How Many Faces Can You See? - Major Menagerie's Travelling Circus

I created “Major Menagerie’s Travelling Circus” last year for a small exhibition where each artist was presented with a piece of A3 watercolour paper to fill how we liked.

I used my ‘Wash & Ink’ method. I splashed about some watercolour paint and then inked in what I saw within the random watercolour shapes. I first drew the pants. I expected that a character would then flow to fill said pants. However it took a different turn, face after face appeared and I drew them all in. It certainly made an unexpected and fun piece.

Watch the video to see how many faces you can count.

 ‘Major Menagerie’s Travelling Circus’ 2017, Wash & Ink on paper, 297mm x 420mm (11.6 in x 16.5 in)

‘Major Menagerie’s Travelling Circus’ 2017, Wash & Ink on paper, 297mm x 420mm (11.6 in x 16.5 in)

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Oil Painting Portrait - Two attempts 13 years apart

Last year I finally plucked up the courage to paint my Grandfather. It had been 13 years since my first attempt. After my first attempt I hoped one day I could paint him more realistically and vowed not to paint him again until I could do him justice.

I never got to meet my Grandad Jack, but grew up hearing stories about him. The photograph I painted from was in pride of place in my Nana’s flat, usually somewhere prominent like on top of the tv (back in the days when tvs were boxes). I knew this was a special photo of him.

I painted this portrait as a gift for my Aunty, but I had a feeling that it would be special to the whole family. I hope that I have done him justice. I am proud of my attempt and I hope he is proud of me.

During the early stages of the portrait I mapped out his face with monochromatic washes (shown directly below), focusing on form and light. These washes ran like tears around his eyes. This was an emotional moment for me, as I sensed we were connected in our mutual loss of never having met. Through the process of building the layers I felt I learnt more about the man I had heard so much about.

 Value study. Close-up on the right.

Value study. Close-up on the right.

 Jack Dobson Oil on canvas 350x450mm

Jack Dobson Oil on canvas 350x450mm

Below you can see a comparison between my two attempts. As you can see, I’m pretty chuffed with the final result of the painting. Below this is a video showing the painting form - I took a photo at the end of each work session and compiled these into a video. I hope you enjoy it as much as enjoyed the painting process!

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Painting Experiment - Left vs Right Hand

I was curious to compare my left and right hands painting the same scene. I expected the results to be wildly different with wild wiggly lines coming from my life hand. I decided to paint the same scene, a still life of pumpkins, first with my left hand. By going first with my left, then I would prevent "cheating" by passing on any learnings of my right hand of the scene to the left hand.

To my surprise my left hand actually achieved realism. Perhaps I had built but pathways in my left hand many years ago when I broken the pinky on my right hand. I had to write using my left hand for several weeks!

I was able to use my same painting process, building up the layers the same way as I usually do and it came together. I was certainly slower and more frustrated using my left but it worked. I was amazed at how tiring it was using my left hand!

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 Bentley is very proud of his work!

Bentley is very proud of his work!


Artist Retreat in Hinewai Reserve

I recently went on my first artist retreat. I have come back completely recharged and inspired - I hope this feeling lasts!

This will be a memory I will treasure - full of adventure, relaxation, education, and inspiration!

I drove to Hinewai Reserve in the South Eastern corner of Banks Peninsula on the Friday night. The weather had packed it in that day but I was hopeful it would clear. Tricia welcomed me with a hug - we had been communicating for a few months and had the chance to meet in person a couple of weekends earlier at the Pegasus Art Show. Tricia, Paul and I sat at their kitchen table and ate feta (made by Paul) and crackers. We got on so well, it felt like I had known them both for years.

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The following morning I drove to the top of the hill at sunrise to take a photo of the view for a friend. Hoping for clearer weather, I was met by a dusting of snow - not quite what I was anticipating but made for nice scenery!

 Sunrise the first morning.

Sunrise the first morning.

As part of the Artist Retreat, the artist helps in the garden in the morning in exchange for staying at the reserve. As it was still raining Tricia found an inside task for us to do by the fire. What a great idea! While we cleaned the leaves and ink off plant tags, the sun came out and revealed the beauty of Hinewai.

After we finished cleaning the tags, I headed out for a walk in the reserve. The trees were calming and I soaked in the fresh air from the ferns. It felt like it washed away the stress from the working week. When I returned to my cabin I realised I had dropped a glove in the forest - it was as though the forest didn’t want me to leave yet! Luckily I didn’t have to search too far.

(Tap to see more pics above).

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Before our art session I wandered around to find inspiration. I wanted the artwork to be a direct inspiration from the area.

(Tap to see more pics above).

 My inspiration for my first sketch. Paul & Tricia’s Kakariki birds which I photographed moments before our art session.

My inspiration for my first sketch. Paul & Tricia’s Kakariki birds which I photographed moments before our art session.

Inside the house again, Tricia and I started ‘Arting’ as Tricia puts it :) I started an ink and wash drawing of the Kakariki birds that Paul and Tricia breed. Such gorgeous green and red feathers - how could I not. Tricia worked on some garden inspired artworks for a garden themed exhibition she is hosting at the house.

 Start of the Kakariki sketch.

Start of the Kakariki sketch.

Tricia’s artist friend Tori Batt arrived with artworks for the upcoming exhibition. It was wonderful to meet her and the three of us chatted about art related things by the fire, drinking tea and eating freshly baked lemon cupcakes. It felt like we could talk all night if we let ourselves. So lovely to have like minded artists all in one room. Tori give me an artist proof of her first zine she had just finished which I will treasure. Thank you Tori - you can find her work here.

Paul invited me to join him to feed the Kakariki some broom flowers. WOW! I took the camera into the aviary and snapped away happily. What gorgeous birds! And the best inspiration to finish off my drawing.

(Tap to see more pics above).

 Further progress on the Kakariki sketch.

Further progress on the Kakariki sketch.

The next morning I was up the hill again and sadly it was worse weather for a sunrise. Cloudy and sad looking - ah well it got me out of bed and awake!

 Sunrise day two.

Sunrise day two.

By the time I finished breakfast the weather was good enough for Tricia and I to get stuck into the garden where I had a lesson on Hydrangea pruning. Thank you Tricia for holding off your pruning specially to teach me how a pro does it.

Then I was lucky enough to get the opportunity to go with Paul out to the headland. Paul needed to check the rain gauges as part of the data that is collected on the Hinewai Reserve. I helped by holding the wind meter - which was really fun! On the way back Paul gave me a botany lesson of some of the plants and trees in the area.

(Tap to see more pics above).

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 Me at the mouth of Otanerito Bay. Wind gusts of up to 78.5 kph!

Me at the mouth of Otanerito Bay. Wind gusts of up to 78.5 kph!

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After a spot of lunch Tricia and I were ‘Arting’ again by the fire. I got a sneak peak at some new work that Tricia is developing - some absolutely stunning pencil drawings of animals and insects.

While we were working away Paul came inside and said to me “I think this is the type of pet you’d like” and placed a weta down onto my hand. I freaked for a second as I imagined the little feet were going to tickle my hand. Tricia captured hilarious photos of my reaction on camera. Here is one of the better ones once I had composed myself!

How lucky am I to hold this rare and special weta. This is an Akaroa Tree Weta, which resides only in the South Eastern corner of Banks peninsula. It is considered New Zealand’s rarest weta so I feel very privileged indeed to get to see one up close - let alone hold one.

After the excitement of the weta we placed her back out side and I finished off my drawing of the artist retreat cabin. I later gifted this artwork to Tricia to hang in the cabin.

My time at Hinewai was so special. Full of great yarns, creating art, exploring and tapping into the calming effect of nature and the beauty of being out of cellphone reception - away from my normal routines and distractions from technology. I have felt much calmer this week and when I do feel myself getting stressed I say to myself “Hinewai, Hinewai”, exhaling slowly.

I would thoroughly recommend the Hinewai Artist Retreat to artists wanting to escape, recharge and gain inspiration. Tricia and Paul are the most welcoming hosts. If you want to get in touch with Tricia you can email her on otanerito@gmail.com or reach out on her Facebook page ‘Tricia Hewlett Artist’

 My finished drawing of the Artist Retreat Cabin.

My finished drawing of the Artist Retreat Cabin.

 I had to show the Kakariki the finished bird sketch.

I had to show the Kakariki the finished bird sketch.

 The finished Karariki sketch.

The finished Karariki sketch.


Tractor Heaven Oil Painting - Time Lapse

A time lapse of a painting I created in 2017. Watch 'Tractor Heaven' come to live throughout the layers.

This is a view of Paton's Rock beach in the Golden Bay area of New Zealand's South Island. I was holidaying here one summer and was very curious as to why the tractor would sit out there for hours.

If you watch closely you can see when I changed the size of the tractor dramatically. 

 ‘Tractor Heaven’ 2017, Oil on panel, 200 x 200mm , (7.8 inx 7.8 in)

‘Tractor Heaven’ 2017, Oil on panel, 200 x 200mm , (7.8 inx 7.8 in)

 Finished and sitting on the easel.

Finished and sitting on the easel.


I'm addicted to creating

I've been thinking that there are some parallels between my need to paint and descriptions of addiction. But addicted in good way.

Looking back there were signs even at a young age. My Aunty Mary took me away for a beach holiday to one of our favourite beaches when I was five or six. It was a wonderful time but we hadn't packed any drawing paper. As soon she returned me home I dove into the hot water cupboard where the scrap paper was stored and then furiously started drawing out ideas on the floor. My Aunty commented that obviously I had been missing drawing equipment!

During primary school images were much easier for me to relate to than words. And word soon got out that I could draw. Kids would pass their books down the table for me to draw up a fancy title page for the latest topic.

Once when I was collected from school I announced I had had the best day ever at school.  "We did art all day. We drew pictures and made sculptures. If only school was like that every day!" I still agree with that statement, if only everyday was filled with art.

Returning from a fun weekend staying with a friend I was in a really bad mood. After some questioning from my mother I said, "Yes I had fun but I didn't get any of my project work done and I have so many ideas."

Later on in my high school years I would be up late on a painting roll. Mum would put her head around the corner and say “Come on, time to go to bed.” In those days I painted in acrylics so I had a handy excuse up my sleeve “Oh but I've just mixed up some colours Mum. I can't stop now or they'll dry” so she would leave me for another hour, for which I would have conveniently just mixed another batch by the time she came back hehe! At which point she said “You would paint all night if I let you!” And of course I replied “Then why don't you!?”

Nowadays I think about painting all the time. It's like I'm itching to get my next fix. Planning the next strokes on a painting. Seeing a sunrise and analysing how I would mix the colours. Looking at photos and breaking down the shapes in my mind. Looking at a landscape and planning the order of the layers. When there are days when I don't paint I'm anxious to when I can next get on the brushes. And when there are multiple days not painting I'm almost tapping and the table wanting to get back to it.

Am I obsessed? I hope I don’t come across that way. I think it is healthy to have a passion and a drive. Everyone needs one. I feel lucky that I have found mine and I discovered it so early on in life. It is comforting that it is something that has always been with me and always will be. It’s like a loyal friend.

 A young Georgette aged 4 years. Much later in life I painted this as gift for my sister.

A young Georgette aged 4 years. Much later in life I painted this as gift for my sister.

 Picking up on harmonise colours from a young age. Pig, aged 5 1/2 years.

Picking up on harmonise colours from a young age. Pig, aged 5 1/2 years.

 A witch with many rings. Aged 8 years.

A witch with many rings. Aged 8 years.

 Comic strip of characters I developed aged 10 years.

Comic strip of characters I developed aged 10 years.

 Scotty dog, aged 11 years.

Scotty dog, aged 11 years.

 Happy family. Vampire family drawing aged 11 years.

Happy family. Vampire family drawing aged 11 years.

 Mural on Ashburton College 2017. Aged 17 years.

Mural on Ashburton College 2017. Aged 17 years.

 'Young Georgette' Acrylic on board, 2007. Aged 17 years.

'Young Georgette' Acrylic on board, 2007. Aged 17 years.


The Canvas Project - A Visual Encylopedia

I think it's important to find ways to renew inspiration in our creative endeavours. Inspiration from external or unexpected places can result in you exploring a direction you may not have otherwise thought of. So I decided to join The Canvas Project by The Brooklyn Art Library. The project is best described by The Brooklyn Art Library

...a visual encyclopedia compiled by creative people from around the world, completed on mini canvases. As a kickoff to this challenge, our artist community contributed words that are meant to inspire and energize their fellow artists. We have exactly 2,000 prompted words that will make up the entirety of The Canvas Project.
— Brooklyn Art Library

Put simply each artist receives a tiny canvas and a word to express in their own way. The artist returns that canvas and then receives another artist's from somewhere in the world. All the canvases will be scanned to then compile in a visual encyclopedia book. How fun!

The word I received was "Mallam". Which I have to admit I had to look up the meaning. "Mallam is an honorific title given to Islamic scholars." I searched around for a figure that advocated for good and came across, Makarem Shirazi an Iranian religious leader. In reference to underage marriage Makarem stated that "although such marriages were permitted in the past, in modern times it has been demonstrated that they are not in the best interest of the parties involved and should be considered invalid".

 The final painting

The final painting

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Watch the painting come to life in the time lapse below.


Front Cover - The New Zealand Artist Magazine

Even as I write this one week on from the magazine's release, I still don't quite believe it. My painting chosen for the cover of the New Zealand Artist! Crazy.

I feel very honoured to be have been chosen and it has been quite the buzz this past week. It certainly was the most surreal feeling to walk into the bookstore and see my work staring back at me from the shelves.

 A very excited Georgette holding her cover of the New Zealand Artist magazine at the local bookstore.

A very excited Georgette holding her cover of the New Zealand Artist magazine at the local bookstore.

 Close up of the cover.

Close up of the cover.

 Oh fancy that! Look what found its way onto the coffee table.

Oh fancy that! Look what found its way onto the coffee table.

 The article, page 14.

The article, page 14.

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Journey to Sunlight - Oil Painting

It's not often that the client is living in the same house. My good friend and flatmate Matt commissioned me to paint a scene that he had photographed from Mt Hutt looking down on the Rakaia Gorge. With the patchwork nature of the Canterbury Plains I knew it was going to be a challenge! And one I couldn't hide from the client :)

During the painting process there are times when it looks nothing like the final outcome. But the painter has the proceeding layers mapped out in their head. Thankfully Matt enjoyed watching the painting throughout each of the stages.

Below you can see some of the steps throughout the project. I have also created a time lapse of the painting coming together.

 Early stages.

Early stages.

 Detail of brushwork.

Detail of brushwork.

 Working at night requires extra lighting.

Working at night requires extra lighting.

 Colour matching is so much easier outside.

Colour matching is so much easier outside.

 Journey to Sunlight, 2018, Oil on canvas, 900 x 450mm (35.4 in x 17.7 in)

Journey to Sunlight, 2018, Oil on canvas, 900 x 450mm (35.4 in x 17.7 in)


HWK Fundraiser Painting - 'Under the Blue'

When approached to help with a charity art auction to help raise funds for The Kings and Queen's Kapa Haka group I jumped at the chance to be involved.

Each artist was sent out a 'patu' shaped board to paint. Patu is a term used for a broad-blade club used by Māori warriors for close-quarter fighting. When I received the board I ponded what to create. The shape reminded me of a whale with its wide body and narrow tail. Remembering that the patu is a weapon I thought it even more appropriate to paint an animal that needs us to fight for its protection more than ever.

It wasn't until writing this blog that I realised that patu were sometimes made from whale bone. I find that almost spokey.

Watch below as I build up the layers of 'Under the Blue'.

 2018, Oil on Patu Panel, 420x145mm, (16.5 in x 5.7 in)

2018, Oil on Patu Panel, 420x145mm, (16.5 in x 5.7 in)

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Portrait Oil Painting - Alan Dobson

Quite often my portrait commissions are a surprise for someone. It makes it exciting waiting for the big 'reveal'. I finished this painting in December and can finally reveal it to you now. This is a painting of my Great Uncle Alan it was commissioned by his son Colin. Colin flew over from Melbourne to pick up the painting and surprised his mother with the painting. She was delighted. What a beautiful gesture from a son to his mother, just in time for Mother's Day.

I have made a behind the scenes video to show the process of the painting coming to life. Check it out below.

 2017, Oil on canvas, 350 x 450mm , (13.7 in x 17.7 in)

2017, Oil on canvas, 350 x 450mm , (13.7 in x 17.7 in)


A drastic way to fix an Oil Painting - Time Lapse

I had this painting of a summer hat but unfortunately it was damaged, so rather than fixing it I decided to have a bit of abstract fun with it instead.

Abstracts aren't usually my thing, I'm not trained in creating these but I felt like a little relaxation 😊 It was a lot of fun and has given me some ideas for future projects I want to try out. Don't you just love the textures and colour combinations here!

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Landscape Oil Painting - Mt Aspiring

This painting was such a thrill to create. I worked from a photograph I took from a helicopter of Mt Aspiring, New Zealand. How lucky I felt to see this magnificent mountain up close! 

Watch this artwork come together from sketch through to the final result.

To read more about this painting see an earlier post here.

 Mt Aspiring, 2017, Oil on canvas, 700 x 400mm , (27.5 in x 15.7 in)

Mt Aspiring, 2017, Oil on canvas, 700 x 400mm , (27.5 in x 15.7 in)


Yosemite Landscape Painting - Process Photos

It is hard to believe it has been 8 years since I started painting the Yosemite painting. It took me over a year to complete and it travelled from America to New Zealand with me.

Here are some photos of the process and a younger looking me!

 The very begining. 

The very begining. 

I had to use two easels to hold up this rather large blank canvas. It was winter time in the States and the sun would go down about 5pm so I was often working under lights.

 So intent on get the right view point I would kneel for hours.

So intent on get the right view point I would kneel for hours.

 Early stages.

Early stages.

 The last progress photo in the States before transporting the painting to New Zealand.

The last progress photo in the States before transporting the painting to New Zealand.

 Progress in New Zealand.

Progress in New Zealand.

 Now working in the New Zealand Winter under lights.

Now working in the New Zealand Winter under lights.

 The final push to the end.

The final push to the end.

 I remember small sections would take me hours.

I remember small sections would take me hours.

 The final piece. Yosemite. 2011, Acrylic on canvas, 1016mm x 609mm (40 in x 24 in)

The final piece. Yosemite. 2011, Acrylic on canvas, 1016mm x 609mm (40 in x 24 in)

The artwork now resides back in the States in California. It took over 125 hours to paint and was one of my most ambitious pieces of that time. The detail of this landscape was a challenge I relished. See some of the detail up close in the photos below.

 

Pet Portrait Oil Painting - Rueben the Dog

I thoroughly enjoyed this commission last year. An oil painting of Rueben the Dog. I loved the challenge of creating enough mood that dog stood out from the tussocks. This dog had sadly past away so I wanted to bring life back to Rueben through this painting. The client was stoked when she saw it for the first time as a surprise gift.

Check out the video below which shows this painting evolve throughout the layers.

 Reuben the Dog, 2017, Oil on canvas, 350 x 450mm , (13.7 in x 17.7 in)

Reuben the Dog, 2017, Oil on canvas, 350 x 450mm , (13.7 in x 17.7 in)


Ink & Wash Time Lapse - Happy Fox

Recently some dear friends of mine had a baby boy. I couldn't resist drawing a gift for the new bub to represent my excitement for the arrival of such a treasure!! Check out the video below showing the drawing come to life.

 Finished sketch unframed.

Finished sketch unframed.

 Finished sketch all framed.

Finished sketch all framed.


Old Blue Black Robin Sketch

I created this sketch of 'Old Blue' the black robin was a thank you gift for a writer. She wrote a story designed to help my Mother's students who have difficulties in reading. A wonderful story about the revival of the black robin population. I was so taken by this writers generosity in offering her story to those in need, so I wanted to help in the form of a sketch.

 Old Blue Black Robin, 2018, Ink & Wash on paper, 148mm x 210mm (5.8 in x 8.3 in)

Old Blue Black Robin, 2018, Ink & Wash on paper, 148mm x 210mm (5.8 in x 8.3 in)

Watch 'Old Blue' the black robin come to life. Here I show the process of drawing in the black robin bird after I have first laid down some watercolour washes. I really enjoyed drawing this wee native bird and must do some more.


Raising funds for the Christchurch City Mission

Recently I saw a sad figure walking down a street in my home city, Christchurch. The person was pushing a shopping trolley filled with their possessions but what was most haunting was they had covered their face with a threadbare blanket. I found this so heartbreaking to see a person so ashamed of their predicament that they had covered their identity.

 Sketch of the haunting homeless figure I saw which prompted my response. 

Sketch of the haunting homeless figure I saw which prompted my response. 

I felt compelled to stop and help but the blanket made me unsure of how approachable this person would be. So I decided to create this give a little page to raise fundings for the Christchurch City Mission. The work the mission does for those in need is invaluable - providing ways to improve the quality of people’s lives and enable them to be more self sufficient.

As a local artist I would like to see my art helping others in a positive way. As part of this fundraising effort I am donating a limited edition giclee print of 'Everything is Temporary' a sketch of the Christchurch Cathedral depicted as a sand castle, as a gift to a randomly selected donor as a thank you from me. 

 Limited edition giclee print on 100% cotton rag paper. 330mm x 345mm.

Limited edition giclee print on 100% cotton rag paper. 330mm x 345mm.

Any amount you are willing to donate is greatly appreciated. Together we hope to help make a change to the lives of those in need. Visit the give a little page below to donate.

givealittle.co.nz/fundraiser/helping-the-homeless-raising-funds

 

I AM / WE ARE - Group Exhibition

Last night was the opening for the I AM / WE ARE exhibition held at the Welder Collective. This is the last group exhibition to be held at the Welder Collective on Welles St before the building is transformed into another venture. The exhibition runs till February 28th.

The theme of the exhibition was to reflect on our roots and how this has affected us along our artistic journey. Its hard to forget the CHCH quakes, it was an event that will stay with me forever. It was a time when we realised that as much as we would like to create structures that will last forever unfortunately mother nature is always stronger. Much like a sand castle 'Everything is Temporary' which is the title of this piece. Yet there is an element of hope to this piece, by taking an almost 'childlike' perspective like they do towards sand castles that nature will have its way but we must accept it.

 The finished sketch unframed.

The finished sketch unframed.

As part of the theme each artist was also to submit an influence piece. This could be something that was given to them by a loved one. I chose to submit a poem written for me by my mother, below is the text I included in the programme: 

A poem from one of her number one fans - Mum. Growing up, Georgette knew she always had the support of both parents on her artistic journey. Her mother once told her “Fools and children should never see things half done”. This quote has served her well as she has often reminded herself of this comment when reviewing her own work at various stages of completion.

 The framed work hung at the I AM / WE ARE exhibition at the Welder Collective.

The framed work hung at the I AM / WE ARE exhibition at the Welder Collective.

 Close up on the poem.

Close up on the poem.


My first solo exhibition

I had never dreamed at the start of this year that by the end of January I would be exhibiting my work in my own show. Yet indeed this is what happened. With the help of my friend Lorraine I stumbled upon an opportunity too good to miss. A gallery space in the Arts Centre had become available the week of the World Buskers Festival so there would be a greater amount of foot traffic. I had to dispense with the fear and just do it!

So with just one week before opening I managed to get together enough of my work to fill the four walls. As well as organising paintings to to be scanned and printed at the printers and getting them produced in time for opening. It was an intense week!

This exhibition could not have been possible without the help of many people. Lorraine, who has owned many galleries, manned the show for me throughout the week days. She taught me so much throughout the week about how exhibitions work. My father helped me set up the exhibition on the Monday. My mother and partner supported me during the weekend with manning the show. At times it got very busy so it was so great to have their help.

For me it was so lovely to see how the public reacted to my work by seeing what their favourite pieces were and explaining the stories behind those pieces.  I was overwhelmed (in the very best way) by the support of friends and family who came in to see the exhibition and feel so honoured to be surrounded by such love.

 Me looking chuffed at the exhibition. Sketches and prints behind me.

Me looking chuffed at the exhibition. Sketches and prints behind me.

Click to the right hand end of this picture above to view more photos.

 Lorraine and I colour matching with the paintings behind us.

Lorraine and I colour matching with the paintings behind us.

My plan was that I would use the walls of the gallery leaving the floor space available to promote the talented work of my father Chris Thompson of Thompson woodworking. He designs and crafts custom furniture, to view his work see his site thompsonwoodworking.nz

 The talented work of Chris Thompson.

The talented work of Chris Thompson.

Over the course of the weekend I set up a Go Pro to capture the coming and goings of people during the exhibition. This is just some of the weekend.