Larger than life

Creative Arts alumna Claire Foxton is making her mark

In just three short years, Claire Foxton has expanded her already impressive creative repertoire from artist, designer and print maker, to internationally accomplished muralist.

It’s not hard to identify where Foxton has been wielding her paintbrush. The UOW Creative Arts alumna, from the Illawarra region, has painted more than 30 surfaces of varying sizes with her signature mural portraits, including walls, water towers and bridge underpasses across Australia and New Zealand.

Claire Foxton in her art studio

Foxton’s leap of faith, innate artistic vision and remarkable artworks, have propelled demand for her murals even beyond her own imagination.

“I had an opportunity to paint one a few years ago. I'd never really considered that before but it's something that I jumped into head first and it just picked up traction. The more I did, the more jobs I got, and it's become almost a full time gig for me now,” she says.

For this young artist, delivering a captivating mural is not just about painting what she sees, but also the emotional connection to her subject.

“My favourite part is meeting people and learning about them. I feel like I come away from every project richer in myself, each time I learn so much more and grow a lot, so I really enjoy that aspect of actually connecting with the mural subjects.

“I'm always drawn to the human condition and the way we are as people - the everyday humans that have interesting stories,” Foxton adds.

Stylistically, Foxton has kept a similar colour palette all the way through her works, which has become an unintentional calling card of sorts.

“The blue is definitely one colour that I always use. You can look at one of my works and recognise it now - which in the beginning, was not on purpose - but it has become a little bit strategic in helping me progress my career.”

The value of Foxton’s talent has not been lost on her former place of learning.

UOW recently commissioned her to paint a mural in the heart of Liverpool, depicting one of its South Western Sydney campus students.

Foxton says it was a lovely synergy to be working with the institution where it all began.

“Being a UOW alumna, that was a really exciting opportunity for me. I'm getting to use all of the skills that I learnt at UOW out in the community, so it's a nice full-circle opportunity.”

The mural subject, Adi Holmes, is studying a double degree in International Studies and Laws, majoring in Human Rights. Adi’s vision for her professional future is very clear, with her sights firmly set on advocating for the Free West Papua movement.

This passion for social justice combined with her personal resilience and determination to make a difference, resonated deeply with Foxton.

“I chose Adi because she is just an incredible human. She has accomplished so much already and she's got this kind of strength about her. She’s a strong female and I think she is a really important role model for young women.

“Adi is also a young mum, and I find that to be one of the most beautiful messages about her story - that your passions and goals don't have to end when you have kids. You can have a family and still follow your dreams,” Foxton affirms.

Capturing the desired facial expression and telling the subject’s story through her brushstrokes is one talent, but for Foxton, the success of her work largely hinges on the click of a button - after the human connection is made.

“To be perfectly honest, my painting is only as good as the photo. So really, the art is in the photo. I have to capture the person at that moment.

“It's important that I take photos after I've already had a really good chat to the person because I know what kind of expression I want to bring out in them to portray their personality in the best light,” Foxton says.

When it comes to achieving the scale and accuracy of these giant artworks she follows a very tried and tested approach.

Claire Foxton outside painting on a wall

“Day one is generally starting with an abstract layer and it's basically all intuition. I have a very basic plan of what I'm going to do but I rely very much on the environment at the time and how I'm feeling to shape that layer.

“That abstract layer, combined with some random squiggle marks becomes my grid - as opposed to using a conventional square grid. I use Photoshop to place the portrait image over the top of a photo of the wall and I refer to that when I'm marking up.”

It’s not just artistic prowess that enables her to deliver these murals – Foxton says working in such a public environment with people passing by commenting on her work can be challenging.

“The mental preparation is a really big thing. I have to keep reminding myself that I have achieved before and that I will again.

“I think that's probably why I love it, because that hurdle can be so huge that when I jump over it, it's so satisfying.”

Claire Foxton
Bachelor of Creative Arts (Visual Arts & Graphic Design), 2009