Artist and ocean lover Jaqueline Burgess has turned her paintings of the rugged Illawarra coastline into a thriving art and textile business.
Jaqueline Burgess pauses in a client's driveway in the Illawarra's northern suburbs to take a final photo with the oversized painting - a painting with which she is about to part ways.
She holds up the heavy canvas, quickly poses for a happy snap before her arms give out, then continues lugging the artwork - a bird's eye view of wild waves and whitewash crashing over black and blue rocks - inside to its delighted new owners.
An original painting from an esteemed artist is something few of us will ever own. But Burgess's fans don't need thousands of dollars to bring her vibrant artworks into their homes.
As well as less pricey, limited-edition prints sold through online craft marketplace Etsy and in her online shop, the South African-born artist - who has called the Illawarra home since 2015 - has ventured into fashion, jewellery and, more recently, homewares.
"Unlike an original painting that is a higher-end investment, I wanted to offer smaller versions of my artworks in the form of everyday soft furnishings, that are affordable but still feel special and unique, liveable works of art for everyday people," Burgess says.
Regardless of the form they eventually take, her paintings often begin with the photos she captures during barefoot adventures with her husband and two young girls along local beaches and reserves.
In the three years she's lived here, Burgess has made swift work of turning these watery vignettes into iconic images of the Illawarra coast.
Her paintings of ocean pools, dune vegetation and boatsheds, featuring the undulating line of the shadowy escarpment in the background, are unmistakably Wollongong and reveal her fascination with the coast - and the ocean, her "greatest inspiration".
"I grew up near the sea, so I've always been drawn to the coast," she says.
"It offers an abundance of colours, half of which I'm still trying to conjure up in my studio when mixing paints."
Burgess can be found in her studio, a light-filled dwelling in her Woonona backyard, about four mornings a week, surrounded by giant canvases and the tubs of paint from which she tries to conjure those local palettes - the glorious blues and aquas of the Pacific Ocean, the rich forest greens of the mountain, lighter olive tones found in the native coastal shrubs, the soft, creamy sand and jet black pebbles of the beach.
"As an artist, what's not to love? We are spoilt for inspiration in terms of colour and diverse natural beauty," she says.
While the city still sleeps and before it's time to get the girls off to school, Burgess works on her watercolour and ink paintings - "quite detailed and realistic, with an element of pattern and unexpected colour" - or the larger-scale landscape paintings she paints with acrylics, in a looser, more expressive style.
"I like to paint in the early morning when I'm creatively charged and have lots of ideas that I can't wait to get out onto the canvas or paper," Burgess says.
"I also love the morning sounds of the birds and the way the escarpment and its trees appear as if they are on fire as soon as those first rays hit them. It feel like there's lots of energy in the air.
"I usually have about four paintings on the go - this helps me to keep it fresh and prevents moments where I may hit a block in creativity or flow."
Despite discovering her gift for painting at age 12, Burgess never thought it would be a vocation.
"I went on to study fine art for one year after school, but I had this preconceived sense of doubt that there was a future in painting and drawing," she says.
"That's when I decided to pursue a computer course that would possibly head me in the direction of animation, or graphics for websites."
She left her course, and South Africa, for London at age 19, but despite the lack of study, and the changing continents, she has always seemed to find her way back to painting - and always managed to make ends meet with it.
Burgess attributes some of her growing success as a businesswoman to her disciplined approach to work. She aims to spend at least four days a week in the studio, with one day at the computer working on other projects.
These include the art gallery she operates in a section of her parents' Towradgi cafe, Sketch Coffee & Art - which features the large, Instagram-worthy mural she painted on the Carters Lane side of the building - and her recent foray into textiles.
"I've always been passionate about interiors and soft furnishings," she says.
"To me, it's such a fun way of injecting colour, personality and style into any home, things you can use on a daily basis.
"That's one of the reasons I wanted to create a range of cushions and tea towels that reflect the essence of my paintings."
The idea was a simple one. However, the process of turning her paintings into products has taken research, trial and error.
"It's important for me to think about where the product is coming from, the ethical and sustainable way in which its manufactured," Burgess says.
"I have my textiles printed in Australia, a costly process, but the inks and fabrics are sustainably produced and the environmental footprint is minimal.
"It's an ongoing journey that I'm eager to learn more about.
"To me it's important, in this society where we tend to overconsume, to buy quality products that give you a sense of joy, that won't end up being forgotten in a year or two, but will last for many years and remain timeless pieces in your home."
See more of the artist's work at www.jaquelineburgessart.com
Jaqueline's local favourites
Beach: Depending on the wind it's a toss-up between Woonona Beach and the north end of Sandon Point Beach.
Bushwalk: Definitely the Sublime Point walking track.
View: From the top of the hill at Bulli Beach, looking north along the coast where the escarpment protrudes out and runs up the coast against the turquoise ocean. It takes my breath, every time.
Local artists: Sue Smalkowski, Rene Kamaretsos, Holly Eva, Matt Gillett, Rebecca Brennan, Andromeda Lembo and Melissa Ritchie.
Eateries: Coffee and breakfast has to be our own Sketch Coffee & Art in Towradgi (pictured above). Mr & Mrs Smith in Coledale for lunch, South Sailor in Thirroul for dinner, and then drinks at the Night Parrot Wine Bar in Wollongong.
Shops: Manic Organic Whole Foods in Woonona, my gallery gift store at Sketch Coffee & Art for local artists and makers wares, KLM Styling Bulli, No Chintz and Cocoon in Thirroul, and 55 Parrots in Bulli.