By Luke Voogt
Amanda Hyatt’s travels have seen her paint gorgeous landscapes from Mont Saint-Michel and the Louvre, to the canals of Venice and elephant parades in India.
It all began when she left science for a life of Alla Prima art, she tells Luke Voogt.
Amanda Hyatt’s life has been a constant battle between her left and right brain, but in the end her artistic side won out.
“I can’t even spell physics now,” she says. “The passion for art has always been there.”
Amanda moved to Highton in 1984 when husband Alex got a job at CSIRO’s animal health laboratory.
She had quit her job as a maths teacher to pursue arts full-time a couple of years before.
“I thought I would get a job as a maths teacher down here,” the 63-year-old says.
“I was in two minds about picking it up again but decided to go with art.”
From age five Amanda had the “need to create”, designing posters for school bands and dances. Later she won a high school art prize.
Growing up in Eltham near the Montsalvat artist colony inspired her development, she says.
But her analytic attributes led her to complete a Bachelor of Science with honours in physical science, and teach maths.
“I grew up in era when females, for the first time in their lives, could do a job that their father’s had done,” she says.
“If you were studying as an artist then you tended to be regarded as a dropout.”
A year after moving to Highton Amanda won her first regional art prize at the Geelong Spring Show in 1985.
She has won art prizes nearly every year since, including the Victorian Artists Society – Artist of the Year in 2010.
Amanda has held 33 exhibitions and credits the “wonderful people” at Geelong Arts Society guiding her “early days”.
“I worked really hard to make art my career – it’s very difficult to make a vocation out of art as a sole income.”
Amanda’s Alla Prima style has seen her paint across the world from South Carolina to India for the past 30 years.
She will hold painting workshops in both Antarctica and Ireland next year.
Alla Prima, which translates as “at first attempt”, is a style where artists must work fast to apply paint to previous layers of wet paint. It suits Amanda perfectly.
“I’m a very impetuous person and I have to have everything done yesterday,” she says.
“Alla Prima allows for error and the error is often a magnificent. It’s being confident enough in your original brush strokes not to change them.
“I find oil painting laborious although I really respect the people who handle it.”
Six years ago Amanda sought a “tree change” moving to She Oaks, to Geelong’s north west, where she quickly gelled with the area’s arts community.
“It’s just the most delightful part of the world,” she says. “The arts trail is a very important thing up here.”
Amanda recently became only the second Geelong member in history of the Twenty Melbourne Painters Society, one of Australia’s oldest arts organisations.
“You have to wait for someone to die before you get in,” she says.
“I couldn’t believe it when I was successful enough to be elected.”
Despite moving six years ago Amanda has strong roots in Geelong: her grandfather was born at Queenscliff Fort.
Co-incidently, her great-grandfather was famous Tasmanian brewer James Boag.
She will hold her eighth exhibition at Colleen Kenwood’s Seaview Gallery in Queenscliff from 7 to 31 October.
“It’s a world-class gallery so she should be very proud of it,” Amanda says.
Amanda has seemingly passed the mental battle of art versus science to her engineer son James and physics teacher daughter Philipa.
Philipa plays in a band and loves drama, while James expresses his artistic side through metalwork.
“They’re highly creative,” the proud mother says.