The 2018 Dandenong Ranges Open Studio’s wrapped up on 10 May and it was Ches Mills, from Kallista who took out the People’s Choice award.
Working with acrylic ink, charcoal and gouache, her art is vibrant and colourful and is inspired the wonder of the natural world.
Her intricate art piece “Littoral Wonder” won the People’s Choice Award and her unique art had people flocking to her studio over the Open Studio weekend.
The Kallista painters work reflects her perspective of the natural world from which she draws her inspiration.
“Over the years I’ve had lots of motivation and inspiration for various motifs, but now it’s the environment around me,” she said.
“Living in the Dandenongs it’s just the natural beauty … when we travel images lodge in my mind and then come out in the paintings.”
“The paintings are very intuitive they are not planned at all. I just keep working until I feel that its right.”
That connection with the environment is a driving force in her work, and is evident in her wining piece ‘Littoral Wonder.’
To meet the Open Studios theme of ‘Alchemy,’ Ms Mills said she focused on rock pools – an idea that came to her after a trip down the Great Ocean Road.
“I’ve been doing a lot of work with rock pools and I love them as they remind me of miniature universes that are always changing”
“We spent a week in Kennett River and I watched the rock pools and noticed that with every wave and shift of the ocean the rock pool was different; there was a new colour, shape and texture, and life revealed itself and I thought there is alchemy there.”
Having been a part of Open Studios before, Ms Mills said she was overwhelmed to have received the award.
“This is the first time I won the people’s choice and I was very genuinely excite and quite overwhelmed,” she said.
“It’s very humbling and really special for me, as it makes you feel like people are connecting and understanding what I was trying to say in that painting.”
Ms Mills said what she is trying to convey in her paintings is the appreciation for the natural world.
“Rather than doing protest paintings of dismay I’m hoping that I reflect the beauty of the world we live in and why it’s so precious and that we need to do something to protect it and look after it.”
In second place came Jessie Yvette Journoud-Ryan and in third was Joy Serwylo.