Melbourne based Australian Artist PetaTurner first came to me as a mentored student in August 2020 as an absolute beginner to drawing. She works in a full-time job as a Teacher of the Deaf in a primary school and mostly studied my course at her kitchen table, in the little blocks of time – in the evenings and at weekends. (I call this our Pyjama Time hence the name DrawPj.)
Now, just three short years later, she is selling her images on cards and journals as she enjoys her wonderful hobby of drawing just for the love of it. Its a bonus that she makes some extra income as well. Drawing is a wonderful pastime and relaxing hobby, it’s also amazing what you can do with your skills once you know how to create totally original art and when you own the full copyrights to your images. Now Peta can continue to explore so many other avenues to sell her art if she chooses to, as she continues to enjoy her love of drawing. I hope you enjoy this interview as you learn about Peta’s journey from a beginner to where she is now with her art.
Interview with Peta Turner by Cindy Wider
Q: Hi Peta, where were you born and where do you live now?
A: I was born and grew up in Bendigo, Victoria and am currently living in Melbourne, although I have not always lived in Victoria. My husband works for the Defence Force and we have lived in many places from Far North Queensland through to Hobart, Tasmania. Most recently we moved back to Melbourne in early 2020, after having lived interstate for 16 years. I have degrees in music and education and currently work as a Teacher of the Deaf in a primary school.
Q: Can you tell our audience about how you first got started with art and drawing?
A: I have always enjoyed anything creative, particularly, music, sewing, embroidery, knitting, crochet and basically anything crafty. During the pandemic, I discovered your drawing course on Udemy and thought that it would give me some good foundational drawing skills. Very quickly, I upgraded to a version of the course where I could have you critique a few of my pieces which gave me a good taste of what it would be like to be mentored. And from there, I was convinced that being mentored was the most efficient way of learning to draw, and that you would be able to help me develop the skills that I needed.
My original plan was to learn to draw well enough to be able to make my own embroidery designs rather than relying on designs from other people, as beautiful as they were. I thought that if I was happy to spend an hour meticulously stitching a leaf, then maybe I would be able to draw a leaf if I was prepared to put the time in with that too. Now, three years on, I am just hooked on drawing and art in and of itself and am thoroughly enjoying learning and creating with pencils mostly.
Q: Tell us what is happening with your drawing journey right now?
A: For nearly twelve months, I worked on a series of four Christmas pictures, each incorporating a Little Bird who goes about his life and quietly observes the different scenes of the nativity story. I have been very excited to have these printed into Christmas cards to sell. In doing this, I also recently started an Instagram page and a mini online store and I am hoping to be able to grow these in the future in some way. It has been very humbling to see how many friends and family have supported me with this by not only buying my cards but also their encouragement and interest in my art.
Q: How did you find us here at DrawPj?
A: I initially discovered your course on Udemy and chose it because it had so many students who had purchased the course and it had received lots of great reviews. It appeared to give learners good foundational skills that could be transferred to drawing many other things. I certainly have not been disappointed.
Q:What do you think of your progress now, when you look at the early drawings you created way back then?
A: Although I had always enjoyed creative hobbies, I had never really tried to draw, other than some art lessons that I did with my children when they were young. I feel that I essentially began this journey with you as a total beginner. I have been so excited with my progress and although I have been prepared to spend many hours over the last few years working hard to develop my skills, I never would have thought I would have made so much progress in a relatively short period of time. The more I learn, the more I realise that I don’t know.
Q: What was it like studying with mentored support?
A: I really love being mentored and this mode of study has been the best way for me to learn in my current stage of life. Although both my children are now young adults, I still work full-time and do not have a lot of time (or energy) for evening or weekend classes. I find that being mentored means that my time is spent on drawing, rather than traveling to and from classes. I also feel that I receive a lot more feedback related to my own particular questions and difficulties than I would if I were in a traditional class with others. Having only recently shifted from interstate when the months-long and multiple pandemic lockdowns happened, the DrawPJ community and your emails provided me with a much-needed sense of community and camaraderie during a time when I really needed it and was unable to build these relationships in person.
Q: What kind of drawings are you doing right now?
A: At the moment, I am working on a pink hibiscus, particularly working on achieving beautiful contours in the petals. As much as I enjoyed my Nativity series it has been refreshing to change styles and mediums. I am using PanPastels and Derwent pastel pencils for this artwork.
Q: Do you have any favourite drawings that you’ve created since studying at DrawPj?
A: They are all my favourites, for different reasons. The shoe, from the course, has a special significance for me and although it is not perfect, it was the first larger project that I attempted. When it was completed, I suddenly thought that if I put the effort into learning properly, I could develop the skills needed to produce quality artwork. Since being mentored, my Nativity series has been a highlight, along with a picture of a trout swimming underwater that was a birthday gift for my Dad. My Dad enjoys fishing and so this was the perfect subject for an artwork for him. It was a challenging piece that was finally completed after a number of false starts. I have also created a picture of a rose that I then had printed onto journals for gifts. They turned out really well and it was lovely to see how pleased my friends and family we with their gifts.
Q: What are your favourite art materials and why?
A: I especially enjoy coloured pencils, Derwent Inktense, PanPastels and pastel pencil. As yet, I have not dabbled with painting. Regarding papers, I have tried a few but my favourites so far are the Saunders Waterford, St Cuthberts Mill, Hot Pressed paper and Clairefontaine, Pastelmat.
Q: Do you have any words of helpful advice for beginner artists?
A: I think that the best advice that was given to me as I was starting to learn to draw was that I needed to be prepared to fail sometimes. This has stood me in good stead throughout the last few years. It is often in the struggle of learning something new that significant progress occurs. I tend to have a habit of starting things over when I am not happy with how it is turning out. The improvement between the pieces is often easily visible.
Not every piece needs to be ‘wall worthy’, the process and learning that occurs in each piece is, in itself, what makes it worthwhile.
I would also suggest purchasing the best quality art materials that you can afford, even if that means that you stick to a smaller range of mediums that you use. It is often much easier to achieve good results with quality materials and if you are spending a lot of time on an artwork, you want to produce the highest quality work possible without it being compromised by poor materials.
Q: What are your plans for the future?
A: I am still thoroughly enjoying learning to draw and being mentored and I still have so much that I need to learn. Eventually, I may consider teaching others to create art. For the moment though, I would like to continue exploring different techniques, styles and subjects. I would also like to use my work to build my little online store to include more cards and prints whilst I continue to learn as much as I can.
For more information on purchasing Peta Turner Art and products you can contact her here: