“When you are an artist you are not just painting in isolation, you are painting in the context of the whole of the history of art, and you have to work so hard and have so much determination if you are aiming to be considered within the stable of those artists.”
This is what Newcastle artist Rachel Milne learnt from Saied Dai, a renowned UK artist from whom she learned the techniques of structural drawing.
“He was incredibly serious about his artistic practice and it gave me the courage to take it seriously as well,” Milne said.
Before she became his student she was living in the UK, her homeland. She had studied art at university and was working as a receptionist. She quit her job in order to take his class and this move marked the beginning of Milne throwing herself into her work.
“I started to base my life around being able to paint,” she said.
“I pushed it to the top of my list of priorities.
“Not spending money; not having money.
“Looking back, it was such a big commitment. But there just wasn't a question, it was the most important thing.”
In 2014 she arrived in Newcastle with her Australian husband.
“We weren't sure where to go but Newcastle had everything we needed. It was a good choice,” she said.
She now works from a studio at the Newcastle Community Arts Centre in Parry Street. She said working along side other artists helped her establish herself as an artist in Australia.
“The artists are incredibly talented and supportive,” she said.
Milne is a figurative painter who works in oil on board and bases her practise on an “intense observation of the world”.
Her hard work has begun to pay off. She is now represented by Sydney’s King Street Gallery on William. Her portrait of Maitland Regional Art Gallery cultural director Joe Eisenberg was selected for Archibald Salon des Refusé.
She has also earned a swag of other prize accolades.
“It took a long time, there was a lot of rejection,” Milne said.