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BIOGRAPHY - DAWN ZUFICH
As a youngster I enjoyed doing pencil sketches and at 13 years received a Highly Commended plus a prize of a box of colour pencils for my pastel entry at my school's art show. However, the urge to draw and try to paint really began in early adulthood. I then did mostly pencil portraits. I didn't know how to use oils - and watercolour teaching (as it was at school then) hadn't appealed. I was a frustrated would-be artist in a way but my time was taken up with working full-time and being heavily involved with amateur ballroom dancing, then teaching it as a second job.
However, the years rolled on and in 1983 I met the Late Eric Wiseman, a wonderful oil painter and excellent teacher who ran a night class in Werribee. I stayed with his classes for 12 years until he and his family moved to N.S.W. in 1995. During this time I also joined classes run by the Late Pino Carlotti for several months.
However, in 1988 I lost a large section of my eyesight and couldn't see sufficiently to paint or drive - in fact, could only see small sections of my face in the mirror, bit by bit (by scanning). The eye specialist told me that I could not count on an improvement and, if it did improve, to expect this to be no more than by 40%. I then began visiting a Chinese Herbalist/Acupuncturist three times a week (with my husband accompanying me) as well as using the Eye Specialist's Cortisone. Improvement was very slow initially but became positive as this treatment progressed. After four months of boiling the smelly herbs and drinking the resultant vile tasting herbal medicine, 5 days each week, plus the three sessions of acupuncture, I was finally convinced that the obvious improvements had come to an end. The specialist indicated a 90-95% improvement (just as the Chinese herbalist had initially predicted!). So, after a few weeks, lessons with Eric began again and, very gradually, confidence was regained. I am still very grateful that following those bad months, I have been left with only a flaw in my vision to which I have become well adjusted. In fact, since then, I have not only been painting but spent four busy years in total doing TAFE computer courses.
An important part of my painting life was in 1996/7 when my husband and I met Australian Landscape Artist, Leonard Long OAM. He invited me to come with two of my ex-class students to his Donvale home so that he could give us a day long lesson by demo with a painting of his own: “Come early and bring cut lunches!” This was not only a lovely day – his demonstration was an eye-opener, quite fantastic. We kept in touch over the years with Christmas cards plus I saw him a short time afterwards at his “half price” art show, run by the Sisters of St. Josephs in Camberwell - also purchasing one of his paintings that I still treasure. The last time I saw him was a few days prior to his 100th birthday, about a week before his Centenary Art Show, to be held in NSW. (Unfortunately the Kew Art Gallery had previously closed down.) He invited us to visit him to view the paintings prior to their shipment to the NSW gallery. He told me to bring half a dozen of my paintings for him to view, which I did. I received a verbal “gold stamp” for three, plus some constructive criticism on one and a nod, saying “don’t worry – you’re doing alright!” I see him not only as a mentor to me and others but also a very charming and genuine man. I admire his artwork but also his passion for painting. At the age of 100 (and plus), he was still putting in five full days each week, standing there and painting – and loving it! (I could not write a biography concerning my art history without including this generous, encouraging and lovely man.)
However, after Eric's departure in 1995, I had nearly given up finding an art teacher in or near Werribee until hearing that Angela Comben was teaching, so joined her art classes for over a year until she moved to Geelong.
More time had passed when a friend from Angela's Werribee class, told me that she was having lessons from Werribee artist, Tony Bramwell - so that I immediately arranged to join this weekly class and have happily stayed there since - a few years now. He is an excellent teacher of all media, not only oils and is of great help with his advice, including technical advice - and he gives demo's when called for. Also, in addition to his teaching, I really enjoy his company and that of my fellow student artists of all ages and seeing what they are achieving
I do not take commissions now. I did only two commissions in the past, one for a stranger (roses) and one for a work colleague (a portrait) and although both clients were happy with the results, I prefer to paint when I am really keen to paint a particular item - and painting to order makes me quite nervous!
This is my first time with Gallery 247 and I am testing the water to begin with as I am a hobby artist only and paint less these days. However, I really do believe that this innovation has come at the right time as I've noticed that sales of paintings have reduced over the years, with some art shows ceasing and many art galleries closing down. I wish Gallery 247 great success for a long time to come.