Spring Awakening: Sonja Perkovich Q&A

Sonja Perkovich was born in Australia in 1965 to a Dutch mother an artist in her own right and a Croatian father. There was always colour, passion and drama growing up when Sonja developed a keen interest in drawing from the early age of four. Each of her paintings reflect the artists passion for still life, especially Australia’s incredible and unique flora, the bold shapes of the flowers, the jagged leaves – a reflection of Australia as a country -  beautiful, very unique and a little dangerous. Sonja PerkovichAC: Describe your art in a sentence. SP: It would have to be "Do you see what I see?"

AC: Who or what inspired you to become an artist? SP: I have to say, firstly, my Mum!  When I was four, I was doodling a stick figure sketch of a girls body, complete with a 50's style hairdo and a pointy triangle skirt.  My mother came up behind me and gently took the pencil from my hand and explained that arms and legs aren't actually just one line - she drew as she explained "an arm tapers in at the elbow, then continues to the wrist, see?" then she repeated the theory with the leg, demonstrating that "the leg tapers in at the knee, then extends down to the foot..."  I was utterly inspired and felt like I had been set free somehow.  I will never forget that moment.  I have drawn ever since.  I never dreamed of becoming an artist though.  All I ever heard growing up and in school, was that "an artist is not a real job" so I never ever considered becoming an artist. My father wanted me to become a solicitor, but I was completely unsuited to the discipline of study!

When I was 23 my mother ran a painting class.  She guilted me into trying it and I agreed to join her class for one painting only.  That mother of mine knew exactly what she was doing!  I completed my first painting and I was sure I would not attend any further classes, after all, there were bands to see and clothes to buy and boys to meet!  My mother asked me to stop by the studio to pick up my painting and what she had done without my knowledge, was to have my painting framed.  When I came through the door and saw my painting in a frame, the painting took on a quality that removed it from my personal concept of the fact I had painted it, and I got to experience it as a piece of art.  I fell in love.  I have painted ever since.

I repeatedly sold my work still considering it a hobby while working at my "real" job at a computer software company.  One day I was in a personal development course and the forum leader said to us all "If life were NOT a dress rehearsal, if this was IT, who would you choose to be? What would you choose to do? I leaped out of my seat and yelled through my tears, "I want to be an artist!!!"  I quit my job the next day and began a journey I am still privileged to be on... I paint for the love of it, for the passion it evokes in my soul, the joy it brings others and the satisfaction of accomplishment.

AC:  Why do you paint the scenes you do? SP:  I paint whatever makes me feel joy.  Pure joy in the beauty of Australia, her colours, her flora and her light.  I feel very blessed to live in Australia.

AC: What music do you listen to while painting? SP: Funny you should ask. I don’t like to paint without it! Painting and music are inextricably linked with me. I have a deep connection to Spanish guitar, but thrive on very current music.  I love to dance and will burst into dance every now and then when painting.  If there is a particular song I love I will play it on repeat for days on end while I complete a piece.  It drives me on but must drive my neighbours crazy.

AC: Tell our readers something about yourself that may surprise them? SP:  I am a single parent of two young boys, one of which is autistic. I spent 3 years relentlessly teaching my autistic son to speak from the time he was 2 years old, and I am so proud of him.  He is now 11 and speaks beautifully.  I never thought I would say this, but sometimes I wish he would stop talking quite so much!!  I have committed my life to raising healthy-minded boys. I'm very proud of them both, and I paint for them as well as myself.  I work three jobs to keep a roof over our head and can only paint at night, after the kids are in bed until around 1 - 2am every day. Some days I'm just too bone-tired to paint, but mostly I push myself.

AC: What is your favourite thing about Spring? SP: Undoubtedly the flora, the promise of new things to come. The sunlight, the warming breeze.  I am completely joyful when Spring begins to arrive.

AC: What is your favourite quote or saying? SP: That's easy.  "Treat others the way you wish to be treated yourself."  You can’t go wrong with that. It’s perfect. SP02Exhibiting at Red Hill Gallery Brisbane in September 2013

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