crucial roles such as administration, posting out orders in the mail room, being a sales rep, writing market applications and product design.
Today is a good day as I will have time to draw! I will spend an hour processing web orders and then some administration sending out a few invoices and then the rest of the day is clear for me to draw! The first part of my drawing session will be working on a commission which is a drawing of a Banksia Burdetti. Then I plan to start some development sketches for some new work that is currently floating around as ideas in my head that I need to get out. I always start this process by finding some inspirational images and then I start sketching and nutting out a composition for my ideas. Then at 3:30pm it’s back to my role as a mum and picking up my daughter from school!
Bowerbird is celebrating #10YearsintheMaking in 2019. Where were you 10 years ago? What are your plans for the next decade?
10 years ago I had just moved to South Australia from Victoria with my now husband and I was working as an art teacher at Saint Ignatius’ College. I was painting in my spare time, but still felt frustrated by not having enough time to create.
Making plans for the next decade is pretty daunting, but my main focus will be building my art business and arts practice to spend more time creating larger scale artworks, new products and exhibiting regularly. It would be great to have my artwork and design products stocked Australia wide!
You’ve participated at Bowerbird before. What’s your favourite market memory?
My favourite market memory is when the doors opened on my first Bowerbird as a stallholder in May 2018. It was such a proud moment and great sense of achievement. When I was living in South Australia I was a regular customer at the event and was just so inspired and in awe of the all the amazing creative talent on display. It was an awesome moment to realise my dream of following my passion for creating art and to finally be on the other side as a stallholder.
If you could share one piece of advice to aspiring artists/makers, what would it be?
Being an artist can be a lonely pursuit, so it’s important to stay connected. For me that is keeping in touch with other makers and creatives I have met along the way. It’s important that you make the time to meet up and have someone to ask for advice or bounce ideas off. Social media has been an important part of that for me. Whether it’s reaching out and asking advice from more experienced makers or asking for feedback from followers on a new product.
Pop by Paula’s stall next weekend where she will be selling her botanically inspired range of limited edition prints, cards and tea towels.