In the beginning
I spent the first 8 years of my life directly below the mighty Mount Cook in Fox Glacier, New Zealand. My parents Mike and Cheryl built and operated the A1 Motels while my two older sisters and younger brother lived in small town bliss!
We moved north to Hokitika and this was the beginning of the arts for me. An inspiring primary school teacher, Ian Winter noticed my artistic side making a fuss of my sketches and encouraging everyone at Kaniere Primary School into all avenues of music, dance and theatre.
High school was a different story. Here I learnt that a teacher can make or break your energy when a certain art teacher hated me and my work. A year in San Fransisco as an exchange student improved both my crushed confidence and painting skills. My wonderful AFS host mother spent oodles buying me oil paints and encouraging me to paint murals, take night classes and get really stuck in during regular school art classes.
Murals became ‘my thing’ and from then on I have been commissioned to paint a myriad of walls depicting everything from saucy mermaids to realistic gold mining scenes (normally with a nudie or two hidden somewhere within the scene though.)
Followed by serious study then employment
Four years at Victoria University in Wellington NZ taught me how to turn my art into bucks ($$) Here I studied graphic design and advertising and pretty much learnt how to do as I was told answering a clients brief… not answering back as I had enjoyed doing for so much of my student days prior!
So armed with a degree I fell straight into a design job at Ballantynes Department Store in Canterbury and for the following years I did normal things – working, getting married and the best normal thing of all having a child… the most beautiful daughter in the world, Jazmin Jane Fuller.
Return to the paints
I picked up the coloured chalks again when we moved to Ireland in 2001 and I had spare mummy time – I enjoyed drawing the castles but the drawings were not great (much like what my marriage had become) so Iong-story-short I ended up back on the West Coast living in a studio with Jazmin. At this stage I started my own graphic design business that I continued with for 10 years.
This was when I purchased a few canvasses and discovered the enjoyment of painting nudes. I preferred to use my fingers instead of brushes and began improving portraying the subtle tonal variations of human skin.
Fast drying and skin/finger friendly was a must – which meant I normally used acrylic paint but not always on canvas… sometimes it is car door or hoods and often a piece would include some kind of found materials – a door handle or piece of greenstone or perhaps sand or leaves… whatever the challenge was for that concept.
Exhibitions and promotions
I have had a number but I find the promotional side of art a lot of bullshit I would rather avoid. For that reason I have my work for sale at various galleries and café’s throughout the South Island (please refer to list at the end) and would rather pay a commission to the premises than present myself beside my works.
This worked well until many of my galleries/outlets closed, many of these were sadly damaged in the Christchurch earthquakes.
So here we are online and I can’t thank you enough for visiting and reading this bio!
Check out more
Art runs in the family with my mother Cheryl a fabulous landscape and portrait painter and my sister Jane Riley a vibrant, recognised land and sky scape artist.
Check out Jane's art at: www.artbyjane.co.nz
Visit the Salmon Tales Cafe in Rakaia, Canterbury and view a selection of my fish and wildlife paintings on their walls. Make sure you try a delicious Salmon Pie or Cream Cheese and Salmon sandwich while you are there!
Stop in Hokitika for more than five minutes and visit Ocean Paua on the main street. Lovely Vicki Breeze and her talented daughter Charlotte have this shop filled with unique designer jewellery and stylish paua and greenstone creations and will show you a selection of my paintings also on show there.
A change in direction
Cliché or not…the saying ‘life begins at 40’ is my new mantra.
I am living and working full time in Ashburton, 70km south of Christchurch and often commute to Invercargill as part of the marketing role where I discovered the best little art store that has converted me to water-based oils. (www.artsuppliessouthland.com)
This has given my art a new depth and loaded my head with new ideas and the easels with new works.
I still prefer painting nudes in landscape but recently have began painting wild life and love it. Stags, fish, wild horses – maybe just a phase but with a mix of metallic or glow-in-the-dark paint I’ve been having a lot of fun and creating some neat effects.