Amanda Tye lives on Sydney’s Northern Beaches and she paints the local coastline from Manly to Whale beach. Her paintings are an abstracted representation of our famous natural assets, often with squared facets showing different aspects of the water and surrounds.
I came across Amanda’s work as one of the 13 artists at Sydney Road Gallery, the new artist run space on the Northern Beaches. I’m taken with Amanda’s fresh take on our coastline and the way she captures the distinctive light, and I was keen to find out more about her creative practice.
Where do you live?
I live in North Curl Curl on the Northern Beaches of Sydney in a humble 3 bedroom house with a big Jacaranda Tree out the front, oh and a bus stop… doh! It’s a small flat block located in a busy beaches area, and I have planted native plants on every inch of the property. We moved here when our children were babies and I have been dreaming of moving ever since to live amongst the trees… I was definitely a bird in my last life!
Where do you create?
I work in a studio that is 10mins drive from my house. It is has a high pitched roof and is surrounded by tall gum trees. It’s my happy place, and it is where I grew up. I am regularly visited by my darling mother and many little critters such as rabbits, bush turkeys, a snake, spiders, lizards, dogs and birds. It’s my escape from the business of life.
When do you create? Is it a full time job?
I create 2-3 days a weeks and I work as a Visual Arts Teacher at a local high school the other three and a half days. My teaching job is high energy, fast paced, action packed, noisy and is run by bells and deadlines. It’s rewarding and my connection to the world. My opportunity to give back. But when my day off comes around I can’t wait to get into the studio. I start at 8:30 am and paint until the light becomes low.
What path led you to this creative place?
I studied as many creative subjects at school as possible, visual arts photography and design. I then went on to enroll in a Bachelor of Art education, but soon deferred as I felt like a baby teaching babies. Instead I worked as a photographer, then for an alternative health magazine. But then I decided to go back to uni and complete a Bachelor of Fine Arts, majoring in sculpture.
I graduated and travelled around Australia with my husband and painted the whole trip. We returned to Sydney, got married and started a family and while bringing up our children I completed my Bachelor of Art Education. Teaching visual arts part-time made sense, a job involved in the arts with holidays to look after my young children, but I always practiced my art on the side, whether it was illustrating books, painting portraits for friends or completing commissions to make an extra dollar.
My work got bigger and bigger or at least as big as the room allowed. I entered local art prizes, won a few and joined a local non-for profit artist run collective, which connected me with local artists. I began to sell my work on a regular basis and I was selected to complete a mural in public in the local area – this was terrifying but gave me great exposure and lots of work. I attended artist info nights, created a website, joined instagram and completed a small business course.
Moving into my large studio enabled my work to grow in technique and scale. I held a solo exhibition at a local gallery and then 5 months ago I received an email from Jessica Watts asking me to join Sydney Road Gallery. I didn’t even read the details before I responded with a big yes! Sydney Road Gallery is the best thing that has happened, connecting me with an awesome group of local like minded creatives.
What’s your elevator pitch? How do you describe what you do?
My paintings are modern, large and colourful… shifting between representation and abstract reflecting the Australian landscape. I create a plane to escape into.
How would you describe yourself in six words?
Mmm that’s a hard, lets see… INFP (so Myers Briggs tells me), empathetic, a bit crazy, loyal, warm. I asked my daughter for one more because this is hard and she said ….dedicated. Ohhhhh thanks Emma x
Where do you find inspiration and motivation?
Nature, nature, nature and every new landscape and moment that moves me. Oh and where the light shines.
What are the essential items in your workspace?
Graphite, charcoal and water colour pencils for sketching. A level, big canvases, acrylic and oil paints palette knives and brushes. My photography, oh and music!
Do you have a favourite tool that’s essential to your work?
My Canon 6D camera – it’s my third child.
What do you love the most about your creative space?
It’s big, quiet, it has a high ceiling and it is in the bush.
Is there something you don’t like, or would like to change?
Id like to cut a whole in the roof to let more natural light in.
Do you listen to anything while you work?
Yes I can’t paint without music… all sorts of music from Rudimental, Angus and Julia Stone, hip hop, ’90s dance music, reggae and RAW FM. Music is a must – it gives me energy and keeps me company.
Favourite work-time snack (or beverage)?
I start with a coffee almond milk and half hot water. The local coffee shop puts flake on top!
I love food but can’t eat big meals when I paint it makes me sluggish but I am totally spoilt because my mum brings me tea, soup and sushi.
What would be your dream job or collaboration?
Not sure about that one… but I feel like Sydney Road Gallery has ticked a few boxes on the dream list.
Who or what are your biggest creative influences?
Elizabeth Cummings and Richard Diebenkorn.
Tell us five online resources or apps you can’t live without.
Instagram, Pinterest, artists and gallery websites, I love listening to “talking with painters” interviews with artists. You Tube videos to learn new skills, but realesate.com is my escapism website.
What’s the hardest thing about what you do?
Balance. Going from a crazy busy noisy day ruled by bells to a day of being totally in the moment, and then back again.
Artists block. The times when you get the feeling that you will never be able to paint again.
How do you work out the financial aspects of your business? What resources, tips and tools would you recommend?
I have a pile of paper work/receipts kept in a box that I sort a few times a year, an accountant, a diary. I did do a small business course at uni but I really do not have any advice that would be helpful!
What advice do you have for aspiring creatives?
Make choices and do things that move you in the direction of your dreams. Get involved, say yes and put yourself out there, don’t hide in your studio. Believe in your work – there is room for everyone and most of all: not everyone will like your work but as long as you do that’s what counts.
Do you have a dream that you’d love to fulfill?
Yes an artist residency in Greece please… or even Bundanon on the Shoalhaven River would nice.
You can connect with Amanda Tye here:
Amanda Tye exhibits at at Sydney Road Gallery.
To take a peek into a whole range of other artists’ and creatives’ lives and studios, visit the We Are Scout Space to Create archives.