September and October are important months in my painting calendar because of the arrival of Spring. For the first time this year I used blossoms in my paintings – the explosion of new blooms in my local neighbourhood was irresistible. Using blossoms proved tricky due to their fragile petals and the anthers of the flowers ending up in my paintings. I endeavour to avoid having organic matter in the artworks so as not to have problems with mould in the future. Sometimes this means that plants have to be washed before use and occasionally split into their different parts before nature printing with them.
Seasonal changes are never far from my mind when working with plants. I use photos to help me keep track of interesting plant species growing in my local area for future use in paintings.
The foliage available in September and October is an unusual mix of decayed winter leaves mixed with blooms and fresh new growth. In September I visited Bastion Point/Takaparawhā, Okahu Bay and my local streets to gather leaves and flowers.
The mix of old and new leaves/warm and cool temperatures/death and birth at this time of year makes for interesting juxtapositions. The small September picture below was painted with these themes in mind and is available via Patreon as an instant digital download.
This Spring I participated in the Envoys Onwards postcard exhibition at Te Uru Waitakere Contemporary Gallery. This exhibition marked the 125th anniversary of women gaining the right to vote in New Zealand. In 1993 the Association of Women Artists organised an exhibition of postcards to mark the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage in New Zealand, with the aim “to strengthen the voice of women’s common concerns, to acknowledge the universality of their gender, and to generate images from the present that will touch future generations.” Info. from Te Uru website. These original postcards were included in the exhibition and it was really interesting to see them.
The exhibition prompted a lot of thinking for me about the challenges faced by women artists and also by women working in the arts sector. I recalled a job interview many years ago for a part-time position with a curator at one of New Zealand’s major art galleries who noticed I’d done a modelling course on my CV and told me I should be a model instead. I didn’t get the job and I ignored his comment, going on to study for my Masters degree in Art History, the first person in my family to achieve a Masters qualification. There have been many such obstacles and setbacks over the course of my career and it’s good to be reminded just how much positive change for women has happened in my lifetime.