What Sydney artist Aaron Kinnane has achieved with his latest exhibition Sunset Studies is more than put on a successful show. He has taken his career to the next level. Up until this show Aaron was making a name for himself with a series of works based on horse studies. They are recognisable for their use of colour, and form. But when it came time to paint a new series he decided to change course. Aaron says it was an abrupt decision, but one that brought clarity and focus to his painting. The proof is on the canvas in this series of Sunset Studies. Aaron is exhibiting at Arthouse Gallery in Sydney until August 9.

Which five words best describe you? I felt a little awkward trying to answer this one, so I asked my wife and best friend to answer for me: Father, dreamer, loyal, generous, reclusive.

How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? I first left school at 16 to pursue a career with horses. My mother became ill and my dad begged me to go back to school so I did. There are a few artists in my family and it was always going to be horses or art. I started university in Newcastle but fell short of the finish line. I was more taken by the romantic notion of the artist in the ghetto rather than being in a classroom environment. Luckily for me, my cousin was working for artist Sandro Chia in New York and Italy. In 2000 I went to Tuscany to work as Sandro's assistant alongside my cousin. It was without doubt the most formative year of my life. I learnt a lot about painting and myself not to mention having first-hand experience of the kind of romantic lifestyle a successful artist can live. It definitely solidified the desire to continue and pursue the life of an artist.

What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? Three things I’d say. Firstly, knowing that the only way you're going to get anywhere with anything is hard work. Even in your darkest moments you need to put your head down and work even harder. Secondly, when I was in my early 20s, my cousin gave me a gem piece of advice in relation to painting: “Don't be precious”. And finally, and most importantly, be kind to people.

What was the starting point for this exhibition? Someone handed me a palette knife, and I stopped thinking. I began to “paint”.

What’s your proudest career achievement? It would have to be when I took up an offer from (musician) Ben Lee to fly to India for his wedding to prepare for an Archibald entry a few years back. It was an extremely generous invitation from Ben. I was broke at the time and I had to borrow the money for the airfare and spent a week in an ashram in the south of India with Ben and his guests. While I wasn't selected for the prize, I did meet my wife there. So I kinda feel like I won the Archibald that year! I’d also have to say joining Ali Yeldham at Arthouse Gallery. I feel very fortunate to be represented by Ali and her team.

What’s been your best decision? See above.

Who inspires you? Selfless, generous people.

What are you passionate about? My family and my painting (and the South Sydney Rabbitohs).

Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? This is a tough one. There are millions - from a blacksmith in the Middle Ages to Picasso, and I wouldn't mind seeing my Gran again just to let her know that everything turned out all right.

What dream do you still want to fulfil? To teach my kids how to ride a horse.

What are you reading? An object of beauty by Steve Martin and The shape of a pocket by John Berger.

images courtesy of aaron kinnane and arthouse gallery