Bypassing hurdles for the love of creativity


It was at a jazz festival in 1988 that Colleen Ryan honed in on her artistic talents. “I spotted an elderly gentleman with the most interesting profile. And I knew I wanted to draw him.”

With a Croxley drawing pad, pencil and eraser in hand, Colleen surreptitiously drew the profile and spent the next two weeks perfecting the image. From then on, Colleen would spend hours drawing faces that attracted her attention.

Later, whilst on holiday with friends on Thursday Island, she was encouraged to try her hand at painting. Soon she was designing on cards, sarongs and other materials.

When Colleen retired, she joined her sister in a ragdoll-making class, which led to enameling classes and a genuine interest in all things creative. “Getting older, my hands started shaking and Macular Degeneration in my left eye affected my vision in a great capacity. But I didn’t let that get me down and started painting with watercolours. Then along came Covid and many people felt so isolated. So, I compiled some of my watercolours into booklets and painted each cover individually for my close friends. I also included some messages in the books and it really helped to keep us connected.”

Colleen now uses digital program, Procreate, on her iPad. Created by a group of young Tasmanians, the program offers tutorials and interaction. “I love the fact that I get to meet youngsters to discuss my artworks.”

Colleen’s eyesight is failing steadily but she continues to do what she loves in her studio at home, proof that curveballs in life don’t have to mean the end of enjoyment.

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