Meet the Artist behind Sonya Rae Designs

Art is heart. Yes that’s my take. Every artist no matter their field puts their heart into their work. You may not like it, we get that. But for those of you who appreciate individual expression, every artist thanks you.

When I say art or artist there are many forms and talents. Right now it is my pleasure to promote an awesome artist. Trust me, there are many out there, but this incredibly talented lady, is featuring now. I hope to have the opportunity to work with other artists over different fields, and assist in their promotion, showcasing their work.Sonya Rae Erhart possesses not only, unbelievable talent, but patience way beyond most parameters. I spent some one on one time in her studio to understand her work. And, I was completely mesmerised.

I asked Sonya to tell me her story, how did you get here? And in her own words, she told me,

“Art has always been a huge passion of mine especially portraiture. Discovering the love of Airbrushing started after watching an Artist complete an amazing portrait in 20 minutes. Totally blown away….I just had to learn the skill..!!!

So I attended an Airbrushing Night Course and then an Advanced the following year. It wasn’t an easy journey though… probably took at least five months to get control of the Airbrush. The fun really began when I bought my own Badger Airbrush to practise at home. I now have four Iwata’s which I think are the Queen of Airbrushes.

Greatest satisfaction for me is seeing a client’s face after I show them my creation….especially a Commission Painting. Knowing my Art is displayed in someone’s home and enjoyed by others is extremely rewarding.”

Tools of the trade are important for any artist, and Sonya has come a long way in perfecting choices in her chosen field. From the canvas through to the types of mediums and airbrushes used, Sonya not only ran me through her processes and equipment, she did it with the enthusiasm of a beautifully proud new parent.

After projecting an image onto the canvas, Sonya then sketches the outline in pencil. Very light, so you wont pick it up in this photo, however there is a faint outline of the hat and collar. And yes, the little picture taped on the left, is what she uses to guide her way through the colours and shapes, after choosing her subject.

Always by her side, are these two adorable boys, Beau & Bobby. They keep their human Mum well within their range and ensure she always has company.I looked into the history of airbrushing, to understand its origins. The first airbrush or paint distributor/atomiser as they were first named, was patented in 1876 by Edgar Francis Stanley in Massachusetts. Crude designs were invented until Walkup who repatented his work, with a name thought of by his wife, Phoebe, “air-brush”.

At a stakeholders meeting of the new Air Brush Manufacturing Co at 7pm on 6 October 1883, the name Air Brush was formalised.

This pressurised method of painting has been improved over the years, with some amazingly talented artists continuing to wow the general population with their impressions.

The finished Clint Eastwood canvas used in this article? That is now proudly on display at a local Brisbane Northside Cafe, Aarth Cafe, who are in the process of revamping their popular cafe to include and showcase Sonyas work. All work displayed at the cafe, will also be for sale. Watch out for the article once the revamp is complete, which is when you see the completed piece. I would love your feedback, as would Sonya and Aarth Cafe owner, Sunny.

Sonya has some new experiences on the horizon, something she excitedly shared with me. Keep watching and follow her on instagram @sonyaraedesigns. Don’t be shy, contact Sonya for commission work or if you would like to purchase her art. From what I have heard and was shown, the skills of this particular artist are improving to the point of mind blowing.

Remember also to follow @dinelivetravel on Instagram , Facebook , Twitter , Snapchat, Stellar and Pinterest, to keep up with the talent I intend to uncover and showcase.

In the meantime, here a few of Sonyas finished works. Including both a surf and skate board. The surfboard has been signed by subject, Mark Occhilupo, unfortunately though Sonya did not get to meet him. I hope she does one day.

*All photos included in article and promotion, were taken with the permission of the artist. Should you wish to utilise photos or article content for commercial purposes, please contact the writer, or artist directly.

Aarth Cafe, Taigum – New Menu Reviewed

This week we were privileged to attend Aarth Cafe for an early introduction to some of the new menu changes. Starting with entree, choices on tonight’s test menu were a couple of new bread, calamari, Haloumi, soft shell crab and pork belly.

Lets fade into these entrees as we begin our food journey ….

My choices this evening I decided, needed to be foods which can be overcooked easily. Tonight I chose to start with the Grilled Haloumi Salad which sat atop a delightful mixed salad accompanied by an interesting mix of pomegranate & date jam. This jam lifted the Haloumi with a flavour burst which brought the taste buds to life. The thinner slices of haloumi were that little bit crisper compared to larger pieces and were for me, my preferred choice of size. Interestingly the cold carrots on the salad provided a good partner for the jam and haloumi. Will also add here the Endless Pinot Grigio paired beautifully with this dish.

Hubbys choice was the Soft Shell crab with mascarpone and a green apple verjuice salad. We were both tasting the dishes and I did try this soft shell crab was beautifully crispy and again married well with the salad. In fact the selling point here is Hubby ate all his salad, nothing left on the plate. Now as someone who avoids salad whenever he can, that has to be a good advertising point!

Onto the mains. Tonight’s choice included a burger, chicken schnitzel, salmon, duck, steak, lamb, pork belly and pork ribs. Plenty of choice here. For me, it was to be the confit duck leg and candied orange salad. For hubby, grilled lamb with garlic reduction and a poppadum topped with sumac yoghurt salad.

Presentation of the dishes was certainly eyecatching. The poppadum filled with salad not only looked good, it gave the lamb a boost. As Hubby pointed out, the lamb itself was plain, very tender, and paired exceptionally well with the salad. Again, this salad plate was cleared by Hubby. That’s saying something! I did try this dish and in my opinion, felt the lamb should be plain and not flavoured as the yoghurt salad definitely added the flavour, whilst the poppadum gave you your crunch. Here’s a closer look below at the two dishes.

The duck where do I start. These were very large duck legs, and knowing how duck can be easily dried out during cooking, it was with some trepidation, I sliced into the leg. Juices flowed and the meat simply fell off the boat. Never, have I enjoyed such a beautifully tender duck with the slight crispness around the edges making this a superb dish. The salad also held its own surprise with small candied orange pieces popping up at random. These crunchy citrus delights added to this gastronomical delight, were a fantastic additional choice. I paired this one with a French FB Pinot Noir. Not too bad a match for this dish either.

All credit to Sunny and his team, they did do a fantastic job not only with the running the evening, but also with designing this new menu. I did talk to Robin the chef at the end and he told me the duck is slow cooked, well however its done, keep it up as it most certainly works.

To finish tonight was one dessert, a Belgian Chocolate Brownie with Vanilla Bean Icecream, chocolate fudge and whipped cream.

The brownie simply melted in the mouth, a soft chocolate delight. Icecream, big tick, loved it!

Talking with Sunny, his intention was for everyone to give an honest opinion or suggest any changes on the dishes. My husband suggested perhaps a jus or sauce drizzled over the lamb, again this I think depends on your taste.

Sunny and his staff are interesting to talk to and happy to explain or answer questions. The reason behind using the pomegranate was nice to hear, especially how common it was for Sunny growing up to have this fruit which is now not as accessible.

We agree that this menu has upped the ante. These are dishes which need to be going out to the table as soon as they are prepared. The pressure is going to be on the kitchen to uphold the standards and front of house to ensure everything is delivered to diners as soon as it is ready.

Drop in and try for yourself. New menu launches fully on December 6. Check it out and remember Choose YOUR Mood!

Aarth Cafe & Indian Restaurant 

A quick note to share yet another wonderful experience at Aarth Cafe & Indian Restaurant.Dinner started with a crunch!  Absolutely delightfully salty and crunchy, enough to dampen the hunger within until the main course arrives. 

Service here is always fantastic, friendly and just nice to be greeted like you are special.yNow I’m not big on hot food, only because it doesn’t agree with me.  However, thus mild tandoori chicken was superb!   Paired with a side of cachumber salad, it was a filling, tasty meal.Hubby chose a hot curry,why, because he could.  And he loves his hot food!  The only reason Hubby didn’t finish it all was he simply could not fit it in.   Wrapping his curry and rice in the Naan bread at times, he savoured every morsel.They really never disappoint here.  There’s not many places you can enjoy a fulfilling meal for two, with drinks and a glass of wine for $60.   Very good value for money, especially when everything is fresh.

New menu coming next Friday.  Will be back to try the new breakfast, lunch & dinner menus.  Nice to be able to enjoy a wine or beer with your meal too.

Choose your mood!   

Aarth Cafe – Taigum

You may recall my previous blog for this cafe when it first opened.  


Since then, we have visited on many occasions over the past couple of years.  Set on the edge of the shops in this complex, we enjoy visiting here as it really doesn’t disappoint.

Clean, tidy, never anything less than great service (with a smile), very reasonable prices all team with quality food and presentation to ensure each experience is enjoyable.

Perhaps you’re after a simple breakfast?   Poached eggs, mushrooms and toast, for me a most enjoyable way to start the day.

One of Hubbys favourites is the crossiant.  There’s been a few of these ordered over the last couple of years!

Recommended to me by our friendly staff attendant on one occasion, I have now become a convert to the Calamari Chat as opposed to my usual Salt n Pepper calamari.  With the just the right amount of spiciness and flavour to tease the palette, without being overpowering, I really do enjoy this tantilising dish.

Perhaps you prefer burgers?  These are catered for as well on menus which give everyone plenty of choice, combining Insian with Australian cuisine.

Oozing with burger goodness, there has never been a disappointing burger presented to us.  Always they have been packed with delicious ingredients and enjoyed mosel by morsel as the are devoured by the receiver.

Remember to check the drinks menu too.  Juices, smoothies, crafted coffee…the choice range is excellent, yet not too much.  

We really do highly recommend a visit to this cafe/restaurant.  There are not many places where the value for money is excellent.   I’m impressed with how reasonable they have kept their prices over the last couple of years.  It’s nice to have somewhere to go for breakfast or lunch where you know you total spend for two won’t exceed much over $30-40 for a meal and drink or two each.    Don’t dorget dinner service some nights too!

We will keep dropping in, as we consider this place to be one of those ‘reliable fallbacks’.

Keep up the fantastic work, I know many people have visited based on our referrals and I’m sure many more will!