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Featured-lynda-bell-aotearoa-artist

Lynda Bell

lynda-bell-aotearoa-artist“Being an artist was all I ever wanted to do. I felt discouraged in high school and did not feel ‘good enough’ and also thought that perhaps art was a lonely career. I wanted to help others, so I went to teachers college with the intent of one day being an art therapist. Teaching however was not creative enough for me. Stress made me ill, but whenever I was at home sick I would create stories and illustrate them. One time I was off work for a week and I created a whole children’s book.

When I saw an ad for The Learning Connexion that said ‘turn your life into a work of art’ I knew that was what I wanted to do so I took a leap and moved to Wellington. Being around other people who loved art encouraged me to believe that I could actually be an artist.

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Elise De Silva

elise-de-silva-aotearoa-artistDRAMATIC LIGHT

Born in Australia, and having a talented mum as an artist, Elise De Silva reflects on her fondest memories of heading out to the foothills of Perth with some paints and a couple of sausages for the BBQ. “It was only recently that I realised I’ve been painting en plein-air since I was 10! I have to admit, while I enjoyed art, I never felt very good, but I dabbled all throughout my life.” Elise expands on her story.

Nature is my biggest inspiration. I’m always looking at cloud shapes, sunsets, interesting shapes, water and reflections too. New Zealand has so much beautiful coast-line, I’m never at a loss for inspiring subject matter. Boats also feature strongly in my work. I’m not a boatie myself, I get dreadfully sea sick, but I think boats are so evocative of freedom, serenity and adventure. I’m also drawn to any landscape with dramatic lighting. If there is no dramatic light, then a scene just doesn’t drive me. I want my art to evoke beauty and bring people joy and peace. 

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Featured-gwyn-hughes-aotearoa-artist

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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Featured-pam-mundell-aotearoa-artist

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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Kristin Kay

aotearoa-artist-kristin-kayCLAY GIRL

In her childhood, Kristin Kay’s eldest sister Simone, eight years older than her and very creative herself, would often make games to use their imagination. “She would also make me and my other sister Ruth monthly magazines, hand drawn women's fashion pages, puzzle pages, baking recipes, facts about animals, anything.

A magical childhood was had by us girls. Unfortunately, just after her 19th birthday, when she had become a young adult down in Christchurch, her driver crashed the car at quite a speed. No one survived. But I always remember her instilling her creativity in me, her drawings, how she could make something out of nothing. It just stuck - she is still a big part of me.”

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Freedom-daniel-carter-aotearoa-artist

Daniel Carter

Oriental Dragon-daniel-carter-aotearoa-artist

Oriental Dragon, 1200 x 800mm, Blowtorched on wood.

DESIRE FOR CREATION

The closest Daniel Carter came to formal art training would have been extension art classes and graphic design throughout intermediate and college years. “These classes were taken above my selected art classes, as the art teachers noticed I had an interest and above level ability for my age group. I left college at an early age to become a car painter, which ultimately led me towards the automotive artistry of airbrushing.”

The artist life started for Daniel at a very early age, “As a young child my parents encouraged my artistic abilities. By year two of primary school, my father Roger would sit with me for hours, teaching me how to draw realistic people, muscle cars, fighter planes, architectural buildings with two-point perspective etc. We didn’t have much but wherever I went I would have a small pad and pencil, taking inspiration from my surroundings, nature, birds, people, cars, buildings, that sort of thing.

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Sonya Prchal The NZArtist Magazine

Sonya Prchal

Sonya Prchal

PAINTING WITH THREAD

Originally from Pukekohe and now based in Whangarei, Sonya Prchal has always loved art and has drawn and painted from a young age. “I started working with textiles in 2003 and first entered works in our National Quilt Symposium in Wellington in 2009. When four of my works sold, I was encouraged to create more and started teaching fabric painting and stitching at the next Quilt Symposium in Queenstown, at subsequent symposia and tutoring classes throughout New Zealand.”

Sonya has always managed to fit in daily practice in her studio, but has only recently been creating on a full time basis. “I love making works that draw in an audience and start a discussion. I enjoy commission work, and take great pleasure seeing joy on the faces of people when they receive their favourite pet replicated with thread.” 

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Ashley Mcdonald

Ashley McDonald 2023

Ashley McDonald The NZ Artist

CONSCIOUS PERSPECTIVE

Self-taught artist Ashley McDonald was published in a ‘Youth Art’ article in The New Zealand Artist Magazine in July August 2016, and has continued on with her remarkable journey. Seven years later she catches up with us and in her own words, tells us her story.

My artistic journey began by accident. When I was in my early teens I would paint and draw for school homework (or just for fun). I’d draw things I was interested in - such as birds and fish. One day I painted a portrait of my pet Siamese fighting fish. I posted the end result online to a group of tropical fish enthusiasts. Almost immediately I had comments asking me whether I would take commissions and if I could ship internationally. It was quite overwhelming, as I was in my early teens at the time - I had no idea if I could even send art outside of New Zealand. My first commissioned piece was completed at age 15 and was shipped to the United Kingdom. My artistic career snowballed from there. Once my first commission arrived in the UK, the owner posted the piece online, bringing more queries and future commissions. Before this, I had never thought about selling my artwork.

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Sheree Foster

Sheree Foster Aotearoa Artist Magazine

SHEREE FOSTERS ARTISTIC JOURNEY

By Ben Lavin

Sheree Foster has always been involved in one way or another with creative things. Before becoming a full time, self-taught artist “...graduating from the school of Life’’, she was in Banking, Event Marketing and then, after having her family, a Design Build Consultant, with interests in photography, floral, and landscape design. She actually never considered becoming an artist until a visiting friend observed a piece she had created lying on a table and then asked her what gallery she had bought it from. She was quite taken aback to hear that Sheree had made it and after learning there were no plans for it she promptly decided to buy it on the spot. It now hangs proudly on their wall in their new contemporary beach house in Waihi Beach - all two metres of it, and recently been joined by piece number two another two metre monster. Thus began Sheree’s adventure as an artist which she admits was a bit of a crossroads in her life. What should she do next? 

After doing several weddings and seeing the wastage of flowers for one day she decided she wanted to create something from this and the idea came to her of repurposing floral waste into all sorts of art pieces from wreaths to busts of heads, all in pre-loved flowers and often with a vintage flair. The enjoyment of creating this art, as well as the pleasure of seeing one of her pieces in its forever place, was what really motivated her to keep going. 

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Bernadette Ballantyne 1 Aotearoa Artist Magazine

Bernadette Ballantyne

WINDOWS TO THE SOUL

Gaining her Bachelor of Fine Art at Whanganui Quay School of the Arts (now Whanganui UCOL) between the years of 2002-2005, Bernadette Ballantyne was born into a family of creatives and maintains it’s in her blood. With a family of potters, musicians, singers, dancers, Bernadette always knew that art would have something to do with her career. “On leaving high school, I was actually applying and had been accepted into two different universities to do a teaching degree, and it was my cousin, who was at the time completing her Bachelor of Fine Art in Whanganui, who talked me into going for Fine Arts instead. That decision totally changed my life.”

Her biggest motivating factor to pursue a career as an artist is her children. “I had been teaching primary school for 13 years and it served me well. It allowed me to travel the world and have the freedom to move where I wanted to. But teaching is not an appealing profession for those with families anymore.

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