Ingrid Thomas has always painted and drawn so it was not a huge step for her to become an Art Teacher in the Primary sector. Initially she hoped to study at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) but instead studied primary teaching where she majored in Ceramics. Thus began a career in which she passed on her passion for Art to her students, all the while envying them their freedom to explore and experiment with the range of materials, tools and techniques her teaching gave them.
Most artists will know that having a passion for something does not make you an experienced Art practitioner and this has led Ingrid to complete a TAFE course where she learned from wonderful teachers. It also means she is constantly attending workshops in a huge range of mediums: watercolour, portraiture, pastel, ceramics, printing, felting.
She says she did start a graphic design course and webpage design but realized that
‘attention to detail was not my strongest point but it did lead me on to starting up the Gippsland Artists’ webpage when most artists didn’t have their own web presence’.
Her work and the many discoveries through workshops led Ingrid to immerse herself in the world of community arts and subsequently the establishment of the Baw Baw Arts Alliance followed by the redevelopment of the Yarragon and Trafalgar Railway Stations to become galleries and art workshop centres. In recognition for her tireless work in the community Arts she received a Victorian State Award from the then Premier of Victoria, Ted Baillieu he described as acknowledgement of ‘excessive volunteering’.
The list of projects in which she has been involved is endless but to name a few is important: creative knitting and yarn bombing around Drouin and Warragul, the Johnson Collection Christmas exhibition, the Anzac poppy project, painting bollards for the Linear Arts Trail, the creation of a mosaic in the Bourke Street Park under the direction of renowned mosaic artist Maery Gabriel, involvement in the Ficifolia Art Show, ongoing membership of the Baw Baw Arts Alliance Management Committee and regular participation in a number of the Art groups run by the Baw Baw Arts Alliance.
Despite having experience in a wide range of visual arts media Ingrid specifically enjoys using watercolours because they have a great deal of luminosity, but unfortunately:
‘they need to be framed and it works out to be expensive particularly if the work doesn't sell. Watercolour also requires a lot of concentration and planning. (not my strong point at this time) I also enjoy using pastels, with their beautiful colours but they are more difficult to carry around whilst working.’
Currently however Ingrid is doing a great deal of work in acrylics because she likes the fact that they dry quickly and she can paint in layers. She enjoys the intense colours and can work on a number of very different paintings at the same time because ‘it stops me getting too precious and overworking any particular one. There are drawbacks such as the difficulty with blending colours due to the quick drying.’
It is easy to gather that Ingrid does not let the grass grow under her feet artistically because her style has evolved over the years from realistic paintings to those that demonstrate exciting movement and vibrant colour; paintings that never stand still. It is colour that inspires Ingrid and helps her determine where they lead in any new piece. She is also inspired by the natural environment but unlike some photographers who wish to replicate what they see in camera Ingrid hopes always to take an unusual viewpoint. In pursuit of a different viewpoint Ingrid explores a theme in a variety of ways, and with different media. On reflection Ingrid commented that:
‘Initially I was fascinated with the rocks at the Prom, and loved the interplay of air, water and rock. But once I was the ‘rock lady' it was time to change. Trees were the next frontier. I like to paint a feeling rather than an exact reproduction of scene.
Painting for the Gardivalia festival made flowers the next topic.
“Exuberance” is my mantra’.