Wind! Steep streets! Wild seas! Yes to all of that :)
No matter who you are, what you are or where you are , the place where you grow up has had a huge influence on the person that you are today. For me, Wellington was my home for the first 54 ish years of my life.
Clinging to the southern edge of the North Island, beset by winds from every direction and squashed into a small, sometimes awkward area. Surrounded in many directions by the sea which sets the mood for the city each day, I grew up on the south coast where the sea was our weather forecast most days. We always agreed that it was a good storm if one of the fishing boats broke its anchor and washed up onto the beach.
Eventually we admitted that we were over city life and moved to the South Island, where both of our families had even earlier roots. This painting "A Quiet Moment" was inspired by the very morning we moved south... watching the container wharf slowly slip behind us as the ferry moved out. The dawn was breaking through silvery clouds above the Hutt Valley and I knew that this time we were truly saying goodbye to the place where we'd grown up and raised our family.
The other painting "Wellington Silver" is also looking up the harbour. I do miss the way those wild skies roll across and send flashes of silver racing across the sea.
Even though I no longer liver there, in some corner of my heart I still see the everchanging light of Wellington harbour. It's definitely where I came from :)
Winter is a special time up here in the mountains at Lake Rotoiti. Yes, it can get very cold, with snow sometimes down to our house level. But I think that you'll find that most locals enjoy the season.
What do I like best about it?
“The world is too much with us; late and soon, Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers; Little we see in Nature that is ours; We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!” (William Wordsworth, 1770-1850)
The past couple of months has been an interesting social exercise. Isolating us from each other, taking away everyday activities , restricting travel. Many people have tried working from home - for some it's proved a great idea, being able to take breaks when it suits and not waste time and fuel travelling to and from work. It's also meant that we've changed our shopping habits and priorities a little. People have slowly become aware of nature again, with native falcons spotted In Lambton Quay and other birdlife enjoying the lack of traffic and noise.
Speaking for myself , it's been a time to reflect on how much I don't need and how much I already have. I know that other friends and family have said the same thing... surely we don't need lots of stuff. I just hope that we all learn a lesson from this and don't go back to our old consumeristic (is that a word?) ways.
One thing that many people are considering is spending holiday time in NZ rather than overseas. If you're feeling like a break in a beautiful part of our country, read on...
After last years enjoyable workshop in Golden Bay I've decided to run one there again this Labour Weekend - to find out more please just fill in the contact form below. It'll be a relaxing , fun weekend with the added bonus of learning how to keep a watercolour journal .
Stay well and don't fall back into the old habits! :)
I seem to have a bad case of this! When lockdown began 4 weeks ago I watched friends and families embark on a frenzy of home renovations, baking, crafts and generally being very creative.
I'm amazed at what they've managed to achieve.
In contrast, I pretty much shut my studio door and moved into the garden. When you've had to suspend your business for a while it's hard to feel motivated to keep working. So my usual work habits vanished , along with my mojo. I have got the garden ready for winter and helped my Man with a few tasks (he's been one of the big achievers through this - a new woodshed, new flashings on all of the buildings, walls painted , repairs carried out, new back porch etc etc!).For him it's been a bonus time at home, and I can understand that.
But for me I feel derailed, and speaking with other friends and family some of them feel the same. Uncertainty about the future , possibility of economic woes and of course, the C word itself- which is on every screen you glance at. Concern about family and friends who are losing employment or their own businesses. Other people facing loneliness in isolation , meaning lots of phone calls - it's been nice catching up.
We've watched our kids in admiration as they've dealt with financial problems, employment issues (two pilots in the family) and being confined to home with small children. From climbing walls built in the stairwell with an extension ladder , to school being taught at the dining table each morning, they've stepped up to the mark and all look happy despite the cloud hanging over us all.
Our own neighbourhood has been great, everyone is keeping an eye on each other , and we've gone to great lengths (4 metres!) to ensure that we keep on having street get togethers for a cuppa or a glass of something. So there's no reason for me to feel like this, but its a comfort to know that other people feel the same - I guess it's just a part of the social effects of the pandemic , which I didn't ever think would affect me...
I'm just beginning to think about painting again , having done a few small watercolours. My studio is frighteningly tidy and organised, but it won't stay that way for long! I trust that you and your families are safe - please continue to stick to the rules, none of us want to start this again from the beginning.
Jan (Prisoner in Paradise)
What a week it's been. If someone had told me a few months back that this was going to happen I would have thought they'd been watching too many scifi movies!
We headed off to the north island before things turned upside down, both for a holiday (which didn't happen!) and to visit friends and family.
One of the family we were visiting was my lovely sister, Sal (aka Dragon Lady) , who sadly has Alzheimers and is in care. A very emotional visit as she no longer knows me - its very hard watching someone you love leave the room for ever. Anyway, after that I helped sort through her studio, as she has been an abstract painter. I was expecting chaos, but she had actually organised things very well! Despite having large amounts of art materials , I could see that all were well used, favourite brushes and palette knives all carefully stored , and a huge range of inks and paint to create her vibrant artwork. It made guilty to think of the chaos in my own studio :)
Next on the visiting list , oddly enough, was another friend who has Alzheimers too , and is preparing to go into a retirement unit. She also had large piles of art materials, but in this case most had never been used, or in fact, even opened. box after box of new paint, paper, calligraphy sets, stencils etc etc. This was harder , because I could see that although she wanted to create she was n longer able to, though she's obviously still been able to get to the art shop! Anyway, she agreed that the local art group would love to be given it all, so hopefully it's going to be used.
What's the moral of all of this?I'm not sure, other than that in these scary, uncertain times , if there's a project you want to do just do it! Creating anything is something that always make you feel better. And life is certainly too short to postpone what you want to be doing. So, during your 4 weeks at home why don't you clean out your art/craft cupboard and just play? I'd love to see what you make- send me a photo to my studio facebook page - korimako studio -and I'll post it.
keep safe, look after yourself and others and follow the bubble rules :)
An artist who I respect once told me that anything manmade (including a person!) in a painting , immediately becomes the focal point. An old shed, a vehicle , a wharf . a fencepost - your eye will always be drawn to that part of the painting, no matter how tiny it is or where it's placed. The human brain is programmed to look for touches of human presence.
Often my landscapes will have a touch of this to guide your journey through my painting.
More recently I've been making the figure the undisputed star of the show. The local shearing gang is always a favourite subject of mine, and I can't pretend that this painting "Number 1" is about anything other than Dave!
The other aspect to the human touch is the human hand on the end of the paintbrush . What you see in the final artwork is what I saw, filtered through what I felt and thought about what I saw, the colours that I chose and how I composed the painting.
Lake Station woolshed is over 100 years old - with high windows that let in streams of golden, dusty light.The back part of the shed with the pens is very dark , so in my minds eye I was thinking Rembrandt.
Every one of us sees the world differently and reacts to what we see in a special way. Learn to look and enjoy the unique view which every person has!
PS. if you'd like to watch me painting a figure please come along to my demo at Wall to Wall art, 112 Bridge St,Nelson on friday 13th March 12- 1pm :)
I have fallen in love all over again.... with sketching! Several times this week visitors to the studio have browsed through my sketchbooks and asked whether they're for sale. Sorry, no :). But it did make me sit down and think about why sketchbooks are so cool.
Mine are full of scribbled notes, colour samples, weird hieroglyphics (that I often can't even understand my self!), coffee spills, squashed bugs, and, oh yes - sketches.
Sketching is such a lovely way to paint.With no pressure to produce a finished "artwork" you're free to scribble with ink, slap on paint, leave things out, put things in , write how you feel, what you can smell (and sometimes taste)...It captures the essence of the subject, what took your eye in the first place- which is something that's very easy to lose when you tackle a painting. I often paint from my sketches rather than my photo, as I've already edited out all of that trivia which isn't vital.
It can also be useful to work backwards.Try sketching from a photo you've taken as though you're back on the spot- you'll be surprised what happens.And then you can paint from that.The results will be quite different.
If you 're interested in having a go , you may like to join us in Golden Bay later in the year.
Last Labour weekend when I held a watercolour workshop there we found so much to paint that we really didn't have enough time - and I realise that sketching and filling a journal with all of the treasures we found would be a very satisfying way to spend three days !
Labour Weekend October 24th-26th - Watercolour sketchbooks in Golden Bay.
We had such a good time painting outside in Golden Bay last year that this year I'm looking for expressions of interest in a sketching trip.You'll learn to get down info quickly in your sketchbook using pen and watercolour, a wonderful way to record travel or just everyday life. We found lots of cool places that I want to revisit, so please get in touch if you're interested ...
I promise that this has nothing to do with Boxing Day Sales!!
2019 has flown past and this is the time of year when we all receive Christmas newsletters - mostly about what friends and family have been up to all year and what they plan to do next. It's always great to catch up, but I joked with Robbie the other day that maybe we should just write a newsletter to ourselves instead to save boring our friends!
With that in mind I sat for a while beside the lake this morning, running through the year in my head. There have been some wonderful moments and some not so good. There have been things which I've held on to which I need to let go.There have been things which I should have done and haven't , and things which I shouldn't have done and did!I have so much to be grateful for , and I just need sometimes to sit quietly and take stock of those.
I'm hoping that I've cleared some stuff out of my head and that in 2020 I can make the most of every moment
Thanks for supporting me in 2019 - I hope that you have a Happy Christmas wherever you may be, and that next year is a safe and peaceful one for you and your family.
Korimako will be open most days during the holidays, please call in and say hi if you're passing,
best wishes, Jan
“Many people lose the small joys in the hope for the big happiness.” Pearl.S.Buck
Some days my morning walk takes a while. I pause to chat to a neighbour who's off to work, say hi to a local walking her dog, check out the new treasures at the book exchange , detour into the bush to see how the mistletoe is coming along - you get the idea?
Today my walk took me to my favourite seat under the beech trees by the lake- a blue bathing cap came slowly past, (attached to a friend) .Geoff trod water while we chatted about the smoke (he's Australian) , the mountains, my latest painting and the little scaup ducks (check them out http://nzbirdsonline.org.nz/species/new-zealand-scaup) which were busy diving underneath him in search of breakfast. A very peaceful few moments to start the day.
I've just finished (took me a month!) reading "Sapiens" (by Yuval Noah Harari) A Brief History of Mankind.It's an in depth look at Homo Sapiens, not always a comfortable thing to do. One of the things it made me realise was that we have deluded ourselves into believing that it's wrong to be contented We have become wired for constant change, improvement, growth of wealth and material things - and now it is all coming back to bite us.
There is nothing wrong with taking time just to look around you and enjoy where and what you are at this moment- count your blessings :)