“Art has always calmed me, it has been especially calming for my mental health,” he said.
James had been living in Melbourne when he returned to Warrnambool and decided to start painting again and hone his skills at South West TAFE.
“I had always drawn in high school, but when I moved away I stopped,” he said.
After meeting with the teachers at South West TAFE, he enrolled in the Diploma of Visual Arts and then went on to complete his Advanced Diploma of Visual Arts.
Since finishing his course, James has continued to paint and has been commissioned to do a number of paintings including a mural at South West Healthcare’s mental health services.
“It was great to paint something that was so bright and put out such good energy in a space that really needed it,” he said.
James is now in the process of working on a number of other commissions and murals in Terang and Mortlake, but his biggest project is his first solo exhibition to be held at a café in Terang.
“It’s really exciting to have my first proper solo exhibition. There’ll be eight to 10 pieces all around a theme which is great,” he said.
James said he loved his time at South West TAFE and was always the last to leave each class.
“I loved being in the painting room. We learnt to stretch and make our own canvases, which is something I still do now,” he said.
He said the teachers were fantastic and he loved coming together with like-minded people.
“I don’t think people realise that art is a discipline that needs to be learned. I learnt so much. The teachers were always encouraging our skills and it’s amazing how you refine all of these new skills and they all come together in the end without you even realising it,” he said.
James said he was now considering his options which included further study or travel, but either way art would always remain a part of his life.
“All I want to do is paint and if painting alone can pay the bills - that’s my ideal.
“I would definitely recommend this course to anyone. You have nothing to lose and you get great insights into yourself which makes you a better person,” he said.