WIERD AND WONDERFUL: Wentworth artist Jan Coombe has her Bling Blooms and Birds exhibition on display at Mildura’s Gallery F, an extraordinary display of all manner of works, which really does offer something for everyone.


FOR self-taught artist Jan Coombe, many months of hard work is finally on display in her ‘Bling Blooms and Birds’ exhibition, which is currently showing at Mildura’s Gallery F until June 23.

“Well there’s about 18 months of work here, made up of a variety of oils and acrylics, each of which has a little story,” Jan said.

Jan started to paint in earnest after retiring about four years ago, and is a member of the Wentworth Makers Art Group, who are very active in the district.

“I like to use a lot of texture in my work and my love of colour is well-known,” she said.

Jan pointed to her panoramic painting of the iconic Perry Sandhills outside of Wentworth as an example of one of her favourite paintings, which was displayed next to ‘Reflections of Lock 8’ – a work she had painted from a photo a kayaker had given her.

“The Perry Sandhills painting features the God tree, of which you can only see the canopy of leaves and branches, there’s almost seven metres of trunk hidden beneath the sand, and the tree is estimated to be more than 500 years old,” Jan said.

One of her other pieces, ‘Of days gone by’, featured some old rusting cars in an outback paddock, in front of which is a wire fence that has some sulphur-crested cockatoos perched on it, each of the birds have been individually moulded with modelling compounds, painted, then attached to the work which has a number of other 3D elements and raised textures.

Many of Jan’s other works have a variety of intricate processes involved, one of which entails painting the canvas red first, over which she adds a ‘phthalo-blue’ wash, giving the picture an intense depth.

Jan’s extraordinary exhibition really does offer something for everyone, a feature of which is her three-piece emu inspired acrylics.

“This one, ABOVE, is called ‘Aussie Oi, Oi, Oi’ – I’m known for painting emus – and with these I wanted to include Aussie-after-Aussie, and these characters all have names including the one with the cricket cap, whose called ‘Warney’,” she said.

“I’ve given them all a can of beer from each of the States, and also included a flag of some of their football teams.”

Jan said she still has the first painting she did of an emu back in 1981.

“I’ve painted many dozens of them over the past five years, and all have developed their own personalities, I’ve even got some bikies depicted in one,” she said. “The three paintings collectively took me about six or seven weeks to complete.

“Don’t ask me how it happens, I still don’t know myself. I start with the beaks and the brain gets ticking, and it just evolves from there, and then I leave them for a while and come back, and something else develops.

“Just to paint all of the feathers, which are all done individually, takes more than three days each.”

Jan said she also loved producing her ‘Venetian Carnival Mask’-themed works which looked amazing.

“I absolutely love making these, and again I have the red background and blue as the basis of these, and they also have touches of foil metallics, creating an iridescent effect, combined with textured acrylic, and this one is adorned with Royal blue Swarovski Crystals, another has natural pearls,” she said.

“These are particular intricate, time-consuming works to produce, because it’s very difficult to paint on the two combination of colours, you need to keep going over and over them to get it right.”

Jan doesn’t seem to have any trouble getting it right, her works really need to be seen to be believed. She said Wentworth Makers had been an absolute inspiration.

“It’s a beautiful group to be a part of, and we now have the Guide Hall in Cadell Street for our meeting place which we have just finished painting, a mammoth task, and we hope to have it up and running soon,” Jan said. “While it’s a small group of about 15, we are very active and would welcome anyone who would like to join us or to just watch us work, we are there during the week on Wednesday and Thursday.”

Bling Blooms and Birds exhibition at Gallery F is open Thursdays and Fridays from 10am to 4pm, and on Saturdays from 10am to 2pm, until June 23.