Notes from the Artist and Mission:Dyslexia
Painting to commission is an art school in itself. A client's brief can challenge my technical skills and concepts. The exacting accuracy of portrait observation is a severe discipline and hugely skill- building. In contrast, to be admitted to the wondrous world of archetype and metaphor I make the time to explore painting spontaneously. My website's section on Creative Exploration reveals progress there, becoming archived as the parade of paintings pass with the years.
Let's pick up the trail. Pre 2007 I painted as a freelance artist from 1980, having returned home to NZ after painting in the UK. I painted to commission in public studios, portraiture my mainstay, Auckland's Titirangi my home base while I worked in Auckland etc for public exposure. 1996 I escaped the city gridlock to paint from my bach on a Whangarei Heads bay for 10 years. There I expanded my genre. I had nurtured a dream to live and paint on the road. The right travel partner was crucial.
2007 to 2011 I toured NZ in a mobile studio-home, fulfilling that dream. My partner Laughton King, educator of 35 years, specialising in children's learning difficulties, recognised the need to bring the inside story of what it is to be dyslexic. Dyslexia being then politically unrecognised in NZ, Lort took his self-funded message to the coal-face, to where the teachers and parents were working with children failing our language-based education system. Laughton personally visited every NZ school that we could reach. We visited, and presented at community after community. Laughton became a legend. The websiteevolved, as did his insights, further illuminating this confusing arena. Books were written on the road, illustrated by me.
For an artist, the varied locations and people were endlessly fascinating. I was able to steadily paint as well as provide full support for the Dyslexia Mission. One of my highlight adventures On Tour was a commission to paint a wild horse muster. I had demonstrated my art at a hired stand at the Mystery Creek Agricultural Field-days (a tent-city phenomenon). A Maori whananga lecturer from Ruatoria, the Maori community near Mt Hikurangi on the East Cape, responded to my offer to paint heritage NZ portraits.
Maybe our stunning 12 day ride through the Southern Alps two years later superceded the muster. But no. That muster, the community and the painting challenge gave that experience the life stamp of authenticity. The alps ride demanded involvement too, and scenic wonder beyond belief, even riding escapades that would have smarted OSH's eyes, but it missed the human involvement factor.
Lochmara Lodge afforded a 3 month stint in civilisation, reachable only by boat 20mins from Picton on the Malborough Sounds. With a high bush studio overlooking the deep green cove and a decent Gallery to stock and man, I entertained the international visitors by painting live in the excellent restaurant the 16 hospitality staff living on the resort-cum-wildlife preservation centre. A baby bellbird lived at my kneckline. Lort and I were respoinsible for the rescued birds brought in. The triptychs were born at the Lodge. (Creative Exploration section). Nearly everything I painted sold.
Back on my trail, 2012, Lort is building a poured earth home on his 26 acre lifestyle block on the Pataua estuary, Whangarei Heads. Lort has nursed this dream for over two decades. He still consults re Dyslexia. My temporary private studio on this land was a converted shipping container with a clearlite roof; the best studio of my many over the years. We lived in a shack. Living primitively without power and amenities at 60 does no harm. The stars are closer. And it's good for the knees.