Rebecca Trajkovski Interview: Glass Ceilings & Motherhood
Sydney artist Rebecca Trajkovski remembers being a passionate creative from the early days of her childhood. Her youthful passion for dinosaurs drove her to replicate the creatures on paper. As she puts it, “I was so determined I taught myself to draw by wetting a piece of paper and placing it on top of a Jurassic Park book I received for my 6th birthday. I would trace the image of the dinosaur carefully with a soft pencil to avoid tearing the paper. I have no idea how I came up with this, all I know is that the paper wasn’t opaque enough and I wanted to replicate the image as close as possible. Once the paper was dry I would then colour in my dinosaur. I eventually mastered the dinosaur and I didn’t need to use my trick anymore.”
Since those early days, Rebecca’s creative toolkit has expanded past pens and paper to include a range of mediums. Now, acrylics are her medium of choice. It wasn’t an easy journey though – until high school Rebecca disliked the feel of paintbrushes and paints. She explains, “I really didn’t like painting as much as drawing, it was slow, time consuming and required discipline and patience. The turning point was when my art teacher set out an assignment for the class to copy a classical painting. I was forced to use a brush and let go of the pens and pencils I was so comfortable with. The painting took me weeks on end to complete and I found myself immersed in it.”
Despite a strong desire to study art at university, Rebecca was discouraged by her parents and instead chose law. She is now a practising lawyer, and pursues her passion for art whenever she can. Her two vocations occasionally cross paths – in 2017 she won the People’s Choice award in the Law Society of NSW‘s Just Art competition for her painting ‘Liberty, Law and Justice‘. The bold acrylic painting draws upon her experiences in law and her travels to New York City for inspiration.
“Much like the art world, the industry I work in is male dominated especially in the higher positions. My works “The Board” and “Glass Ceiling” series were inspired by both my first hand experience working in the corporate world and of those around me,” explains Rebecca, “sometimes when working for the man in a large corporation you find yourself subject to decisions of those in power, made on your behalf and often out of your control. Even though these decisions can have devastating effects on you, those in your workplace or your family in most cases they are made by people you have never met in person.”
Many industries still find a lack of women in top-level positions, and law is no different. Statistics published last year illustrate the glass ceiling in the industry. In the UK and US only 18% of top-level positions in law are occupied by women, according to the Financial Times. Rebecca’s experiences are global, and it’s no wonder her feminist works resonate.
As Rebecca prepares to return to work, feminist issues are still on her mind. Balancing work and motherhood is a challenge many women face, and there is never an easy solution. She explains, “I’m just about to head back into work on a part time basis and a lot of the art I have produced in the last year has represented the anxious feeling of whether or not I’ll be able to cope with the pressure of it all.”
Rebecca’s personal life is another rich source of inspiration. With each new adventure in life comes new material to explore. She explains, “You can see in the body of work I have recently produced that there are themes including love, music, travel, and motherhood. I have drawn on my experiences and some very life changing moments such as travelling overseas, getting married, and recently becoming a mother.”
Translating her emotional journey onto canvas is done with the use of acrylic paints. Rebecca’s art process is very free flowing, with most pieces only taking shape as she puts her brush to the canvas. She elaborates, “I recognise that I paint the way I feel and a painting might start one way with an idea in my head but will change as spontaneously as my feelings, resulting in a completely different end result. Once I have finished a painting I reflect on what was going on in my life when I produced it and it is usually then that I ascertain its meaning. At times I’ll get an urge to create something without knowing why and only come to realise what the painting meant to me once it is finished.”
“To date I have penciled in two canvases before painting them. I don’t really like knowing where a work is going or having a set plan because I enjoy being lost in the process and having the freedom to alter the piece.“
Acrylic paint is the obvious choice for a creative process based in spontaneity. It’s quick drying abilities allow her to work through her process while the emotions are taking hold. Fast drying times have also “been especially important for me in the last year as I usually can only work a couple of hours per day while my baby sleeps (if I’m lucky!).” It’s not easy managing with a newborn!
Painting is what keeps Rebecca sane. In her words: “I love the freedom painting gives me to express myself. I find it therapeutic to create and I’d be miserable without it. I also love having people engage with my work. Until recently I only ever created work for myself and never really intended on selling it. I’m glad I’ve gotten out there, created an instagram account, joined Bluethumb and recently participated in The Other Art Fair in Sydney.”
Over the last decade, Rebecca’s work has evolved as her confidence has grown. Her colour choices have matured and become bolder. She is now confident enough to “paint freely without overthinking the work.” In 2019, she plans to continue this development of her style as she further explores her series The Board. Catch her work later this year at The Other Art Fair in Sydney this October.
Browse more bold paintings by Rebecca Trajkovski on her Bluethumb profile here.