Former St Mary’s College Ipswich student Kathryn Fenton has her dream job, working as a professional artist. The road to career fulfilment, though, has been a winding one with many detours. The journey began with her education at St Mary’s College.
“Maybe it is my type of personality of inquisitiveness and tenaciousness, but I will give a lot of credit to St Mary’s College, especially in High School for their comprehensive and enriching education, and high standard of moral code and discipline,” Kathryn said. “The latter whether the students liked it or not gave us tremendous life coping skills and self-discipline in our adult years and careers.”
Kathryn has had a love affair with painting and drawing since she was a small child, and from entering high school was an avid writer of short stories and plays, performing them in high school concerts.
In her final senior years, St Mary’s College was unable to find space in the timetable or get the standard of art teacher required to coincide with the school week. Mrs McIntyre was hired from Brisbane to teach Year 11 and Year 12 art each Saturday morning. “Mrs. McIntyre’s method of teaching art was enthusiastic and expansive and opened our eyes to what was possible in the arts. Field trips on location to paint, arranging student art exhibitions in shopping centres and participating in a live poster painting competition in Brisbane to name a few.”
On completing high school, Kathryn undertook a diploma course in Visual Communication and Graphic Design at the College of Art, Seven Hills. One of her electives was filmmaking, only new to the curriculum there. “This is when my life began to take a significant detour,” Kathryn said. “My old love of writing and storytelling put into moving pictures was just too tantalizing, and I succumbed to its visual and emotional lure.”
Following a brief stint as an animator for the Queensland Education Department, in 1980 Kathryn was accepted into the Australian Film and Television School, winning a scholarship for a three year diploma course majoring in editing.
“In my rare downtime I would paint portraits for friends and family, but it wasn’t until I had my children that I gradually left the film industry before taking my painting more seriously again. The opportunity arose almost two years ago to finally quit my day job and work full time as an artist which I felt I had been waiting a lifetime for.”
Eighteen months ago, Kathryn joined the online agency Art Lovers Australia, selling her current paintings of Allegorical Figurative Landscapes through its platform, broadening her reach as an artist. Earlier this year, her artwork was featured on reality television series The Block.
Always seeking to learn and grow, Kathryn’s career continues to evolve. “I believe in giving back in life and I am currently in the process of planning new painting workshops to students and artists interested in learning different techniques and approaches in their work. Teaching is always a simpatico experience. Ultimately everyone learns something from each other.”
Written in collaboration with St Mary’s College students Jasmine O’Malley, Mackenzie McDermott & Madeline Young