The transition from instructor to artist

Belinda Mason is worked up about her future as a painter. Picture: Jo McLear

Seeing her work hanging in her first solo exhibition, Belinda Mason pinched herself.

“I’m nonetheless shocked, I’m amazed it’s me, that I did it.”

For the latest graduate in visible arts from the Dunedin College of Artwork, it had been an extended journey from her first day crying in her automobile too afraid to enter the varsity to hanging her newest work First Mild at Wave Venture House.

“It’s what you dream of when you find yourself there, having individuals see what you do, however it’s a slog.”

All the time eager on artwork and being artistic, Mason did highschool artwork and over time accomplished portray workshops whereas working in numerous occupations — she finally educated as an early childhood instructor when she had her daughter.

“I’ve been just a few issues in my life. I began out at 4XO writing promoting.”

When residing in Kaikoura she did lessons with an artist which “hooked” her once more. Nevertheless, it was not till after she moved again to Balclutha, the place she was born and raised, 9 years in the past that she started to assume extra about how a lot she didn’t learn about artwork. She joined Artwork South Otago and continued to attend workshops and exhibit her work however it was not sufficient.

“I wished to go to high school and throw myself utterly within the deep finish.”

Three years in the past she determined to make the leap and enrolled in artwork college to attempt to fill these data gaps. Having been an grownup pupil when she studied early childhood, she had that have however was nonetheless fearful about how it might go as she was in her 50s.

“It was terrifying. The primary couple of days I used to be filled with nerves and anxiousness however I’ve by no means actually appeared again.”

She cherished immersing herself in all that was on supply on the college, particularly the artwork historical past lessons, absorbing as a lot as she may from the lecturers and experimenting with completely different artwork types and supplies.

“There may be simply a lot to know. Its a bit bit about approach and loads about experimenting. It seems that possibly I’ve acquired a bit expertise, it’s not simply love, it’s a ardour.”

Earlier than going to artwork college she had labored with watercolours doing botanical, real looking works. On the college she was inspired to strive acrylics and oils. She found acrylics weren’t for her, however after a little bit of prompting from her supervisor, discovered oils to be simpler to work with than she had imagined.

“It was a shock. I cherished it. Oils are loads like watercolour as it’s movable, stunning. You by no means get what you assume you’re going to get which I actually love.

“I preferred the chances. It’s been a little bit of a crash course.”

Pears and Pot of Hyacinths (barely obscured). Picture: Kieran Dodd

Flowers have at all times been a part of her work so she started to experiment in oils along with her floral themes.

“I really like flowers and flower portray.”

However the course of has not been simple. Mason admitted to struggling at instances and questioning “what the heck” she was doing at artwork college.

“However I’d come out the opposite aspect and assume oh, you’d get a glimmer or spark.”

It took till her ultimate semester for her to seek out what actually labored for her, with the ability to incorporate flowers and color in an sudden method that she “actually cherished”.

“There may be a number of color beneath and the darks. So whenever you look intently there may be color underneath the darks.”

The preliminary strategy of her work remained the identical. She begins with images she has taken of flowers. She always takes images of issues that catch her eye in her on a regular basis life.

“Dahlias are out within the gardens and my subsequent door neighbour has superb clematis hanging over our fence — it’s issues like that. I get shut up.”

However she now makes use of an app on her telephone to govern and crop the photographs. When it really works, she will get an “oh I need to paint that” feeling.

“After I paint them they develop into much more abstracted, some you possibly can see the flowers and within the newest exhibition there may be bunch of pears. Others you can’t actually see them.”

She has learnt that portray is an actual course of requiring going by means of completely different steps.

“I’m nonetheless studying, nonetheless exploring and that’s by no means going to cease.”

Her earlier works have been usually extra A4 to A3 dimension, however the brand new ones have been giant, requiring a physicality that she had not skilled earlier than.

“I’ve actually come to like that. It’s actually enjoyable.”

She can also be studying to deal with the various reactions all artists inevitably obtain.

“I’ve learnt its not about what you want, so long as I actually find it irresistible. I’ve finished loads of issues I didn’t prefer to get to this physique of labor.”

Mason’s work hanging at Wave, from left Woodland Anemone, First Mild: Poppy and Burgundy Poppy. Images: Kieran Dodd

Mason works from a studio area, a “rumpus room” transformed from a storage, which got here in very helpful when Covid-19 lockdowns pressured her to review from dwelling six months into her diploma. Her artwork provides share the area along with her stitching supplies.

“We had simply acquired into it and it was actually thrilling. Then we needed to go dwelling, it was actually hardso final 12 months was so good to be again.”

Mason has missed her younger expenses in early childhood — she labored with under-2s — and the social interactions so now she has completed learning, she works part-time on the native info centre.

“I get to do the social factor and as my boss says ‘discuss for a residing’ however I’m nonetheless engaged on that stability factor, being an artist, being an worker.”

The exhibition at Wave got here out of the blue, with curator Kari Schmidt taking an opportunity on her.

“It’s a giant deal for a starting artist.”

She can also be working towards a joint exhibition in Owaka in June, for which artists have been requested to reply to the Catlins wildlife.

“It’s an ideal excuse to maintain working as I’ve restricted area to the place I can stick issues. Seeing the glowworms, It was like somebody caught a bunch of fairy lights round a waterfall, it simply match the best way I’m portray with that darkness and lightweight,” Mason mentioned.

Wave opened final might to offer an extra area for arts practitioners in any respect ranges to point out their work.

Schmidt mentioned the concept was to offer a welcoming and actually open platform for all kinds of artists and that it might be non-hierarchical and numerous in its strategy.

“I assumed it was necessary to have one other area, as I knew fairly just a few artists at the moment who have been struggling to point out their work. To that finish, if somebody has proven curiosity within the area I’ve at all times finished my greatest to exhibit their work, whether or not that’s in a solo present or a gaggle context.”

Mason’s work gave the impression to be match as lots of Wave’s reveals have related with the pure world not directly, she mentioned.

“I requested Belinda to exhibit on the idea of the works she confirmed at SITE 2022 (Dunedin Artwork College commencement present), which I assumed have been actually sturdy.”

Wave, in Vogel St, has yet another present developing in February that includes work by Wesley John Fourie and Nga Roma Poa earlier than it closes its doorways as Schmidt goes abroad.

“I see Wave as an iterative course of and customarily prefer to relate to tasks by way of lives, phases and levels, with the concept every thing has a season and cause, to be adopted by a interval of relaxation and retreat.”


First Mild, Belinda Mason, Wave Venture House till January 28.