TAMARA

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Photography, Samuel Lindsay

I’m a professional artist living and working from my dream home studio on top of a mountain in the Gold Coast hinterland of sunny Queensland with my husband Matt, our three-year-old daughter, Thea and four-year-old fur baby Frank. Matt and I met in a small regional country town where we were both teaching at the time. He is a primary school teacher and I was a high school art teacher. A couple years later we set off to London to teach and travel. When we returned to Australia, we desired to settle somewhere in between the quiet country life and fast pace of city life. We stumbled across a little cottage home on Mount Tamborine during an impromptu weekend drive and instantly felt we had found our forever home. The mountain is only half an hour to the ocean and an hour to the city, it’s a small community and as it turns out many artists are drawn to the area for its abundant inspiration and calming energy. We did all we could to make the property ours and were over the moon the day we officially got the keys. We’ve celebrated many happy occasions here including our wedding and after I officially cut back from teaching in 2013, we designed and built my art studio, which is located in the backyard. I’ve since left teaching all together now and thoroughly enjoy spending my child free days painting away in my studio or hosting intimate painting classes for women in need of a creative reconnection.

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Klee Photography

DREAM. I feel so fortunate to have made my dream job a reality. Quitting my stable career in teaching was by no means an easy or quick decision, but it certainly felt like the right one and I have not looked back yet. I love working for myself, calling the shots and pursuing my passion for art and although it’s incredibly hard (often unpaid) work it feels incredibly rewarding and exciting. Looking ahead I’d ideally like to see my painting practice further develop in terms of discipline, quality and becoming more known in the art world. Getting recognition in the Australian art world is something I’m determined to make happen in the next five years and hence this is why I’ve been entering more national art prizes such as the Archibald Prize. These prizes and awards provide a real catalyst for lifting my game, challenging my abilities and making real connections with other female artists.

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Photography, Sabine Bannard

DEFINE. I entered the Archibald Prize for the first time last year with a portrait of Yassmin Abdel-Magied (a young Australian Muslim author, social advocate and mechanical engineer), and while my entry was not successful the process was really addictive. The connection you can make with your subject is so special and will no doubt last a lifetime.  My portrait of Yassmin did get selected for another very prestigious art prize for female Australian portrait artists, known as the Portia Geach Memorial Award. The exhibition took place in at an amazing historic gallery located on observatory hill in The Rocks, Sydney. Attending the opening night was a defining moment for me. It was my first real experience of the Australian art world and I finally met some insanely talented artists I have long admired and followed. It was very much a ‘Finding Your Tribe’ kinda night and the experience has motivated me to step up my painting practice and discipline as well as connecting more regularly with fellow artists to talk discuss the highs and lows of ‘this artist life!’  

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Portia Geach taken by Document Photography.

STYLE. When it comes to my style, be it fashion or artwork – I LOVE colour! I must admit I paint with more bright colours than I wear day to day, but given the chance to get dressed up I go for vibrant colours and bold patterns. I’ve never really been a follower of trends, I just like what I like and what I know will suit my body shape. My favourite designer is currently Aussie label ‘Mister Zimi’, they are upbeat when it comes to colour and the simple styles follow flattering 70s shift dress cuts, flairs and wrap-around-skirts. I would fill my closet with their designs if my bank account allowed me. Being 6’2 tall has also meant I can’t follow trends even if I wanted to. A short dress on most women, quickly becomes a top for me and any shoe with a heel simply makes me laugh these days. I used to curse my height and hated to stand out, but as I’ve come into my 30s I’ve accepted that no matter what, I’m going to stand out – so I found ways to just rock it. Holding my head up high is my go-to, no matter what I’m wearing – be it paint splattered jeans or vibrant Mister Zimi creations. 

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Photography, Sabine Bannard

EMPOWER. I love being inspired by fellow empowered women and I love knowing that I too have inspired a few since venturing down this artistic pathway. I’m drawn to women who are keeping it real by seeking what truly fulfils them, those who say what they mean and genuinely show compassion for others and our world. If I were to emulate all of the best qualities I’ve experienced and witnessed in the people I most admire and have been fortunate enough to spend time with, those qualities would be; kindness, self-assurance, courage and the ability to really listen to others. By following my gut and becoming more tuned into my own intuition, I’ve managed to spot opportunities and connections that are mutually beneficial, as well as being more aware of those that are not. Trusting your gut and that inner voice (that truly knows who you are), will ultimately bring greater rewards and opportunities for growth. The trick is to tune into it and turn down the background noise. Meditation works!

Lovin’ Tamara’s vibes? Links below to follow, like and add!

www.tamaraarmstrong.com

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