LOCAL TREASURE Regan Piccone (née O’Neill)

Local of how many years: 44 (I lived in London for ONE year and Brisbane for ONE year)
Suburb you live: Whitfield
Favourite place to eat in Cairns: Piccolo Cucina
Favourite spot to visit: Port Douglas and Tablelands

When did you discover your love of art? In year eight at Saint Monica’s College, my teacher Mrs Husek really encouraged me and made art fun. I got an ‘A’ for a project and thought that was awesome!

How did you actually start making and selling your pieces? I was at a 50th birthday party on a boat cruising up the Cairns Inlet and I had painted some wooden salad servers as a gift. There was a lady on board who was a Cairns Art Gallery curator and she asked me if I had any more that she could display in her gallery. I took a pair into the gallery the next day and they sold that day. She asked if I had any paintings which I could take into the gallery so I took one in and it sold that same day. I was 18 and since then I have sold over 4500 paintings in Australia and overseas.

How would you describe your collections? Colourful, fun and vibrant.

Where do you find your design inspiration? I love flowers and the colours of the ocean and reef. I am also inspired by other Australian artists such as Ken Done and Tania Heben.

How would you describe your own personal style? Colourful and happy. I’m obsessed with the Australian brand, Mister Zimi and have been creating handmade earrings to match each outfit. I love coordinating everything!

What goes into creating a piece (pair of earrings)? I mix different coloured polymer clays to create exactly the right colours, I then cut out various shapes and pieces of clay to create a design on a flat clay slab. I roll it out to a certain thickness and then cut out the earring components. The components are then baked in the oven, sanded and buffed to make them smooth and then I hand paint detail on to them. When I’m happy with the end result, I drill holes through each component and attach the findings and bring the earrings together. It is quite time consuming.

What is your most favourite piece (painting) and why? My favourite painting is of a striped lounge chair I did many years ago. A local businessman bought it and he hangs it in his office. I have asked him several times if I can buy it back for double what he paid but he won’t part with it. He has bought other paintings from me for his offices in NSW, he’s a great supporter.

How do you want women to feel when wearing one of your pieces? Like it’s a statement, each piece is unique and special. The best thing is that no one else will be wearing it because they’re all one of a kind.

What is the most valuable thing you’ve learned as a designer? Knowing when to stop is so important. You can overwork a painting and completely ruin it. When I hold art classes, I tell students to stop and put their brushes down, it’s good to stop, walk away from your painting and look at it from a distance.

If you could go back and tell yourself one thing before beginning your career what would it be? Learn how to sew.

In addition to your 100% hand designed creations you also have a soaring career in real estate at RE/MAX Cairns honestly how do you juggle both? I have a painting studio at home as well as a work bench where I make my earrings which is always set up ready to go. I paint at night time and weekends, working in real estate allows me to have flexible hours which suits me perfectly.

From the likes of Hollywood actress, Eva Mendes to famous international chef Jamie Oliver how did you feel when such famous people take home a piece of your artworks? I am absolutely thrilled to know that my artwork hang in their homes.

Where can we purchase one of your pieces? My earrings are available to purchase on my website www.reganoneill.com or you can buy them at Honey Tan & Wax in Shields Street, Divine Beauty in Mossman and The Nest Café in Whitfield.

My paintings are on display at Vivaldis restaurant in Cairns and on my Facebook Page www.facebook.com/reganoneillartist
My clothing and gift range are available at www.redbubble.com search: regan oneill