JA Arnott

JA Arnott

I am practising artist with my own studio specialising in imaginative realism, as well as realistic portraiture. I create works specifically for exhibitions with a theme but also my own imaginative works.

In all of my works I complete a simple contour line in graphite to work from initially.  Quite often I will work this simple line drawing into a comprehensive fully rendered graphite drawing. This can help solve value issues (lightness or darkness) but may also become a stand-alone work.

For the principle painting of an artwork, I paint exclusively in oils. Some works of great detail take up to 120 hours of principle painting so it is a matter of putting hours behind the paint brush.  It must be a head down and do it attitude, there is no such thing as waiting for the “muse” to arrive and inspire me.


How do you believe/think your Art has been a cultural contribution to enrich the Mitcham community?

I don’t think that I am inspired to be an ‘artist’ per se, but I am inspired to create and ‘make marks’ from my own imagination. It is then a matter of influences and research to achieve my imagined vision.

My first great influences were the great masters for their superb draftsmanship (drawing ability), their story telling and technical virtuosity. My favourites to look at are Ingres, Vermeer, Velasquez, Rembrandt and despite the bad rap, da Vinci’s Mona Lisa.  Seen at close distance she takes your breath away. These may seem so obvious but that is the reason that after so many centuries they are still considered masters.

For many years I have had a tangible association with Gallery One, first as a student, then teacher and as its director for an illuminating span of seven years. Guiding many artists and crafter to exhibit their work to the highest standard possible, lit a dormant fire in me to, as they say, get back in the saddle. It gave me the impetus to rekindle both my art practice and by association, teaching.

I consider Gallery One as the home of my artistic spirit. When I decided to expand my teaching and take on both oil painting and drawing classes with a focus on the traditional ‘studio’ method of realism, the gallery fully supported the concept and has been embraced by many students over the past few years.  That I can share this knowledge and inspire emerging artists to become the best that they can within their own scope, is great motivation indeed.

 Also, define your styles/genre and versatility in approach.

I would like my work to be seen as beautiful and with an aesthetic of fun, but also telling a story to be interpreted by the viewer within the parameters of realism. The viewer may not recognise the story but the images presented are evocative of our childhood stories and memories and so we look longer at the images, searching for hidden messages and enthralled by the attention to detail. The painting style may be realistic but the elements are purely imagined. I think my work is framed in a recognisable landscape peopled with realistic characters and a hefty dose of anthropomorphism.

I seem to mostly prefer to create works of imaginative realism, I don’t know if my work is considered Surreal and it certainly wasn’t an influence. My understanding is that surrealism is aligned with Freud, amongst others, and dream analysis. It was revolutionary and anti-establishment and sometimes quite ugly.

For inspiration,  I look at many artists from many genre’s and am greatly influenced by the Euro-Russian imaginative realists artists who have the most wonderful folk history to base their stories on. I’m also a bit of a fan of steampunk and I look to the  Greek heroes,  the Arthurian legends, Norse mythology or indeed any culture and their stories to utilise in my visual story telling. There are many stories to be had in the world, from history, culture and life.

There are so many things to influence an artist: nuances within other art, things you do and see every day, a phrase in a book or image in a magazine. They go into my imaginative collective and spurt forth in unexpected ways.


A summary on your experience, training and greatest achievements in Art.

Awards, Prizes


Winner_ People’s Choice, Mitcham Art Prize

Highly Commended_ Gary Lee Gaston Award, Mitcham Art prize

Special recognition_Light, Space and Time Gallery  “Botanicals and florals”

Finalist_ Emma Hack Art Prize, Theme; Culture, Burnside Village


Finalist_Portia Geach Memorial Award, SE Shervin Gallery, National Trust,          The Rocks, Sydney

Finalist_Loretto Spring Art Prize

Finalist_ Mitcham Art Prize

Finalist_ Emma Hack Art Prize, Theme; Real or Sureal, Burnside Village


Finalist_ Clifton Art Prize,

Finalist_ Emma Hack Art Prize, Theme; Identity, Adelaide Festival Centre

Finalist_RSASA_Characters of the Fleurieu Art Prize_Signal Point Gallery


Winner_ Drawing Award and People’s Choice Award, Gallery One

Merit Award , Adelaide Cathedral Art Prize, St Peters Cathedral

1st Prize, Mitcham Art Prize


Works held in private collections in Australia and Europe

Art Education

SA School of Graphic Design_Assoc. Dip Graphic Design

Curatorial projects

2017 Curator and Judge of Members and Student Exhibition, Gallery One
2006 to 2014

Director of iconic Gallery One, located within the historic Mitcham

Village, Curator of exhibitions as part of the annual art and craft exhibition program



2017-current Oil Painting and Drawing classes at Gallery One

Preparing to Exhibit Your Work’ artist mentorship workshop

2004 onwards

art and craft classes workshops at Gallery One


Recent Exhibitions and Awards

Winner: Peoples Choice Award, Mitcham Art Prize, October 2018 Gallery One, Mitcham, Adelaide

SALA 2018: South Australian Living Artists 1-31 August, Earthly Delights: The Pantry, Hawthorn

Finalist: Emma Hack Art Prize 2018, 27 February-16 March, Burnside Village Fashion Mall, Adelaide

Finalist: Portia Geach Memorial Award, 20 October-26 November 2017 , S.H. Ervin Gallery, The Rocks, Sydney


Follow Julie:

Facebook: www.facebook.com/JA-Arnott

Instagram: www.instagram.com/jaarnott/