Kenthurst painter's brush with fame

Piece of history: Max Mannix bought the old St Madeleine Sophie Barat church in Kenthurst from an art dealer five years ago and turned it into his studio. The church had stopped operating as a house of worship in the 1980s. Picture: Geoff Jones

Piece of history: Max Mannix bought the old St Madeleine Sophie Barat church in Kenthurst from an art dealer five years ago and turned it into his studio. The church had stopped operating as a house of worship in the 1980s. Picture: Geoff Jones

Artist Max Mannix describes his pieces as "typical, not particular" — but the Art Gallery of NSW would probably disagree.

The Kenthurst oil-on-canvas painter was a finalist in this year's Wynne Prize with Where I'd Like to Be, now on display at the gallery until September 28.

"It's very exciting for me from humble beginnings to see one of my paintings at the gallery," he said.

He grew up in country Victoria and south-west Queensland where he worked on stations and droving cattle, accumulating life experiences and memories that would later inspire his art.

He depicts Australian country life and its people.

"I know every character I paint," he says. "I've worked with them; cried with them; and laughed with them.

"I call my work 'typical, but not particular' because they're my interpretation of certain landscapes."

Mr Mannix became a full-time painter in 1977 and has a strict routine of being in his studio seven days a week for a full day of painting.

"It takes a lot of discipline and I'm a workaholic," he said.

"But I've thoroughly enjoyed every day of my life since going full-time and I wouldn't be doing what I'm doing if it wasn't for my wife — she looked after the kids and mowed the lawns and the rest of it.

"All I did was paint."

An effort that seems to have paid off.

Mr Mannix, 74, has had more than 60 solo exhibitions, each featuring 40-50 original pieces.

"And I'm so bloody fortunate to have sold almost every painting I've painted."

His next solo exhibition is from September 20-28 at the Articles Fine Arts Gallery in Stanwell Park.

■ View a gallery of photos of Max Mannix in his Kenthurst studio here.

Did you know?

■ Blue Opal released a series of 1000-piece jigsaw puzzles of Mannix’s paintings.

■ Max Mannix has notebooks filled with titles of paintings. He writes them down as inspiration strikes and later creates pieces based on the title.

■ He left home when he was 16 and went droving sheep around south-west Queensland on horseback, becoming a full-time painter in his 30s.

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