thou art mum

Featured Artist

Come with us to celebrate one of our multi-talented members here. Each month (or so) we sit down with a TAM artist to learn about how she got started with her art practice,  what inspires her and how she manages to do it all while raising a family (or grandchildren). Get an insider’s look at what it’s like to live and work as a Mother and Artist!

Susannah Collins

Featured Artist Susannah

How did you get your start as a working artist? (and a brief history of your art journey leading up to today)?

My background is in film and television. I believe I’ve always been interested in how people communicate ideas through visual narratives. During my time working within the film and video production realm, I also worked as a freelance storyboard artist for commercials and online campaigns.


Since then, and with the gear shift the pandemic has brought about,  I’ve dived head-on into my own art, focusing heavily on developing my style to strengthen ideas around form, composition and mood within my work.


What mediums do you work with and which is your favourite?

I tend to work with oil on canvas or board. I love the vibrancy of colour you can achieve with layering oils. It isn’t necessarily a forgiving medium, but the blending and vibrancy you can achieve pays off.  

featured artist susannah

Has that changed across your artistic journey?

I have had a few medium shifts within my journey. Up until a few years ago, I was scared of colour. However, branching out into painting has opened up my creative outlook. I find I tend to only use a limited palette (Burnt Sienna as a base, Paynes Grey and Titanium white to tone, Naples Yellow for warmth and Prussian Blue for cooler tones). Starting with a limited palette has meant that I can see a common thread amongst all my work, regardless of the subject matter.  

What artists or movements influence your work?

I’m inspired by a wide array of artists and movements. However, if I were to distil a couple, I would first go to the portraiture and still life work of Australian artist Nora Heyson. Each piece of hers I find profoundly rich and intimate. You can see within her work a deep appreciation for each subject she paints, whether that be a plate of pears of a person sitting in front of her.


I also appreciate the work of her father, Hans Heyson. His use of composition within his landscape paintings are  exquisite. Adding to the Australian Artists, collectively the ‘Heidelberg School’ or the movement of ‘Australian Impressionism’. Artists such as Arthur Streeton, Tom Roberts and Frederick Mccubbin – who had an incredible way through their use of colour and technique of capturing the enigmatic qualities of the Australian bush.


Lastly, and more broadly – the classics within the Dutch Golden Age (many of whom were in fact female artists and discredited through history or had works accredited to male counterparts). Paintings of this period captured the beauty and the impermanence of the material world so well.  Clara Peeters painted during this time and her works show banquet scenes with many elaborate fine plates, vessels and produce. However, there is always an intense mood with her work. Another detail in her work I find fascinating is the fact that she often included minute self-portraits in the reflections of glass or ornaments, embedding herself in the scene. 

featured artist susannah

What makes your work unique?

I think that is a difficult question for any artist to answer, but an important one.

I choose subjects and scenes which have a strong element of light. Often this is exaggerated to the point where it may not be realistic. However, due to my film studies, I am unable to look at anything in the world without thinking about where the light is coming from and how it’s affecting the subject. 

Do you have any certifications/ qualifications or are you self-taught?

I have a Bachelor’s in Fine Art (Film and Television) and I’m currently undertaking my Masters of Fine Art at RMIT Melbourne.

What exhibitions have you been part of?

I’ve had the privilege and joy of exhibiting with TAM for about a year now. However, recently I had my first solo exhibition, ‘Natural State’ at RED Gallery here in Melbourne.

How has motherhood impacted/enhanced your art practice?

Motherhood has taught me that attention is important. Children teach you a lot about living in the moment and being able to just play.  Somewhere along the line as adults, we lose the ability to just ‘be’.


Running counter to this, being a mother makes you acutely aware of time and how quickly it passes and how what we pay attention to is one of the most valuable commodities we have. This has influenced my artwork, in subject matter and the feeling I bring across in my work.

featured artist susannah
featured artist susannah

Do you have a one-sentence mantra you live by or practice?

“Not everything has  to be a masterpiece”


Stripping back my own perfectionism has been helpful to my practice. Being comfortable to just sketch and experiment can open up to new ideas and better final pieces in the long term.

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