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Idol Encouraged Artist

It was a fateful meeting with her idol, Nick Seymour (of the famed and now disbanded Crowded House) that prompted Brenda Lilley (15) to look at art in a very different light.

The talented Willetton teenager recently won the Canning Arts Award Youth Encouragement Award for her portrait of Nick Seymour.

It was after a concert held in Fremantle last year that Brenda 'ambushed' her idol.

"The first thing I said to Nick was 'Hi, your a legend', and he laughed. I was so nervous, but I had to meet him," the budding artist said.

"I've always liked art but one of my primary school teachers told me I was hopeless and there wass no future in art for me. Of course those words stung.

"So i decide to mention it to Nick. His famous words were 'ignore them, do what you feel is right. I bet your good.' After that I just started thinking more seriously about art again."

After regaining her self confidence, Brenda started to follow her passion for portrait painting.

She started off drawing at home usingg photographs of her favourite bands.

"I find portraits more interesting because you can capture the personalities and not just draw facial features," Brenda said.

"I decided to join an All Media course which was held at the Canning Arts Center. We could draw whatever we were interested in."

Her teacher Paula Wiegmink quickly became a much-respected mentor to Brenda. "She (Paula) was the first person to turn me on to pastels. Paula described them as a pure art form."

It seemed appropriate that the portrait of Nick Seymour, one of her favourites, landed Brenda the Youth Encouragement Award.

"I didnt believe that I could win," Brenda said. "I entered the competition just to see my work up there. All I could think of when I won the award was 'pinch me, Im'm dreaming. It was great."

As soon as she discoverd she wasn't dreaming, Brenda couldnt wait to share the good news with her friend Kelly. She lives in Newcastle so Brenda hopped straight on to the Internet and told Kelly the exciting news.

"My family has been so supportive of me with my art, which is terrific," Brenda said.

Brenda who also speaks (some) German, will head to Germany at the end of the year to take part in a six week exchange program.

"I dont think I'll be doing many landscape paintings over there - portraits are definitely my passion," she said.

-Charlotte Fong