17 September, 2014

Community involvement

I feel very grateful for the life and the opportunities I have had to do ,really, just about anything I wanted. Sometimes I have squandered that opportunity but now I am utilising it.To be allowed to paint daily is a great joy and to call it a job sounds ridiculous, but it is and I am lucky, lucky,lucky .....and grateful.

So, I like to share . Yesterday I shared some of my expertise with the year 7 and 8's at Ngahinpouri country school.  When I pitched up ( they know me there! My sons are at the school. Nuff said), the class was excited about doing art  but I was struck by how they all ( ALL) said they were excited but were not any good at art. You should see this classroom. The walls are adorned with art and yet they still feel they are not " good enough". Once upon a time I felt this way too. I understood so I had planned a lesson about colour. I wanted to teach them that art is not just about drawing but also the magic of colour.

I started simply. I asked them if the know how to make green. Yes, the chorussed, yellow and blue together make green. Yes, I agreed. Now lets make green . Armed only with coloured pencils they sceptically coloured in a patch of yellow, then covered it with blue. You could hear a pin drop.
Then it started..." Cool!Wow!'".....the cries of kids witnessing the magic of colours being made. We carried on to orange and purple......then tertiary colours...then we advanced to paint. Hands got involved, someone flicked someone else...so I had to haul them back and we made more magic. I showed them the warm colours, the cool colours, analogous colours, complimentary colours....I asked the red-head what her best colour to wear was (Blue!) and explained why, as a complimentary colour , it worked and complimented her gorgeous red hair. Ping. Penny dropped.
I explained how two primary colours together are great but a third added makes a muddy colour. They only got it when I described it as two's company, three's a crowd!

We made colour wheels, we painted, we used oil pastels, we swirled and mixed and, at the end, collaborated in putting it all together in a wonderful collage of colour.

In the evening, I did a similar thing with the adults of the community. We held a lovely craft and art evening in the school hall funded, in part, by a grant from the local council. Shani P showed how to sew beanies and fingerless gloves in gorgeous fabrics, I demonstrated colour theory and potato print / masking taped decor art, Joanne Bouma and Anne KingScott demonstrated folk art ( delicate and colourful, like on barges of old) and fabric textured art......it was such fun. Watching people achieve things they did not think possibly whilst enjoying themselves immensely is a reward all in itself. People walked out with artwork, gloves, beanies and a sense of renewed creativity.

I hope we can do this again . It felt good to share.

Friday sees the school exhibition with artwork from all the children displayed in the hall, along with local artists work. The opening is from 6 pm till 8 pm and will remain open the next day( during voting!), so the wider community can come see too.

On the subject of sharing, here's the flyer Charlotte designed for our upcoming exhibition in Morrinsville next month. Please feel free to share it!

03 September, 2014

A warm glow

Here is the progression of today's painting.
the rough wash

Just going for it

Building up shape and form with colour

Add caption



detail of foreground

It dries flat for a few days, then I will revisit it, make whatever adjustments fresh eyes see, and the photograph it properly.

I hope it leaves you with a warm glow.

A view

Oil on board
600 x 600

01 September, 2014

The Artist statement as art form in itself.

When entering art exhibitions, competitions or holding exhibitions, one is often asked to supply an artist's statement. It seems to be a standard thing and I abhor the practise.

Now, I get why some people have artist statements.  Perhaps their work is very conceptual or abstract and needs some explanation of some kind, but if you read the majority of modern artist's statements, they are just goddamn awful: Verbose, pandering, non-sensical and fluffed up like peacock on the pull.
You read it .
Then read it again because somewhere in between " The Artist..." and the final punctuation mark, your ears start to ring and you suffer a sudden loss of will to live. I swear I have read statements that have questioned whether english is my first language, as I understood not a word. NOTHING. I wander off , dazed and confused, looking for a dictionary and a lobotomy, not always in that order. No wonder there is wine at openings.

As an artist, if you are going to write something, please know that Jo Public  did not study art and therefore your allusions to artistic themes of the middle century, radical left politics of the 1930's and verbal wanking is totally lost on Them. Know that, if you want to keep them engaged, use small words. Paint a mental picture. Educate and enlighten them, but do not alienate or belittle them with your opening parle.

If you are a critic or an "art expert" , I understand you might want their references to understand the pieces, but why encourage  the tradition of mumbo-jumbo . I have seen artists win prizes for their rather ordinary, ill constructed works  with mind-numbingly bullshit statements. I swear the judges were stupefied by the methane wafting off the surface of the statement in waves of self indulgence and mistook it for cleverness.

If I was any good at writing, I would be a writer. But I am a painter, so I paint. My story is in paint.  However, I am not that illiterate that I cannot tell you a bit about why I paint like I do and what it means.
I paint landscapes because they mean something to me and represent connectivity and place. By that I mean landscape mean things to me such as : The place of my childhood, the people I love are here, this place fills me with wonder, I have memories of my life under these mountains, I am happy here, I am sad here, I used to live there and now I don't belong, I want to belong here, I wish this place stayed like this, I am lost, I am found..All of the above voices are attached to images and I need to paint them to express them. So I paint. I invite you into my landscape to see what those feelings look like to me. I don't tell you which ones are which, I just  invite you to fly over, walk around, dream and contemplate that world.

This is my statement. I hope it gives you a sense of who I am and what my paintings represent.

My landscapes come from a place where reality, imagination and memory all have equal tenancy.
Whilst I am particularly moved and influenced by the landscape, I seek a personal interpretation of it rather than a replication of it.

I am interested in the abstract within the landscape and focus on painting it through as many perspectives as I can, being inventive with my application of paint and experimenting with my materials.
The painting process has to be fresh and interesting for my own sanity. I let paint drip, build up layers, scape back, flick paint around and use my tools to create marks that remain in the finished product. The paintings are atmospheric, evocative and invite the viewer to use their own imagination to explore fly over, walk through or stand and observe those worlds.

My recent inspiration comes from flying in a small aircraft, piloted by a friend, across the manicured landscape of rural Waikato farmlands, mountain ranges, bush and forest.

As an immigrant, I have felt the loss of familiar landscape keenly. Painting has helped me connect with New Zealand through the landscape in a manner profound to me.

Now, entertain yourself by going to the following site and reading the hysterically funny and completely non-sensical artists statements , the very kind I rant and rave about, and look carefully at the next exhibition you happen to stumble upon...perhaps you find a gem!


I need a drink, now.

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