A fine art

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watercolour painting

Apart from being a dentist and forensic odontologist in Nedlands, WA, Dr Bill Burn is a self-taught artist who has covered his practice walls with dozens of watercolours.

“My practice is somewhat of an art gallery with about 50 of my watercolour paintings adorning all the spare wall space. The subject matter of the paintings is varied but includes seascapes, outback scenes, birds, nudes and landscapes. Each painting means something to me and I have a similar number on my walls at home.

“I first became interested in painting thanks to my aunt, Kathleen Brierley, who used to take me on painting expeditions when I was about 10 years old. She was into watercolours and was quite a well-known artist with paintings hung in the Royal College of Watercolours in London.

“I didn’t begin painting regularly until I went to university. There, I started doing oil paintings that I would flog off to people to make a bit of pocket money on the side. 

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“Throughout the years, I kept painting but didn’t get serious until my marriage ended in the late ‘90s. I joined a watercolour group that met once a week and it was fantastic to be among such passionate artists. You have to work very quickly with watercolours and I was finishing one painting at each meeting. New members were surprised at how fast I was working. They would usually take two or three weeks to finish one painting.

“I also like to go off adventure motorcycling into the Australian outback. I love to be in the wide open spaces with no people about and just absorb the scenery. I bring a lot of those visions back home with me and they become the basis for my landscape paintings.

“Occasionally, people see my art and request a commission. Usually, they bring in a photo and ask me to make a painting based on that image. I only do this with landscapes and it’s not something I go out of my way to find—even though the purchasers have been very happy with the finished piece.

“At present, I have a new partner and grandkids so I don’t have too much time to paint. When I was going through my divorce, painting really helped me handle the stress. I needed an outlet and attending my painting group was very therapeutic. The six of us chatted, painted and it was very relaxing. It’s also nice to work on something creative and have an end result of which you are proud. Very soon, I’ll need to either have an exhibition, buy a bigger practice or move to a new house because I’m rapidly running out of wall space!” 

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