Artist Interview with Yvette Cunningham

Hiya and welcome back to another week on the Chrissie Murphy Designs blog.  It’s Artist Interview time and I’m so pumped you’re joining me.  I’ve got to tell you, these Artist Interviews are the highlight of my month!  I love them!  There are some incredibly gifted artists out there and I love being able to share their awesomeness with you each month.

Today I’m going to be keeping it local.  My interview is with another artist from Tully, the ever amazing and jaw droppingly talented Yvette Cunningham! I can hear the cheers from here!


I’ve been trying to work out how long I’ve known Yvette, and I think I’m going to go with about 15 years.  I first met Yvette through work as she and I used to work together.  At the time, I hadn’t even started drawing, and I didn’t know Yvette did either.  Yvette will share about her background and story below, so I won’t give away any spoilers, but needless to say, years passed…. I started drawing and I became aware that she could draw (incredibly) and the rest, as they say is history.

So without further ado, here’s my interview with Yvette.

Welcome Yvette, tell me a bit about your background and how you got into this style of art?  It appears you are a very active graphite pencil artist…

Well, I had wanted to be a Graphic Designer since the age of about twelve, so after I finished school I applied to my local University, but got rejected (was told I wasn’t good enough)!  Feeling very lost, I applied for a job at a local printing company, and learnt my trade in Reprographics whilst going to college one day a week to learn basic Graphic Design. Twelve months after finishing my four year trade qualification, I decided that I wanted to travel overseas, so I left the UK and headed to Australia.  I have now been living in Australia for twenty years with my husband and three children.

My ‘Art’ got put on the back-burner for a number of years whilst I was raising our children, but four years ago I decided that now they were older and more independent, I would have a bit more time to create.  As a child I always loved art with any medium, but I always ended up coming back to the graphite pencils. So when I decided the time was right to create, I went straight for the Graphite.  For a couple of years I played around with the pencils just creating for myself, as, like a lot of artists I know, I never thought I was as good as everyone else.  I never had the confidence to put my work out there for people to see, because I always had that comment from the University in the back of my head – “You’re not good enough.”

Eventually I plucked up the courage to enter a piece I had just completed, into our local show (see my image below) where I received first prize and many encouraging comments along the way.

Artist Interview with Yvette Cunningham on Chrissie Murphy Designs

That was the kick in the behind that I needed to know that I could be good enough!  I also realised that I had wasted the last twenty years NOT creating art because I let one person tell me I wasn’t good enough, and I believed them.  So now I concentrate on developing my graphite work as much as I can around a busy lifestyle, I do not want to waste another twenty years!!

Where are you located and what sorts of things in your area inspire your art?

I have been living in Tully, North Qld, for the last 21 years but was born and raised in the UK.  Tully is a small rural town with a great community.  The community is what inspires most of my art at the moment, as I have done many commissioned pieces for local people, of local people. There is a large genre of personalities and I try to bring out some of the personalities within my art.  Tully has some lush tropical rain forest and beautiful beaches a short drive away, and I hope to incorporate some of these into my artwork soon.

You have developed a unique style to your work, what would you say is your favourite piece?

My style is pretty much all self taught, but I am learning new techniques all the time.  I have a few of my pieces that I could call my favourites, but the one that stands out to me is my last Tully show entry below.

Artist Interview with Yvette Cunningham on Chrissie Murphy Designs

This piece was on my drawing board for five months and took about 400 hrs to complete around work and family commitments.  It was worth it though, to see the recipients faces when I gave it to them.  I always love watching my clients faces when they see their piece of artwork for the first time.

Over the years I’ve watched you hone your skills and develop real precision in your work.  Pens, pencils, inks … what are your favourite tools for creating?

As I have said Graphite pencils are probably my favourite choice of medium but, I vowed that in 2018 I am going to jump out of my comfort zone and experiment with other mediums such as coloured pencil, watercolour and pastels.  Truth be known though, I am absolutely terrified of colour and being pedantic about my work, a few pieces have already ended up in the recycling bin!!  I am back studying Graphic Design to update my skills, which is allowing/making me use different mediums and I am really enjoying the course.  Here’s some blackboard art I’ve been working on.

Artist Interview with Yvette Cunningham on Chrissie Murphy Designs

What would you say has been the most difficult aspect in being consistent with your art and how do you handle this?

For me the most difficult aspect of being consistent with my art is trying to produce the best final image I can without overworking it.  As I have said, I do get pedantic about my work and have been known to overwork some pieces to the point where I had to start over again.  I have learnt now though, when I think I’m finished I will put the piece away for a couple of days then look at it again with fresh eyes. I allow myself one hour to make any small changes that I think will improve the piece and make the client happy.  I aim for realism and I think that you can see that in my work, the more detail in the picture, the more I enjoy drawing it, I see it as a challenge.

Artist Interview with Yvette Cunningham on Chrissie Murphy Designs

Do you have one tip you can share with us for combatting artists block?

Personally for combating artists block, I like to put away all art supplies in my studio, drive to the beach and take a very long walk. I find that this gives me time away from ‘being creative’, I get to be alone with my thoughts and re-connect with nature.  I usually find when I return to my studio, a few ideas for new pieces are floating around in my head and I scribble them down so as not to forget them.

What can we look forward to from you in the future?

At the moment I am working on a set of images which I hope to sell as prints, I also have plans in the pipeline for some Youtube “how to” art videos.  My aim is to be able to teach people online how to draw, with tips and techniques to help them along the way. I am hoping to go freelance with my Graphic Design too, once I have updated my qualifications but that will be a little later down the track.

And lastly, tell us all the places where we can find you online…

I am most active on my Facebook page: or my Instagram account:

My website is:

Artist Interview with Yvette Cunningham on Chrissie Murphy Designs

Ok, so that wraps up my Artist Interview with Yvette.   What a talent she has for drawing!  But what about her patience!  I wrote a blog post about patience a few weeks ago, and Yvette is a living example of why patience is so vital in developing as an artist.  Can you imagine putting in over 400 hours on a drawing?  It’s this kind of dedication and commitment that inspires us to be better, to try harder, to put in the hard yards as an artist or crafter.  Yvette truly is an inspiration and I trust you are inspired.

The other great takeaway from today’s interview is that it’s never too late.  You may have received negative feedback from a lecturer like Yvette, or maybe a mentor or even a loved one, but don’t let it stop you from creating.  It’s never too late to pick up a pen to draw, or a crochet needle to crochet or a paintbrush to paint… it’s never too late.  If you are someone who has put off creating because of some criticism, don’t let it put you off any longer.

When you admire the body of work Yvette is sharing today, imagine (just for a moment) that it might never have happened if she hadn’t of plucked up the courage to enter a piece in our local show.  And honestly, that would have been a tragedy.  What body of work is waiting inside you to be created?  You know how Yvette’s work has made you feel today… well, what person is missing out on feeling what you’re feeling now, because you’re not creating?  Today is the day.  It’s never too late.  Start expressing.

Want to be more Expressive?

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Until next time, listen to your heart and sharpen your coloured pencils. A masterpiece awaits!

Bless you my friend

Chrissie xx

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