Past work

I remember when I was first told I was good at painting. I had just painted a picture of the Queen coming down the gangway of the Royal yacht Britannia. I must have been 7 or 8. It was put on the wall of my classroom. As much as I liked art, it was never a career possibility, and I dropped it after School Certificate for more academic subjects. Later still, while I was studying Aeronautical engineering at the Central Institute of Technology, an Exhibition passed through entitled "Some of the Kids Who Could Draw". It was a collection of student work from the various design schools around the country. It was a revelation.

Two years later I had a place at the old Wellington Polytechnic School of Design. It was a small and venerable institution with limited places and high standards. Sixteen of my original group of thirty two graduated in 1983.

I trained under some outstanding tutors - most notably John Drawbridge, Ray Ramsay and Roger Hart. It was the pre-digital era and I gained some great skills. Out of necessity I have since learned the digital way, but my preference is for the real media of canvas, paint, charcoal and conte. I will be forever grateful for this skills-based training. When I finally got around to studying fine arts at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, I found those skills gave me a distinct advantage over most of my fellow students in terms of realising ideas. I gained my MFA in 2006.

Subject Material
I started with painting landscapes of my local area - Wellington Harbour, south coast, the Kapiti Coast and Horowhenua. I like the shapes of the land, and the light at particular times and seasons. I also like the modest and incidental structures you find in the environment - sheds, signal boxes, and harbour lane markers.

More recently I have rekindled an old skill - spray painting. Where I used to paint fine details with an airbrush, I now do giant portraits using spray cans.

For landscapes I use acrylics because their fast drying properties suit my working method. I start with a monochromatic underpainting and then apply colour in many layers. Click here for an example of a work in progress.

I complete most of the landscapes in the studio. Its a challenge in Wellington to take your easel outdoors!

Limited Edition Prints and Reproductions
I learned the traditional skills of fine art printmaking under John Drawbridge and have just started producing prints again. My favourite technique is mezzotint. You texture a plate with a "rocker" tool so that it will print a pure black, and then you lift the lighter tones out by selectively burnishing areas. Of all the intaglio processes it is probably the most laborious, but it produces a result of unparalleled richness.

Click here for some more information on the mezzotint process.

In fine arts terms a print is a copy produced by a recognised craft process like woodcut, intaglio, stone lithography or screenprinting. They are produced by hand, either by the artist or a skilled printmaker. They are produced in small editions, usually less than 100 and signed and numbered by the artist. The printmaker may also sign the print. The artist usually also prints a few artist's proofs. The plates are destroyed when the edition is complete.

A reproduction, on the other hand is machine printed - either mechanically or digitally. Some artists these days find it tempting pass off reproductions as limited edition prints. They can number in the thousands. All the artist has to do is sign and number them as they come off the machine. This is a scam, and you won't find any recognised artist doing it.

I accept commissions, but are slightly wary of them for two reasons - firstly I must be able to see what the client has in their mind's eye, which is not always easy, and secondly it takes an important step out of the painting process - namely, deciding what to paint. I have talked myself out of more commissions than I have accepted. However, I am willing to have my arm twisted...