Stories About Exhibition Paintings 2020

1. Lake Repongaere: This painting is of farmland a little bit inland from Muriwai, south of Gisborne. It’s a very beautiful spot. Dr Darling and I went for a drive out there in Autumn last year. The colour of the trees by the lake was absolutely golden, and I loved the way the light just touched the tips of the poplars in the right foreground.

Watercolour and pastel on pastel paper and 84 x 66cms SOLD.

2. Waimata Valley Road: This is a road near Gray’s Bush, Gisborne. It’s one of the larger paintings (114 x 34cms – over a metre wide). It’s on watercolour paper as I couldn’t get pastel paper that big at the time. I had to soak the paper in water, then wet-tape it to a big board, and let it dry. It dries very tight, and doesn’t crockle when you use wet paint on it. I under-painted in watercolour (because I could) and used pastels over the top. On the right you can see a persimmon orchard bright orange in its autumn colours. I did some sketching here, and took a reference photo which I used to work this up. It was the same autumn as the one that provided the reference photo for MacPhail’s red barns (no. 14). I haven’t seen the trees look as bright as this since (for sale).

3. Sponge Bay II: This is of farmland near Sponge Bay which is one of the little beaches just north of Gisborne as you start to go up the coast. There’s a blue tractor working in the field, and the light from the sea is in the sky. I love the folds of the hills, and the fence posts that are very rarely ever straight up and down.

60 x 25cms, pastel on Canson mi Tientes paper (for sale).

4. Wainui I: This painting shows Tuahine Point and Wainui Beach from the top of Winifred Street in Okitu, just north of Gisborne city. My attention was caught by the long shadows over the road and also by the house roof which gives you the feeling that you’re flying like a bird above it all.

Watercolour and pastel on paper, and 60 x 42cms. SOLD.

5. Grazing II: After a night of rain, I drove out of town on Awapuni Road to see what the morning had to show me. I’ve seen all this land under water after very heavy rain. I think it used to be wetlands, but has been drained and farmed for a long time. The light from the sea was thrown up into the sky. There’s a glimmer of pink still in it which is reflected onto the headland. And those sheep! Perfectly lit by the rising sun. We had this painting up in the sitting room for a few months, and it gave me a sense of peace whenever I looked at it.

Pastel on paper, and 49 x 22cms. SOLD

6. The Pines: This painting is of a famous surf break at Wainui Beach a few kilometres north of Gisborne city. The waves weren’t too good for surfing this particular day, but that’s not what caught my eye. It was the light slanting over the grass near the roots of the pines, and the way their trunks were back-lit. Such a lovely spot.

I’ve really come to love painting trees over the last few years but trees have taken on more significance since I read The Overstory by Richard Powers. It won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction last year and is all about … you guessed it … trees. Thank you Rosa for gifting me a copy of it.

The painting is pastel on Canson mi Tientes paper, and 45 x 60cms. SOLD

7. Brown’s Beach II – Crossing: This is the road out to Brown’s Beach, a favourite spot of mine. Our vintage steam train crosses here when it goes out to the beach loop. That’s Young Nick’s Head/Te Kuri o Paoa headland in the background. Again there’s that light that comes from the sea thrown up into the sky. I had a lot of fun painting the road. Usually I paint darkest colours first, but have learned that for gravel roads you need to do the opposite.

Watercolour and pastel on Canson mi Tientes paper, and 60 x 33cms. SOLD

8. Ormond Valley Road: I sat at the top of the hill on which the Ormond cemetery lies. It was a beautiful still autumn morning and I was out sketching with my friends Anna and Lassara. The sun rose above the hills on the left while we sat there. Although I did a sketch then, I worked up this painting at home in the studio. It’s very detailed as you can see and took many hours to complete.

Pastel on Canson mi Tientes paper, and 60 x 28 cms. SOLD

9. Tatapouri: This painting is of the hills at Tatapouri, just north of Gisborne. With the figure in the middle left foreground you get a sense of the scale of those hills. It’s a very early summer morning scene worked up from a photo taken from the Tatapouri Dive deck. The road is the highway going up the coast.

Pastel on pink pastel paper, and 94 x 56cms. SOLD

10. Harper Road: This road is near Gray’s Bush, a little north of Gisborne in the countryside. I drive down this road a fair bit as I have a friend who lives here, but the day I saw this I was out looking for something interesting to paint in early Spring. I came over the little bridge and saw this extraordinary light. What a joy it was to see it, and to paint it.

Watercolour and pastel on Saunders watercolour paper, and 94 x 35 cms SOLD.

11. Whataupoko Park: This park is a couple of blocks away from where I live. You can walk or cycle on the tracks that crisscross a fairly steep hill. The track I painted is at the top of the ridge at the back of the park. I saw it when Dr Darling and I went walking up there one morning. I loved the way the fence posts cast their shadows across the track and also the sense of going downhill after slogging up the other side. I was the one doing the slogging – Dr D. sprang along the track like a mountain goat. I like the freedom of having lots of space to work in. Some of my work is tiny and detailed and would you believe it, those works take just as much effort as the big ones.

Watercolour, acrylic and pastel on pastel paper and 95 x 60cm (for sale).

12. Kaiti Rocks: There are these beautiful, round boulders in the sea off Kaiti Beach which is one of the beaches in Gisborne city. Sometimes those rocks are lit up and look quite golden as they were this particular day. And of course Young Nick’s Head/Te Kuri o Paoa headland is always gorgeous – those folds and shadows! I can’t get enough of painting it.

Watercolour and pastel on watercolour paper, 93 x 46cms. SOLD

13. Waiteata Park II: I’m lucky enough to live opposite this beautiful park in Gisborne city. I was coming home after a walk with my friend Robyn one Autumn morning, and saw this mist clinging to the hills behind the park. I really loved painting that liquidambar and the grass in the foreground. One of the beauties of using pastels is that you can blend the colours using your whole hand, and that’s how I painted the grass.

Watercolour and pastel on pastel paper, and 60 x 35 cms. SOLD

14. MacPhail’s Barns, Tucker Road: I took the reference photo for this painting in late May 3 years ago, and although I’ve been back every May since, I’ve never seen the trees look like this again.

Watercolour and pastel on Saunders Waterford paper, and 71 x 27cm. SOLD

15. Muriwai II: This is the heel of Young Nick’s Head/Te Kuri o Paoa headland which curls off to the left at Muriwai Beach, just south of Gisborne. The fields have just had maize harvested. Rain is coming.

Pastel on paper. and 59 x 17 cm. SOLD

16. Gaddum’s Hill: This shows a view from Gaddum’s Hill which is in one of the suburbs of Gisborne city. I was up there with my friends Anna and Lassara in Autumn, sketching early one morning. I took photos too, and worked this painting up in the studio from one of them. It’s really beautiful up the top there. If you turn around with your back to the sea there are folds and folds of hills receding in the distance (a subject for another painting sometime).

Pastel on paper, and 37 x 19cms. SOLD

17. Bloomfield Road, Matawhero: This painting is of a little building tucked away on Bloomfield Road out in the countryside near Gisborne. I spotted it while I was cruising in the car hunting for things to paint. There was something about all that grass, and the wibbly-wobbly fence. This painting won an award at the Pastel Artists of NZ national convention last year. It’s one of my favourites.

It’s real hit and miss while out looking for things to paint. Some days I can spend a lot of time and not find anything worthwhile. Other days I can be out for 5 minutes and find the perfect subject.

49 x 45cms, watercolour and pastel on pastel paper. SOLD

18. Muriwai III: This narrow painting is of the hills out at Muriwai Beach, right under Young Nick’s Head/Te Kuri o Paoa headland. I painted this in January. The hills were still green then. Later in the Summer the grasses are a soft creamy colour with pink underneath. I’m always struck by the shape of the hills at Muriwai – there are lots of pyramid shapes repeated.

Pastel on golden pastel paper and 61 x 13 cms. SOLD.

19. Brown’s Beach I: This painting is of Leon’s woolshed out at Brown’s Beach, just south of Gisborne – absolutely my favourite place to go to paint. Every time I go out there I feel inspired. The light from the sea permeates the environment.

Pastel on paper and measures 63 x 36 cm framed. SOLD

20. Brown’s Beach IV – Linden Trees: Brown’s Beach is one of my favourite places to paint. There is always something wonderful to look at, photograph, sketch, and paint. The wildlife is gorgeous. The light from the sea is thrown up into the sky. There are a couple of linden trees flanking the road to the beach – I wonder if they were fenceposts for a gate once upon a time, a long time ago.

83 x 48cms, watercolour and pastel on watercolour paper (for sale).

21. Somerton Road: I was out sketching with my friends Anna and Lassara on Somerton Road early one morning. As well as sketching, I took photos and this painting is worked up from one of the photos. As I often am, I was captured by the folds and shadows in the hills, and the interesting lines made by the fences.

Pastel on paper, and 37 x 13 cms. SOLD

22. Wainui II: This painting is of farmland behind Wainui Beach near Okitu, just north of Gisborne city. There was something about the path leading towards the house that pleased my eye, I really enjoyed painting the grasses and flowers in the foreground.

Pastel on paper and 60 x 39 cm (for sale).

23. Sponge Bay I: This is farmland near Sponge Bay, one of the little beaches just north of Gisborne City. I love the plantings on this farm, especially the line of flax in the foreground, and the folds of the hills. I was out with my friend Robyn on the walkway that goes from the city to Wainui when I saw this.

Watercolour and pastel on paper, 56 x 44cms (for sale).

24. Muriwai I: This is part of the Wherowhero lagoon out at Muriwai Beach under Te Kuri o Paoa/Young Nick’s Head headland. You can see the pyramid shapes of the hills which is a fascinating feature of the landscape in this area. I had fun painting all those reeds.

Watercolour on Saunders Watercolour paper, 87 x 54cm (for sale).

25: Grazing I: This painting is of grazing sheep and cattle and my favourite, Te Kuri o Paoa/Young Nick’s Head headland, Gisborne. My friend Robyn told me about Sisterson’s Lagoon out on Macdonald Road off Awapuni Road. It’s just past the entrance to Juken’s on the other side of the road. Dr Darling and I walked out there one morning. You can walk right through to where the railway track runs out to Muriwai, and this scene is from the railway track.

Watercolour and pastel on Saunders Waterford paper, and 72 x 25cms. SOLD

26. Grazing III – Ruth Road: This is my favourite painting in the exhibition. It’s the last painting I did for it and I think it’s my best work so far. It’s of a scene I stumbled on while out walking with my friend Robyn near Beetham Village in Lytton West. I noticed it and photographed it a few times (we walk that way regularly), waiting for the light to be just right. This particular morning the light was perfect, the sheep glowing and backlit with the light dappled into the grass of the paddock in the foreground. It’s done on pastelmat which I hadn’t used before. It’s like a very fine sandpaper, quite thick and rigid. The rigidity meant I could underpaint using acrylics, and there was still plenty of tooth left to hold the pastels on top.

Pastel on pastelmat, 64 x 37cm. SOLD

27. Waiteata Park I: This painting shows early morning Autumn light in Waiteata Park – the park opposite our home. I walk most mornings at 7am with my friend Robyn and I was walking through the park on my way home when I spotted this splash of light crossing the small stream that runs through the park. The liquidambar trees were just starting to turn. I was also captured by the light touching the tops of the row of oaks and London plane trees that line the road.

Watercolour and pastel on paper, and 44 x 47 cms. SOLD

28. Brown’s Beach III: I love Brown’s Beach. This particular day I was captured by the shadows of the grasses. This painting was accepted for show in a national exhibition at the PANZ conference last year. It didn’t win a prize, although another of mine did. I had the opportunity to ask one of the judges how I could improve it. She asked me where my focal point was, and I couldn’t say. That was the problem – there wasn’t one – no place for the eye to rest before roaming around. We discussed where a focal point might go, and what it might be, and decided on a gate towards the end of the tracks. I put one in, and here it is. Much better for it I think.

Pastel on paper, and 45 x 57cms. SOLD

29. Tuahine Point: This painting shows Wainui Beach and Tuahine Point. Tuahine Point has a little lighthouse at its end. The morning sun was behind me, and it was the golden hour in which the light makes the sand glow. I love painting reflections in the water, especially with pastels because pastels are dry. It’s fun to make something look wet with a dry medium. I stood at the Pines (see painting no. 6 above) in Winter to take the photo from which I worked to paint this.

Pastel on golden Canson mi Tientes paper, and 60 x 33cms. SOLD

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