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March and April Newsletter:

   I have just come from my studio after struggling all day with the paint that's now on this canvass. Sometimes I wonder what made me want to be an artist! The further I get myself into this the more I realize what hard work it is. Like many other things, painting is ten per cent inspiration and ninety per cent perspiration! I heard that a long time ago but never truly believed it until now. And I'm glad I have finally realized it to be true because it finally means I'm getting somewhere in learning what it takes to become what I want to be 'when I grow up'. And for all the work and the frustration and struggle I love what I do, and I enjoy it more every day. I think that this year I will finally begin to produce work and get paintings and drawings flying from the easel! I have hundreds of ideas for plein air paintings and still have a lot of miles to cover with the Art of a Hut project.

   Over the last several years I've often thought of the idea of art school. I've finally decided once and for all that it's not for me. But at the same time I have realized that that means I have to work twice as hard and be twice as dedicated to art in order to learn on my own. I'm looking forward to that; I'm looking forward to tomorrow when I will continue learning how to make grass on a canvass look like grass on a golf course...

Toro Commission

    At the beginning of the month I received a commission to paint a large canvass. A family friend of ours who owns a holiday house next door to us and who owns a business in Hong Kong selling Toro lawnmowers has commissioned the painting. The painting is of one of the Toro mowers, which he will present to the American Toro company on their 100th anniversary in July this year. The location in the painting is Kauri Cliffs, one of the most famous gulf courses in the world. It was arranged for me to go there to work with one of the many Toro mowers they have to keep the green in perfect condition. You can read about my experience at Kauri Cliffs and see more photos here. In the photo above is one of the few sketches I did on location at Kauri Cliffs.

   It's something different for me to do. And rather exciting for my career. This is the biggest canvass I've worked on so far at 36 x 48 in. Another first with this commission is that I am finally using real oil paint and really good quality paint at that. I started out painting using Windsor and Newton’s water mixable oil paints and so have never used real oil based paints and turpentine. I am enjoying using this new paint and am looking forwards to using real oils always in the future, they feel more real and the colours are better. Besides, I think I’m becoming addicted to the smell of turps!

   For the last few weeks I have been working on this big canvass and will have to work hard for the rest of the week to get it finished before I go.

The Art of a Hut project update

   So far no real plans for hut hopping trips. But next week I will be in the South Island picking Apples near Nelson for five weeks. I'm sure I will get to some of the huts around there during weekends and perhaps during the few weeks we plan to spend traveling after that.

   When I come back it will be winter, but I'll have a bit of money from the apples then, so I have the grand idea of drawing the huts around Mt. Taranaki. I have a few friends who are interested in coming with me for the trip, and I may even get to do some snow drawings! I'm looking forwards to doing that. I love being out there in the bush and I miss it. I did some tramping last weekend through Puketi Forest with a group of friends, that was great fun, though no huts and no sketching this time.

   This painting is one I did last month. It is Rocks Ahead Hut. I painted it using my sketch and memory as reference. I had a few photos of the hut but they were not much help as they were taken at the end of the day when the shadows and lighting were totally different. I still need to work on the painting a bit. The hut is too small, and I feel like the top half of the painting is a bit disjointed from the bottom. So that's a bit of work waiting for me to do sometime.

The Next few Months for this Artist

   Next week I fly down to the South Island and begin work apple picking in Motueka on the 1st. I'm looking forward to hard work outside, earning money, and sketching apple orchards and all that comes with it.

   I am going to try and draw as much as I can while I am away. I am also going to take my little watercolour kit and work on my watercolour skills which are rather limited at the moment.

   I will probably not be able to send out a newsletter next month, and even if I could all I would have to say is 'apples'.. I have no return ticket so I only know that I will probably be back in June sometime. So the internet will not hear much about me until then. I'm excited!

   I recently made a new drawing video for my YouTube channel. Here is a link. I didn't have a tripod which is why I managed to get distractingly in the way of the video while drawing. Better next time!

I have been doing a fair bit of portrait sketches lately, in between painting.

A sketch from the cover of my friends first published novel. Fly Away Home by Rachel Heffington.

When no one is around to sit for me there's always the mirror!