By Andrea Louise Thomas Photos Yanni
Crib Point artist Laura Gaitan moved to Australia from Maldonado, Uruguay in May 2019. Little did she know that in less than a year, she would be living in lockdown and her experience of Australia would be strictly limited to her local area. Frustrating as that has been, it has also given her the opportunity to focus on her art and her output has been prolific.
This is nothing new. Since she was about eight years old, Laura has been making art. She started out painting t-shirts, then she tried pyrography (wood burning), coloured pencils, watercolour and acrylics. She was always painting in her free time.
Laura comes from a creative lineage. Her father and grandfather were professional photographers. Her Dad wanted her brothers to be photographers. They weren’t interested, but Laura was. Despite the fact that her father didn’t think photography was a suitable career for a woman, she became a career photographer.
Most of her work was in social photography doing weddings and parties, portraits and school photos. But in her free time, her focus was totally different. She was shooting landscapes and nature and one of her favourite subjects – cats.
While her father taught her the technical aspects, Laura never studied photography formally. She wanted to do it her way. She had her own vision and it’s been the guiding principle of her art practice ever since.
Because she has been practicing and experimenting with mediums her whole life, Laura never felt the need to go to art school. She says she’s an intuitive artist who has learned through practice – sketching and creating different types of art. She exhibited at galleries in Uruguay before moving to Australia.
Nowadays, Laura spends a lot of time doing portraits of people and animals. When she started posting portraits of her own pets on Facebook it created a lot of interest and commissions. While her portraits are very accurate, what she really wants to bring out is the personality of the subject and that’s the challenge.
Laura also loves writing. “It helps me to fly to other worlds. When I can write and paint I am free, even from lockdown,” she says. Now when she does a portrait, she writes a little story to go with it. Clients love hearing the artist’s perspective on the portrait.
As with her photography, when she is not doing commissions, her art takes a very different direction. “Sometimes my style makes people uncomfortable. Sometimes my subject matter shocks people. I love that! With my art I want to say to them, ‘Time flies. Live. Be free!’” she says.
Laura feels she is still evolving as an artist. “I want to find myself in my paintings – to be more creative and freer. I haven’t found my style yet. In a way, I’m just beginning. I want to change my life and paint full-time,” she says.
While she works in all mediums, she likes charcoal and watercolour best. “In charcoal the picture is rough. It’s not so precise. I can create a more open and interpretive composition. In watercolour, I like the power of the colours,” she says.
Women feature heavily in Laura’s art. She likes to convey their strength, power and complexity. She has a lot of admiration for women and all they go through. In the future, Laura wants to do a series on love in all its many facets.
Actually, it was love that brought Laura to Australia. And fate. When she was fourteen, she met her future father-in-law at a party. He told her she should be a photographer in Australia. It seemed a random comment. Thirty years later, she met her now husband at a family reunion in Uruguay. He lived in Australia. She told her best friend, “I’m going to marry that man.” She did. And here she is.
In her own home studio and garden, Laura has been spending a lot of time drawing and painting over lockdowns. While she misses Maldonado with its beautiful wide white-sand beaches and warm waters, she is pretty content with where she has landed. Laura feels blessed living on the peninsula. She loves the trees, the quiet, the birds and the safety. It’s an inspiring place for an artist. She’s found her happy place.