If a Canberra artist can have a career that evolves organically, then Angus Comyns is an exemplar.
While he has been painting since he was 16, Angus launches his first major solo exhibition on Friday in Canberra at the age of 40.
His transition to a professional screen printer and stencil artist has come after a career as massage therapist and then slowly, but surely, applying his talents to the art world, one contact, one connection at a time.
His exhibition, Embrace the Mess, opens at 3.30pm on Friday at the Centrepoint Canberra arcade. It showcases his vibrant, shockingly-colourful contemporary works - ones that dare the eye not to take notice.
"If my work is not popping off the wall, I've done something wrong," he said.
Angus says Embrace the Mess is a reference to his style.
"I completely applaud artists who can do very detailed work, but if I get a blob of paint on one of paintings, I don't really care. I think it adds to the piece and takes the pressure off that everything has to be perfect," he said.
Angus grew up on a farm near Wagga Wagga and he and his brothers Scott and David boarded at Canberra Grammar.
He trained as a Bowen therapist and remedial massage therapist and worked with David at their clinic, Comyns Clinic in Manuka.
Angus did artworks for the clinic, and they got a good reaction from patients. He drank coffee in the early days of ONA in Manuka and did artwork for the cafe as well.
His other brother Scott, a senior winemaker in the Hunter Valley, previously for the likes of Tempus Two, Briar Ridge and Pepper Tree, started his own label, Comyns and Co, and Angus did the artwork for the labels.
(Scott will be bringing his bubbly and wines to the exhibition launch on Friday afternoon.)
Angus also has artwork in public spaces in Canberra.
"My big mural on The Cupping Room side wall, I think has just turned 10 years," he said.
He fully committed to pursuing art full-time after taking a screenprinting class with John Hart from Megalo Print Studio.
"His short course made me fall in love with screen printing and John has also become a friend," he said.
Living in Narrabundah, Angus said he was nervous and excited to be opening his first big exhibition in his own city.
He says he owes a lot to supporters such as James Willson, managing director of CRE8IVE, whose agency moved into the Centrepoint Arcade a year ago, set up a co-working hub and injected some life into the location with initiatives such as the exhibition.
"It's been reassuring to have some wise heads around," Angus said.
Does he feel like an artist now?
"Um, I guess you never stop judging yourself," he said.
"I think I'm producing some pretty cool stuff. In that regard, yeah, I'm an artist."
* Embrace the Mess, the first major solo exhibition by Angus Comyns is from 3.30pm to 6.30pm on Friday at the Centrepoint Canberra arcade off Petrie Plaza. Tickets are free from www.humanitix.com, with an artwork up for grabs for ticketholders. The link for tickets is here.
There will also be live music, a DJ and food and drink. Everyone is welcome.