Tuesday, April 13, 2010

SmudgeArt Global Interview

SmudgeArt News Blog is Pleased to Present to you
Our 1st Global Interview and hope that you will
Enjoy this Interview as we chat with 
Published Author / Artist / Photographer
Wendy Slee aka Sunshiine

First of All, Wendy, Welcome to SmudgeArt News Blog. I am thrilled to have you here and to have the honor of this interview with you.

We first met a few years ago at Redbubble.com I commented on a piece of your writing that touched my heart and sent you a bubble-mail. That email opened a door to not only our personal friendship (a friendship I have treasured for some time now) but also a spiritual connection with you in our dreams and knowledge of our passions in all art forms.

I think one of our Creator's most wonderful blessings we have as Artists, is how we can learn from each other.
Your Amazing, Profound, and Spirited talents as an Author / Artist / Photographer Inspires me. As I am sure, that You also Inspire and Touch the Hearts of many other Artist's around the world that you come into contact with as we all, "Walk in Each Other's Footsteps on this Journey"....

Today We Walk in the Footsteps of One of Australia's Finest!

Q: Wendy can you please give us a little background on who you are, your location and what captured your heart to be a Writer / Photographer / Artist?

A: Ever since I could hold a pencil in my hand, writing has been my first love ….all my life I have written about things that touch my existence and give meaning to it….. I loved to journal, write poetry, express my thoughts and feelings as words on paper. I also enjoy photography. Then about seven years ago, through a university degree I was undertaking, I realized my love of photography could provide a new found medium in digital art, and my long held passion with “words and images” became a reality.

I live in the south western corner of Western Australia, in the old house I grew up in. My family owns a dairy farm in the hills adjoining a state forest here, and have been working the land for generations since first settlement, so history and “roots” mean a lot to me. Although my brother now owns the family farm, I am still allowed to live here and get to walk this land that I love and soak up nature in all her majesty and seasons. I am fortunate to raise my children here in this natural setting, away from the toxic overload of built up city areas. This has been especially important to me as I have four children - one of whom is autistic, and I myself suffer with a debilitating disease. Being a sole parent for most of my adult life means it has been no easy task to provide and care for my family, especially a child with special needs. This is where my love of nature, my search for spiritual answers and the art that evolves from both has become so important for my solace and healing.

“Slee Road” and home…

View from my front yard…

Family Love

Q: What are your favourite Mediums to work in?

A: I mainly used Photoshop CS3 to create artworks on my computer or laptop. Some of the elements I use are scanned in, some are hand drawn or painted. I am currently doing a drawing unit at a local college. My art usually involves many layers (at times as many as 40-50) of images and elements and effects and filters. I believe completely that using electronic media leaves a space between my heart and hands, and the image emerging on the screen, where there is potential for spirit to have a “hand in” because so many times I am “in the zone” playing, working, watching an image evolve when suddenly I get a big rush in my heart and the final artwork appears. At times it is like magic. At times I see faces appear in the image, or elements that I did not originally put there. One such image was a landscape honouring Aboriginal sacred space, and as I put in one single human figure, faces began to appear in the trees and foliage. Over time, hanging in the gallery, more and more faces and forms have appeared in this art until I felt the need to take it down and put it somewhere safe.

Other artworks are merely abstracts but ones that resonate with me in their colour and movement. One thing that art, in particularly abstract art, has taught me is that often, it is the images that do not conform to our “mind” in any way, that go beyond the bounds of concrete thought or real view, that have the greatest power to inform and touch our hearts and bodies.

Q. Which comes first, the words or the images?

A. It is never quite one or the other….sometimes it is the words I “hear” then I create the art within the framework of those words, but lately, more often than not, the image forms and words start to flow through once I sit with and view the finished artwork.
Sometimes they are separate, or words inspired by some one else’s art or an experience seem to marry themselves to a piece of imagery that I have created.
And example of this is “Forgiveness”


The woman watches
As the broken man begins to dance,
Could it be that in her presence
He is falling apart,
Or that the warmth of her gaze,
Finds him gradually becoming whole again.
His freedom, her absolution.

The words fall useless on the ground,
Letters spilling into the dirt
Meaning discarded,
A blank page lays crumpled before her
Staring without judgment
At her trembling hand.
Reason is beyond reproach.

Time tiptoes past unnoticed
On its way to someone else’s story
Hope follows regardless
And the sun rises and sets
On useless thoughts unguarded.
Who dares to walk this path?
Yet who dares to not.

The woman listens
As the silent man begins to sing
The words dust themselves off
And join the fragile notes
In a private dance of healing
Truth’s melody cuts through time
And lays memory bare,

Forgive me, it sings
I am only human.

Q: How did you get discovered and did that change how you are inspired, or your spontaneous feelings as an Artist?

A: I can’t say that I was discovered….it is more appropriate to say I discovered myself. And as time went by and I found my passion for what I was creating, my sense of who I was and what I was doing here literally exploded in all directions. I lost all sense of being limited and found a whole new sense of freedom. From this point, sharing my work and realizing that others could be inspired, healed or changed by what I was feeling and creating, added a whole new dimension to the process. Learning that I could make a difference to just one other person with my art, besides myself, was like unleashing something that had haunted me for most of my life, and that was a desire to “make a positive difference” in the world around me. So now, I still create first and foremost for myself, because art is intensely personal and as unique as the person creating it, but I have the added incentive of knowing that what I do has the potential to touch others, to make them feel something different, something more, to help them grow and be more awakened in their own lives.

Possibly the greatest hurdle with the form of artwork I do, is that many years ago when I was starting out on my voyage of discovery with digital media, I felt that what I did was not “real” art. At that point digital art seemed to belong to the field of computer “nerds” (sorry if that offends because to all intents and purposes, I am one too!!), teenagers, students and the like, as well as cartoonists, commercial artists and graphic designers. It did not belong in galleries or hanging on walls in lovely frames, or at least I had never seen it presented that way.

I had to overcome this negative belief system, and have been very grateful for this process. Finding a gallery that believed in and supported me has assisted immensely, and entering my work in exhibitions and competitions has also helped to solidify my faith in my medium and my ability to be a true artist, to BE my art. Redbubble has been an amazing place to be over the last three years, as there I found the inspiration, friendship and encouragement that was not always available in the outside physical world. Over the years, I have relinquished that worthless belief that what I did was not real art, and proudly entered my work in mainstream exhibitions alongside sculptures, water colours, oil paintings, photography and other media, ignoring those who doubted, listening to my own heart and holding onto only the positive comments that helped me to grow as an artist. Over time I have educated not only myself but many others into the diverse and potentially unlimited world of digital media. Now I often find myself encouraging or mentoring young or aspiring digital artists who feel how I once did, and I just say “welcome to the world of art, where anything goes so long as you believe in your own expression of it”.


Q: What kind of things or situations inspire you to write?

A: True life experiences inspire me. Things that move me, that hurt, sadden or uplift me inspire me. Major events in life inspire me, but then so do small tiny moments that hold a precious sacred gift within them. A spider’s web holding glistening raindrops, a wild bird that flies up and sings right there in front of me, the birth of a new foal or child….. life’s small but powerful gifts to us. My spiritual journey has inspired me to write and document a lot of what I have learned as poetry, prose or channelled pieces of inspirational writing. I don’t put pen to paper nearly enough (or is that fingers to keyboard!) now as I would like to, but intend for that to change in the near future.

My life is a book unwritten. My story is still unfolding. I try to cram as much into my life as I can, and my motto is to have an “interesting life” - I don’t intend to die with regrets (especially regrets for things I did not do or try). Running away with a circus 16 years ago certainly highlighted that fact and although I now live in a more stationery, “normal” situation, the “sense of circus” is still within me and will never die. My advice to anyone reading this (said with a huge grin) is to “run away with a circus” at least once in your life, whether in reality or metaphorically! lol

I would love to share a piece of prose written fifteen years ago about a man who touched my life and then died of a heroin overdose.


A strange and lonely man came to my door
“I have nowhere to go” he said, so I let him in.
He was hungry, so I offered him food.
He was cold, so I offered him warmth.
He was lonely, so I offered him love.
He was lost, so I tried to find him.

“I am a musician, but I have lost my soul” he said.
All that remained of his life, all that he owned,
he carried in two bags –
one, a battered, worn-out old brown suitcase;
the other, a hard and dusty black instrument box
with well oiled locks.
“Show me your life,” I said. “Let me know you”.
And he opened the old brown suitcase with a weary
familiarity and resignation that I grew to recognize.
In it was his sorrow, his pain, his past.

Day after day, he opened the case and aired its contents…
a childhood innocence stolen too young;
a lost and frightenedteenager –
confused and ashamed;
the desperate struggle to run away
from something he could not face;
the welcoming warmth of liquor and
its false promise of comfort.

In horror, I watched each time the case came out.
With dogged determination,
he rummaged through as if in some grim ritual,
as if searching for something he had lost…
a betrayal, a love lost, a marriage dead;
children gone from his presence, growing away from his love;
the cunning lure of the needle and
the fleeting peace in the deceptive arms of narcotics.

A vindictive lover, a broken heart,
the loss of loved ones, the questioning why;
the denial of fatherhood, the absence of his children,
the theft of their precious memories.
So much anger, so much pain,
so much false hope in a glass container.
So much separation, so much anguish,
so much filling of emptiness with the wrong substance.

“Shut that case and put it away forever” I pleaded.
“You will not findyour soul in there.
That is your past, and it is dead.”
I pointed to the other case and said to him,
“Show this one to me”
He slowly unlocked it and took out a shiny,
well loved, brass instrument.
“It won’t work,” he said. “The muse is gone”.

But I watched his gentle musician’s hands
hold the instrument
with a familiar reverence and I glimpsed in the
polished brass a reflectionof his soul.

“Look deeply,” I pleaded.
“What else comes from this place?”.
“Nothing” he said quickly,
and made as if to snap the lid shut
with fearful finality.
“Please look again…
surely it can’t hurt?”

And resting hidden in there, was the music…
the sweet rise and fall of a life’s soundtrack –
the high notes and the lows,
the rhythm and timbre of a human being,
the elusive songs of success.
In there too,
was the laughter and the light –
well stashed away,
but there all the same.

And there was also the love…
the love of his life, the oneness with nature,
the feelings of a man for a woman,
the boundless love of a father for a child…
and also the hugs of a daughter,
a little girl’s laughter,
the tiny hand in his,
the “Daddy I love you”s…
the trust and the faith,
the steadfast love of family.

With tears in his eyes,
he closed the lid as
if in fear that the contents would escape forever.
“I can’t do this” he whispered.
“Yes you can,” I said.
“Open it! Let it out!
In here is your future.
In here is the truth.
This is where you will find your soul.”

He took the instrument,
put it tenderly to his lips
and played Happy Birthday for me.
My heart filled with hope.
A touch of gold vibrated softly on the air,
and my spirit lifted with the mellow notes.

“ Here is something to add to your life” I said,
and in the case I lay all of my love
and hope for this sad and lonely man.
“Here is my belief in youand your future…
now you know where to find your soul…”

He gently placed the instrument
back in its case
amongst all the beautiful memories
and closed the lid.
“ I have to go,” he said.

He picked up the old brown case
with its burden of pain and darkness,
and the black case full of music and promise,
and walked out my door.

But as he left,
he took something of me with him.
And I hoped that the extra weight of all
the love and the believing
that I had placed in the instrument case,
would somewhere up the road,
make a big difference in
the direction he took
and his search for a lost soul.

Q: Are you currently working on a Special Project or Gallery Show / If so can you give us a glance into what we have to look forward to?

A: I am very excited to share that I have entered one of my books in an international competition call “The Next Top Author”. Although I have published three books to date, they are self published and print on demand, which makes them very expensive to buy and although they are beautiful books, they are really not a commercial reality. I want people to be able to afford to buy them, in particular the one closest to my heart  “Message From Mother Earth”.

This contest involves several rounds, with the winner receiving a publishing contract with a well known (and one of my favourite) publishing houses – Hampton Roads Publishing. However to get through the first round you must prove that you believe in your work and are able to “self -promote” (something that I have never felt comfortable doing). Only the top 200 entries will move into the next round and this is done by the entrants seeking support or votes. I am thrilled to hear that at present of the 2500 entries in this contest, I am currently in the top 100, so I need to keep working to stay there so my book will advance into the next level of competition, where it will get reviewed by the judges. If any of you would like to view my book or support me in this quest, you can go to www.nexttopauthor.com and login to vote. You can find my book “Message From Mother Earth” by searching for my name or my ID number which is # 2010. When I received that number it really inspired me to believe even more that this was going to be “my” year!!! I am overwhelmed by the kindness and support I have received to date in this contest, and would be very grateful for your vote also so I can stay in the running. Anyone who votes for me now has the option to receive a copy of this manuscript and the book cover in a thank you email. So please consider helping me stay in the running for a real publishing contract.

Q: Tell us about Who has inspired you in your Writing, Art and Photography?

A: This will sound like the easy answer, but I truly believe that every single person who has come into my life, whether for a moment in passing, a day, a month, or for years, has inspired me. They might be people who have loved me, supported me, or shown me their own strength in adversity. They might be people who have hated me, challenged me or even hurt me deeply. I am who I am because of all that life has shown me and am changed forever by the stories I read in the people I meet, who share the path with me, or who overtake me or even knock me down as I fumble my way through life. I am inspired by everything that I absorb from my connections with life and humanity, so it would be difficult to name names or begin such a massive list. Maybe I could start however, with my parents, who I love and owe so much to, and my four children who are, my greatest teachers. And from here flows the love and gratitude and respect for life that continues to inform my artistic journey.

"You could say that it is life itself that inspires me"!

Q: Can you tell us about a day(s) in your Artist Life you will never forget?

A. There are three moments that really stand out for me –
I had entered an annual art award exhibition in a gallery in a neighbouring town in 2007 and been thrilled to get a “Judges award”. This exhibition was very prestigious and judged by a gathering of art professionals from around Australia. In 2008 I entered again, but fully aware of the multitude of talent, in sculpture, photography and mainstream art (oils, acrylics, water colours, pen and ink etc, as well as collage and crafts), I never thought beyond the fun I had in planning out my entries and accomplishing them. On the day of the exhibition opening, which was nearly two hours’ drive from my home, I decided with my family commitments, I would not do that drive, nor could I really afford the fuel for my car.

Then the phone rang and the gallery manager spoke saying “I suppose the fact that you are answering your phone at home means you are not coming to the opening?” As I made my many lame excuses she cut in to tell me that it was a shame I was not there as I had won first prize – THE major prize! (worth many thousands of dollars). To this day, remembering how I felt at that moment still brings me out in goosebumps and tears of excitement. I was so overwhelmed and had trouble believing what was being said. But I have the certificate and photos to prove it, and it was one of the most amazing moments of my professional art career.

The second moment was last year, in the lead up to my first solo exhibition at a professional gallery. It was all very exciting and I had dropped my many pieces of framed work into the ArtGeo Gallery on time. Two days before “opening” I called into the gallery to drop in some information/articles and saw my exhibition up on the walls of that gallery. The gallery was not open to the public at that point – it was just me and these big rooms that echoed with my footsteps and my thoughts. The hanging was not complete at this point, the lighting was not done, and some of the pictures were still misaligned…… but I stood there in the door to the main gallery and got the shakes (and again, those tears) because all those walls were filled with work that I had created, small and large pieces of ME, of my “soul” hanging up there for all to view. That was a “coming of age” moment for me in my artistic journey.

From a true soul level however, this third moment was probably the most profound and perhaps says the most about what sharing my art means to me. I took my children to a wildlife park in another town, where we were viewing and handling snakes. There was a lovely young woman working there and I chatted with her a bit. I asked her about some small snakes I had seen and she asked to view photos and show them to her boss.

As I wrote down my redbubble site where she could see the pictures of what turned out to be legless lizards, she exclaimed “Oh my Gosh!! Are you THE Wendy Slee? You are my favourite artist! I love your work!! My Mother and I go to the gallery in Busselton often and view your work” and she went on to describe some of my images in detail and why she liked them.

This moment reinforced a heartfelt awareness that the greatest mark of success with my art would be if I could inspire or touch people in such a way that their lives were enhanced by the memory or feeling they took away with them from something that I had created. (The day after this happened, I had a phone call from the owner of the wildlife establishment and she asked if I was the lady who had visited the day before and talked about art to her young worker. When I confirmed this, she said she had overheard the conversation from her office and was excited because she had been trying to think of a special gift to buy this young volunteer to thank her, and having heard of her love for my art, she decided she would love to buy her one of my pictures! So you can imagine how good this made me feel, and even more so on the day I delivered the artwork as a surprise gift to the wildlife park and presented it to the young lady concerned.)

“The Horses”

Q: What are your plans for the future, professionally and personally?

“Where Do You Go?”
A. All of my life I have been drawn to Aboriginal culture and people. I love their connections with the Earth and the fact that, unlike many westerners, they have an innate spirituality, a dreaming, that is a part of their makeup, their existence, and their connection to the earth; it is not something manufactured by other humans, force fed or imposed by society as a set of limiting rules to gain power or control the masses. In the past twelve months I have been asked to do a lot of photo shoots that involve Aboriginal performances and cultural events, as well as helping to just share culture and tell their stories. I am humbled by the trust placed in me, and the friendships earned, and hope to dedicate a lot more of my time in the future to working with my fellow Australians to illuminate Indigenous culture and the beauty of their traditional lifestyles, art, music and spirituality as well as to enhance the idea of harmony and reciprocity.

I also intend to put more time into writing. Publishing my books and seeing them in mainstream shops is high on my list of things to do! In the meantime, sharing my work online is what I will focus on, through my online portfolio at redbubble.com , my bookshop at blurb.com and with my Facebook fan page
I welcome you to join me there and allow me to connect and share in your own online ventures.

Q: Do you have any words of wisdom for Today’s Upcoming Artist(s)?

A: I suggest you spend time viewing others’ work (ie on Redbubble), learn as many different ways of being creative as you can – try it all, experience as much of life as you can handle… and then some(!) Get to know the methods, ideologies and rules of the artform or medium you have chosen, then break away and release all expectations, conditions and self imposed constraints, until you discover your own instinct and innate sense of creativity. Like me, do not wait to be discovered - discover your own style – discover yourself! Find that centre of your being, that flow that is yours and yours alone and allow it to come through your hands, your eyes and your heart. Never compare yourself to another. That is instant death to your creative muse! You cannot truly know the other person, or what is within them, you can only know yourself and BE what you were meant to be. Embrace who you are and your own individuality. If you copy someone else, or follow that which works for another artist, you are not realizing the multi-dimensional potential of the artist within you and you are limiting yourself to someone else’s three dimensional existence. Only when you find your own unique voice, your own unique style, will you truly be at home with your own creative spirit.



She drifts in the womb of the world,

holding the history of
the universe in her heart,
for the time when it will be safe to emerge,
a time when humanity has forgotten their craziness,
and resolved their greed,
and healed their emptiness,
a time when they will
truly honour creation.

Q: Wendy, Thank you for a very amazing interview. I am grateful for so much in my life. I am indeed grateful our paths crossed. You always bring a little more "SUNSHIINE" into my life!
In Closing Wendy (sunshiine) is there anything else you would like to mention or add to this interview?

A: Maddy, I just wish to say thank you most sincerely for the invitation to share my thoughts and some of my journey here. I have known you for several years now and we have shared a lot in our respective artistic and personal journeys through the wonderful Redbubble community. I am honoured by the friendship and support of every one I have connected with, including yourself, and humbled by your regard and faith in me. To be interviewed by someone as professional and talented as yourself inspires me even more – although we are thousands of miles apart geographically, I thank you for welcoming me into your online home, sharing your beautiful energy and your creative spirit with me. I also thank everyone who takes the time to read this and get to know me a little better…. When I meet any person, I try to look from within and “see” who they are. I hope you “see me”. Smiles……wendy xx

*Please take a moment and leave Wendy (Sunshiine) a comment on this Blog, and please follow her link and give your support in Voting for her book
HERE - ID number which is # 2010

* Thank You all for viewing this interview.
I would be honoured if you would consider following SmudgeArt News Blog, we will be doing new Interviews each month. If you decide to Follow this Blog . Please send me your Website Link so I can add your Name and Link to Our Artist List here. email- madelineallen@mts.net
I look forward to your support and your interviews.

Thank You Everyone! Madeline / SmudgeArt


  1. Madeline, this is a brilliant interview! Wendy, you are an inspiration to me! You are so strong and filled with hope and love! xo

  2. BRAVO! Sunshiine BRAVO!

    Much love and light to you and your passions my Dear Friend. You are truly an ARTIST!

    Maddy xx

  3. AWSOME Interview Wendy..love reading about you and life there...Great job MADELINE hugggggz you 2

  4. Dear Maddy. You have created a beautiful online home and welcomed me in.... your interview honours me. I thank you from my heart. Smiles & Blessings xx

  5. *Note from Helene

    Wendy! Much congrats! As you know i have loved your works and writing from the get-go! This is such a well deserved feature!
    Luv Ya! Helene


SmudgeArt Blog List

SmudgeArt Gallery "All Things Christmas"

SmudgeArt Gallery "All Things Christmas"