Artist spreads her wings with kids’ book

Kapiti Observer - - OUT & ABOUT - ADAM POULOPOULOS

A Kapiti artist spe­cial­is­ing in paint­ing na­tive New Zealand birds has il­lus­trated a chil­dren’s book, chart­ing a seal’s ex­pe­ri­ences in the re­gion.

Vanessa Owens il­lus­trated Kapiti Ad­ven­tures of Sammy the Seal, by au­thor Michael Peryer.

The book fol­lows the New Zealand fur seal as he leaves his Kapiti Is­land home and ex­plores the Waikanae Es­tu­ary area, tak­ing in the dif­fer­ent flora and fauna.

Rau­mati-based Owens has painted many na­tive birds since mov­ing to Kapiti five years ago. Her paint­ings were dis­played in the past four Kapiti Arts Trails.

She at­tended a bird tour of the es­tu­ary, run by Peryer, who re­mem­bered her and made con­tact when the story needed to be il­lus­trated.

The pair hoped the book would be the first of five in a se­ries.

Owens said she en­joyed the chal­lenge of in­ter­pret­ing Peryer’s words and il­lus­trat­ing them. ’’It was an­other op­por­tu­nity for me to ex­plore this cre­ative skill set.

‘‘It was lovely be­cause I was fa­mil­iar with the sub­ject mat­ter, and the fact it was a Kapiti-based story was awe­some for me.’’

She re­searched birds like the banded dot­terel and oys­ter­catcher, as well as other an­i­mals like hares, stoats and eels men­tioned in the book. Some of the scenes were adapted from pho­tos taken at the es­tu­ary.

It took Owens about a year to il­lus­trate the book part-time.

As the sketches emerged, she said her daugh­ter Ava, 7, be­gan to take a lik­ing to them.

‘‘She was colour­ing them in and she wanted to write her own sto­ries.’’

Owens read the book to Ava’s class at Rau­mati Beach School, and at the ad­ja­cent Rau­mati Beach Kinder­garten, where she has painted a marine mu­ral in the past.

‘‘it was so won­der­ful to see them so en­gaged and en­joy­ing learn­ing more about Kapiti’s wildlife,’’ she said.

Owens is work­ing on her 10-paint­ing ex­hi­bi­tion for the New Zealand Art Show in Welling­ton over Queen’s Birth­day Week­end. She will start il­lus­trat­ing the sec­ond book of the se­ries later in the year.

Kapiti Ad­ven­tures of Sammy the Seal

will be launched at Coast­lands Gar­den Court on Sun­day, April 30, from 1pm2.30pm. To or­der a copy, email mick.moira.peryer@par­adise


Kapiti artist Vanessa Owens has used her ex­pe­ri­ence with na­tive birds to il­lus­trate a chil­dren’s book.

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