Hi there, my name is Bonnie McArthur and I paint portraits specifically for lower-income earning families. Aware that all other oil portrait artists charged between $3000-$5000 for their work, 5 years ago at the age of 21, I decided to launch a portraiture business and never charge more than $600, completely passionate that oil portraits of our loved ones SHOULDN’T be reserved for the rich. I also desired to bring back a presence and appreciation of beautiful of high-quality oil portraits of families in the home, where today they are considered a luxury and photographs have completely replaced them. Despite being shunned by some of my art professors for ‘undervaluing’ my work, over 5 years I have painted children, families and couples/wedding, anniversary and birthday portraits for countless people who otherwise would have never been able to afford such timeless mementos and I dream to continue and assist others. The best part of my business has always been the immense joy my work brings to the families when they receive their portraits, knowing also that these memories will last for hundreds of years because of my use of traditional oil layering techniques over acrylic. Unfortunately during the 3rd year of my business something terrible happened. For the 2 years previous I was running my business from a studio I had built inside a bus I was travelling in, in order to fund my travels and research regarding sustainable off-grid communities around Australia. However due to charging so little, I was working overtime to support myself and my love for portraiture slowly became a chore that took my love of painting with it because my passion had completely become my work. I subsequently lost my passion and couldn’t paint for a year because I mismanaged my business. It wasn’t easy, but after a year I tried painting for myself again, creating series such as ‘Born of the Stars’ which can be seen on my website and I took the advice of people who believed I should just charge more.. but it didn’t feel right. Since then I have reinvented my commission schedules, balanced my painting with my other passions such as music and research surrounding sustainable communities around Australia and truly dream of again offering beautiful, affordable work for as many people as possible. Thank you with all my heart for reading my story. God bless. Bonnie McArthur.

More info: bonniemcarthur.com.au

‘Annie,’ oil and acrylic on wood panel. Winner of the Linda Deighton Award, The Shirl, 2017

Portraits by Bonnie McArthur