20 Sep 2022Mont Marte

A year into life as a fully-fledged artist and Tessa Bartholomew (@tessa.marie.art) ’s already creating big things. The Adelaide abstract artist finds her inspiration in the beauty of nature and her incredible surroundings in the Adelaide Hills.
When she’s not painting, Tessa’s inspiring others to dip their toes into their creativity, through her workshops, so others can create big things themselves.

We had a chinwag with Tessa to uncover where she finds her creative energy, what art products she’d take to the moon and how her journey to becoming an artist unravelled.

Tessa holding artwork 'a dream I had.'This ia pastel coloured abstract tree painting in her home, Tessa's wearing big flower earrings and a colourful headband.
How did your journey to becoming an artist unfold?
I have always been interested in art for as long as I can remember, I excelled in the ‘subject’ at both primary and secondary school. I actually wanted to pursue visual arts at Uni[versity] but decided to do graphic design instead and painted and drew for myself in my spare time.

I moved to Melbourne in 2014 and began painting again as a hobby, friends and family wanted to buy the pieces I was producing which was such a big compliment. I still remember my first non-family / friend buyer who had seen my work in a café and wanted to buy a piece for his partner, I was over the moon, but I tried to act super cool, like I had sold countless paintings.

I worked in the events Industry as a designer and project manager in Melbourne and decided to make the move back to Adelaide at the end of 2018. I continued to work in the events industry and started to take painting more seriously and started hosting my own workshops. In 2020 my health took a turn, which forced me to slow down and really think about how I wanted to spend my time.

Fast forward to today, I’m living in the Adelaide Hills and have (as of this year) decided to pursue my art career full time. It’s a little daunting and I’m only just at the beginning, but I’m so glad I made this decision.


What inspires you to create your abstract landscapes?
My surroundings heavily inspire my artwork. I have always had a fascination with trees and flowers growing up, and now I’m living back in the Adelaide hills. Right now, my work is very much ‘Under water’ themed and that just came about on its own. I paint mostly intuitively, so I’ m never quite sure what will come up. I pick a colour palette and just go with it.

2 Tessa's artwork of an underwater forest with deep blues, purples and pastel pinks


How often do you create?
As much as I can. Now that I do this as a business and it’s just me, it’s harder to create as frequently because you have all the other bits and pieces that come with running a business. However, I try to get the brushes out at least a couple of times a week. When creating a collection though, it’s every day. I can’t seem to paint for much longer than 4hrs a day though as it is quite tiring.

When creating a work, do you prefer to plan it out or jump in and learn as you go?
Most of the time, it’s jump right in, especially if it’s an abstract piece. I do paint landscapes that are true to the place and use inspiration photography, most of which I have taken. If I am painting a commission piece, I plan it out digitally and send it to the client for approval before creating.

Tessa sitting at home with her abstract paintings behind her.

How do you decide what colours to choose?
I decide on a few main colours, using quite high contrasting and just see what happens on the canvas, mix, blend and then add more colours where they’re needed. I’m not afraid of colour and that’s a strength of mine. I really love using unexpected colours.

Where do you create?
What does your creative space look like? I create at my home studio in the Adelaide Hills and it is an absolute riot of colour with a gallery wall that almost touches the ceiling! I have stations and zones within the studio which helps define the areas (desk, painting area, packing station), however I’m forever changing and moving it around to accommodate for more things and to become more functional. I’m actually in the process of moving it around right now to make room for a photography wall -- so I’m able to style my own photoshoots for my artwork, which is really exciting.

Abstract rainforest paintings in Tessa's creative studio next to a pastel blue trolley with paints, brushes and accessories on a table nearby.

Who are your creative cheerleaders?
Friends, family and my Instagram family. The artistic community on Instagram are soo amazing and helpful. We all cheer each other on.

We love that! :)  Aside from art, what other hobbies do you enjoy?
I love to dance and you ’ll probably see a lot of that when I’m in the studio. It’s a big part of my process. I also do West African Dance classes and they’re incredibly fun! I love exploring, going hiking, gathering inspiration... everything kind of leads back to my creative practice.

Tessa's artwork 'abstract porthole #6' on a circular canvas next to a small plastic deer and plant leaves near by.

What 3 art supplies would you take to the moon?
Oooooh! That’s a hard one, because I’m thinking there’s less gravity so that’s going to be hard…. But maybe let ’s disregard that thought. A roll of canvas that never ends so I can paint whatever I see, as many paints as I could fit in my bag and my favourite brushes.

What’s something that you’re proud of, but don’t often get to talk about?
This is hard too, because I talk a lot about most things. I’m proud of trusting my gut, to follow this pull of giving art a go against all odds.

Tessa standing next to a white brick wall with her arms crossed.

What’s next?
I’m going to paint my first mural, which will hopefully lead to more and then you’ll be seeing my work on walls, so watch out! I’d also love to get into textiles and ceramics, so if anyone reading this wants to collaborate, let me know ;)

We hope Adelaide abstract artist, Tessa Bartholomew’s art and her creative journey inspires you to pick up the paint brushes and start your own project.

We’d love to see what you create, share your work with us and #montmarteart or tag us @montmarteart on Instagram or Facebook. If you loved this, we reckon you’ll love checking out more of our featured artists here.