UPPER HUNTER grazier and artist Sarah Bishop has only two fears - drought, and running out of paint.
For 30 years her art has featured in exhibits from Scone to Mudgee, to Moree, Sydney, Shanghai, and Hong Kong.
"I feel very fortunate," Sarah says.
"Art looks after me."
She draws inspiration from the endless landscape surrounding her in oils and acrylics.
She also loves the challenge of realism drawing, and has had the opportunity to draw some of the finest horses and stud cattle in Australia.
It is a steep climb to her home at Myrabluan, Bunnan, and her studio points out to a huge expanse of country. The land has been owned by the Bishop family since 1906.
Hills and flats roll into the horizon and are met by the sky, which lately has been a moody palette of greys, blues and blacks. It has been a good season at Myrabluan.
When The Land drops by one afternoon in late December, the air is thick with another storm on its way. An endless source of inspiration for her landscape paintings.
The Bishops have just finished a 'rather warm' week of lamb marking, albeit later than planned. They were housebound for about 10 days with heavy rain and flooding through November.
Locals had recorded up to 16 inches of rainfall for that month.
And after a week in the sheep yards, Sarah is looking forward to getting back to the studio.
To her, it feels like a holiday with air conditioning and no flies.
"It's a privilege and a flexibility I feel very lucky to have," she says.
"It's my counter balance."
She is the fourth generation of Bishops to live at Myrabluan, with her husband Michael Stanford and children Angus, 16, and Lilla, 13, working alongside her parents Tony and Anne Bishop. Three generations working together.
The original property, Wootton, was purchased by Jesse Bishop from the pastoralist James Brindley Bettington in 1906.
For years it was home to the Wootton Poll Hereford and Merino stud founded by the late Bill Bishop.
Today the family run Herefords and Merino sheep at Myrabluan, which was part of Wootton .
As we're chatting Sarah draws parallels between art and farming.
"Art, like living on and with the land, brings with it a different concept of time," she says.
"When you grow up in the country you quickly learn that a job will take as long as it takes."
"You might be in the paddock for 40 minutes or that job might become three hours long.
"And farming is constant. You never just get to the end of it.
"It is the same for art.
"It's best not to count the hours, just enjoy the process.
"You might plan out the concept but things change and evolve."
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That process of honing her craft has been a lifelong one for Sarah. It takes time, application and effort, and a lot of good people along the way.
Sarah credits her many mentors and a few difficult life lessons for her success. And her family has been a constant support throughout.
"I think that living in the country as a child enables you to work for yourself in many other fields," she says.
"Resilience, flexibility and simple hard work is what life in the country is all about.
"If something goes wrong it's all on you.
"But there are still many things within your control and your successes are also your own.
There was one artist in particular who made a life long impact on Sarah. Her high school teacher and mentor, Moss vale Realist artist Tex Moeckel.
"Tex was not just a great teacher but he was such an extraordinary example of independent thinking" Ms Bishop says.
"After school I studied Graphic Design at Randwick Tafe.
"It was wonderful.
"From that course I learnt how to listen, meet a brief and a deadline."
Sarah's work sells around Australia and overseas.
Over the years she has done, and continues to do many commissioned projects too. Illustrating children's books, working with the Leukaemia Research Foundation and the Breast Cancer Foundation, and painting murals for The Children's Hospital at Westmead.
And she also spent many an interesting evening painting murals and chalk boards throughout the pubs, hotels and restaurants of Sydney in her earlier years.
She says the support of her country community in particular has been exceptional, and ongoing. So too the galleries that continue to represent her.
"Art is very nourishing," she says.
"Coupled with life living on the land with three generations of family makes me feel endlessly grateful and very blessed."
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