Newsletter March 2008


Michael won two awards at the recent Pastel Artists of New Zealand’s Convention and National Exhibition at the Percy Thompson Gallery in Stratford.  Michael’s painting, “Evening on Lake Wanaka” won the people’s choice of best of show.  His painting “Meltwater near Lake Tekapo” was the runner up to the judges’ choice of best of show.  Both paintings are done in pastels and are 930 mm X 660 mm unframed. Framed they measure 1255 mm X 961 mm.


“Meltwater near Lake Tekapo” previously won best landscape of show at the 2008 Molly Morpeth Canaday awards at the Whakatane Art Festival.  It was also chosen as one of ten finalists in the International Artist magazine’s competition for landscapes and had a full page feature in the February edition of the magazine.

Although Michael also paints in oils, his preference is for the versatility of pastel with its enormous range of colours, its permanence and non-fade qualities. Michael’s forte is his ability to paint extra-large pastel paintings in landscape realism.  His attention to detail enhances his love of painting rocky rivers and lakes so that the rocks and pebbles can be seen under the water.  His unique style with pastels is something that he developed himself with time and practice and each new painting brings new ideas and excitement. The more than fifty rivers and streams that flow from the mountain have supplied Michael with an endless supply of future painting subjects.

Pastel Artists of New Zealand’s aims are to promote pastel art as an art form in its own right and promote New Zealand pastel artists. Pastel painting began 250 years ago, although coloured chalks have been used for thousands of years. Prehistoric cave paintings in southern France, Spain and South Africa show that man's early coloured paintings used red, white and ochre earth pigments, and burnt bone. Italian Renaissance Masters used red chalk to do architectural end engineering drawings. A work survives by Guido Reni, 1575-1642, who produced the earliest paintings in a variety of coloured chalks. Edgar Degas, 1834-1917, remains the most important pastel painter we can study. He greatly advanced pastel's total range of effects. Working to make his colours luminescent, he experimented with crosshatching, paints and pastel; he combined pastel with every medium and surface of paper, cardboard and canvas. He mixed pastels with gouache and watercolor, and steamed them to soften pigments. With brushes, he manipulated colours and mediums, dipping pastels into prepared solutions and fixing each of the layers. He popularized the use and advanced the knowledge of fixatives.Today, we have places and organizations that encourage painters in pastel as well as a whole roster of famous men and women who work in the medium. With the proliferation of pastel has come its monetary and cultural acceptance. It's the most permanent of all the mediums in existence. Its intrinsic beauty is without peer.

Stratford, in the heart of New Zealand’s Taranaki district, rests at the foot of the majestic Mount Taranaki, a dormant volcano content to sleep and watch over the surrounding countryside – for now! Mount Taranaki is 2518 metres high (8183 ft) and is surrounded by the Egmont National Park, established in 1900 - the oldest national park in New Zealand. Mount Taranaki was sacred to the Maori and its upper limits were tapu. Its caves and crevices were the burial places of chiefs and, in times of danger, the forests of the lower slopes covered secret hiding places of the tribes.  The Maori gathered red ochre from the river valleys to use as pigment in their decorations.In addition to the mountain and the national park, Taranaki’s beauty consists of large areas of lush dairy farmland, two marine reserves, iron sand beaches and great surf, wonderful lakes, a vibrant arts and crafts scene, gourmet cafes and restaurants, museums and galleries and a range of activities for those with a sense of fun and adventure.

Explore the links for more amazing pictures of Taranaki.


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