Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Wellington Airport painting

Wellington watercolour
Painting at Wellington Airport while waiting for my flight.

Brown, white and mixed

Sitting in the cafe in Taihape looking at my coffee, I can't help thinking that the townsfolk and the coffee are similar .... a bit brown a bit white and a bit mixed. I  grew up in a truly bi-cultural place and when I return I am reminded why being Pakeha is such a significant part of my identity even after so many years of living far way from this place.
Coffee at Soul Food, Taihape (it was strong and delicious)

Monday, April 29, 2013

My mother's garden

My mother has a green thumb and is an avid gardener. The garden is her preferred mode of creative expression. When she was 84 she moved into a new house and set about making a garden out of the green-fields site. It flourished, as have all her gardens and it wasn't long before people stopped on their way past to take photos. Her previous gardens have been in out-of-the way country places and she rather enjoys this new found notoriety.These photos were taken this month, April 2013.
View from the front window out to the road.

Roses and daisies at the front fence

Outdoor pot plant
Autumn colours out the back

Roses along the walkway

Path along the house
Back garden

Sunday, April 28, 2013

New Zealand Central Plateau

New Zealand, North Island Central District Highlands
The central plateau of New Zealand's North Island where I grew up is a spectacular landscape and when I return for a visit now I find myself continually reaching for my camera. I grew up on the road between Taihape and Napier and in hot summers we swam in the Rangitikei river,  a spot now popular with tourists for white water rafting.

This year when I visited the distant blue hills were augmented by early autumn colours.

This little old church in a field to the north of Taihape led me to contemplate the life of our forefathers, those who settled this area in the 19th century.
Power pole and old shed
Church in a field near Taihape, Rangitikei District
When my parents settled in the area there was no power but in 1954 the farmers brought it in themselves. I remember Dad and our neighbours digging very deep holes on the clay ground outside the house for the power poles; perhaps one of my earliest memories.

Roads had been cut into the clay to allow farmers to settle the land and some of them, like the road below, continue to make work for the local council when heavy rain causes slips.
Roads cut into the steep clay hills

I missed the hills when I left home and I also missed the enormous cumulus clouds that so often drift overhead. Somehow clouds in other places are never quite the same.
Old main road, north of Taihape in the Rangitikei

Friday, April 26, 2013

Bluebells in the Brown Sugar Cafe

Another of the cafes in Taihape that make excellent coffee is the Brown Sugar Cafe. Behind the cafe is a pretty garden. I painted the bluebells in the Brown Sugar Cafe in 2004. Here is a card of the painting

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Soul Food in Taihape

Taihape has several cafes and they all make excellent coffee. One of them is the Soul Food Cafe in the middle of the main street. Their coffee is strong and dark and delicious!
Soul Food Cafe in Taihape, NZ.
Note the stove pipe... a fire would be very welcome on a cold winter's day.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Seventy year drought

New Zealand has been gripped by a drought, the worst in 70 years they say. There is no feed at all in the paddocks between Napier and Taihape.
No feed for stock - Gentle Annie Road
The newspapers are saying that there may be more like this due to global warming and we should be prepared.

Art Deco in Napier

I was in Napier last week for Verdi's Requiem.
"Lovely building this", I said to the bank teller.
"Yes, we get a lot of Art Deco tours through to come and see it", she replied.
Ceiling in bank building in Napier, NZ

At the cafe on the marina there is a different sort of art deco.

Art deco-ration - pot plant in Napier

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Pills for breakfast

Today Black Caviar (the horse) was racing at Randwick for perhaps the last time in its career. There has been so much hype about it that when I saw the woman in the big black and white hat on the early morning train I knew where she was going. She had a pretty black and white skirt, black heeled shoes that looked a little precarious, a small black clutch purse and the racing guide.
"Fancy needing only such a small purse for a day's outing", I thought with some admiration as I watched her take the seat next to mine. 
When I next glanced her way I was startled to see she had taken a large hand full of pills from her small purse and was slowly and deliberately swallowing them one by one while sipping from a boxed chocolate drink. Each pill was a different colour - they looked like vitamin and mineral pills. It used to be said there would come a time when people would be able to live from pills alone, so perhaps that was breakfast.
On the train

Friday, April 12, 2013

Making faces

Faces are endlessly fascinating. These ones were made by dropping colour onto a canvas page and folding it in two.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

High country New Zealand

The mountains Ruapehu, Ngauruhoe and Tongariro are just north of Taihape where I grew up. Below is a watercolour of Mt Ruapehu, painted from Waiaruhe Road just south of Waiouru on Highway 1, or what we used to call 'the main trunk road'.  New Zealand high country countryside is stunning and I paint it every time I visit.
Mt Ruapehu, NZ
I'll be back in Taihape later this month, visiting my Mother who still lives there. Her place is almost opposite the tall blue Taihape town clock .

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Kitchen migration

My big oak table is very stable so it's an excellent work bench ... mainly used for framing pictures. I had to remove all the picture framing equipment last week though as the contents of the kitchen cupboards needed a home.
Kitchen cupboard contents

Sunday, April 07, 2013

Fantastical fabrics

If you are selling furniture in a giant featureless warehouse, why not decorate it with fantastical fabrics to give it character? This is the IKEA pick-up area in Tempe where I waited for some time for my cash'n'carry kitchen.
Fabric hangings at IKEA

Saturday, April 06, 2013

Kitchen revamp

My 50 year old kitchen is overdue for a revamp. There is nothing much worth saving - benchtops (45cm!) are falling apart, cupboards don't shut, stove is so old it is probably dangerous to use -  so the whole lot will have to be replaced.
Old kitchen.

It has taken me ages to bite the bullet but now IKEA has a kitchen sale with 20% discounts if you buy three appliances, so I have finally ordered a new kitchen.  I used the excellent online application that shows you what wont fit and what will but still had to visit the store twice to check things out.

The kitchen was delivered yesterday. Now it will sit in my studio for a month as they can't install until May. But I don't mind. I am looking forward to using a stove that works and having a range hood finally. That will be pure luxury.
New kitchen

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Christopher Richardson, bass-baritone

Christopher Richardson, originally from Tasmania, sung at the Messiah at St Andrews last Friday. He has a wonderful powerful bass-baritone voice and it was worth going to the concert just to hear him.

Christopher Richardson singing at St Andrews
Christopher sings.

I did a little sketch of him as he sang and couldn't help thinking how like he is to a friend I have drawn in Germany who co-incidentally shares the same (or almost) name.