Two exhibitions due to start

It’s been busy here lately, so much so that I didn’t even do my weekly post last weekend. And yes, I do feel bad about that -posting once a week isn’t a big ask so how could I miss it?

I have two exhibitions about to start. The first is works from Legato at the Wallace Gallery in Morrinsville. You can read about it here. I have three works in this exhibition, all three were shown in Italy, along with a fourth which has been sold to the daughter of the man it commemorated. The new owner is very happy with it and I won’t be asking to borrow it to show – they’re all deeply personal works and it deserves to stay put with her.


Roy Lehndorf: taken too young. Cath Sheard, 2010.


The second exhibition is ‘Borderless‘ – 35 talented, NZ Art Guild members join together to illustrate that art is truly borderless. Through unique artworks and diverse medias that show that art is our one true global language. It has no boundaries, it crosses borders between nations and culture. It creates a dialogue between individuals, communication between communities and allows us to see and to listen to each other. Art lets us imagine what is possible, it heals, reveals and transforms. This runs from the 16th to 23rd February at the New Zealand Academy of Fine Arts in Wellington. I am sending two works, both mixed media pieces about the now-demolished Patea Freezing Works. Incidentally, someone asked me about the titles of these two pieces – did I mean “working IN or AT the Freezing Works”? No; the titles refer to nature working on the freezing works to reclaim the buildings by growing over them with weeds, rust weakening the structures, birds nesting in the gutters and so on – nature just doing her own work.


Working on the Freezing Works XI. Cath Sheard, 2010.




You made a sale! The good news department.

I love the quirky emails RedBubble send out when something sells on their website. Today the email was to say I’ve sold some greeting cards of a work I uploaded yesterday. Why do sales matter to me? The obvious reason is to make money from my art, to recoup some of my costs. But of course there’s much more to it that just a few dollars here and there. A sale is recognition that someone went to my site to start with, and that they actually liked what I do enough to open their wallet on my behalf. How cool is that?

Okay, good so far. Does the recognition matter, or perhaps more correctly, should the recognition matter? As artists we paint because we have to, because we have this inner drive to express ourselves and to share our vision of the world. Our vision still exists, whether other people appreciate it or not. We need to get it out onto paper or canvas, not just want to.  And yet, here’s the thing, for me anyway. The recognition by other people, other artists especially if I am totally honest, does matter. Why? Because it validates the vision of the world I have. It says I’m okay and what I produce is ok. Would I change what I’m doing if it wasn’t okay? I doubt it, but the validation through sales and feedback sure don’t do my day any harm either!

How about you. Is your vision valid no matter what? Or does your day get a boost when someone posts positive feedback?

Working the Freezing Works IV. Cath Sheard 2010

Trying out a new sales site

As many artists are discovering, some of the older sales websites now have so many artists on them that it’s easy to get a little (or a lot) lost in the crowd. I was with Etsy for ages and it worked well, but have seen no activity there for ages now. I also joined ArtFire but it didn’t work for me – it’s a lovely site, but I couldn’t get it to work for me. Recently one of my works sold almost as soon as it was dry, then another person contacted me wanting to purchase the same work. This got me to thinking about print, postcards etc; and that led me to RedBubble. So I have taken the plunge and signed up, with my Freezing Works series being offered as postcards, prints and posters. With Christmas not that far away, it’s certainly worth a shot. Why not pop across and take a look?

Here’s the work I could have sold twice in a couple of motnhs:

Patea Freezing Works – Freeze Dried

During the week I finished another of the Patea Freezing Works series, and have one more almost done. All three have the same vibrant reds and pinks in the background, and a lime green accent. The starting point is a series of photos taken by Aaron Cubis, whose work can be seen here. It was very generous of Aaron to let me use his images; some of them are stuck on the wall above where I work as inspiration. My husband looked at this one and pointed out that I have used two different points of view – true, but for me the photo is a jumping off point and these are about colour, texture and pattern, not the geometry of the machinery.

These three works in the series are off to Hamilton to the Thornton Gallery this week for the ‘One size fits all’ exhibition. It’s exciting to be part of this annual event. Here’s a little bit about the Gallery.

Their website says: Thornton Gallery has been established in Hamilton since the early 1970’s, is well known throughout the Waikato and Auckland regions. Thornton Gallery is one of the largest privately owned gallerys in New Zealand. Thornton Gallery stocks an extensive range of New Zealand Artists. Along with original art works by New Zealand Artists  including paintings, ceramics, sculpture in stone, wood, copper and bronze, art glass and  jewellery, Thornton Gallery sells New Zealand limited edition prints, reproduction art prints and a large range of imported graphics, both framed and unframed. Quality is an important criteria for the works exhibited in our gallery, along with integrity. We believe that art enhances life and is an expression of being.

As for the Freezing Works itself, the cleanup has not gone quite as smoothly as hope and is costing around $1 million more than anticipated. Council projects manager Viv Eyberg said the contractors had found more asbestos than expected below the foundations of some of the buildings.  Any asbestos below one metre had been capped with a protective membrane. Once the site was finished and certified there would be soil monitoring and nine monitoring wells set up along the estuary where water samples were taken to ensure no contaminants leached, Mr Eyberg said. Here’s a newspaper article about it if you’d like to know more.

Freeze Dried 2010

Patea Freezing Works – Where’s my knife?

I am back to my Freezing Works series; I need to have 3 works finished and sent off by the end of the month. They’re heading to the “One Size Fits All” exhibition at the Thornton Gallery in Hamilton in August. Each work has to be 10″ square and that suits be just fine for this series. I always enjoy working at that size anyway as it suits the way I work in winter – sitting down at my office desk with the heater on. In winter it is simply far too cold to go to my outside studio and stand at an easel. The studio used to be the caravan shed so it has corrugated iron walls, a concrete floor on dirt, and no insulation at all. Freezing in winter and hot as heck in summer. What a wimp, I know!

These three works are loosely based on photos by New Zealand photographer Aaron Cubis. You can see some of his amazing work here on Flickr. I started with loose washes and runs of Golden Fluid Acrylics; Napthol red medium, Quinacridone magenta & crimson, and Phthalo green (blue) and Permanent green light. From there I have just played around, trying to capture the feel of years of peeling paint and rusty metals. What I loved about Aaron’s photos was the vivid contrast of the red and green paint on the walls and this is what I have tried to capture. This is probably going to be the most realistic of the three works as I tend to loosen up as I get into a subject painting by painting.

Photo by Aaron Cubis

The clean-up of the Freezing Works following the fire a couple of years ago is 95% complete now; the landscape looks so different with all those buildings gone. I guess the biggest impact on the landscape was when the chimney came down. I am happy to see it all gone; as I come down the hill into Patea the view out to the Tasman Sea is spectacular. Of course the landscape will never be as it was 100s of years ago, because of power lines, house sat the beach and so forth, but it does give a better idea of just how beautiful the untouched landscape must have been here pre-settlement.

Where's my knife? 10x10" acrylic.

Patea Freezing Works – Old Pipework IV

I have had the last week off work to concentrate on paintings for the upcoming LEGATO exhibition in Italy. So of course my new museum-grade canvases took a while to arrive… I used the time to do some more Patea Freezing Works paintings. Here is the latest to get a signature and coat of varnish. I love the rusty old red pipes against the purple buildings and mossy old walls.

Old Pipes IV is 16×12″ in acrylic on gallery wrap canvas and is for sale on my website and on Etsy.

Patea Freezing Works – Metalwork VI

This is the latest in the Patea Freezing Works series. I haven’t done much on the series for a couple of weeks as I have been busy with work for the LEGATO exhibition in Italy. Tony and I are both going over for the exhibition as it is such an exciting opportunity. Anyway, back to the Freezing Works.  This painting is based on a shot by local photographer Phu Tran; you can see his amazing photos on Flickr.

This work is 40×40″ in acrylics on gallery wrap canvas and is for sale on my website and Etsy.

The Freezing Works as I knew it is no more! The demolition work has been going on for over 3 months now and most of the above-ground buildings have gone. Most significant of all, in terms of the look of the site, the chimney has gone. This was quite controversial, for reasons I won’t bother going into, for now at least. You can see in the photo below, taken by Sandra Robinson, just what a mammoth structure the chimney really was.

So, increasingly, this series of works is from photos and from memory, rather than from photos and a daily view of the works. This isn’t a bad thing; the point of the series was always about the “remembered landscape”.

Derelict XI – sold!

Derelict XI, one of the Patea Freezing Works series, has been sold to a local couple. They both enjoy walking down round the river area and love the old cool-stores. She recognised the buildings instantly in the painting and decided they had to have it. I sent it home with her for a ‘test run’ to see if her husband approved and he was back within probably half an hour – sold! I hope their new artwork brings them much joy. I certainly had fun painting it.

Freezing works: lights on, no one’s in XV

After a bit of a break to attend to other things, I have photographed another painting that I finished 10 days or so ago. As with the others, it is based on photos of Patea Freezing Works. This one is a bit different. I was unsure about it, so was letting it sit for a while. People who have seen it have been really positive so I think I’m calling it done. It is 16×16″ acrylic on gallery wrap canvas and is for sale on my Etsy.

The demolition of the works is progressing quickly; most of the major structures above ground are no more. Except for the chimney, whose fate has yet to be decided…

Patea Freezing Works – On the grid

Although I finished this one last weekend, I haven’t had time to blog about it. So here, we are, back to Saturday – I’m up nice and early and into it. The photo this is based on was taken some distance from the site by Phu Tran. One of the reasons I like this shot is the strong lines of the chimney and power poles through the centre of the scene. As I keep painting the freezing works over and over again I can feel what I am painting, the how I am painting it, is becoming more focused. The color palette remains the same, even how I apply the paint has stayed the same, but the lines and final marks are becoming much more of a focus for me.  Some of the earliest works now feel a little ‘soft’ to me and may yet get some tweaking.

Patea Freezing Works : on the grid

It is the middle of summer here; hot and muggy most days. I am not using my art room at the moment because it is far too hot out there; the walls are iron and there’s no ceiling, just the roof, so nothing to deflect the heat. I use our third bedroom as an office for the newspaper we publish. I have commandeered the desk for painting. I have a table-top easel, a roll of paper towels, old wash clothes, a small box of paints, a jar of brushes and a giant bucket of water. Oh, and my color theory notebook with all my color experiments in it and a pile of canvas – I’m about to move from 16×16″ to 20×20″.

So, this one is 16×16″ acrylic on canvas, and is for sale on here on Etsy.