Tamworth artist Jan Austin calls on a sense of the ridiculous to draw her world, while husband Tony frames and markets her talent.

Story By Annabelle Brayley

Standing in the kitchen of her house outside Tamworth, in northern New South Wales, Jan Austin agrees it’s just as well she can draw because she hates to cook. “I love reading recipes, but I loathe cooking,” she says. Despite that confession, she has managed to raise three healthy daughters and keep her husband Tony happy, so apparently she has managed to bluff her way through the kitchen problem. What’s not a bluff, though, is her dab hand with a drawing pen, and she knows her way around a paint pot and easel, having established an earlier reputation for landscape and still life in oils. While she is currently enjoying the use of acrylics to paint clowns in all shapes and sizes for her grandchildren and the other small people in her life, it is her caricatures of ponies, children, farm animals and life in the bush for which she is gathering a dedicated following. Originally from Boggabri, NSW, Jan bought her first pony, ‘Trigger’, at age five from her Uncle Bill using her winnings from her Girl Rider class at the local show. “I asked Uncle Bill how much he wanted for Trigger and he asked me how much I had,” she says. “I said, ‘two and six’ and he said, ‘he’s yours’. I didn’t find out until many years later that Dad and Uncle Bill traded some cattle for the balance.” Horse-mad, Jan won Champion Senior Girl Rider at the Sydney Royal Easter Show in 1959 and continued to ride until 10 years ago.

This story excerpt is from Issue #62

Outback Magazine: Dec/Jan 2009