2022-12-16 client story - Chalie Macrae Client

Artist Chalie MacRae talks art and science with Kearney Group.

21 December 2022 Read time: 5 min

When chatting to Chalie MacRae, you can see her left brain and right brain firing with equal parts eloquence and enthusiasm. It’s no wonder we work well together – she just might be the human embodiment of Kearney Group’s approach, ‘from logic to magic’.

Chalie is creative and analytical, spontaneous and strategic, frantic and calm (in her own words). Her story about splitting away from the comfiness of a full-time senior professional career and diving into the world of art is surprising and inspiring. And it’s a story that Kearney Group is proud to have witnessed first hand.

Here’s what it’s been like for Chalie to turn her passion into a thriving, second act career.


Intelligence analyst turned… artist!


Chalie’s career path has reflected the two parts of her personality: ‘the calm Chalie and the frantic Chalie’, she says, laughing.

‘I’ve always been a bit creative. In my teens I was interested in photography and writing and dabbled in painting, but pursued more of a professional career, per se.’ 

As a young adult, Chalie ‘fell into law enforcement and pursued the intelligence channel’.

She climbed through ranks at Australia’s top law enforcement agencies where she led tech and operational analysis for critical projects.

She recalls working on a prominent parliamentary inquiry and ‘having the Police Commissioner speak directly to my findings.’ She tells us this was difficult but some of the most worthwhile work of her career.

Then something in Chalie changed. She still had a deep love for intelligence, but creativity came knocking.


Creativity comes knocking. And, Chalie answers.


‘I loved working on major projects, but I found myself thinking ‘what am I going to do next? I felt the call back towards art and creativity. So I started creating just for myself in my downtime, painting in my garage to put art on my own walls.’

Soon Chalie’s mind started to tick: ‘Where am I headed? What am I passionate about?’ And then ultimately, ‘could this passion for painting drive a career or is it going to remain a hobby?’

After a bit of internal tug-of-war, she decided to throw caution to the wind. She had to find out. 

‘I dropped to a very junior role which I am still doing now,’ she explains. 

‘I went from driving and influencing change to a role with much less responsibility, but I think the hybrid [between intelligence and painting] works well.’ More recently, she dropped further to a part-time capacity. And this gave her the time and attention she needed to grow her passion into her business. 


Painting for connection, now a full-blown career.


Painting has awoken something in Chalie. And it’s changed the trajectory of her life. 

‘I just love it. I feel energised, but painting also calms me down. I’m meeting so many people, and it is like walking in two worlds. With painting, there are no rules. With intelligence analysis, there are. So again, there’s the carefree Chalie, and the structured Chalie.’

Today, Chalie’s artwork (including by commission) is highly sought after. It’s proudly displayed in the windows of stockists and on the walls of her very own studio into which she has recently settled.

‘I still can’t believe I’m doing this. I’ll go past a stockist and see one of my works in the window and think ‘oh my god, that’s me!’ They’re real pinch me moments. I never thought I’d be an artist.’

Now, being an ‘artist’ means a few things to Chalie. It means freedom. Financially, ultimately yes, but also freedom to explore her creativity and decide where her art takes her.

Painting also means connection to Chalie. ‘Clients will say ‘I return to your pieces because they calm me down’. I hear about the very intimate details of people’s lives and how my art speaks to them at critical moments in time. It’s really personal, they’re drawn to you as part of the art they’re purchasing. It’s quite incredible’.

Could this passion drive a career, or is it just a hobby?

Chalie MacRae
Artist and Founder, Chalie MacRae Art

Chalie Macrae Art Kearney Group 2

Painting by numbers with Kearney Group.

Chalie and Kearney Group have achieved a number of things together since 2020. 

On reflecting back, she remembers feeling she and her husband were ‘getting to a certain age and wanted to retire early and maintain our lifestyle.’ 

‘With the change in career, the change in guaranteed income, it was super important to have security,’ she explains. ‘Handing over [finances] to someone that’s an expert in the field, it gave us such comfort.’

Enter Kearney Group.


Getting the basics right.


At first, we worked together to tackle the basics – business establishment and structure, registering for GST, BAS lodgements, setting up an SMSF…

‘Perhaps these are small things in the accounting world,’ says Chalie. ‘But for someone that hasn’t run their own business, they’re huge and it’s been such a relief to have them taken care of’.


Imagining the future(s).


Then the time came for some more detailed modelling and advice.

Chalie says she needed ‘someone to say ‘get your head out of the clouds’ or ‘actually, you can achieve this’.’

So we worked to clarify the various possible ‘futures’. What became clear: this wasn’t a pipe dream. Chalie had talent and grit. Moreover, she now had a plan for getting from Point A to her dreams.

‘Now I know that I’m headed towards longer term goals and they’re actually sustainable. I’m not sitting around thinking ‘oh, I wonder’… No. This is the plan and these are the experts,’ Chalie says with certainty.

And it was this certainty and advice that helped Chalie take one of her biggest career leaps yet – buying a studio.

Chalie Macrae Kearney Group Artist 1

A space to call her own.


‘I’m in my studio thanks to Kearney Group and it’s just an absolute godsend.’

‘Instead of paying the rent to someone else, I’m paying off my own mortgage through our superfund… We never would’ve imagined that could be possible. I just would’ve kept on leasing and leasing until we thought ‘let’s sell our property so we can buy a studio’.’

‘Working with Kearney Group on acquiring the studio has also positioned me to be able to generate more income. The studio will open up numerous sales channels, whether that’s exhibitions or art classes, to have that space that is commercial is a great opportunity,’ Chalie adds.

Beyond being financially freeing, the studio has also become Chalie’s happy place. ‘I have just blossomed. My own space. No one around. Just me, my tunes and my own world, my own little universe.’


I’m in my studio thanks to Kearney Group and it’s just an absolute godsend.

Chalie MacRae
Artist and Founder, Chalie MacRae Art

2022-12-16 client story - Chalie Macrae Client - 3


Intelligently exploring your hobby-turned-business.


Whether you’re dreaming of a career change or working on a side hustle, there’s lots to love about Chalie’s story.

She has kept a calm head without dimming her ambition. She’s plotted, planned and nurtured a new passion alongside an old love.

So if you’re looking for some inspo or a little advice to get your dream started, here’s what Chalie said made all the difference for her…


Take a strategic gamble.


Chalie put a plan in place from the very beginning when venturing out into art.

She stayed in a familiar career with steady income, and supplemented this with income from her artwork. Then, when the time was right, she was ready to leap.

‘Yes it was a gamble, but it was a strategic gamble,’ say Chalie. Being ‘very goal focused’ has served her well while straddling two worlds at once.


Find a team to lean on.


When launching a new endeavour, it’s super important to find a support team you can trust and grow with.

‘We have such a secure sense of direction as to where we’re headed now. Kearney Group is helping us to achieve our financial goals; whether they’re individual, property-related or business-related.’

Having a flexible team that will grow with you as your needs change is also critical, she says. And of course, having the courage to change or abandon your strategy if needed; that’s essential when you’re just starting out.


Celebrate the wins. 


‘It doesn’t matter how many followers there are, it doesn’t matter how many sales I have. I still do a happy dance for every sale that comes in’.

Making a habit of celebrating success, no matter how big or small, is incredibly important. The little wins can keep you motivated in those early days.


Imposter syndrome does strike.


When she was just starting out, Chalie tells us she frequently found herself at a gallery or an exhibition of her work thinking, ‘What am I doing here with these arty types?’

Especially when making a career change, it’s hard to know when (or if) you’ve ‘arrived’.

The antidote? ‘I really keep bringing it back to: ‘if I’m happy with what I’m doing, then I’m doing well.’ If you just keep doing that, you’ll stop worrying about everyone else.’


People will think you’re mad (and that’s okay)! 


‘Everyone thought I was mad, yes. They probably thought ‘she just wants to have a paint and a wine’… If only it were that fantastic!’

Chalie says people she knew professionally kept ‘saying ‘you’ve worked so hard’ and ‘you’ve gotten so far’, which is nice to hear professionally… But it just wasn’t enough for me. I wanted something more and something that was mine. I was up for the next big challenge.’


It’s all consuming (if you let it be).


Chalie touched on the magic and madness of starting a new business in a totally new industry.

‘I’m the creator. I’m the marketer, the admin, the comms. It just doesn’t stop. I finish work and I’m on the phone, looking at invoices, doing quotes. There’s a lot of learning and experimenting.’

Like most people starting out on a new path, a shift can be rocky and all consuming if you allow it to be. It’s easy to get bogged down in the admin and operations. Unfortunately, for most people – it’s not invoicing and bookkeeping that they’ve actually set out to do.

So it is important to seek help, even in the early going (we’d venture to say, especially in the early going). This will allow you to focus and use your best skills, and make the most of your limited time.

We have such a secure sense of direction now. Kearney Group is helping us to achieve our financial goals; whether they’re individual, property-related or business-related.

Chalie MacRae
Artist and Founder, Chalie MacRae Art

Looking to the future.

Chalie Macrae Art Kearney Group 3

As 2023 looms large, Chalie is excited to make the next big shift and concentrate entirely on her art.

Her first hire may be on the cards soon, too.

‘I would love to have someone that comes in on a part-time basis to assist with quoting, costing, scheduling… I’m just not quite there yet.’

Chalie is also looking ahead to her longer-term plans (*business advisers swoon… financial planners eat your hearts out!*).

‘I’d love to have other emerging artists come on board and share learnings. I want to be here for a long time and keep evolving. There’s so much more to learn and I can’t wait!’

And neither can we!

We’re super excited to follow Chalie’s journey and see what the next stage of her adventure looks like. So watch this space, we’re sure you’ll be seeing more from this intelligent artist soon.

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