My Story

I grew up in Sorrento, Victoria; a lovely Australian seaside town named after the beautiful town of Sorrento in Italy.

Even as a child I was always most drawn to the realist paintings I saw, and I really wanted to learn to paint like that. Being able to paint something so well seemed like magic.

When I was sixteen I studied Art full time at Frankston Technical College (now Monash), which was a wonderful basis for learning about lots of different art mediums.
I went on to University but painting realism was discouraged and not taught because it was deemed unfashionable – so I took up ceramics instead.

In 1980, my husband and I moved to Northern New South Wales in the sub-tropical rainforest. Later, as a single mother, I wound up building a house there; at the end of a secluded valley, twenty miles from the nearest town. I had no running water or electricity at first and I taught myself plumbing and managed to hammer up wall boards and put in second hand Australian Red Cedar windows and doors which I had collected. I was often flooded in for days and sometimes weeks when the creek rose up. It was a high rainfall area so I had to always be prepared.

Eventually I discovered batik and I became a textile artist, painting on silk and making clothing and silk paintings, though I still longed to learn how to paint Realism.  It took me many years to find private teachers who could teach me the knowledge I longed for, and by the time I did I had growing children and painted while they were at school.

In 2009, when my children had flown the nest, I heard about the Angel Academy of Art in Florence ,Italy, where they taught the methods of the old masters, which were not taught here in Australia. I set my goal to study there.

I was extremely impressed by the high quality of the work which the students were producing and I knew this was where I needed to go to fulfill my longing to be able to produce high quality work.  I saved up for several years with one thing in mind and finally in 2014 I flew to Florence to study at the Angel Academy of Art with Maestro Michael John Angel.

Learning the methods of the Old Masters which are still taught in Italy today was the most amazing experience. Drawing long pose academic drawings of the model in three-hour sessions for 27 hours really helped my observational drawing and painting skills. The course also covered anatomy, composition, materials, art history and many other useful subjects. Skill is highly valued at the Angel Academy of Art.

In 2015 I was invited to go back to Italy and teach a painting workshop which was a wonderful opportunity. I happily agreed and forged more close connections with my Italian friends near Sienna. It is amazing that when you step towards your dreams exciting opportunities open up before you, that you could never have imagined. I believe that good luck is when preparation meets opportunity.  I have learned that even if it takes years its always important to follow your passion.

Working towards our dreams can take time so it’s also important to enjoy the journey along the way. Each small step is one step closer on the journey to  becoming a better artist so it is important to keep working and also to celebrate every little step forward.
I now have a large studio which allows me to work on several paintings on a revolving basis.
I sometimes paint still life studies of the produce and flowers from our abundant garden but mainly I work on figurative painting.

I endeavour to make my portraits seem almost as real as if the subject could walk straight out of the painting and into the room. I like to create a narrative in the painting by using objects or clothing relating to something in the person’s life which tells a story or adds detail about them adding a story to the piece. The moment when the subject begins to evolve out of the canvas is very moving for me.

One of the best things I enjoy about my work as a portrait artist, which is a privilege and a pleasure, is meeting the people who cross my path in this creative life.  I feel so lucky to do the work I do.

If you would like to keep in touch with the latest news about my work and exhibitions & workshops  please email me here at with Newsletter in the subject line and I will happily add you to my VIP mailing list, so you will be among the first to know about upcoming art news and events from my studio.

I invite you to visit the links on my website and discover my life in painting.



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Waiting in The Old China Cafe by Vicki Sullivan