Topic: Nick Eggleston: Why Watercolours?

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Why watercolours? Why me? Accomplished Tauranga artist Nick Eggleston posed these questions when he spoke at Harrison 's Gallery in Tauranga recently.

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He told the gathering at the watercolour exhibition opening that it would probably make more sense to pursue a career painting in acrylics and oils rather than watercolour given that watercolour has been in the doldrums in NZ for some time. 

"Happily," says Nick, "the tide is turning and once again watercolour is enjoying a return to popularity. The real allure in watercolour for me is the magical alchemy involved and it's as much about the enjoyment of the actual painting process as producing a finished work."

Nick Eggleston at work on his painting ‘Icarus, Icarus Don’t Be So Ridiculous’

I first met Nick in 2007 when he was teaching watercolour painting at Tauranga's Historic Village. It was there that I saw examples of his painstaking work and began to appreciate the wonderful process in what many consider to be the most difficult of painting styles. This attention to detail, accurate drawing and highly original composition, make Nick's paintings so unique and appealing.

In his painting, 'The Singing Teacher' he wanted to capture that audacious pirate look that magpies have. The switching of scale with the woman in the red dress gives it a slightly surreal storybook appeal. The title and some of the meaning of the painting comes from the famous Denis Glover poem, 'The Magpies'.

"Watercolour painting cannot be fully mastered, for to master a thing you would have to control it completely," says Nick. "That would squeeze the life out of it. I love the changes that occur during the picture making as you guide the application of colour while not completely controlling it. The pigments carried by water flow into each other and one colour can become another colour right before your eyes."

Mauao Moo Moo by Nick Eggleston

In many of his paintings, Nick celebrates the beauty of nature and in particular his love of our local surroundings in the Bay of Plenty. In a wonderful play on a scene familiar to many Kiwis, Nick, a most welcome newcomer, gives us typically inquisitive Friesian cows standing in the shallows and on the shore at Mount Maunganui's Pilot Bay. When I asked Nick about the painting he explained, "I like the idea of things in a painting appearing real yet having an unreal quality at the same time, so putting cows at The Mount gives it that slightly 'left-at-the-traffic-lights' feel. It had to be cows, I like the way they stare back at you... zebras just wouldn't work the same. It gives it a subtle comedy too."

Nick and his partner Paula emigrated to New Zealand from Guernsey in the Channel Islands in 2006 and since then he has established a solid reputation as one of our leading Bay of Plenty artists. Nick has a solo exhibition opening on July 22 at the Mount's Zohar Gallery.

by Pete Morris (2010).

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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Nick Eggleston: Why Watercolours?

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