A small study of a New Zealand fantail (piwakawaka) flitting around in the forest (a.k.a. “the bush”). One day I hope to take a good photo of one of these fast little flyers. Every single picture I have ever taken of a fantail is a blur. The shot below is my best to date. Happily, there was just enough detail to be able to use it as a reference for the painting.
Fresh off the easel: the lights of Christchurch as seen from the Port Hills. The paintings are lightly textured and best seen from a bit of a distance. I was going to varnish them but I am really liking the subtle shifts in colour and texture of the unvarnished canvas and so I’m not going to risk it.
I have been thinking about painting this landscape for a little over six years. When I took the reference photo, the rainbow appeared to be shining directly into our neighbourhood, showing us the way home. I liked that : ) The only thing that made me reluctant to tackle it was also one of the things that made me want to paint it in the first place: the out-of-focus raindrops on the car windscreen. I wasn’t sure I could do what I had in mind ~ something representational but not too realistic. I needn’t have worried; the raindrops almost painted themselves (at least they look like raindrops to me). No, it was the painting of the rainbow that was the most difficult thing because I wanted to paint a rainbow that was not too ‘rainbowy’ (i.e. to paint a painterly painted rainbow and not an emoji 🌈 ).
I got there in the end by overlapping layers of translucent rainbow colours, blending the cooler colours with the clouds and sky (which is why some of the colours have almost disappeared), and using subtle lines to suggest reflected and refracted light.
Here is another reworking of an old painting. You can compare it with the original below…
There were elements I liked in the original version but, two years on, that background now looked like an embarrassing mess to me. So I painted over it with green, gold, purple and turquoise, redefining the hill shapes and tree lines. The seagull and little boats were also tweaked a little to put them more ‘in’ the painting. I had planned to leave the water untouched (I really liked the original water) but having changed everything else, it needed to be warmer and simpler to work with the other elements. Overall, I think it’s an improvement, and even if you disagree… it’s too late now!
Fortunately the new version still looks good alongside the other little Akaroa study. Both paintings* (sold separately) are currently available on Trade Me (NZ) as I continue with the Big Spring Clean of 2020.
*Please note that both paintings have now sold.