26 August, 2019

Hiraeth: Exhibition

This exhibition had it's genesis in a woodshed in Clyde, Central Otago.

I was staying at what must be my favourite holiday house in New Zealand . This house, built in the 1880's, had everything that I knew and loved about old houses that I miss so much in new, timber framed houses.
It had cathedral high ceilings, thick walls with windowsills so deep you could sit on them, wooden floors, slate floor kitchen, clawfoot bathtub, wonky panes of glass that were thicker on the bottom than the top, picture rails and fireplaces....this house had been lovingly restored ,renovated and furnished ..... I loved it. It reminded me of the house I grew up in, a place I  always called home.
But home is a place that lives in the imagination and the house I grew up in is much changed because I am much changed.

The woodshed in Clyde was a treasure trove of floorboards, architraves and various architectural  accessories that the owners had carefully sourced and were using to renovate the house as authentically and as sensitively as possible.

I liberated a floorboard from this repository and painted a vignette of a Clyde street as a gift my hosts. It seemed important that I paint a picture ON a piece of the place. Only, it did not look like Clyde, it looked like a composite of many towns I have passed through that all, funnily enough, look a bit like Clyde. Places in South Africa, places in Australia, places in New Zealand, ...they share a similar colonial signature and it was this that started me thinking about the concept of home and Hiraeth.

Kirsty aka Elfinthings ,is originally from Wales. We regularly drink tea, chat about our boys and muse at the complexities  we both experience of being immigrants, both loving our new home in New Zealand but having a clear sense of not really belonging. We have both had a whole life that existed before we came to New Zealand and we have commiserated with one another the loss of history, familiarity , friends and family. We also recognise that the loss is permanent, even if we ever returned, because everything has changed, as have we, and nothing will ever be like it was in memory.  
And that grief is Hiraeth.

So , she stitches and I paint .

We would love to show you our work together .

There will be no sobbing.

08 May, 2019

o crap, it's May

I am convinced that each year passes faster than the last.

It is May. The fifth month of the year and I am only just getting used to writing 2019.


As I think back and remind myself of what I did in April, I feel a bit better.

  • I painted a commission painting for clients who loved it. I was so pleased. So satisfying to get it right...and maybe exceed expectations?!
  • I made contact with a new gallery and started negotiations
  • I cleaned the studio
  • I went to a few movies. Marvel :End game and Woman at War.....quite different choices!first was not my own .
  • I took the dogs walking, several times . They chased cats and I pretended they weren't my dogs.  O the shame!!!!
  • I Painted en plein air
  • I painted the study, the laundry and the pantry
  • I made a valiant effort to declutter the study
  • I bought more clutter for the study. sigh.
  • I painted
  • I thought about painting
  • I painted and wiped it off
  • I painted over an old painting....and made it worse. No redemption there.
  • I spent waaaaaaay too much time on Instagram. It made me feel sad. 
  • I read a few books...they made me feel better.
  • I went to Auckland Art fair. " Good morning, Madam. Can I interest you in a serving of shame and status?". Always illuminating.Not always about the art.
  • I started a few Netflix series and as a warning to other...this is a modern day rabbit hole. Drugs seem safer. Cheshire Cat's abound.
  • I sold a painting or two to lovely people who reminded me how much I love talking to people about art. Bless you.
  • I sent a painting to a brave woman who chose to trust me and bought it having only seen it via email. It was a gesture of trust on both our parts and very satisfying indeed.
  • I bought more books and did more reading.This time, about painting.
  • I watched a lot of sunsets and I chose to lie in bed a a bit longer in the morning.
  • I cooked a lot. I ate a lot.
  • I had dinner with friends....... and lunch and breakfast.
  • I made sure the kids were happy and watched their sports games.....many car conversations between games and events. 
  • I watered my plants and we agreed I was doing a good job keeping them alive, contrary to early predictions.

............and throughout all of this time, I felt I was not doing enough.

What is wrong with me?! I am fucking exhausted just reading this!!!

Bring on June.........................2020. I plan to calm the hell down.

Lanscape in Canon 1-4

Singing in canon is when you sing in the round. Remember "Row, row , row your boat"??

Wikipedia says......
A round (also called a perpetual canon) is a musical composition, a limited type of canon, in which a minimum of three voices sing exactly the same melody at the unison (and may continue repeating it indefinitely), but with each voice beginning at different times so that different parts of the melody coincide in the different voices, but nevertheless fit harmoniously together .

Get it? Good luck trying to get that song out of your head now...

13 April, 2019

Workshop with Mashiul Chowdhury

March was a bit manic.

I had an exhibition open and a workshop planned with visiting painter, Mashiul Chowdhury.who says I bite off more than I can chew?!!

The exhibition went smoothly thanks to the professionalism of all those who participated.

Two years ago, you may remember, I had invited Martin Campos to come and deliver a workshop. On the last evening of Martins stay, as we drank wine and watched the sunset,   he asked me who the next person I wished to invite to come deliver a workshop would be. I was a little caught a little unawares by his question , because I had not thought I would do it again! But  Organising workshops is the way I can contribute to my local creative community .The first person who came to mind was Mashiul. He and Martin draw the figure together at the PAFA alumni Saturday life drawing and are friends. Martin agreed with my choice and I gave it no more thought until 6 months ago we got in contact with each others...and THAT is how it came to be that I invited Mashiul to visit and deliver a workshop:Abstracting the Urban landscape.

Not only was Mashiul a brilliant artist, he is also able to teach what he means, explain what he does and why and deliver demonstrations that were incredibly accomplished over and over again. He came prepared with photographs, images, his sketchbooks, a projector and even some paint for us! He made dinner for my family twice and we now know how to make a really good chicken curry!!!

The workshop itself was fantastic but it was the post -workshop time that I appreciated most with Mashiul. Gaining insight into another persons philosophy of life and getting a brief interaction with someone who belongs to a different culture is fascinating.Mashiul has boundless energy. He works full-time as a Doctor and then paints every night from about 9 pm till 1 in the morning. He also uses his car as a studio and paints before he has to work from the car. His images of this abstracted urban landscape are the reason I invited him ( Plus Martin"s recommendation). But riddle me this......when the hell dos the man sleep?! He did (in one of our chats) let me know that he is a huge fan of power naps.

Its quite an experience hosting a workshop. I have written down the list of things that have to be done:

  • identify the person from whom I wish to learn
  • contact and invite them
  • establish an idea of what the workshop will be about
  • agree on a date and number on workshop attendees, their fee
  • panic wildly as you run the sums.
  • work out a rate for attendees that covers all your costs 
  • work out thinks like catering and hire age of space, equipment required etc
  • panic again.
  • Make a pamphlet and start distributing it to all and sundry who might be interested
  • book models if required.
  • book space , if required
  • create a few documents for the workshop. ie materials required, background info and links to youtube etc 
  • continue to advertise
  • work out menu if self catering or organise caterers( don't forget to ask early about food restrictions)
  • continue to contact workshop artist to update on workshop progress.
  • continue to keep interested partied updated 
  • collect workshop deposits
  • collect final payments
  • organise airport collection and accommodation and transport for Artist
  • make sure crockery, cutlery, mugs, beverages are all organised
  • be host at the workshop and make sure everything runs smoothly
  • protect the tutor and recognise if and when he needs assistance
  • ensure the tutor rests adequately each day
  • try to enjoy and engage yourself
  • Pay the tutor fees and flights and anything else that is owed immediately.
  • follow up with everyone a week after the workshop 
I will continue to do this because I love learning new things, meeting new artist (both have been much admired by myself) and opening the learning opportunity up to other artists in New Zealand and introduce "new blood" into the pool of influence.

I take a risk when I invite someone to come and teach . What if their work is good but they can't teach? What if their work is sublime and they are a total arsehole? What if they smell odd and have personal hygiene issues and I am exposing my family to a wierdo? What if..........?  

I host the visiting artist in my home and look after them well, I hope. It is for this reason that I rely on personal references and recommendations before I ask anyone to come and teach. Sometimes I feel very stalker-ish as I go about my research of individuals, but I have to get it right.
Mashiul and Martin both set the bar quite high, so I am very interested to see who follows them! They both endeared themselves to my boys by making a feast for them!! 

Now, there are no pictures on this post because..........I have a new laptop and I have not organised my photos . So , although there ARE lots of photos in existence, I don't have any on this contraption. Opening my shared photo file is like opening Pandoras box. So I am just avoiding that issue at the moment until I'm ready for the fight.

I shall post some next time, sans writing, to balance this post out.

It may be in May. April is looking a bit antsy too.

20 March, 2019

Four: A walk through of the exhibition

With thanks to Laree Payne, Director of Weasel Gallery and Holly Marie Russell for photographs.

03 March, 2019

I wish I was a better person.

I wish I was a better person, but I am not. Im too busy, too disorganised and too easily distracted to keep it together to make this blog regular and timeous. But lets be honest here, if you heard from me regularly, you'd find me a wee bit tiresome, so maybe this is a better arrangement.

Ive had this post it not stuck to my computer screen .

Its been on so long its about to fall off, but let me run through them.

Blog. Well, this is it.

Yes! An exhibition. It's titled FOUR.

Key points are
When: 14 March -6 April
Where: Weasel Gallery, 260 Victoria street, Hamilton
opening event : 14 March 5-7 pm
Sneak peek : 13 March 11-4 pm

Ok, why FOUR? Sounds a bit Enid Blyton ( and  there's a bit of that in there too) but there are four of us exhibiting. Four different mediums and four different approaches to work. We met up once a month to talk about the works we were producing, critique some pieces and generally nut out the details of what we wanted to show and what we needed to keep quiet about. Four went on walks around lakes , walks along rivers and we all agreed that walking and talking is better than just talking.

This is us.

This is our work

Please come!

Whanganui and road trip needs it's own boo and I will get round to that. I can read my own handwriting for the last one. Feel free to email me ( jennie@jenniedegroot.com) if you can transcribe that scrawl and I will write a new post-it note for it!!

27 December, 2018

The secret to happiness

The secret to happiness is....to lower your standards.


I've said it.
Now its not a secret anymore.

Let me elucidate on that point. I'm not saying you should just give up and stop washing your hair, I mean LOWER YOUR STANDARDS FOR WHAT MAKES YOU HAPPY.

You know what makes me happy? Time alone. Time with my family. Time with my friends. Time to walk the dogs. Time to take time to cook a meal. Time to paint what I want and when I want. Enough money i don't have to worry about paying bills and making the mortgage repayments. Good Health. Good mental health. Opportunities and a bit of adventure. Someone to introduce me to good books and good music. Nice food.These are my indexes and I know they makes me happy.

At no stage in this list did you read about me wanting to win the Lotto, lose 10 kg, become famous , have lots of stuff and be envied.*

Win Lotto? I did! I married an awesome guy whose funny, kind, smart, sexy and thinks I'm too good for him
Lose 10 kg? I did! About 14 and 17 years ago when I had two , healthy babies.
Famous? Hell Yes! Strangers say hello to me often and compliment my work .(this includes Instagram and Facebook!)
Have lots of stuff? I donate regularly enough  to the charity shops to know I have enough stuff and I never want for art supplies. I have two of everything.I own 15 pairs of identical pumps in a variety of colours.

Are you getting my point? Where is YOUR standard for happiness. I am not suggesting this is an immovable goal and by setting the bar so low you offer yourself no incentive. Precisely the opposite. Set the bar at a reasonable level that you know you might be able to achieve and then, once you have achieved it, celebrate that success and see if you are still happy. If you are, set the bar a bit higher and see if that still makes you happy BUT you still have to achieve your initial standard.
When you are happy, everything else in life is easier.

Here's my take on it

  • Time alone? I get up earlier than anyone else. I walk the dogs. I switch the phone off. I stay at home. I say no to invitations. 
  • Time with my family? I get up earlier to spend time with my husband before the kids get up and before school. We eat dinner together every night. We plan holidays together. I watch them play sports.
  • Time with my friends? I make arrangements, standing or impromptu. 
  • Time to walk the dogs? I see it as thinking time and time to myself. Two birds with one stone!
  • Time to take time to cook a meal? Not every night, Josephine! I plan one languid meal a week, usually for a sunday.
  • Time to paint what I want, when i want? Studio hours are 8-3 , daily. That is a lot of time to paint.I take the weekends off. Sometime my weekend is in the middle of the week.
  • Enough money? yes, but not stupid money. If we want something, we have to save for it. We drive secondhand cars and always have. We save and budget for holidays.
  • Good Health? Everything in moderation, including moderation.  I yoga 2 x a week and a HIIT workout at home 3x a week. I cook from scratch and drink moderately. 
  • Good Mental health? I surround myself with good influences, I don't drink when I am down, I exercise and I am mindful of my thoughts.I employ someone to clean my house once a week
  • Opportunities and a bit of adventure? I manufacture these. I don't wait for them to arrive. I ask for what I want. If I want to learn, I chase the learning.
  • Introductions to good books and good music? Yes, I have people for those! (thanks Michelle and Stef)
  • Nice Food? Well, I am in charge of the shopping list and So I make it so. I buy the good chocolate and have less of it. Quality always wins over quantity.
Those seem like pretty average standard but I achieve each and every one of them and it makes me happy.   Recently, my lack of organisation has left me feeling anxious and disorganised me is not a pretty me. So I have begun organising all my computer files into folders, deleting old stuff and leaving only relevant documents and images on file. I went through my email and deleted and organised it so that emails from 2015 were no longer lingering in my inbox and had a folder!!! I have extended this to my house and am in the process of getting rid of stuff I don't need or want. 

I am spending the few days between Christmas and New Year organising and planning my year, setting goals and evaluating my standard and seeing which need tweaking( not many, I will tell you. Maybe the dog walking one needs to be more often) and questioning relevancy and possible additions. It might look something like : establish a weekly administrative filing /deleting/sorting practise. I shall look at choosing a time later in the day  and later in the week, so monday starts fresh. 

So, whatever 2019 holds for you, try lowering your standards ,join me in the practise and seek out happiness for yourself.

This, for example, is one of the opportunities I have created to learn with a fantastic painter from Philadelphia. I have wanted to learn from him for a few years and he has wanted to teach and travel. So he is coming to New Zealand to visit and teach and I am getting to learn from him.


*I would be lying if I said I never thought about those things but that is the "dark days, 2 am , lost and scared"kinda thinking that I banish as soon as I recognise what it is. Unhelpful and anxiety based.

03 December, 2018

Round and round we go

It is the tradition of two of the galleries I work with to host Christmas exhibitions that feature most of their stable of artists , all painting on the same size and shaped board.

Here are my submissions

Gallery De Novo

Take a trip1,2 and 3

And at Muse Gallery in Havelock North


See what I mean? You can imagine a wall of these ,  like baubles on a tree.

I do love a round . The round shape forms part of the composition in a much more overt or conscious way, quite unlike the rigid rectangle or square. The rounds suggest that anything might be plausible. 
Skew Horizon? Totally legit.
Perspective all wonky? Totally legit.
Proportions weird? Totally legit.

See why I am partial to a shape that encouraged oddness? Total legitness.

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