Artistic Specialist Paint Finisher & Carer – Rebecca Neill

This week’s creative woman is one that I have ever met. In fact, I think the first real conversation we have had has been around this interview. I don’t even remember how Sydney based artist Rebecca and I connected, on Facebook I think,  it may have been through our common connections. I enjoyed her posts and seeing the amazing work that she has created. However, what has drawn me to Bec is her journey with her Mum and dementia, and being given the opportunity to see it through a creative lens.

Back in September, I attended a SAMAG session on creative ageing. This panel reinforced the importance that creativity has on our quality of life, especially as we grow older. Bec and her Mum are an example of this in action.

When I read Bec’s posts, I see two creative women, and her Mum is defined by her creativity not her illness. My hope is that there is an increase in these opportunities and a raised awareness of their value.

Tell me a bit about yourself and your creative practice.

I graduated in Visual Arts Hon. majoring in painting, drawing and minor in photography. In 1996, after practising for a few years, I set up my business in freelance scenic art for theatre and film. Then I progressed into painted finishes in commercial and private properties, furniture and restoration. Seven years ago, I kickstarted my personal art practice again, with life drawing and photography, and now painting. Also, in these last seven years, I became my mother’s primary carer. For three of those years, my mother has been living with vascular dementia.

Together, we have used art as a well being and quality of life booster. This encourages and enables Mum to have independent discussions and contributions, and make art/craft.

The programs we attend include:

Through these programs Mum has experienced an increase in creative confidence, this has, in turn, assisted her communication, increased her inclusion in the community, and engagement with all people in our lives. It has given her a sense of achievement and had a profound impact on our relationship with each other.

 What is your greatest creative achievement?

There is more than one:

  • Co-running three artist run galleries in Sydney London And Berlin between 1998-2001
  • Exhibiting in a group shows in Sydney London and Hamburg
  • Making art with my mother during dementia
  • Working on theatre and film sets in London and Sydney

What is your first memory of being creative?

My first memory is as a child, around age 4-5 years old, painting with my big brother and twin sister a giant canvas on the entry floor to our home. I still have it. The paint went through the canvas and stained the lino floor!

Who or what inspires you?

Looking at art, nature, music, yoga meditation and surfing! Australian artists particularly inspire me, and currently that is Julian Meagher. I also find artists who make challenges and inquiries with their work, inspirational.

Is there anything special you do to get into the right mindset and get the creative juices flowing?

  • I journal, think and sketch, and write my intention that I wish to portray.
  • Plan the surface/materials I wish to use.
  • I look, at images that inspire me, photos of people or places, the real environment or people that I can draw/sketch.
  • Read and research if needed, play music, and meditate.

How do you deal with creativity blocks?

Try to clear my mind, and find quiet or peace to let solutions in. 

What is one tip you would give other creatives?

  • Believe in yourself and others creativity, and share your knowledge to aid their creativity.
  • Follow your gut!
  • Keep creating, even if it’s writing / sketching ideas, for future projects.
  • Keep the wonder.
  • Keep learning.

What is your favourite, colour, book, song, food and place?

My favourite colour is deep teal. Favourite book is Women Artists & the Surrealist Movement – Whitney Chadic. I love listening to Song of the Siren by Mortal Coil, eating anything fresh and organic. And my favourite place in the world Australian bushland!

If you want to see the sort of art Bec does, follow her at

Rebecca’s mum Patricia Maureen passed away on 28 May 2019. She let behind a mammoth legacy and example of strength and kindness for her family and friends to follow. 

Artistic Specialist Paint Finisher & Carer – Rebecca Neill

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