I’ve just returned from a week painting in a small village in New Caledonia. It came about as a result of a very unexpected invitation!
I teach watercolour classes, both week days and weekend workshops, around Auckland. I also give private classes when requested, and have had students from all around New Zealand, and further afield. Almost 2 years ago I received an email requesting a private class, which I agreed to, and we set a date. I didn’t realize that the person making the request would be visiting from New Caledonia. It was a very enjoyable session, and when she left, she said something along the lines of ‘See you again’, but I thought that was pretty unlikely!
A couple of months ago she emailed, out of the blue, and asked, if she arranged the ticket, would I visit and stay with her so we could paint together! After a bit of rearranging my work commitments, it was possible, so we booked the week in.
She lives in Poindimie, a small village 4 hours from the airport. We painted at a different location every day, including on the sand at the edge of the beach, from a private residence high on a hill, the side of a river, and in an historic coconut plantation. We also got permission to visit tribal land and pick tropical flowers for some floral still life paintings.
The subject matter was all fairly new for me. It was a really interesting exercise to arrive somewhere new every day, look around and work out what view and interpretation might result in a satisfying result as a watercolour painting. Sometimes my decision was the more obvious view, at other times something less predictable, such as the strong sunlight on the trunks of coconut trees and the shadows cast beneath.
At the end of the week we had built up quite a body of work! It was a real treat to paint on location every day. We managed to find really comfortable locations, with perfect temperatures, a gentle sea breeze, and plenty of shade. Here is NZ it seems more often than not we get wind, rain, biting insects, or some other distraction, so a week of comfortable painting days was quite something!
Thank you to my kind and generous hosts, and to my students who allowed me to rearrange classes to fit this trip in, and who wished me luck for my adventure ( ;
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