Topic: Doreen McNeill: A New Direction (2013)

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I was delighted to be asked to write a few words about accomplished and well-respected artist Doreen McNeill's new exhibition at Mount Maunganui's Lightwave Gallery.

'Beyond Boundaries' is an exhibition of new paintings that express the artist's desire to 'free-up' and paint purely abstract works - a departure from the highly collectable informal abstract land and seascapes familiar to those who know her previous work.

This freedom and a new colour palette have been inspired in part by Doreen's appreciation of Rotorua artist Kristian Lomath's "Bookwork" series.

As we talk in her well organised, roomy Tauranga studio and study she says,"I was drawn to the feeling of freedom that Kristian's work evokes and the lack of boundaries in his artistic expression".

"I then realised how constrained I had been with the idea of land and sea always creeping into my work and I started to allow myself the freedom to draw and paint without the restraints of a realistic subject theme holding me back".

Doreen McNeill at work preparing for her new solo show

Doreen was trained as a draughtsman and was employed for many years drawing Navigational Charts for aircraft.

"The precision of my chart work is probably why I now so enjoy giving my imagination free reign with all the colours and textures that modern paints allow.”

"My paintings are emotional works and inspiration comes as I apply paint to canvas allowing it to form organic shapes and textures.”

When I delve a little further Doreen tells me that she never paints specific places but begins a work with random colours and shapes allowing the paint to guide her. She enjoys the actual process of painting and tries not to lay down definite plans so that the outcome of her work can be a wonderful surprise.

"I relish the journey of exploration that this approach gives and although I probably waste rather a lot of paint the excitement engendered is incomparable and I am sometimes thrilled with the result", she says, adding,"If not I start again another day.”

In these new paintings Doreen is manipulating paint and surface in new ways often scratching and rubbing the surface to bring out new visual effects. 

Doreen has been a professional painter for many years, has shown work throughout New Zealand and had a very well received retrospective exhibition at the Tauranga Art Gallery in April 2010.

Doreen's painting 'Infinite Horizons' 850mm x 700mm 2013

One of the things I like about Doreen as an artist and her art is her 'down to Earth ' approach. There is no pretence or airy-fairyness that we sometimes encounter in art and by some of those associated with art.

Those who have Doreen McNeill paintings in their collections never tire of them because they enjoy the way the paint has been so skillfully applied and keep discovering new exciting visual nuances long after the painting has been hung.

(Video by Jimi Colzato - click here to see his site)

These are paintings to contemplate quietly by taking timeout from our busy lives. I liken looking at some of Doreen's paintings to those restful times when we lie back , look up at the clouds passing and make our own pictures from the shapes they form.

Doreen tells me she is really excited about doing this new work and preparing for her first solo show since her last in 2010.

She says, ''For those willing to let their imaginations run free I hope they can feel the pleasure I have had in drawing and painting them and enjoy whatever they may find in them".

I'm looking forward to seeing this collection of new works at Lightwave Gallery, 31 Totara Street, Mount Maunganui when the exhibition begins on Saturday 16th March. The exhibition will run until 4th April.

You are invited to meet the artist and to enjoy some refreshments at the gallery from 11.00am on Sunday 17th March.

For more information contact Lightwave Gallery Director and exhibition curator Ken Wright at . You can also check the gallery website

by Pete Morris (March, 2013).

Pete Morris is an occasional painter and an art lover. He is a freelance writer with a particular interest in promoting the visual arts in Tauranga and the Bay of Plenty.

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Doreen McNeill: A New Direction (2013)

First Names:Doreen
Last Name:McNeill