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Jana Branca

jana-branca-aotearoa-artist-mug-shotAN EXCITING VOCATION

Jana Branca hails from South Africa, where she obtained a BA in Fine Arts from the University of Pretoria. “I remember a very pivotal moment at high school where my art teacher made a comment that she thought I could go on to be an artist. It was just a little thing she said in conversation, but it had a massively encouraging and life altering effect on me.”

Making, creating and re-creating has always been a very big part of her life and she says she couldn’t imagine a more exciting vocation. Having always been a ‘deep’ child, Jana loves having a vehicle for investigating and engaging with meaningful and weighty concepts. “Most of the things I like thinking about seem just out of my reach, and further wrestling with them through my art practice seems to make them just a little bit more graspable.”

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Stephen Martyn Welch (Marty)

marty-welsh-aotearoa-artist-mug-shotA PROFICIENT PAINTER

Stephen Martyn Welch, known as Marty, has had no formal training in painting and as such, the beginning of his career was very difficult. Not many galleries were interested in what he had to offer. “I am 100% self-taught, which I am proud of because I worked really hard to get where I am today.”

He failed his school certificate in art, so he joined the army and started doing sketches for his fellow comrades, “so they could go to the local tattooist, where they proceeded to ruin my drawings on someone’s skin.” After the army, Marty worked in an Irish pub in Auckland. “I started off sketching images on a big white beer fridge door that was like a white board. From there people used to come in and ask me to draw different things from actors to comic characters.”

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Carol-moffatt-Mt EarnslawDart Valley-aotearoa-artist

Carol Moffatt

I gather ideas and inspiration from the natural environment of New Zealand: the trees, mountains, water, plants and flowers. My paintings strive to capture the wonders and mystery that surround us.

I love using oils because of their strong colours. In addition, I use transparent colours as much as possible because they vibrate in the light.  Combining brushstrokes with music in my head, I create my world on canvas.

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Jennifer Stebbings

Jennifer Stebbings - Aotearoa Artist

PROLIFIC DETAIL

Born in Motueka, New Zealand, Jennifer Stebbings didn’t have any formal fine-art training, however she did go to Christchurch Polytech for a year, doing visual Communications. “I have always loved painting and drawing from my first memory. I went into commercial art thinking fine arts wasn’t really an option for a ‘real job’ I always knew that art in some form would be my only path.”

She moved back to New Zealand, from England in 2014, and for the first time, circumstances allowed her to pursue painting full time. Her biggest obstacle was confidence: “I battled to have confidence in my product with no apologies. I had my first exhibition when I was about 18, and an art critic said my path is in design as I have no knowledge of colour. I probably didn’t, but I was gutted. Now I would think, well, that’s just your opinion which you are entitled to. Thats not to say I wouldn’t take criticism on board, but it wouldn’t bother me now.”

 

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Gwyn Hughes

NATURAL PROGRESSION

Gwyn Hughes’ father and grandfather used to paint and it was a natural progression for him to become an artist. Gaining a National Diploma at Wrexham College of Art, Wales between 1980-1982, he was excited to explore his creativity and find his own path and as most artists do, he took inspiration from all of the great artists he came across. Gwyn tells us his story.

I first came to New Zealand in the 70s through a joinery internship. I joined a band, secured a couple of residencies in Christchurch and stayed for five years. After moving back to Wales from New Zealand, I would pop into a gallery run by a local artist, David Williams. I started to draw birds and local landscapes, and paint watercolours, and I was encouraged to pursue the arts as a career. I completed my four-year Illustration and Design Diploma in two years. I have never been a great one for entering exhibitions or awards but know as an artist it’s how you put yourself out there. I have been very lucky throughout my art career and I have received loads of support from family and friends who have always offered encouragement and critique. 

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Pam Mundell

pam-mundell-aotearoa-artistBETTER BY THE DOZEN

An evening with friends, a little wine and some chat. Sounds like a typical night, anywhere across New Zealand. What started as one such evening for artist Pam Mundell, triggered a journey into the world of art, starting her down a road that hasn’t reached a destination yet. In her case, this was an evening with friends that changed everything.

“I began painting 12 years ago, purely by chance, so having formal training never occurred to me. Maggie Cross, a Whangarei artist, invited a few friends round to try out painting. She put a wineglass in my left hand (and kept it topped up), and a paintbrush in my right. It was so much fun I haven’t stopped yet, although the wine had to go!” After being caught by the irresistible pull of creating works herself, her inspiration is all around and conveniently for Pam, mostly close to home. From the wonderful scenic spots she’s resided in, or places she’s visited, there is no shortage of things to paint or creations to come to life on her canvas. Like a lot of travellers, Pam has a camera in tow to capture locations and scenes for later works.

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Rosanne Croucher

rosanne-croucher-aotearoa-artistGENEROUS GIFT

From a young age, Rosanne Croucher loved to make things. She won a few colouring in competitions as a child, which was very encouraging. “During high school I took art subjects, but I wasn’t sure how that would translate into a career, so I ended up moving to Auckland and beginning a Health Science degree.”

Two years on, she experienced some health issues and felt a deep need to re-establish creativity in her life. “The following year I did Bible college through my Church Equippers and it was there that I began to develop a vision for a career as an artist. I started up an art group at church and enrolled at Unitec to study a Bachelor of Design and Visual Arts. Looking back, I cringe at some of the work I made during my degree and Masters, but I made some great work as well and learnt so much.

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Art Capener

art-capener-aotearoa-artistArt Capener did a short amount of formal art training at UK Liverpool Art College way back in the early 60s but found he didn’t really like it, instead taking the long road of being self-taught. “Being taught how to do something is OK but the excitement of discovering it for yourself is much better, I feel. Quite often new techniques are discovered by what I call ‘happy accidents’ – that’s when you’re almost giving up and so you try again and again. Suddenly you find yourself standing back and saying, wow did I do that?”

“I have no idea what drove my interest in art, I do a lot of geneology research and have gone back over 1500 years, but amazingly I never found an ancestral artist. Having said that, I’m sure many of them would have drawn or painted at some point. I get all the inspiration I need from nature – not just the scenery but the vast array of colours, it’s also very theraputic as we all know colour can lift your spirits or have an opposite effect, adding beauty or drama to a picture. I admire the work of many artists such as Jonathan White, Tim Wilson and the works of 18th century Russian artists, such as Ivan Aivazovsky. 

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Graham Christensen

graham-christensen-aotearoa-artistsGraham Christensen is a rural artist living in the Manawatu. At 72 Graham has spent the majority of his life involved in farming and agriculture – not painting. 

By Natasha Christensen

Graham was in his early 60s when he and his wife Sue were discussing what their up-coming retirement might look like. They had already been living for the last seven years on the Gold Coast in Australia managing a holiday resort in Surfers Paradise. It had been hard work with very little down time and the plan was to move back home to New Zealand to be closer to the grandkids. Their intention was to buy a small farm in the Manawatu, but Sue was concerned that Graham would not have enough to keep him busy on a daily basis. He was such an active person she didn’t think it was a good idea for him to hang around the house all day in between small farm jobs. In 2012, with a birthday approaching and recalling the conversation, Sue, on a bit of a whim, purchased Graham a gift voucher for three painting lessons ‘Learn to Paint’.  In just three lessons Graham was hooked – and painting has since become his great passion.

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Keith Snow

keith-snow-aotearoa-artistBy Matt Mortimer

Keith Snow’s journey as an artist is a literal voyage of creativity, navigating the ups and downs of artistic exploration of largely maritime painting. This is an apt parallel of his definition of his career to date. It comes as no surprise that Keith’s maritime focus is one birthed from a love of the sea and sailing. 

“It’s gone from an interest...to a hobby...to a full-time job, “he says. “To attempt to fill a need to create something of beauty and of longevity.” His background is one of no formal training, of exploring the depths of maritime journals and books. My ideas and inspiration are mainly from reading. Books about early explorers, emigrant ships, local fishing craft and more.”

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