I was one of those kids who would happily sit for hours and hours drawing or painting. I'd create cool characters or paint nice pictures for my Mum. Art and creativity was a huge part of my life, and I had a very supportive family. My artistic flare was often attributed to my Nana who could make all sorts of wonderful things, and she had all the gear to do it as well!
My creative mind was well fed right through school and college, and then something happened. I got busy... adult life busy. I no longer had the time to create like I used to, there were more important priorities. This continued for a number of years until it just became normal. I wasn't a creative person anymore.
At the time my wife and I lived on a lovely rural property that needed heaps of work, but it had a glen of old kanuka trees and other mixed natives that had become a special place for me to hang out. The birdlife was abundant and I liked nothing more than sitting next to the tiny stream that ran through and watching and listening to the birds.
One day I visited a Christmas market with my wife and I saw all the wonderful things that people were creating to share with others. These were all local people managing to find the time to be creative and being brave enough to try and make a living from it. My mind was blown, I felt a spark ignite within me. I had to get home as quickly as possible and just make something!
When I arrived home I realised that I didn't have any materials to create with. No paper, no paint and no pens. But life has taught me to make the most of all the materials around me. What others may see as rubbish I will quite often see as something that could be reused or upcycled into another form. This is why I grabbed a scrappy old pallet, a sharpie and a piece of chalk and set to work. I drew a small fantail, and then a tui and it felt really good. They even looked pretty good, or at least good enough to share with my friends and family on Facebook.
By allowing myself that bit of time to create I had inadvertently awakened a bit of a creative monster. I kept drawing birds on pieces of timber. My friends wanted to buy them from me and I was having fun fueling my creativity. Then one day I made a discovery that would set me on a path that there would be no turning back from.
My wife and I were both at home one day, and I sat with her while I drew and she did some colouring in one of those lovely colouring books for grown ups. I was using chalk and charcoal by this stage, but then I saw my wife's colouring pencils and asked if I might try using them. I first tried the black and white thinking it might be easier and might smudge less than the chalk and charcoal. I was right, they worked well. So then I tried some of the blue and green tones, and I was amazed at how nicely they worked on the timber. The next day I went out and bought myself a tray of Derwent's finest colouring pencils. And I've been refining the use of coloured pencils on timber as an art form ever since.
I love the softness you can create with colored pencils on timber. You get a great level of opacity where you can enjoy the beautiful grain and features of the timber shining through the art while still being able to enjoy the imagery I've created.
The wood comes from a number of sources. Some of the wood is left over from old apple bins that are past it, some of it is from old floorboards that have cracked, and other pieces even come from old farm fences that some beast or other has leant on too many times!
I like to think my art work has a very rustic and real feel to it. It breathes life in to old wood and creates a talking point for people who enjoy such things. It celebrates New Zealand’s native birds in their many guises and characters.