PHOTO: Peyton’s original postcard series is available in two local outlets.
It’s already been a big year for fledgling Coonamble artist Peyton Johnson – winning awards and recognition for her work and taking the first steps to a commercial career at the tender age of thirteen.
Her most recent enterprise is a series of original postcards that are being sold through both the Coonamble Roadhouse and the Outback Arts Gallery.
The Coonamble Times caught up with Peyton and her manager – her sister Keeley Watt – in the studio that her mum Annemarie Johnson set up for her in her Nash Street home.
“I guess she’s always been creative but we didn’t realise just how talented she was,” said Keeley. “Then one day we discovered she could draw.”
The first real sign was last year when Peyton was in Year 6 at St Brigids School, and won the Bishop’s award in a diocese-wide Christmas card competition.
“I was just scribbling before that,” says Peyton. “I didn’t really start doing art until I started Year 7 this year.”
It began as way of coping with a tough transition to high school.
“As a family we got behind her to encourage her to use her art as an escape,” said Keeley.
“It’s definitely helped, I can leave all that stuff behind and when I’m drawing that’s what I focus on,” said Peyton.
Peyton says her art teacher Andrew Smith has been very encouraging and she has had access “to a lot more art supplies”.
“Jamie Lea at Outback Arts has also been amazing,” said Keeley. “She’s had lots of conversations with her and is introducing her to the wider world of art.”
“It’s not just about drawing stick figures, it’s something that people need to see.”
Peyton Johnson’s artwork first came to public attention at this year’s Coonamble Show, when she won Junior Pavilion Champion with her artwork ‘The Lion’.
She then brought home a Creative Art Award from the Coonamble High School’s NAIDOC presentation.
In July she donated a picture of a pencil drawing of a tiger to the local branch of the Royal Far West for their fundraising auction.
“A bit of a bidding war started and I think it raised about $150,” Keeley laughed.
Then in September Peyton took out the highly competitive Young Archies Award with her ‘Bin Chicken’.
That was Peyton’s first experience of an art exhibition opening and her first real prizemoney.
It was Outback Arts Executive Director Jamie Lea Trindall who suggested that she think about creating products to sell.
Her first items were Fathers Day cards with her manager organising the printing and promotion through social media.
“There’s been a lot of community support from people purchasing her work and even just telling her how great her art is,” said Keeley. “I started an instagram page as a way to share her art with everyone. That’s how we sold the Fathers Day cards.”
“Jamie Lea said that a lot of people come into Outback Arts looking for Coonamble-specific merchandise, so Peyton came home and started the postcards,” said Keeley.
“The water tower was the first one I did because it’s pretty popular with tourists,” said Peyton. “Then I just thought about things around town that were interesting.”
She came up with nine different images that started selling through the local outlets the day before the Gold Cup Races.
In just a few weeks she’s sold more than 90 postcards.
Already Peyton has been asked to do small commissions for special occasions.
Peyton describes her work as “quirky and colourful” and so far drawing is her passion.
Although she’s tried painting in acrylics and watercolours, she says she prefers pencils.
“I get a better grip, it’s better for the fine lines and I like to blend with it too,” she said. “Plus its faster and you can easily go over it.”
“I really like drawing animals and birds but I don’t like lead pencils or charcoal. I love the colours.”
Peyton is now looking to work on a series of Christmas card designs and is looking at holding her own exhibition.
“I’m thinking of doing an ‘under the sea’ series,” she said. “I don’t really draw sea creatures so I thought I’d give it a try.”
“Selling the cards gives me pocket money to buy more art supplies. Pencils are really expensive and I run out really fast.
“I started with watercolour pencils but now I just use artists’ pencils, they’re a bit more expensive but I like them better.”
Although still just 13 years old, and a naturally quiet person, this year has cracked open a door to a brightly coloured future for Peyton Johnson.
“It kind of makes me uncomfortable when people say they like my art but I’m getting used to it now,” said Peyton. .
“I want to become an illustrator or if I can’t do that then probably a graphic designer.
“When we went on our excursion last year to Canberra we went to the National Gallery – I really loved that.
“If I had my work in a Canberra art gallery that would be my dream.”