Modern Abstract Painting

~Michelle Saleeba

In 2011 Hilly Coufreur gave up her day job as a Library Assistant. With all four of her children having left home Hilly found herself, like many empty nesters, at a cross roads. This is Hilly's story of taking up painting as a way to steer her life in a new, meaningful direction.

Hilly Coufreur in her studio

Hilly Coufreur: After being at home for a month, my artist husband gave me some of his paints and canvas to play with. I resisted at first as I didn’t think I had any artistic talent. But after joining the local art society in Cambridge NZ and working on some small still life, I accidentally discovered abstract art: I had some leftover paint which I smeared on a canvas at random and I loved the result!


We moved to Australia in 2013 where I kept experimenting with different abstract styles and lots of bright colour. In 2016 I was an artist in residence at the CASM gallery in Mandurah. This space allowed me to work on a larger canvas size and find my ‘style’. A successful Solo Exhibition at CASM in September 2017 was the result.

My current work is more earthy, smaller, and inspired by the Australian landscape. Once a week I paint ‘en plein air’ with the Mandurah Plein Air Artists and this has influenced my studio work immensely. I paint with emotion to what I see in the landscape, with colour, lines and texture.

Hilly painting outdoors

Mostly I follow the same process when I paint. I am a very impatient and messy artist, I am usually busy on several canvasses at a time! I would start with an undercoat, and this involves water and paint and splashing. Sometimes I wait for it to dry, other times I go straight working into the wet paint with palette knife. (I never use any brushes).

As I mentioned earlier, I am a messy artist. Not messy that I have lots of paint on my hands, (I wear gloves and keep even those very clean) but I am usually working feverishly on lots of works at the same time so that all my paints, palette knives and canvasses are spread around the place. My worktable and floor are full with works drying, some waiting for another layer, others ready to varnish.

Gumtree - Hilly Coufreur

My strongest influence and inspiration for my art is my husband Jos Coufreur. His passion and drive to paint is extraordinary! His use of colour, his mark making inspires me no end. Another inspiration when I first started painting was the German painter Gerhard Richter. The way he applies the paint with a giant squeegee started me on my abstract painting journey.

You can see more of Hilly's work here and here

Hilly, husband Jos Coufreur and daughter Elza Fouché, are taking part in the inaugural Peel Open Studios this month.

Over the last two weekends in May the family are welcoming the public into their studio and home in Mandurah. Open studio events are a wonderful community arts engagement and I'd encourage you to get along and enjoy the stylistically diverse work of this family of creatives.

Gumtrees 16  - Hilly Coufreur

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