A connection to country and deep love of Australian wildlife are recurring themes in Kenny Thurbon’s paintings. From Trangie in north-west NSW, Kenny works at his paintings for many hours each week at Challenge Disability Services. Challenge Community Services supports people living with a disability to discover new interests, learn important life skills and reach their goals. 

Kenny gets his inspiration from what he experiences around him, whether it’s a soaring eagle or the calm waters of the Trangie waterhole. “I love painting animals, especially snakes, turtles and koalas,” confirms Kenny. “I also paint kangaroos and fish.” Kenny is always keen to learn more about Aboriginal art and now uses the computer independently to search for images and information such as what animal tracks look like, Aboriginal symbols and animal shapes. He then incorporates these into his artwork. 

Under the guidance of his Challenge support worker, Kenny quickly progressed from painting flowers and cupcakes to expressing his Aboriginal culture

Kenny first sketches his ideas in a sketchbook and then transfers these to the canvas. Sometimes he uses a template of an animal shape or traces circles for dot painting using different sized protractors. Finally, Kenny adds the deep, rich colours he loves. 

“Before becoming involved in painting, Kenny found it difficult to concentrate and he didn’t usually express his own ideas,” says Challenge support worker Rebecca Robb. “Kenny’s favourite technique is dot painting which can be very intricate. Achieving the intense concentration this art form requires has been a significant breakthrough for Kenny.” Much of Kenny’s art is acrylic paint on canvas, but he has also recently started experimenting with Aboriginal burning techniques using wooden boxes and bowls bought from second-hand shops. 

Kenny-artwork

Taking his inspiration from nature, Kenny is not afraid to experiment using sticks and gum leaves dipped in paint to create different sized dots for his dot paintings

Kenny plans to continue to create artworks for family members, who mean so much to him. With his artistic sights set on an exhibition in the future, he is now working hard to produce a body of work of around 10 paintings. He especially hopes to show and sell his art through the Wungunja Cultural Centre in Trangie.

Since being introduced to painting two years ago when he entered the Challenge Community Services Art Competition, Kenny hasn’t looked back. “Kenny has found something he loves and his persistent application has paid off. It has helped him increase his focus and he is now better at following directions,” confirms Rebecca. “He has made so much progress in such a short time. I am confident he will create those 10 paintings and more.”

For more information about Challenge Disability Services, please contact 1800 849 017 
disabilityservices@challengecommunity.org.au

Article published in the Narromine News April 15, 2019 click here to view