Sometimes art is so gob-smackingly beautiful, it stops you in your tracks and you can't help but pause, stare and get lost in it.
Narelle Zeller's work does that to me every time.
A Canberra local, she is a contemporary realist artist, who is primarily concentrating on figurative oil paintings but also "exploring still life painting". And how.
Her stunning still life work is now on display at the Grainger Gallery on Dairy road in Fyshwick in the exhibition, Mirror Mirror.
It's her first shared show with her sister Colleen Stapleton, although the pair have been in group shows before.
Colleen's work is all beautiful portraits and figurative pieces, big on texture, colour and intentional strokes.
The sisters grew up on a property outside Grafton in northern NSW and both showed artistic leanings early.
"We sort of got more serious in recent years," Narelle said.
"Our dad was a traditional signwriter. He was always painting in our backyard by hand. But we've always been creative."
Narelle says she was mainly self-taught, finetuning her skill while she raised her family, while Colleen attended art institutions overseas and in Australia.
The decision to do an exhibition together was not difficult, their two artistic pathways coming together.
"We're just sharing the journey together," Narelle said.
"We're both really serious about it at the moment and we have such a great relationship, we're really close."
Narelle has been lauded for her figurative work. Most recently, she was selected as one of 40 finalists in WA's premier portrait prize, The Lester Prize. The portrait, Brave New Worker, was of her husband Sam, in lockdown.
She has also just put the finishing touches to a portrait of Ngambri-Ngunnawal elder Aunty Matilda House, for entry to the Darling Portrait Prize.
She ventured into still life when painting a botanical headpiece for a portrait of a friend.
It also forged a collaboration with Canberra floral artist Amy Clement, from The Wild Side Florals, who supplied the blooms for that original painting.
"Just getting her to make a headpiece, I thought while she's going and getting all those materials, it would be nice to make some still lifes out of it as well," she said.
The intricate detail takes hours and hours of painstaking application of paint.
Narelle recently shared a timelapse video on social media showing her painting a flower, which took five hours.
"And I usually do multiple layers," she said.
"The quickest piece to paint would be a couple of weeks, up to a month."
For the current exhibition at the Grainger Gallery, Amy Clement has also provided stunning blooms to complement the paintings.
Narelle said the reaction to Mirror, Mirror had been "very positive".
"We were just so happy with how many people came out to opening night, even though it was pouring," she said.
"There were so many people there and we're getting feedback still from people visiting now and really enjoying the show."
- Mirror, Mirror is on at the Grainger Gallery in Fyshwick until December 12.