Battling an illness, Bega artist Karen Sedaitis began painting and about a year later she has her first art exhibition.
A Still Life opens at Spiral Gallery in Bega this weekend and is a joyful and vibrant solo exhibition of still life paintings emerging from the artist's life-long love of flowers, patterns, colour, light and shadow.
Born in Canberra, Sedaitis studied horticulture and became a landscape designer in the 1990s while taking drawing classes at the School Of Art.
She moved to the Bega Valley and became an author, but years of growing unusual, organically-raised flowers at Tantawangalo ended with a diagnosis of an auto-immune system disorder that flared up in sunshine.
She began painting full-time, initially as a way of immersing herself in nature without the health issues.
She found her art practice enhanced her sense of connection with the beautiful world she could only explore in soft light.
But she said her illness is under control, and it certainly has not held her back from her accomplishments.
"A lot of people find illness is a catastrophic experience to happen, but for me it was an expansive experience instead," Sedaitis said.
"I don't want to take away from anyone else's experience, but in many ways the illness helped my development."
Her art exhibition at Spiral Gallery was initially delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but Sedaitis even looks upon that in a positive light.
"I have been able to do 10 more paintings!" she said.
"I don't even mind the adversity."
Of the paintings that are in A Still Life, she said there was an influence from the summer's devastating bushfire seasons as well as the pandemic.
"All that emotional stuff has been poured into the paintings," Sedaitis said.
"There's a lot of vitality and love for the natural world."
Join the artist and Spiral Gallery guests for refreshments at the opening of A Still Life on Saturday, July 4 from 11am until 1pm.
The exhibition will run to July 29 at Spiral Gallery, Church St, Bega.