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Local Artist Makes World Headlines

Story: Donna Roberts | Photo: Ben McShea
Aug 22, 2019
Bindi Irwin celebrated her 21st birthday recently.  Local 19-year-old artist, Joel Vanderduys, was beaming with pride, as most of us saw pictures on the news, or in the paper, of the happy Irwin family holding a magnificent portrait of Steve Irwin.

“I painted Steve Irwin because he was my childhood hero,” Joel said.

“I felt like it was time to thank him for being a part of my life and so I decided to give the painting to his family.

“I wanted them to know that people care about them and understand how hard it has been and I wanted to acknowledge that he would be proud of them.”

Joel asked a friend to take the portrait to Australia Zoo in the hopes of getting it to the Irwins.

“My friend went to the meet and greet at Australia Zoo and placed the painting on the inside of the fence with a bunch of flowers, and Bindi picked it up,” Joel said.

Joel spent most of his life in Papua New Guinea (PNG), where he grew up as a missionary kid for 17 years. 

A year-long break from PNG, in 2013, saw him attend Mueller College, where his talent for hyperrealism was discovered.

“I had a great art teacher, so I was constantly challenged to create more realistic art,” Joel said.

“I began with coloured pencils and watercolours and didn’t do much acrylic until after I moved back to Australia [in 2017] and had access to heaps of paint and canvases.” 

In the past two years, Joel has continued to hone his skills in hyperrealism. “I think of my art as a representation of life, I want it to look life-like so I always start with the eyes and then I can watch the piece come to life in front of me as I paint,” Joel said.

“I find people’s faces need to be realistic for people to connect deeply.”

Joel’s work can be seen in the Red Poppy Art Collective, the Seaside Artists Gallery at Redcliffe and Scarborough Seaside Flowers and Gifts. You can also connect with his ‘artbyjoelv’ Instagram and Facebook accounts.