11 Affordable, Emerging Painters You Should Know!

If there is one thing our readers (that’s you!) want from The Design Files, it’s the hot tips on affordable, emerging artists. Well, do we have treat for you today!

After the huge success of the affordable local painters round-up we did last year, we’re back with an updated hotlist for 2021. Read on for a round up of the hottest emerging artists you should definitely know, and should start collecting now. They won’t be under the radar for long!

Sasha Gattermayr

‘Her psychologist would call this an escapist fantasy’ by Louise Tate. Photo – Matthew Stanton.

Left: ‘Garden of no time.’ by Louise Tate. Right: ‘They’re not sure what she was looking for.’ by Louise Tate. Photos – Matthew Stanton.

Left: ‘She wondered when her life had become such a vast accumulation.’ by Louise Tate. Right: ‘Too many choices.’ by Louise Tate. Photos – Matthew Stanton.


Sasha Gattermayr
22nd of February 2021

Louise Tate

Louise Tate’s dreamy oil paintings are self-referential, drawing on her own life experience to illustrate themes relating to care, women and the natural environment. Her canvases depict an imagined utopian world, where nature and the human body flourish symbiotically. There are obvious parallels to draw between her compositions and the sunshine-hued Impressionist paintings of Monet and Bonnard, but with a thread of magic woven through its realism. Disembodied hands edge into scenes, or a pair of singlet straps dance in mid-air by themselves, hinting that the paintings occupy a a playful, otherworldly realm.

I often feel as though I’m nourishing the land of my paintings with my hands, just like a gardener who tends to the soil,’ Louise says. In addition to her Impressionist influences, Louise’s stories and characters are inspired by figurative artists Njideka Akunyili Crosby and Toyin Ojih Odutola, as well as Zadie Smith’s fiction and Olivia Laing’s philosophy. Her detailed, intricate works would be in good company amongst these visionary thinkers!

Price point:

$800 – $5,000

Where to find it:

Louise’s new solo exhibition titled Flowerings will be exhibited at Jan Murphy Gallery in Brisbane from 16th March – 10th April.

Left: ‘Retro Picnic.’ by Bethany Saab. Right: ‘The Neighbour’s Shallots’ by Bethany Saab. Photos – Claire Williams.

Left: ‘Garlic and Plate from Benna’ by Bethany Saab. Right: ‘Shadows on the Round Table’ by Bethany Saab. Photos – Claire Williams.

Bethany Saab

Looking at her work, it’s hard to believe Bethany Saab only picked up a paint brush for the first time last year. With an established career in psychology, a floristry business and three kids, it’s fair to say that util now, she just didn’t have the time! But to dwell on her lack of formal art training belies Bethany’s obvious talent. The emerging artist is already represented bye and staged her first solo exhibition in January this year – a huge feat in the first twelve months of her practice.

Bethany paints mostly still-lifes using acrylic paints, translating scenes from her home to her canvas with tight, detailed precision. She positions everyday household objects against bold-high contrast backgrounds: the fold of a Kirsten Perry ceramic against a striped table cloth, or a tangerine segment placed on a checkered platter. She often includes the shadows and reflections of objects to create tension and convey mood. Her inspirations span centuries and hemispheres, from Gustav Klimt and Egon Schiele to Margaret Olley and Arthur Streeton.

If this is what Bethany’s work looks like just a year into her practice, things are looking bright!

Price point:


Where to find it:

Michael Reid galleries. Her next solo show is at Michael Reid Northern Beaches in October.

Photo – Tamas Keefer.

Amalia Keefer. Photo – Tamas Keefer.

Photo – Tamas Keefer.

Photo – Tamas Keefer.

Amalia Keefer

Abstract art can be alienating for some people, but Amalia Keefer makes it all seem so easy. Her big, bright canvases are a symphony of colour and movement, inspired by static moments in her day. She captures feeling and emotion with ease, using colour combinations to express the things words often fail to articulate.

After living in Melbourne for years, working in hospitality and studying textile design, Amalia moved home to Queensland at the beginning of the pandemic. Only then did she have the time, space and financial security to properly turn her attention to painting and focus on honing her style. And how it has flourished!

Price point:

$400 – $1,200

Where to find it:

DM her here on Instagram.

See our full profile on Amalia here.

Left: ‘Cockhead’ by Mia Boe. Right: ‘Locked Up, Lockdown’ by Mia Boe.

Left: ‘The New Normal’ by Mia Boe. Right: ‘Anonymous’ by Mia Boe.

Mia Boe

Mia Boe is a descendent of the Butchulla people from K’gari (Fraser Island) in Queensland. Her compositions are politically charged, often depicting Aboriginal bodies in jail or beside slogan-like text, literally spelling out a call for action on racial injustice. 

Though frank about the bleak reality of Australian racism, her paintings are colourful and surreal, depicting scenes without a recognisable time or place. Black bodies populate these landscapes, with long fingers, swollen faces or distended bellies. They are drovers, police, bushrangers and prisoners, constantly locked in states of survival. 

All I know is that these strange swellings and stretchings have formed part of my response to the events of 2020, from the bushfires to the movement for black lives to the global pandemic,’ Mia says. She is inspired by iconic artist and Western Arrernte man Albert Namatjira and the ‘gaunt stockman’ typical of Robert Drysdale’s work. She is about to embark on a Masters of Contemporary Art – so watch this space!

Price point:

$1000-$2000 for smaller works, $3000-$6000 for larger works.

Where to find it:

Sunday Salon or on her Instagram here.

Left: ‘A Leg Up’ by Georgia Spain. Right: ‘Fruit Pickers’ by Georgia Spain. Photos – Jennifer Leahy.

Left: ‘Reaching out’ by Georgia Spain. Right: ‘Great Outdoors’ by Georgia Spain. Photos – Jennifer Leahy.

Georgia Spain

Georgia Spain thinks her style is always changing but describes her textured, energetic compositions as ‘loose, intuitive mark-making’. Though obviously figurative, her style is almost impressionistic – devoid of hard lines and structured, demarcated bodies. Colours bleed into one another and the boundaries of each figure are only approximate, allowing the people in her paintings to fuse into each other and their surroundings. 

The result is hazy but intoxicating. Shapes spill forth easily from her arrangements, like a flower blooming in fast-motion or metallic oily swirls moving across the surface of a puddle. 

Based in Tasmania, Georgia is currently displaying work in an online exhibition at Egg & Dart called Both Ways Is The Only Way I Want It and preparing for a show through artist-run gallery Good Grief from march 12th – April 1st. 

Price point:

Varies depending on size

Where to find it:

Currently online at Egg & Dart

Left: Dusk Range. Photo – Jacqui Turk. Right: Painting in Ruby Gap.

Left: River Red, Study – Dusk. Photo – Jacqui Turk.

Amber Rendezvous (triptych). Photo – Penny Clay.

Emily Imeson

Emily Imeson’s soaring red landscapes are at once vast and intimate, beckoning the viewer closer and offering moments they might have missed. A recent recipient of the Brett Whiteley Travelling Art Scholarship, Emily’s paintings of the intense Australian wilderness are dynamic, combining deep ochres with burnt orange and pops of pink and blue.

Before travel restrictions were in place, Emily worked on the road, using the side of her four wheel drive as an easel and even hanging rolls of painted canvas from tree branches. This nomadic way of life gives Emily’s paintings a sense of momentum, with movement often crystallised in a single gliding bird or an ambling car which appears diminutive against a glittering inky sky. 

With an appearance at Sydney Contemporary this year, a solo show at Edwina Corlette in August, and a collaboration with social enterprise Two Good Foundation on the artwork for their second cookbook to be released in October, Emily is well on the way to moving into the ‘established artist’ category!

Price point:

$1,200 – $9,000

Where to find it:

At Saint Cloche and online at Art Annex

Read our feature on Emily here.

‘Polka Face’. Photo – Sunday Salon.

‘Hot Breakfast in Avalon’. Photo – Sunday Salon.

‘VB in Palm Cove’. Photo – Sunday Salon.

Photo – Ben Hosking.

Wes Waddell

Wes Waddell paints abstract artworks largely inspired by elements of Australian culture. Drawing on influences like Ken Done and Euan Heng, his ‘landscapes’ are snapshots of mundane Australian life: cracking a Victoria Bitters on the beach in Palm Cove, or having sunnyside-up eggs on toast for breakfast in Avalon.

Wes will be part of a group show at Brickworks Gallery Castlemaine in March.

Price point:

Varies depending on size.

Where to find it:

Sunday Salon or reach out on Wes’ Instagram here!

Left: ‘Lamia’s Super Deli’ by Luciana Smith. Right: A new painting soon to be on display at Saint Cloche. Photos – Claudia Lowe for Saint Cloche.

‘Cat Daddy’s Intuitive Wisdom’ by Luciana Smith. Photo – Claudia Lowe for Saint Cloche.

Left: ‘Grazie Milione’ by Luciana Smith. Right: ‘Concrete Lawn’ by Luciana Smith. Photos – Claudia Lowe for Saint Cloche.

Luciana Smith

Since she can remember, Luciana Smith has always been drawn to art-making, but it wasn’t until she discovered the vivid works of Sidney Nolan and Jean-Michel Basquiat in high school that she thought painting could be her medium. The surreal settings she creates now contain echoes of these original influences, searching for ways to express the absurdity and contradictions of everyday life through colour and scene. 

I’m interested in lived-in spaces, objects, antiques, the absurd, the human, the unseen, the overheard,’ the artist says, outlining the way she seeks out tension in fictional settings to examine the strangeness in our real world. ‘My style is a combination of what I’ve been collecting visually and mentally to create dream-like environments.’

Price point:

$600 – $3,500

Where to find it:

A solo show containing Luciana’s new work will be exhibited at Saint Cloche from April 19th.

Contact Luciana at her website here.

Left: ‘Your presence is like a warm hug’ by Ella Dunn. Photo – Ella Dunn. Right: ‘I see the ocean from the headland’ by Ella Dunn. Photo -Ruben Bull-Milne.

Left: ‘Fragile’ by Ella Dunn. Photo -Ruben Bull-Milne. Right: ‘A man and his dog’ by Ella Dunn. Photo – Jonathan Rands.

Ella Dunn

Ella Dunn grew up on a rural property on the mid-north coast of New South Wales, where she turned an old caravan into a darkroom and spent most of her teenage years honing her first artistic passion: photography. Though she discovered painting in her first year at art school, Ella’s experience with a camera proved to be invaluable training for her eventual return to the medium.

‘My paintings are often narrative based, gestural and figurative,’ she says. Now wielding a brush rather than a camera, the artist seeks to distill humorous or absurd moments in familiar everyday settings. Ella’s predilection for storytelling leads her to look outside her medium for inspiration, turning to artists like Bob Dylan and Helen Garner for new types of narrative.

Price Point:

From $500-$3000

Where to find it:

Sunday Salon

Left: ‘Black Velvet Nasturtiums II’ by Anh Nguyen. Right: ‘Primary Colours and Mirror’ by Anh Nguyen.

‘John in his studio II’ by Anh Nguyen.

‘Man and Son’ by Anh Nguyen.

Anh Nguyen

Anh Nguyen has been painting since childhood, slowly honing her style over years and years of practice. The absence of formal art training is perhaps what makes her work so distinct, learning about perspective and perception from studying the work of other ‘painters who engage with the everyday and the world around them, who look at the world with feeling and curiosity’ rather than theory.

Anh’s impressionistic style is rooted in drawing and sketches, a format which allows her to play with light and colour easily. Her paintings encompass anything from tabletop still-lifes to domestic scenery.

Anh has an exhibition at Michael Reid Studio Direct coming up and in a stroke of luck, pre-sales open today!

Price point:

$300 – $3,000

Where to find it:

On Anh’s website or via Instagram DM.

Alicia Bilyara Finlay Bennett is a Barkindji artist and doula based in Sydney.

Alicia Bilyara Finlay Bennett

Alicia Bilyara Finlay Bennett is a Barkindji artist and doula based in Sydney. With no formal art training, she paints intuitively, with a strong emphasis on storytelling.

Alicia paints with predominantly earth pigments and acrylic polymer on linen or plywood. With bold brushstrokes and sparse, monochromatic palettes, Alicia depicts stories of Country, landscape and Dreaming.

Price Point:

$240 – $2000

Where to find it:

DM Alicia on Instagram here!

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