I’ve been doing more painting … but painting paintings, not miniatures! Well actually that isn’t quite true, as I have actually been painting miniatures as well, but they’ll be the topic of another posting.
As I develop into the hobby of painting pictures, I’m finding that I am increasingly drawn to ships and planes. I’ve already featured a few of these in earlier postings on this blog.
So let’s look at my latest efforts.
I came across a picture of a sailing ship against a sunset on an old CD cover, and thought that it would make a wonderful subject for a painting. But I also wanted my picture to tell a story.
So this is HMS Herald in 1840, sailing off Kāpiti Island on the west coast of New Zealand. She was taking Major Thomas Bunbury of the 80th Regiment around New Zealand to get as many Māori chiefs as possible to sign a copy of the Treaty of Waitangi (an agreement between the British Crown and Māori).
Off Kāpiti Island the Herald met the canoe of famed chief Te Rauparaha, who came on board and signed the treaty (actually, he signed it twice, because unknown to Bunbury, he had already signed previously!).
I was quite pleased with how the frigate came out, especially the translucence of the sails back-lit by the sunset. Though that sunset is pure artistic licence, as I don’t think the meeting between Bunbury and Te Rauparaha would have occurred in the evening!
I learned one valuable lesson from doing this painting. If you are going to tell a story, make sure the subject of that story is large enough to see. My Māori canoes are so small that some viewers don’t even see them until I point them out!
Above you can see a slideshow showing the stages of completing this painting.
My next painting is also a scene from New Zealand’s nautical history. It depicts the ships of Dutch explorer Abel Tasman, the war-yacht Heemskerck (right) and the smaller fluyt Zeehaen (left).
In 1642 Tasman was the first European to sight the shores of New Zealand. But he never landed, after a cultural misunderstanding led to four of his sailors in a ship’s boat being killed by Māori.
Painting the ornate stern of the Heemskerck was an enjoyable challenge, in which my experience of painting miniature figures really helped.
I chose to show the Heemskerck with its top-masts cropped off. I feel this makes the picture more dramatic than if I had portrayed the entire ship.
I’ve had lots of compliments about my portrayal of the sea. I was trying to get the effect of the sun glinting on the swells.
I’m also really pleased with how the fat little fluyt Zeehaen came out in the background!
Above are the stages I went through to paint these two ships.
This painting is based on an old Air New Zealand publicity photo I came across, which I figured would make an unusual painting. I must admit I was as much taken by the wonderful Morris van as with the plane itself!
I am particularly pleased with the metallic effect on the plane’s engines. This was a case of trial and error, and there are many coats of paint under the engines, each one unsuccessful until I came up with final effect.
In researching this painting, I found out more information than anyone could ever need to know about as prosaic a subject as air-stairs! For those interested, these stairs (with their natty Cadillac-style wings) were made by Hastings-Deering.
My wife worked for many years as a cabin crew member for Air New Zealand. Though I hasten to add that she isn’t old enough to have worked on this DC8 in the 1960s!
Above you can see how the DC8 picture was put together.
Finally, here is a sneak peek at my next painting. Once again, a part of New Zealand’s marine history – Her Majesty’s Bark Endeavour – the ship that Captain James Cook sailed round the coast of New Zealand in 1769.
This is still a work in progress, as the sails and rigging needs lots more work. It is also the largest work I have endeavoured to do so far (see what I did there?!) – at 28 inches across, it is twice the size of my other works.