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Masters, Wendy

Wendy Masters started by studying fine arts and graphic design for four years and art is now her life's work - 50 years using paint and clay.

In her article in Brush Strokes – wisdom on watercolours in Watercolour New Zealand’s Newsletter 148, Wendy wrote on Inspiration and Composition: “Students sometimes say with despair that they can’t think what to paint. A suggestion I offer is to start with something they really like. Their affection for the subject should help them to examine it closely, think and feel about it and interpret it with enthusiasm in whichever medium or style they choose.

As an artist works, hopefully two things are developing pace. One is craftsmanship - control of the medium - and the other is visual discernment - being able to recognize the proportions and the dramas of tone, colour and rhythm in their surroundings and in the work in progress. This honed vision can enable a satisfying and exciting interpretation of almost anything - a pile of books, a patch of grass, ideas or feelings.

No subject is a cliché, only, perhaps, the way it is handled. The characteristics of the medium itself, the skill, feeling and vision of the artist are what counts. The close attention paid to a subject often engenders a fascination that results in a whole series on a theme or a return to explore another aspect of it.

Artists fall in love with their models, moviegoers are fascinated by stars. I am besotted by whatever I'm working on - it's exhausting!

For landscape, I'm grateful for the car and camera, especially the zoom lens. A biography of the Impressionist painter, Camille Pissarro brought home to me how time-consuming and exhausting it was for him to trudge the district with gear strapped to his back - hours spent searching before settling down to paint. I park as close as possible to a promising site, and as the view changes like a kaleidoscope with even a slight variation in eye level, clamber up and down banks, even sitting in ditches or on gateposts to get that particular viewpoint.

A certain amount of adversity acts as a spur to get on with it, to concentrate, to capture the essence without getting distracted by minor details. Patchy clouds, low sun, wind and haze all create more interesting pattern than a fine flat day. I prop my cardboard folder (spare paper inside, painting clipped firmly to the outside) against anything handy. I only stretch paintings later, if necessary. On the way back to the car paintings present themselves to my attuned eyes - the way the track curving down the hillside meets up with a shining loop of creek and the whole is sliced across by a pale, slim board walk which spans not just the water but the whole damp floor of this little valley. I take a photo, dump my gear in the wagon and concentrate on the road home.

Painting and sculpture have been Wendy's main work for over 40 years, and she has exhibited and taught both mediums extensively, with artworks in public and private collections. Wendy is a life member of the N.Z.Academy of Fine Arts, Watercolour N.Z, and Kapiti Arts and Crafts Society.

Spring Salsa
Watercolour by Wendy Masters received a Merit Award at the 'Splash 2017' - Watercolour New Zealand's Annual Exhibition