Australian painter Graeme Stevenson shares an astonishing portfolio of figurative art and a story of personal transformation that guided his artist journey. Visit his website to see more.
Red hair and freckles. When I was growing up in the fifties and sixties I was known as Bluey. That’s the terminology for someone with red hair, it’s also slang in Australia for fighting, which I often did. I mostly did not want to, but sometimes you didn’t have a choice.
It’s amazing how our past, mostly from our youth, constructs and moulds us into who we are going to grow into as an adult, even more so than our teenage years.
Spending much of my time alone guided me to a place where I found great solace in my mind and my art ability. To this day I still live very much in my head and have a huge thirst for knowledge and information. Wandering into the hills and valleys and desert areas of Australia enabled me to see the amazing diversity of nature and animals. As I got older, it was not just one country—it was the world.
Although I wanted to pursue my art, it was hard to make a living at it back then. I was incredibly naïve about what I had to do to make it work, so I worked in an ambulance as a young man.
Small things in life can make huge changes in our journey. A moment in time can alter your perceptions for the rest of your life. One of these days came on a hot summer’s night in Sydney, Australia when I was working the afternoon shift. We had a call to a girl in respiratory distress, a young lass that was asthmatic and in a bad way.
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We made an emergency dash to the hospital that night, but unfortunately Rebecca died on the way. She was twelve and a beautiful child with dark red hair. I was only ten years older than her at the time. To this day I still get very emotional when I remember her reaching to me and my not being able to do anything to help her. Unfortunately, there are many young people that pass from asthma every year.
I went home that night and sat in a chair in the dark and wept. I said to myself, “I have a choice in life; I know very clearly that I am going to die one day. Not today though. Thank you, Rebecca.”
The next day I committed myself to putting an exhibition together. As I have learned from life, if I step forward and spread my arms to the universe and have no fear, amazing things will happen.
I have travelled the world many times since that night. I have exhibited across the world and lived in five countries. I have seen and done things that most people would only ever see on the television. I started my own global TV series on arts Colour in your Life and was awarded one of my country’s highest honours by the Queen.
I did all this through the love of my art and the knowledge that one day, I too will leave the world. Don’t be afraid. We all go to the same place in the end.
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