Penelope McManus is a landscape artist who spends much of her time painting en plein air, and walking on her High Range property. Known in the Highlands as a visual arts school teacher, Penny joined forces with Penny and Phoebe to show her work to a larger audience.

“Our beautiful property looks onto Nattai National Park and two other national parks,” says Penny, who moved from Bowral with her husband Vinnie, a filmmaker and actor, and two daughters. “I now spend a lot of time in the bush just following wild animal tracks, looking for inspiration and feeling really connected to nature. I’ve never seen so many sunrises or moons rises. There is a lot of sky out here.

“I think as a landscape painter the only way to really become connected to your work and understand how to apply the right tones and light and colours is by living like that.”

Penny says her love of painting landscapes was born from her love of colour and the land. “I absolutely love colour and while many other people say they struggle with using colour, it seems very intuitive to me and just seems to be a natural part of my palette.”

Since going rural two years ago, and leaving classroom teaching behind to concentrate on teaching individuals and small groups with mental health problems and disabilities, Penny says her work has moved to a new level. She has been a finalist in the Wingecarribee Prize for Landscape Art on several occasions, including this year, and has several group shows under her belt including Artists of the Round Yard at Retford Park last year.

“I really connect to the land as I grew up on properties near Bungendore, and Mansfield in Victoria,” she says. “Riding horses and walking the land and being close to nature grounds me.

“But while painting away at home or en plein air is fabulous, you have to be able to have people see your work, and I wanted to reach out to a wider audience. By having a permanent gallery where people can see my work within the Ink, Brush, Willow Studio I seem to be achieving that.

“I also need a place to teach students, so at The SHAC I can incorporate the painting, the teaching and a gallery space, as well as collaborating with friends who are supportive, cooperative and understanding. Penny, Phoebe and I are not competitive; we are more quiet achievers, and this was a way we felt we could push ourselves, while supporting one another.” HL

Penelope will show work in Cadence alongside Phoebe Middleton and other SHAC artist Yvette Marie Tziallas at Sturt Gallery, Mittagong, August 4 to September 22. Following a recent trip to the East MacDonnell Ranges in central Australia, she is planning an exhibition at Bondi Pavilion next year.