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.

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