WHAT started as a hobby has turned into a booming small business venture for La Trobe University Bendigo student Jess Pethybridge.
She said during her time in high school in Portland, being creative in her artwork was more of an interest rather than learning the theory behind it.
"I've been doing art for as long as I can remember," she said.
"But it was more just playing around and having fun, I never really took it seriously.
"Art was compulsory up until about year nine and I enjoyed the painting and art side of it more than having to explain the idea behind everything I drew."
Jess said ultimately she wanted to focus on science, but art never really left.
"I sort of gave it up for a while and then I was accepted into a Bachelor of Science at La Trobe University in Bendigo," she said.
"I'd always loved science, but I did eventually pick my art back up a few years ago."
But in the last year, Jess said some of her friends had shown some interest in her artwork.
"A few people asked me if I was going to sell a few of my pieces so I thought I might be able to sell to others if they wanted," she said.
She had not long opened an Etsy store when overnight she went from 300 to 9,500 Facebook followers.
"It was incredible," Jess said.
"I didn't expect so many people to want my art, but it just went crazy and I'm so thankful for that.
"A lot of people ask me how I have time to do my uni work and art and I honestly have no idea, I just do it."
For Jess, a life combining art and science provides a wonderful balance.
"Painting is one of the only things that gets my brain to shut off," she said.
"I definitely couldn't do one without the other though, not for long anyway.
"If I didn't have the art business, I think my brain would get tired and overwhelmed and miss that creative outlet, but if I dropped science and only pursued art, I think I would miss the intellectual stimulation and analytical problem solving that comes with that."
Jess finds native flora and fauna an inspiration for her work.
"In the beginning I would try and mimic paintings I could find online, as a way of getting a feel for how I could manipulate the paint to get it to do what I wanted," she said.
"Then it has just been practice ever since, slowly uncovering and developing my own style and technique.
"Any Australian animal is beautiful and something I love to paint, but I'm going through a bit of a bird phase at the moment."
You can find more of Jess' work on Instagram @jess.keeli.creative
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