Artist pays tribute to kārearea in latest painting - Artist Profile, Jackie Chatfield
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Artist pays tribute to kārearea in latest painting - Artist Profile, Jackie Chatfield

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Jackie Chatfield, sitting on seat.

In this latest interview, Cynthia Daly spends time talking to Jackie Chatfield, local artist about her latest painting.


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From Queenstown to Whitianga

Twenty years living in Queenstown gave artist Jackie Chatfield an appreciation for our native birdlife, her favourite the New Zealand falcon or kārearea is now depicted in her latest painting that will be exhibited at the Whitianga Lions Art Expo at King’s Birthday Weekend.

The painting’s detail is exquisite from the downy fleck of feathers to the gripping talons grasping the rock it has pitched itself on, surveying the landscape below.

An accomplished award-winning artist, Jackie’s paintings are even more impressive when you find out that she is predominately self-taught and has very limited sight. 

Passion realised later in life

Jackie says as a child from a very large family growing in Auckland, time and money were always short and there was never an opportunity to learn how to draw or paint. A difficult childhood and schooling that focused on maths, science, and English language etc, and without art on the curriculum, it meant that it would take some 50 years before Jackie would actually discover she had an artistic streak in her make up.

“In my late 50s I had to have a length of time off work and so I decided to try a casual art class. I was hooked immediately. I just loved the feel of the paint. I just fell in love at first sight or first feel, and what you could do with it. And from there I didn’t look back. I set myself up at home and I practiced and practiced different subjects: boats, houses, landscapes, portraits, birds and I taught myself to mix colours and I got very good at it. Initially keeping a colour palette diary was helpful.”

Award winner

She entered two separate art competitions and won on both occasions – Best Portrait in the Portrait Exhibition, and the Supreme Award for a black and white painting of a tree on her dad’s farm which she had entered in an international show held in Queenstown. 

“My Dad was very unwell at the time. In my painting the tree was black and it had a wrought-iron bed hanging off it with a big wispy piece of fabric blowing in the wind. The light was at the back of the tree and the painting was the hope of him getting better. It was very thought-provoking. He had one tree on his farm and it was dead and it just looked really cool.

“I now mainly focus on painting birds and portraits and I love painting skin.”

Jackie says her interest in painting portraits took her on an exploratory journey of how to paint skin by understanding pre-Raphaelite art techniques. Using acrylics to achieve the same realistic look, Jackie can ‘build’ the colour and textural appearance using up to 20 layers of paint.

“But my favourite subject to paint is still my birds, especially our beautiful New Zealand natives. They are so delicate and their song is so beautiful and I try to capture their character too.”

Jackie Chatfield - Artist

Her aim is to keep painting as long as she can, despite the fact that she is blind in one eye. “I can’t see things three dimensionally so I have to get my work checked sometimes by my husband just to see if I’ve got the eyes right and things like that.”

Before beginning a new work Jackie researches photos in the library and online to find one that inspires her and the various poses, coloration and backgrounds. Then she will start developing the background.

“A lot of people comment on my backgrounds because I’ve learnt this technique where I mix a whole lot of colours. You get that light and dark and also a mix in surprise in the colours that develop. It’s always a surprise. I love mixing colours.”

Jackie paints at home every day, “and I love listening to music while I paint, blues, rock all sorts. It just depends on what mood I’m in.”

June Art Expo

Jackie shows no sign of slowing up despite her sight difficulty and she will be an artist worth viewing at the Whitianga Art Expo where her falcon painting is bound to draw a lot of interest.

The Whitianga Lion's Art Expo is being held in the Whitianga Town Hall from opening night, Friday May 31 until Monday, June 3 with money raised, from a percentage of the art sold and donations all going to Project Mammogram.

Related Links

Not Just a lump of Clay - Artist Profile, Claire BryersGreat response from artists for Lions Art Expo at King’s Birthday WeekendPainting, a gift of gratitude from Tairua artist to be raffled at Art ExpoIntuitive & Intelligent - Art is the Teacher - Artist Profile, Leanne Adams

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