I was out of town on my Harley Davidson Road King when I got the call to say I had won the Raye Hannam Trophy for the Best Watercolour in the 2017 Royal Easter Show. This is New Zealand’s biggest art show and this is the greatest accolade a watercolour artist can receive. It was quite a buzz to get the news. In the art world, it’s a bit like winning an Oscar!
Winning the trophy was on the back of more than 15,000 hours of drawing, painting, practice, and experiments. I’ve been a full-time artist for more than 12 years. I mostly paint with watercolour. I was drawn to it early on. I love the way the pigment runs in the water—sometimes it’s hard to make sense of its random movement and flow, but that’s what keeps you addicted! Occasionally I work with acrylic inks which behave in the same way, and these inks are exciting as they can be painted on wood.
I had a career in IT before taking up painting, but I found it a bit stifling. Learning watercolour was difficult and it took years, but once you can work with it instead of having to battle with it, it’s the most relaxing and pleasurable way to spend time.
Being a professional artist requires much self-motivation. It’s not just the time spent in the pursuit of creating original art, but the time for self-promotion. I expect all artists struggle with this. I frequently write articles for magazines and have my images published on greeting cards and other products. I’m always looking for shops to sell my original paintings and prints and I enter art shows around the country.
Winning the top award this year was the best motivation I could have dreamed of, and now I’ve set my sights higher!