Stu Doherty brings art back home to Wauchope

Updated: Jan 18

Wauchope Creative Hub is an Artistic Collective born from a COVID-19 turnaround

Many people have found a refuge and solution when they turned to art, and Stu Doherty is an example of someone who turned to art and found a new lease of life.

Stu is a Wauchope local who moved to Sydney to pursue a career in the fashion industry.

He worked as a fashion designer for 30 years specialising in menswear with some big labels including Morrissey, Trent Nathan and private labels for David Jones, Grace Bros and Myer.

He then moved into designing workwear, which was something new and interesting for him at that time. It meant testing fabrics and focusing on the more technical aspects of what goes into a piece of clothing. In the past ten years, if you have seen a uniform around you, it is very likely to have been designed by Stu. He has been involved in businesses like KingGee, Bisley, BUPA, Thrifty, NRMA, RACQ, Kennards Hire, and Sydney Trains and Buses.

As with many creative minds, sticking to just one single speciality can quickly becoming soul-numbing.

Designing only one specific style became monotonous and that got Stu thinking about what he could do next. He knew this was not what he wanted to do for the rest of his life, but he was also concerned that if he did not make a change, he would be sitting in his comfort zone forever.

The Light from the Pandemic

Then COVID-19 hit.

Stu was working for a big Sydney company who made uniforms for hundreds of different Australian businesses. When the contracts ended, nobody needed uniforms. Many companies could not even employ staff, let alone dress them up. This forced Stu to take a redundancy package and he sat around for a few months in Redfern where he lived, thinking this would blow over soon.

During the stifling boredom of the lockdown, Stu started painting again to find some relief.

At the same time, his family encouraged him to return home to Wauchope, so he did, and he continued painting there every day, and it became a way of life that gradually grew on him.

This was the start of the light that was brought about by the pandemic. It veered Stu off on a course that he would not otherwise have embarked on.

Artistic Origins

Stu had always been artistic.

He painted and did art in high school. When he was in fashion design college, he did life drawing and fashion illustration.

His love for art came from his mother, Marlene who was a craft and sewing teacher for over 40 years. She instilled in him a love for artistic creativity.

And so Stu started attending and selling paintings at the Artists Market in Port Macquarie. This caught people's attention and people started asking Stu if he taught painting. He used to work at the White House Institute, a fashion design and interior design college. He taught illustration there and had a background in education fundamentals.

These were the humble beginnings for his workshops at Out There Mosaics in Beechwood.

Controlling Water

Water colour is Stu’s favourite medium.

It is slow and gentle and suits his laid back personality. Stu may be an artist, but he is far from being wild and flamboyant. Stu is quite the opposite - calm, methodical and process driven.

For those who understand and appreciate the medium and behaviour of water colour, it is a beautifully slow process of building up of layers. It is not something you can splash on at one go and leave it to dry overnight and call it a day. Stu enjoys every single layer he applies, he waits to see how the colours behave and where they spread, how they unfurl or retract. It is very much a live, living process where you grow with the painting and the end result is like seeing the painting with new eyes.

It is not necessary to have formal training to get started on a water colour palette and a canvas. It is as much for people who want to explore their creativity or for those who favour a more therapeutic approach to relaxing with their paints.

Water colour uses different techniques and simply watching the water and colours move around on the paper with a mind of their own is rather mesmerising and even hypnotic.