03 Jan 2022Mont Marte

For Chelsea (@hello.chelsart), inspiration comes in the form of nature, her work combines the beauty in botanical with delicate designs. Chelsea talks to us about how she finds the time to create her botanical art and letting go of perfection, all while being a busy mum of two under two.
Delicately painted seedpods, leaves and pinecones in a flat lay

How would you describe yourself?

I'd describe myself as someone that tries to focus on the seemingly small delights in life that sometimes have the most prominent meanings. I'm that person that points out a beautiful tree to someone, even if they are the one that's driving the car. I'm also someone who will make my husband stop to look at a rock on the ground that I find beautiful just because it has a particular shade of purple in it. 

How did you get involved in art, and how did it evolve?

I've always been involved in art in some shape or form. I studied a Bachelor of Multimedia (Design), a Bachelor of Environmental Design, and a Masters of Architecture. So I guess I've always been interested in design and nature, but it wasn't until later that I married these two concepts together with these degrees though it was mainly computer-based art, and it wasn't until later that I started experimenting with paint.
Chelsea from Chelsart in a white dress holding pretty flowers in a field.

What drove you to pursue your botanical art style?

During university, I'd learnt about Biomimicry and experimented with this concept in many assignments. This translated to my home life, where I would experiment with painting organic shapes/patterns on driftwood sticks that I had collected in my free time. This is how I started, and then it wasn't until 2020 when COVID hit that I needed to channel some positivity into something, and it all fell into place very quickly.

What comes first: Finding beauty in a seed pod or creating beautiful art to transfer onto nature?

Always, the beauty in the seedpod first! I'll often find myself holding and gazing at the seedpods I'd recently collected in astonishment. Even untouched, they hold a sense of wonderment and magic. Their shapes are so different and unique, with varying colours and textures, which always captivate me into a sort of trance. Then with my mind's eye, I paint it with my imagination before I begin. (Unusual, I know...)
Colourful and delicately painted seedpods laying in a circle with various designs.

Where do you create?

Before I had kids, I had a studio dedicated to my art, so currently, I've resorted to storing my seedpods in large containers in my living room. I'm lucky nonetheless; in the coming months, I've organised to have a backyard art studio to be built so I can have my seedpods on display again (I've lost a fair few to the hands of my toddler). 

I'm also fortunate that I can paint my seedpods anywhere, so I take my portable paint case and seedpods into the backyard on a blanket while my son plays in the yard and my daughter babbles to me, watching her brother run around. My setup at the moment is very portable as I'm constantly trying to keep up with my two kids!

What are your tips for improving in art?

I will often set myself design challenges that I must complete in a short amount of time. For instance, one challenge was to paint in black and white only, or another was to try to use flowable acrylic paint I'd never used before. 

Both these challenges pushed me to think in different ways that I probably never would have if I didn't set design challenges. It's just about forcing yourself to loosen up and try new techniques.
Chelsea from Chelsart picking white flowers in a field with flowers in hair.

Is there a place you like to go for art outside of the studio?

I love to take my art to my parent's house. It's been a bit harder with COVID and the kids, but it is still my favourite place to go. They live next to a state forest, and there's something so peaceful and inspiring about seeing all the different colours and textures of nature.

How did you develop your own style?

I think this just takes time and constantly experimenting with different mediums. I mainly painted on driftwood sticks when I first began my botanical art, but through experimentation, I started painting on different nature vessels until I painted a banksia seedpod one afternoon, and a tradition was born.

Hand holding yellow and turquoise painted seedpods.

How do you build the courage to show people new work?

After numerous failed attempts at starting possible business ventures, I realised that I had to let go of my idea of perfection, and sometimes 'anything is better than nothing' attitude is better than being afraid. It really helped with the fear of failure or not being good enough mindset. Not to mention the thoughts of "why would anyone like this? Its just seedpods painted."

Then, the more I painted, the more I had people ask me if I had painted a certain seedpod or if they could give me a seedpod to paint on as a commission. I then started having strangers contact me telling me how much my work meant to them and strangers supporting me by sending seedpods they had found in their journeys (some as far as America). I became more focused on the joy of creating for me and others instead of focusing on the possible accolades of being successful or feeding an ego. 

Building courage is sometimes about focusing on how your art can make a positive impact (no matter how small) for those who can't create and starting with the most diminutive idea you can foster and have lasting passion for.

Did you ever face any big barriers? And how did you break them down?

My biggest barrier at the moment is juggling being a mother of two under two, all the while trying to keep that little bit of fire inside me that lasts into the evening to paint (when I finally get some alone time to paint my seedpods). Having a toddler and a young baby can fill my days completely, not to mention being physically and emotionally draining.

Though recently, my son has started to become interested in what I do and wants to paint seedpods with me. When we go on walks now, we collect natures treasures along the way. So when he's in the mood and my baby is down for her nap, we will paint for 15-20 mins together. Which any mum will tell you is golden and feels like an eternity due to life feeling so hectic. 

Purple, pink and turquoise painted leaves with various designs.

We hope Chelsea’s botanical art inspires you to try something new. Show us what you create and share your projects with us! Add #montmarteart or tag @montmarteart on Instagram or Facebook.

Or check out more of our featured artists here.