An Artist's Journeys in Nature

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Love Under The Mountain

love-iconI’ve just put finishing touches to a painting that has been lying around the place for quite some time.

As you’ll see from my previous post, this is ‘Home’, and the painting – acrylic on canvas card – has been nagging me for several years to get completed.

With all of these things, it doesn’t do to rush if the inspiration isn’t forthcoming.  When the right thing isn’t suggesting itself, it’s best to leave well alone, because you can guarantee that in due course, it will.

Come to think of it, that’s a really good piece of advice for life generally – in other words, “Don’t Force It!”

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The parakeets in the picture are kakariki – NZ red-crested parakeets, and putting them here is somewhat anachronistic, because we no longer have them up in the north.  We do have Australian Rosella parakeets though, very brightly colored, noisy and not endemic.  So I thought I’d use a bit of artistic licence…

The larger birds are one of my favorites – the kereru or NZ Native Pigeon. These had become rather scarce in the Far North due to human predation (even though they ARE protected) and the fact that a pair produces only one offspring a year – but I’m glad to say that since I’ve been letting the bush come back on my top paddocks, birdlife is increasing, and I’m seeing and hearing more kereru on the place all the time.

See also my earlier post and artwork ‘Flight of The Kukupa‘.

Patricia

http://patriciahowitt.com/

The Mountain Returns

ngauruhoe2-riconThe mountains of the Central North Island Plateau (Tongariro National Park) have had a place in my heart since the mid 1970’s.  This majestic wilderness landscape is now part of a Dual Status World Heritage Site – a status that recognises the park’s important Maori spiritual/cultural associations as well as its outstanding volcanic features.

I spent time on the Plateau on several occasions in the 70’s, travelling up from Wellington and staying in one or another of the DOC and Club huts around the mountains.  I’ve painted, walked and beginner ski’d up there and the mystery, power and spirituality of the location have never left me in all the years since I moved away from Wellington.

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At about 9000′ above sea level, this location is the summit of the North Island.  All around, the land falls away, and the quality of light and clarity of the air have a huge spiritual impact, even aside from the wonderful scatter of volcanic peaks and craters that makes up the topography of the plateau itself.

As it happens, in June 2013 I took my first flight in many years from Kerikeri via Auckland to Christchurch to attend the NZ Post Children’s Book Awards ceremony.  By some miracle, I managed to get a glimpse of the snow-clad peak of Mt Ngauruhoe standing out from the sea of white cloud, on the other side of the plane as we passed over the Plateau.  It was a sad, fleeting moment:  I now live at the northernmost end of the North Island, about 450 miles away…

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I should state clearly that I love the place where I live now (above) – about 10 acres on a hillside below yet another volcanic outcrop.  My parents bought it in 1970, I visited regularly and worked with them on the land, and since 1987 I have lived here.  However, the winter of 2014 (June-August) turned out prolonged and very wet, and all of a sudden I realised that the time has come for me to move.  I need less land, less humidity and a new adventure.

But where to go?  Not just anywhere will do!  It wasn’t very long before that answer came.

By chance in September 2014 as I was idly glancing through a travel supplement to the NZ Herald, I saw an article about Ohakune – a small town on the main trunk line about 12 miles south-west of Mt Ruapehu as the crow flies.  It services one of Mt Ruapehu’s skifields – Turoa.  I visited it years ago, and was intrigued to read how the town has developed since.  Some Internet research followed and I am now working through the major task of preparing myself to move.  It will probably take a little time for me to pull this off, but the promise of being back near those mountains will ease the regrets I’m likely to have about leaving my present home.

Patricia

My Etsy Store

patriarch-riconI’ve just re-opened my Etsy shop, which has lain empty for a number of years.  Great to have my own store again!

As well as the 13 prints that I’ve uploaded to the shop in the past couple of days, I shall be adding more – and starting some new works for the store.

Prints and cards only are available at this stage – but as I develop production infrastructure (ha! sounds good doesn’t it LOL), I hope to offer more products in the future.

And the great thing is that customers will be buying direct from me!  Click on the image below to pay a visit.  And if you like something there, please Favorite it, to encourage me – thank you!

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Enjoy!

Patricia

Ruapehu Crater Outfall

outfall-riconI guess this is another in the ‘Journey’ series, although the idea wasn’t in my mind at the time I painted this one.

Being up on the volcanoes of the Central North Island Plateau gives one a feeling of being on top of the world.

All around the land falls away – one is literally on the top of the North Island and in good weather there is a bracing quality of light and clarity in the air that is hard to describe, except to say that it is unforgettable.

This is a view of a natural vent on the side of Mount Ruapehu just below the crater’s edge that was thought to keep the waters and mud in the lake from building pressure and breaching the lake walls.

However, on Christmas Eve 1953 part of the lake wall collapsed from the volume of water and mud behind it, and the resulting lahar swept away a rail bridge in the valley below minutes before the night train from Wellington to Auckland crossed the bridge – with disastrous results.

Our Geological Survey now has the lake closely monitored. Recently, another blowout (which had in fact been forecast) hit Dome Shelter just below the lake where two young men had stopped for the night, and they were lucky to escape with their lives.

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As I painted this, I thought of what it must have been like for the early explorers to discover these wilderness places, with all their eerie ‘presence’ and power. In the final year of my law studies, part of my work involved searching titles in the Land Transfer Office – in the days of physical not computer searches, and I’d had the honour of holding in my hands some original survey field notebooks from NZ’s early surveyors, many of whom were also gifted artists.

So a painting that started off as an exploration of some fascinating topography, came to contain so much more.

Acrylic on canvas board 25 × 30in.

Patricia

Matariki

Fern Frond Unfolding - PencilMatariki is the Maori name for The Pleiades, and it means the ‘eyes of god’ (mata ariki) or ‘little eyes’ (mata riki).

The Polynesian adventurers who discovered and colonised New Zealand about the end of the first century AD were extremely conversant with the planets and their passages.

It was this knowledge, plus an observation of the flight paths of migratory birds, that enabled them to undertake huge voyages across the Pacific Ocean – initially from west to east, and later back in a southwesterly direction to find the islands that they were to name ‘Aotearoa’ or ‘Land of The Long White Cloud”.

The rising of the Pleiades (late May early June in Aotearoa New Zealand) is regarded as the Maori New Year, and it is a time for celebrating a new start.

Traditionally, it was a time for remembering the dead, and celebrating new life.

To this symbol, I  added the Koru or unfurling fern frond, a favorite subject for me – also a very strong symbol for birth and new beginnings.

And of course, Matariki is a great time for the burgeoning of artistic endeavor, too.

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Digital design work created using the Bezier Pen Tool (vector).  Below is my original pencil drawing, done from an unfurling fern frond with the aid of a botanical magnifying glass.

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This post is a follow-up to a reference made in “The Journey“.

Patricia

Ruapehu Sunset

ruapehu-riconJust a brief post about another antecedent to “The Journey“.

Back when I lived in Hamilton, I painted a very loose watercolor-style acrylic of Mt Ruapehu from those photos I took at Mangaturuturu Hut – and looking at it again, I realise this actually formed an even closer antecedent to the Journey 1 painting in my previous post.

The picture sold very quickly, and I now have only a very small photo of it left, which I’ve had to work on somewhat to make it presentable for the net.

And the result gives a very much truer impression of the ‘pink jelly’ effect of that magical mountain…ruapehu-sunset-700 Patricia

The Journey

baggage-riconBy way of asserting my independence from all the non-art claptrap that has invaded my life in the last couple of years, I made myself do something I haven’t had time for in quite awhile – exhibit.

In fact, the last time I exhibited was in 2000, before my mother began to get really sick.

To coincide with Matariki – or the rising of the Pleiades (more later), some really enterprising locals held an art exhibition in our small town in late June 2015 – the first local art show ever, I think.

Having gone through the initial panic of ‘nothing to wear’, which for an artist translates as, “Help!  I’ve got nothing that’s ready to be hung”  (like: not framed, no fixings, not quite finished etc etc), I managed to dredge up 7 pieces.

One of which was “The Journey 1” – intended as the start of a new series and just recently finished:

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The inspiration for this picture goes back to my days in government in Wellington, to a long weekend in 1975 when a friend and I took a workmate up to Mangaturuturu Hut on Mount Ruapehu.

At about 4pm, the mountain (given the right weather conditions) turns a magnificent shade of pink.  I took the photos below from the hut and I used them as a reference for this work, along with an old shot of Peter, taken in the Kaimanawas by one of his mates, as an inspiration for the pose of the figure.

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Peter, who is still in Wellington, often says he needs to go in the hills from time to time to get ‘grounded’ – which is part of what this painting is about.  Maybe I don’t need to ‘connect’ so much now, because I live on the edge of a bush reserve, but I DO miss those mountains.

And the big bag (which you’ll note isn’t a tramping or hiking backpack) is there for a purpose.

Billy Joel’s ‘River Of Dreams’ has relevance here, too:

See also my follow-up post ‘Ruapehu Sunset‘.

Patricia