Aussie mum-of-11 saves drought-stricken farm with $40k 'hobby'

Penny Burfitt
Lifestyle & Entertainment Producer
Jacinta has raised 11 children with her husband, now she's embarking on her artistic career. Photo: Facebook/ Jacinta Haycock Artist

Jacinta Haycock is used to getting stuff done, and just getting on with it.

You can tell from the way she casually talks about balancing 5 to 7 hours of painting a day with running a household of 13, keeping 11 kids happy over the last two decades, and propping up a farm ravaged by the drought that has gripped the rural community for years.

The 52-year-old mum of 11 is the artist behind the bright and colourful canvases that have taken the nation by storm since being included in bushfire and drought relief effort, Buy From the Bush.

Jacinta paints for five to seven hours each day. Photo: Facebook/ Jacinta Haycock Artist

Featuring native plants, rural landscapes and farmyard friends, the vibrant pieces have been a hit in Jacinta’s local Dubbo since she started exhibiting them in 2011, and initially help the busy mum find a bit of space just for her.

“How I started doing the art was as my little bit of therapy,” Jacinta tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “My little time to find me, because you can get lost in who you are.”

Balancing art and family

Jacinta fits her paintings around her family time. Photo: Facebook/ Jacinta Haycock Artist

It’s not hard to see why time for yourself might fall to the side, as Jacinta, somehow, rattles off the names and ages of her offspring in one breath.

The eldest is Isabel, who at 24 has started a family of her own, and the youngest Lars, who is trailing his older siblings at 8-years-old.

Between the pair are Hewett, Ruby, Martha, Paddy, Sullivan, Fletcher, Georgette, Darby, and Bessie who passed away at just five years old.

The brood takes up a rambling house (peppered with Jacinta’s art) on the family’s 680-acre cattle farm on the outskirts of Dubbo, a farm Jacinta runs while hubby Andy teaches at a school in town.

‘The farm dried up so my art had to really stand up’

Jacinta and husband Andy had to rally together when the drought hit their farm. Photo: Facebook/ Jacinta Haycock Artist

In recent years, the devastating drought has taken it’s a toll on the family and left the farm income running dry.

Almost overnight, Jacinta’s nighttime hobby became an important source of income.

“With the drought things just got tighter and tighter, I mean we had no money,” Jacinta says.

“The farm dried up so my art had to really stand up because we had no income from the farm... I just had to sell a painting every time a bill came in.”

Just when things began to start looking really dicey, a chance feature in a fundraising campaign turned the family’s fortunes on their head.

“Just like that Buy From the Bush came along and just saved my life,” Jacinta says.

Jacinta's paintings have taken off locally, and now nationally. Photo: Facebook/ Jacinta Haycock Artist

Buy from the Bush is a social media movement that sprung up in 2019, intending to help rural communities recover from the drought and fires by showcasing local businesses and encouraging Aussie’s everywhere to start buying online.

For artists and business owners like Jacinta, the impact can’t be overstated.

“Things went absolutely crazy for me. From the month of October to December I probably made nearly $30-$40,000,” Jacinta says of 2019’s whirlwind success.

Jacinta's bright and vibrant work is an absolute hit with shoppers. Photo: Facebook/ Jacinta Haycock Artist

These days her biggest concern is meeting the demands of an online following that has exploded to almost 6,000 followers on Facebook and 3.5k on Instagram.

“I painted around the clock,” she says of her struggle to meet the demand of a brand new legion of fans.

Most recently the busy mum was chosen to exhibit at the Sydney Gift Fair as one of a handful of regional artists sponsored by Australia Post.

Jacinta determined to ‘grab this by both hands’

Jacinta is determined to make the most of this moment. Photo: Facebook/ Jacinta Haycock Artist

While she has had to pedal furiously to keep up with the new demands, Jacinta says she wouldn’t change a thing and admits she has been waiting for this moment for some time.

“I am secretly happy people are seeing my art and liking it,” she says.

She explains between the loss of a child, time spent caring for sick parents and relatives and the delights and demands of her huge family, her art has been a ‘saviour’.

“There was a lot going on,” she admits of the time she went through every parent’s worst nightmare. “Art saved me through it all, I’ve always painted through it.”

She repeats the words she said to her husband when the art finally began to take off, and thousands began to see, and fall in love with her pieces.

“I’m going to grab this by both hands because I’ve always had a feeling deep inside that my art could go somewhere and I’ve never let go of it,” she told Andy.

“This could be my chance.”

Jacinta will be exhibiting at the upcoming Sydney Gift Fair at Sydney Olympic Park from 21-24 February 2020.

Got a story tip or just want to get in touch? Email us at lifestyle.tips@verizonmedia.com