One fateful Saturday in November last year, Leslie Fitzsimmons and her partner Chris were exhausted after looking at houses all day. They wearily decided to give one last open house in Mayfield a go: a 1960s miner's cottage.
They walked in and saw the natural light and open space, and the rest is history.
They were so relieved to finally find a property.
They'd been searching since March, looking for a spacious house with a bit of a yard and also a studio where Leslie could work and be creative.
"This is my first opportunity for an at-home studio," Leslie says.
"I know that I paint, I get creative, when I am in my own zone. I can put on music; sometimes I dance around.
"I like to be able to feel the positive energy."
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Leslie once worked at Lake Macquarie City Art Gallery as an education and public programming officer.
Prior to buying in Mayfield, the couple rented in Wickham where Leslie had a tiny sun-porch studio, but she had less space and time to work and create.
Now that she's moved houses, Leslie's studio is her full-time job. She loves the light in the house.
She eventually opted to make the studio out of a bedroom next to the French doors.
"You've got to have a room with a lot of light," she says on finding the perfect place to paint.
"I am definitely inspired by my surroundings and being able to create my own space."
Now Leslie's in her studio every day, working different hours. To set it up she collected furniture she stumbled upon from thrifting and at second-hand shops.
Items in her studio serve as inspiration. She loves being outdoors and she has seed pods, rocks and a driftwood collection.
"I like looking at seashells; you have all the patterning," Leslie says.
"I like to collect things like that and be able to look back on them. I like going out into my garden; we have the succulents, and I like (looking for inspiration) around the area."
She has paintings displayed at the Umbrian coffee shop in Newcastle. She's a budding professional painter, selling her work, taking commissions and collaborating.
At home she's working on a series called Arid Land, inspired by New Mexico where some of her family members live.
"There's a lot of sage and terracottas and dry earth, but it's gorgeous in its own way," Leslie says.
"But my palette is (also) inspired by the local area. So those are the two pieces currently on my table."
Leslie has known she was a creative person since childhood, where she spent lots of time outdoors. She was raised in the midwest of the United States.
"I grew up out in the country. My Dad was a ceramicist and my Mum did floral arrangements from home," she says.
"We had a huge garden. I was always out there, that's where a lot of my inspiration comes from.
"My brother always had his drum kit around the house; they were always playing music.
"I've always been doing something creative. I would take photos of the sunset out in Kansas."
Leslie remembers doing welding at high school. At university she started with graphic design and switched to art education, finding she loved working with children.
She took all sorts of classes like ceramics, jewellery making and metal-smithing.
But she's never had an opportunity like she has now to work from home and paint all day.
She thinks the space she has in the two-bedroom, one-studio home gives her room for even more creativity.
She's working with an abstract style at the moment.
"I think it just flows out of me. It's actually process painting," Leslie says.
"I don't ever sketch down what I'm wanting to end up with.
"I'll just start, I'll look at my paints, choose some colours that can come from a bouquet of flowers or a walk I've done or a memory I have of travelling. So I'll grab my colours and start going."
- Learn about what's happening in Leslie's beloved home studio by visiting her on instagram: @lesliefitzsimmonsart.
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