WHEN Elizabeth Ottey faced a near-death experience, she knew it was time to pursue her dream of becoming an artist.
Born with an extra artery and lung lobe which were connected, it was 2015 when one day, her lung started to fill with blood due causing her to be admitted to emergency surgery.
“(And) I just knew at that point that I had to pursue my dreams,” she said.
Fast forward to 2017 and that is exactly what she has now done. Two years after the life-changing experience, Ms Ottey has put her name to a massive mural at Airlie’s newest restaurant, Hemingway’s, at Abell Point Marina.
But it wasn’t an easy journey. “I studied art in college and I wanted to pursue it as a career but I got stuck in this corporate job,” she explained. “And then I had this near-death experience. After two months I decided ‘I can’t do this job anymore, I have to pursue my dreams’ and shortly after that I decided to leave the (United) States and went to Thailand to speak English.”
It was May 2016 when Ms Ottey arrived in Australia, moving to Airlie Beach in January 2017 and finding work as a waitress at Hemingway’s.
“I saw the type of design the interior designer wanted to do, which was a black and white kind of neutral theme and I thought ‘the type of painting I do would fit really well’,” she said. “I showed her the kind of work I do and said I could paint a picture of (Ernest) Hemingway and she saw it and said she’d been looking for an artist but couldn’t find anybody.”
Since living in Airlie Beach, Ms Ottey said she had gained a new zest for life and was eager to build on her dreams.
Following the completion of the mural, she said she’d received many compliments from diners at the restaurant and passers-by.
“I’m very proud and I’m very excited,” she said. “I never thought it would happen and now that it has, I feel really good about it.
“This is my first step into something that could be much bigger.”
Check out Ms Ottey’s artwork via www.lizottey.com or through her Liz Ottey Instagram.