Narelle Zeller’s Life-Like Paintings Explore the Beauty of the Human Condition

Paige Simianer | September 30, 2022

Featured Artist Narelle Zeller's refined oil paintings explore the beauty of the human condition and our connection to the natural environment.

Based in Canberra, Australia, Narelle Zeller works full-time as an artist conveying an authentic and honest representation of every subject she paints. 

Her process allows her to slow down and take time to appreciate each element—inviting the viewer to look closely with her. 

Zeller draws inspiration from the people around her and her own personal life experiences. By infusing personal and universal narratives within each piece, she asks viewers to question and connect to the stories behind each painting

Artwork Archive got the chance to chat with Narelle Zeller about her creative process, subject matter, and how she defines success as an artist. You can see more of her work on Discovery and learn more about her work below. 

Narelle Zeller, 'Bury Me With a Mandarin', 60 x 80 cm, (23.62 x 31.5 in), 2018


Has your work changed over time—do you find yourself understanding your art career through different periods of expression?

Yes, definitely. My work is constantly inspired and informed by life experience—as life changes for me, my paintings reflect those changes in some way.

I am also continually looking to grow and learn as an artist by seeking new challenges technically and conceptually. That has and will continue to change my work over time.

One thing that has stayed a constant for me is my love of realism. Over the years I have explored that with many mediums, but my professional career has settled comfortably around my medium of choice—oil paint.


Do you have a favorite or most satisfying part of your process?

Every painting is a journey, with many ups and downs throughout the process.

It can be somewhat unpredictable with every new challenge, but there are regular points throughout the process that I always love. My favorite of which is after the drawing is down, and I get to start adding paint.

There is such a joy to bringing my ideas to life and in laying those initial fresh colors. It's exciting at that point as there is so much possibility within the piece.



Can you elaborate about how your work explores the beauty of the human condition? What leads you to be inspired to explore this? 

In art there are endless ways to explore what it means to be human—this has always intrigued me as an artist.

This concept has also led me to portrait and figurative genres from early on.

Like many artists, my work is continually motivated by the pursuit of capturing beauty. That beauty can be found in many ways when portraying people. Through the approach of realism, I love that I can bring each subject to life on the canvas in a very genuine way, thus reach to depict stories and emotions that resonate with our collective human experience.


What has your artistic education consisted of (formal or not)? If you did receive a formal education like an MFA, did you find it necessary for your artistic growth, or did you find that elsewhere?

I haven’t pursued a formal education in art. Instead, I have navigated my way with workshops, online classes and mentorship programs with artists that I admire.

I have a very intuitive process, but I am always looking to learn and develop as an artist to gain a greater understanding and make more informed decisions behind my work.

Photo of Narelle Zeller with her piece 'Colleen in Blue', 61 x 40.6 cm (24.02 x 15.98 in), 2019


How would you define a successful art career?

To me, a successful art career is one where I could continue to create the paintings that are meaningful to me, that I find joy in creating, and which continue to challenge me as an artist.

If I find meaning and joy in my art, then hopefully others will too.


Why did you decide to use Artwork Archive to inventory/manage your artwork?

Honestly, my record-keeping system was a mess! As my artwork inventory was growing and moving all around, I needed a system to keep track of everything and organize myself.

Artwork Archive was recommended to me and is perfect—not only for artwork management but for financial bookkeeping as well. Since using Artwork Archive, I have found many extra tools and features that are beneficial for managing my art practice.

Narelle Zeller, 'Amy,' 71 x 91.4 cm (27.95 x 35.98 in), 2021


How do you use Artwork Archive on a daily basis?

I use Artwork Archive most regularly to update my inventory and keep track of the details and movements for each artwork.

I also use it as a full portfolio for any potential collectors to access at any time to view my artworks, see the status of each piece, and inquire directly with the gallery it is associated with.


What advice would you give an emerging artist during this time?

The best advice that I could give to any emerging artist would be to invest time in your practice. Put in the hours needed to explore and develop your craft.

It can be hard work at times, but success will only come with perseverance. Don’t wait for inspiration to motivate you, keep creating and challenging yourself.

Narelle Zeller, 'Oh Dahlia', 22 x 30 cm (8.66 x 11.81 in), 2022

Narelle Zeller uses Artwork Archive to inventory her artwork, stay on top of her financial details, and stay connected with her clients. 

You can make an online portfolio, catalog your artwork, and generate reports like inventory reports, tear sheets, and invoices in seconds with Artwork Archive. Take a look at Artwork Archive's free trial and start growing your art business. 

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