Claire Foxton is turning heads with her large-scale murals across Australia — the latest being a monster sized blue head embracing the pillars beneath the Merivale Rail Bridge.

Claire’s surreal portraits capture attention from hundreds of metres away. The portrait murals are detailed, in depth and disarmingly realistic. Claire was always a creative kid, and her passion for art grew with her. “I started doing portraits for commission as a teen as a hobby on the side,” says the emerging Australian artist.

Claire attended the University of Wollongong to study visual arts and graphic design — skills she later used to start a letterpress business. “I guess I took on the graphic design element as it was realistic to think, ‘how I am going to support myself?’, and graphic design ticked a few boxes.”

Her mural escapades began when she was offered the opportunity to paint a mural hoarding at a local Wollongong shopping centre, in a 10 by three metre space. “It was the first time I had picked up a paintbrush in around six years. After that I started taking on more opportunities and participating in street art festivals.”

But it is not always easy to adapt a photograph in Claire’s palm to a humungous canvas, like a warehouse wall or concrete barriers, so she turned to her peers for advice. “When I first started out I tried to get as much information as possible. I listened to podcasts, watched artists’ time lapses, as well as asking a lot of artists about their style of painting, what to do when the paint is drying too fast or it’s raining. The good thing about this industry is that most artists are very open about that kind of thing.”

Her latest fresco in South Brisbane depicts local Andy Birgan who works next to the rail bridge at the Parmalat factory. The magnificent piece radiates colour and light in a space that would otherwise be quite dull. “The person I choose will always have been a part of the community where the painting is, either they grew up there, have worked there for some time or have had an influence in the area.”

Claire likes to get to know her muse before beginning to paint and is always part of the selection process. “I either interview them or sit down and have a coffee to chat, so I can better get to know them and their story so when I set out to paint them it is not just painting a face on a wall. The area and location of the piece is always linked to a local person. I think it encourages people to delve more into why the person has been painted there; it is a subtle yet very bold way to start a discussion.”

The abstract element of Foxton’s works is her motivation and passion. It is unusual, quirky and fun; it gives her art dimension and a wonderful burst of colour. “I particularly love painting the abstract layer. You can probably see it develop more in my murals over time. It is where I get to be free to do what I want and create something without constraint.”

Readers also enjoyed this story about Artist to the Stars Tracie Eaton.