by Kirsty Nixon
Art by the Sea
Cnr King Edward Parade & Church St, Devonport, Auckland, NZ
When asked to write about why I paint what I paint. I find it hard to answer. I’m not controversial. I don’t take stands and preach good and bad. My paintings don’t question life or the universe. I don’t enter competitions (I don’t believe you can judge art). I’m not a member of the glitterati art set and often question the “Emperors new clothes” of the art world. But I’m not out to make a fuss over it either. Each to their own. I want real people to like my work. I’m not trying to be anything I’m not. My message is simply to enjoy our surroundings and celebrate our life. Simply that. It’s nothing complicated.
I’m careful about how I treat others. I say I love you to people every day. I smile. I picked up litter on the beach long before it was cool. Birdsong quite honestly fills my heart. I feel privileged to live in a country green with foliage, close to oceans, with abundant bird and wildlife. I feel grateful to have what I have and do what I do.
When I start a painting and the first layers are coming together there’s a piece of me that knows how it will look completed and there will be a part of it that surprises me. Sometimes in the middle of the process I have to stop and wait a while to gather my thoughts and get back on track. Not painting for a while can make me anxious and I can literally feel my shoulders relax when I’m behind the canvas once again. I was once in advertising with deadlines and stress and interesting personalities. Now I cherish the peace my life and subject matter provides me. I love people, enjoy their company and am fascinated but what makes them tick. But feel energised when completing tasks and being creative alone. Historically my paintings have been primarily lonely beach scenes devoid of human touches. They have resonated with people for years and I often wonder if it’s because we crave that peacefulness and alone time.
When I lost my wonderful dad the birds began to feature in my artwork. Birds even sounded louder to me. I bought a charm for a bracelet of a piwikawaka and would often run the back feathers though my fingers as I thought of him. As I paint each bird I want them to look as though they are thinking about something. Watching something. Communicating with each other. A snapshot of them in thought. When I lost my beautiful mum, once again the birds sounded louder. I don’t know if I think of them as a connection, I am spiritual in a sense. I often have little chats with the tui in the back garden or say “Hi dad” when a fantail seems to be hanging around. Nestled in their settings my birds give me a lot of peace. They are company. When a show is all put together and the birds are lined up in the bush and foliage settings I almost feel as if I can hear them. They are windows to a green restful place. With all the chaos surrounding us, advertising hammering us. Political uncertainty. climate madness, I want my paintings to communicate peace. To slow us down. To literally stop and breathe.