Meet Alysha: country girl, mother, dreamer, artist.
From her studio set amongst the rolling hills of South Australia’s mid-north region, with small children at her feet, Alysha creates beautiful, bright pieces that will make your heart sing.
Q: With a family farm in your hometown of Jamestown on Ngadjuri Country in rural South Australia, farming runs through your veins. Tell us about your place?
A: Our home farm at Canowie Belt 18km east of Jamestown was where I grew up, I have great memories of a free-range childhood, riding bikes over the hills to my grandparents place, shifting sheep with dad, spending hours on the sewing room floor creating while mum would sew us clothes.
Being one of four kids there was always someone to play with even if it was pushing my baby brother around in the doll's pram or going on picnics with my sister.
Our farm ran sheep, cereal cropping and hay and we always pitched in and helped wherever we could. It was a great upbringing.
Q: We noted that Jamestown is also the birthplace of Australia's most successful rural outfitters, RM Williams. What else is there to love about your beautiful town?
A: Jamestown is also where Haig's chocolates began and Farmers Union Iced coffee (might not mean much interstate but it's huge here). We also have the idyllic Belalie Creek running through the centre of town which is always filled with water and ducks. It's home to around 1500 people, we have a huge amount of services for a small town so it is a hub for surrounding towns.
Our town focuses hugely on community and every second person in town is a volunteer of some description.
We also have the Bundaleer forest 8km out of town that our volunteers have turned into a beautiful space to come together and share. We are very lucky.
Q. "Midsummer" is an ode to Summertime. What's your favourite thing to do in Jamestown during Summer?
A: Summer in Jamestown is usually very hot, think 35-40 degree mark. I love the summer time here, late in the day as the sun creates long shadows across the landscape and the hills glow with the deep summer oranges and purple shadows. The paddocks are buzzing with bailers, trucks and headers with chaser bins bringing in the hay and grain. I love the long days and warm nights spent outside in the backyard, sprinkler on and ice blocks out, kids giggling and squirting the hose. The garden filled with colour and our little oasis in the harsh summer sun.
Q: You work from a studio on your property. Tell us about your work space?
A: I was lucky enough to have my dream come true when we built the backyard studio in late 2018 finished just before the arrival of our second son. It is 12m x 4m and has beautiful long north facing windows over our garden. With a raked ceiling and plenty of natural light it is an oasis especially in winter from our old stone home.
It does get pretty messy often as it's a working studio that people don't see. I think the creative process is messy though and all these things provide pretty content for the socials.
Q: How would you describe your art practice?
A: I generally get inspired by colour combinations first and foremost, then the idea has to come together in my head before I can begin on canvas. Most of the time spent is getting the idea nutted out in my brain then it's relatively quick when it comes to putting it into practice.
My art is pretty impulsive, once I get an idea I have a real need to get it onto canvas as soon as possible, which is a little longer these days with two boys and a babe on the way. But they have taught me patience and made me a better artist because of it.
I can build up layers and let them dry before continuing which adds more depth to the piece.
Q: It's clear that you draw inspiration from the beautiful landscape around your home. With so much beauty surrounding you, how do you decide what to focus on and explore?
A: Yes, I am very lucky to live here in the mid-north, so much at our doorstep to explore and provide inspiration by going for only a short drive at the right time of day.
I find my other job as a photographer helps me see and capture the light and magic moments more accurately so when I need to create I have a stockpile there ready to see what sparks joy that day.
Sometimes it's just the feeling I am trying to capture like in Medley and Jumble, using the colours and lines to create the feeling of that moment rather than be too literal.
Q: Tell us about your creative process? How do you get into your creative happy place?
A: I find that good music, a cuppa and a tidy studio really get me into my happy place, teeming with long summer days and a stretch of time ahead of me I can really get in the flow state easily. I have learned to turn it on a little more now I have small children as you don't always get to choose when you will get studio time especially over winter with sickness etc. I have really enjoyed painting alongside my youngest as he has a good attention span and I love our little conversations about what he's creating, truly special, inspires me to create with abandon and look at things in different ways.
Q. How did each piece evolve along the way?
A: Jumble: This piece was a true evolution of countless layers and colours until the texture built up and the colour balance was just right to encapsulate the feeling of the moment.
Zinnia: In the height of an Australian summer in the late afternoons you get this warm glow with bees buzzing and dust in the air. That is the feeling I was trying to capture for Zinnia. The bright vibrant colours of the summer blooms with the warmth and glow of late afternoon. I first like to sketch the florals onto the canvas and start filling them in, then add complimenting colours in the background to make them flow and meld until the feeling is just right.
Medley: The idea popped into my head and I just had to get it out before I over thought it, it started off a little too detailed and then evolved into what it is today, a mismatch of contrasting colours and texture to bring the depth of the landscape I was after.
Q: What’s next for Alysha Sparks?
A: What's next... Well baby number three will dictate that in the beginning but I always find after each child my style develops and changes as they spark new inspiration. I like to go with the flow and be open to opportunities like this when they come my way, it's a great feeling when you can improve other people's lives through art and even better when it is practical and usable in everyday life.
Q: Where else can we find your art?
A: You can shop all my art straight from the website link below;