inspiration

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.


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.


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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Nature is crazy... crazy cool

My Saturday night was spent being completely blown away by the Aurora Australis dancing over Lake Tekapo. We hiked up to this beautiful spot overlooking the lake in the afternoon. It was well worth fighting through the matagouri shrubs and a freezing river crossing. Totally unaware the Aurora forecast was high, this was a welcome surprise and the highlight of the weekend. Having never seen the Aurora before this was such a buzz! What a million dollar view! No better motivation to get outdoors than this! These photos are straight from the camera with no colour tweaks.

 Aurora Australis over Lake Tekapo, New Zealand. April 22nd 2017.

Aurora Australis over Lake Tekapo, New Zealand. April 22nd 2017.

 Camping with a view. Lake Tekapo, New Zealand. April 22nd 2017.

Camping with a view. Lake Tekapo, New Zealand. April 22nd 2017.

What I had never realised before was the colour we see in the photos is not actually seen by the naked eye. What we saw in real time was actually more of a white haze. You could see the vertical streaks and after time faint colour could be spotted. I did a bit of research and it turns out our eyes are just not built to detect all the colours within an Aurora. At night our eyes use a different part of the eye to detect faint light and will detect this in black, white and shades of grey. Cameras do not have this limitation and can therefore pick up the wider range of colours. Depending on the strength of the Aurora some people can see hints of colour without a camera.

 Comparison of what we see and what the camera captures.

Comparison of what we see and what the camera captures.