Acquiring a landscape painting palate
The first rule of landscape painting is to paint.
‘‘No drawing,’’ commands Palmerston North landscape artist Jack Register, who has generously consented to be my tutor for the day.
‘‘The sooner you learn to use a brush like a pen, the better.‘‘
So, no standing on a scenic riverbank, or picturesque George St corner with pencils or pastels deftly sketching procrastinatory studies for turning into some visually compelling piece later on.
Like so many ideas, learning the art of landscape painting from one of the masters seemed like a good one at the time.
I pictured being outdoors on a bright sunny day, sizing up the perspective and selecting a subject before laying down a few lazy lines and a squiggle or two.
The weather had other ideas, and given the rain, water colours are appropriate.
‘‘Water colours are great. Some people will tell you they’re difficult, but that’s not right... You’re the ‘difficult’, not the watercolour.’’
Jack turned 80 this year, but retains the enthusiasm of youth.
‘‘Your inner artist is already there. What I’m hoping is that this will help it to come out,’’ he said.
After the demonstration, which includes insight into some of the artist’s techniques and tricks, along with instructions about the best way of applying that most important part of any painting – the signature – it’s my turn.
With water, a couple of brushes and some tubes of colour, I really have no idea what I’m doing. The result is derivative and flat.
The next attempt shows a little more flare. Jack is kind about my progress.
‘‘A painter should paint like a musician plays. Stop thinking about the tools and let things out.’’
It’s been a stimulating session. Days later I’m still buzzing and looking at art supplies. But as for giving up the day job...
The straw hat is a nod to Vincent van Gogh, as Richard Mays shows off his artistic handiwork following lessons from Jack Register.