In Our Gallery with Maxine Harwood

A day job in developing computer software is a far cry from a passion for portrait art that Maxine Harwood has been finetuning over time.

Maxine is one of many local artists showcasing work at Bundaberg Regional Galleries' Here + Now exhibition.

She shares her story about how she discovered her talent and her See No Evil artwork.

How long have you been an artist and how did you get started?

In my day job I work in developing and customising computer software.

For many years I convinced myself that I was left brained (analytical and methodical) and therefore couldn’t possibly be creative as well.

However, its my belief that the more you exercise the creative right side of your brain, the more of those skills you will develop.

I’ve dabbled in many different styles of art over the years.

I’ve been a henna artist for 12 years, applying freehand henna designs to visitors of my stalls across the Wide Bay region.

I think it was from this creative practice that showed me that you can use both sides of your brain equally.

I started working in watercolour to create some simple décor items in late 2019.

I found that the process of painting in transparent layers fascinated me and fell in love.

I soon discovered a passion for human portraiture and the human body that continues to this day.

In 2022 I decided to improve my drawing skills and challenged myself to draw a different face each day and photograph it for my Instagram profile.

You can see the progression in those 30 days and beyond!

It was a great exercise and I recommend it to others.

Tell us about your artwork displayed by Bundaberg Regional Galleries as part of the Here + Now exhibition?

I often create multiple pieces in the same style.

When I develop an idea I have to work on it until I feel I have exhausted that spark.

See No Evil was one of these times.

I developed a number of individual pieces but they never felt complete.

It was only after I combined them into a single work that I felt it matched my vision.

What was the inspiration behind this piece?

As a portrait artist I have spent much of my time sourcing reference photos of people, women in particular.

I get a sense that many of these women are so focused on their outer beauty that it becomes the only focus in their world, like the Instagram influencers.

I started working on this piece around the time the war in Ukraine was breaking.

I started thinking about these influencers and how they could use their platforms to bring awareness to this situation, but instead pretend like it isn’t happening.

See No Evil is how I see these people – beautiful but blinding themselves to the horrors of the world.

Item 1 of 3

What medium was used and how does this reflect your usual practice?

Much of my art practice is works on paper, usually watercolour and lately moving to charcoal and pastel.

This work was the first time I attempted to combine these mediums.

I frequently work with bold colours in my watercolour paintings - but at the same time find myself drawn to monochrome schemes.

I continue to explore techniques to combine wet and dry mediums and have recently started trialling working on canvas and board.

What advice would you give to others who are just beginning to explore art?

Practice and practice and practice.

Don’t be afraid of failing.

Don’t be afraid of trying new things.

Experiment, explore and develop your own style (I’m still working on mine).

If you can attend a class – great – but if that isn’t possible, there are plenty of YouTube videos out there.

Challenge yourself to spend some time every day on your art – even if its just five minutes!