For Winton-based artist Karen Stephens, living in a rural area is not a barrier to a fulfilling artistic career.
Stephens is just one artist whose work will be showcased in the upcoming Queensland Regional Art Awards touring exhibition, State of Diversity.
The Queensland Regional Art Awards is an annual visual arts prize and exhibition for established and emerging artists living in regional and remote Queensland.
The 2019 awards received 173 eligible entries, with eight winners sharing in a prize pool worth more than $25,000.
Now 37 of the artworks from the awards are set to go on the road from February until March next year as part of touring exhibition, State of Diversity.
The exhibition will visit locations including Brisbane, Charleville, Charters Towers, Roma and Moranbah.
Among the artworks is Stephens' artwork Out of the Blue, part of her series Fishing For Landscape.
Stephens is a fourth-generation descendant of George Cragg, who discovered boulder opal and established Opalton in the 1800s and its that rich history that helped inspire the works.
"I compare the life of the painter to the lifestyle of the opaler and the similarities," she said.
"We spend a lot of time in solitude, you have to have a great belief in what you do and sometimes you go home empty-handed but sometimes you strike it lucky, or are able to paint something special."
With 20 works so far in the series, Stephens plans to exhibit a selection of the works through Rockhampton's Gala Gallery, with Out of the Blue providing an early taste of what the series offers.
"It's pretty exciting," she said.
"This will be the fourth time I've had artwork in the Queensland Regional Art Awards touring exhibition.
"The awards are a great opportunity to be visible for remote and regional artists across Queensland."
Stephens, who grew up in Winton, returned to her hometown in 2018 to take up the role of exhibition coordinator with the Waltzing Matilda Centre's Outback Regional Gallery, a role she says complements her work as a practicing artist.
With a passion for Australian landscapes, Winton is an ideal location to base herself, even if it meants art supplies are harder to come by.
"The thing that is the glue for me is I only have to walk outside and there's my subject," she said.
"There are numerous artists from our state that have been able to have great careers from regional locations."
Meanwhile entries for the 2020 QRAA are due to open on May 5, with the theme of Decadence.
Flying Arts executive officer Kerryanne Farrer said this year's Queensland Regional Art Awards is particularly special for Flying Arts.
"2020 will be a big year for the Queensland Regional Art Awards as we are celebrating a decade of rewarding exceptional regional Queensland artists," she said.
"The touring exhibition for the awards, Decadence, is also set to coincide with Flying Art's 50 year anniversary in 2021.
"Both of these milestones are set to receive great interest from the Queensland and wider art community.
"We hope that artists take full advantage of this year's theme and use their creative licence to really explore what decadence means for themselves and their communities. The high calibre of Queensland-based artists never fails to astound and I'm sure that we can expect the same from this year's competition."
More information about the awards and exhibition are available at https://flyingarts.org.au/events-and-projects/queensland-regional-art-awards/