It’s definitely reached us – it’s Spring in New Zealand and after abnormal late winter snow flurries in supposedly sub-tropical Auckland, the first rays of sun are warming our cheeks. The plants are showing off new leaves, bees are buzzing around flowers and the birds are out in force trying to steal my worms from the corners of the compost bin.
Since it’s the season of the birds I thought I’d commemorate this with two new paintings of Aotearoa’s beloved native birds and our landscape. They’ve just come back from the framers looking quite smart and I’ve sent them off to Queenstown to hang in the brand new Artbay Gallery building on Lake Wakatipu’s waterfront.
I have to give Homestead Picture Framers in Henderson a massive public thumbs up because their ability to discuss ideas with me and accomplish whatever framing requests pop into my head always astounds me. I came to them this time with a couple of large loose bits of canvas with paintings that were 95% done. They stretched them onto rigid wooden frames for me and then put gorgeous decorative frames around that… just in time for me to do the final touch ups before I couriered the paintings off.
This time I’ve opted for an ornate, black wooden frame around “Aroha mai, aroha atu,” which mimics the intricate koru designs in the painting and for “He Iti Kahurangi” we, at the framing shop, collectively decided on the light bright effect of this blonde wooden frame with a sneaky silver bar inside to match the reflective quality of some of the iridescent paints I used.
“Aroha mai, aroha atu” is a Maori proverb meaning “love received, love returned.” To me this work describes balance and symmetry. It is about seeing that polar opposite forces are present in all things and are balancing each other out all the time, whether or not it is perceived this way. Two huia birds are perched on branches with Queenstown’s Remarkables mountain range in the background. Although huia are an extinct North Island bird, they are still a recognisable symbol for the whole of Aotearoa, of our connection with our ancestors, our history and our land.
“He Iti Kahurangi” means “A Little Treasure.” In this painting a yellowhead or mohua, a small endemic South Island bird, stands in front of Queenstown’s Lake Wakatipu, in which Mt Earnslaw and surrounding mountains are reflected. On closer inspection, a dozen or so birds take flight from the hills on the far right of the painting.
The technique I used on both of these paintings was to first layer the canvas with blended metallic gold, blue and copper acrylics and then map out in minute detail using black ink-like paint, the mountain ranges and their reflection in the lake. The birds were lastly painted with intricate Maori, Pacific and Hindu mandala designs, in irridescent pearl white paint. The irridescent and metallic paint reflects the light and changes in mood depending on the angle of the light in the room, while the black of the mountain range absorbs the light and is deep, matt and unchanging.
See the paintings in the flesh at Artbay Gallery:
13 Marine Parade
Open 7 days 10am – 9pm
Posted by artist Sofia Minson from NewZealandArtwork.com
New Zealand Maori portrait and landscape oil painting