28 January 2023

Former Sydney designer transforms career in Griffith with Tambourine Art Studio

| Oliver Jacques
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Isis Rae-Ronan standing over Winter Watson painting

Isis Rae-Ronan teaches Winter Watson at the Griffith Community Centre. Photo: Oliver Jacques.

A former Sydney-based graphic designer has transformed her career from that of a “commercial artist to a community artist”, after moving to Griffith and setting up her own painting business.

Isis-Rae Ronan, owner and founder of Tambourine Art Studio, now offers a range of free and low-cost painting classes to children, adults and people with special needs.

“I moved to Griffith three years ago, just before COVID hit,” Ms Ronan said.

“Being home and not doing much, I started painting. Coming out of COVID, I realised there wasn’t much going on in terms of just public painting, so I started doing some community projects. Through that, I got to know the community a bit better and started to run some more regular workshops.

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“I moved here with my husband for a sea change. We’ve both come here and found different things to do.

“My husband works at the high school; he plays music and does gigs on the weekend. We’ve both found completely different lifestyles from what we had in Sydney. We have a four-year-old and it’s the only place we want to be after coming from the city and working in very fast-paced jobs.

“I come from a materialistic design world so it’s good to do things to help people.”

A row of three kids painting

Front to back, Evelyn Bennett, Avaya Draskovic and Georgie Patten at an art class. Photo: Oliver Jacques.

Ms Ronan has been running classes teaching children how to paint throughout the school holidays. Many have been free for the students, paid for via grants from Griffith City Council and headspace, a youth mental health foundation.

“I do a lot with headspace, they offer free youth programs. I link up with a lot of different community organisations.

“I also run a painting class for autistic children. For them, it’s intimidating to come to a class with a lot of sound, so I run a small class where they can focus.

“I try and offer as many free classes as I can, but when they are free spots tend to be limited.

“I’ve just put details of classes on Instagram and Facebook. My classes book out pretty quickly after I advertise them.”

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Griffith residents can also see some of Ms Ronan’s artwork around town.

“I did a big project at Griffith Central [shopping mall] where I painted some big wings and everyone got to do a feather. Griffith City Council get me to events too; I’ve done Street Scapes. I’ve also done a mural at the Greengecko Art Studio.

“[But] this year I am focusing on my workshops as well as studying some courses at Griffith TAFE and online.”

A toddler with a paint brush

Tommy Taprell is ready to paint. Photo: Oliver Jacques.

On Wednesday 18 January, Ms Ronan taught a large group of young children how to paint flowers at the Griffith Community Centre.

“It’s a fun class,” 10-year-old Winter Watson said. “I’m more into dancing but I thought I’d give painting a try.”

More information on what is offered by Tambourine Art Studio can be found on their Facebook page.

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