New Zealand week 6: Landscape

“In the beginning Ranginui the Sky father and Paptuanuku the Earth mother embraced and produced many children. The world was a dark place and the children fought about trying to seperate their mother and father and allow light to enter the world. Tane Mahuta managed to part his parents with his forests and life flourished. The rain is the grief of the Sky father on being parted from his love.”

I’ve been drawing landscapes mostly this week, and this Maori creation story really struck me. The relationship between truly majestic land and expansive sky.


I only started drawing landscapes a year ago after avoiding them forever. Same with buildings. With buildings I just find them too straight!  Landscapes are all lumps and bumps and apart from how vast the subject is I try to draw them just like I would a bird or a whale!

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I like to portion out the page into thirds, the top 1/3 for sky, the bottom for foreground. With a soft pencil (I really recommend the lovely Blackwing pencils) I scribble the ovals and triangles to work out the form. A really basic shape.

Sometimes I jump straight to paints and other times I get some details down with a fine liner. Depends on how easy it is to get my paints out or how much I want to capture the textures. Or moving things, especially boats which drift in a sneaky way. I capture the main features of the drawing in ink. Skyline, mountain crags, pesky boats and the few wonky buildings.


After painting I go over some lines and add more detail. I like to let the way the paints have settled dictate how I draw forests or rocks. Watercolour is a tricksy medium and not great if you’re a perfectionist! I’m getting better at controlling but I like to go with the flow ☺️.

It’s interesting how colours can create depth. No camera  can capture exactly what the eye sees and the brain processes. Then again when painting you have to ignore what your brain tells you and see exactly what your eyes see. That mountian may register as green but is could be more yellow or blue. A shadow may be a contrasting colour, not just black.

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White will pop out and look closer than black, which likes to sink and look like a hole in the page. I avoid using these colours for mixing as they make things look lifeless. Warm colours look closer than cold. I have cold and warm tones for each colour in my paint box and like to use contrasting colours to make things pop out, it may be ott but I’m not really trying to get an exact replica of what I see but a bit of what I feel to. And all that crazy arty farty stuff!

2 thoughts on “New Zealand week 6: Landscape

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