Wendy interviewed by Sarah Holden, owner of leading contemporary art gallery The Little Gallery in Tairua.
Wendy Walls is a mixed media artist living in Whitianga, Coromandel. Coming from a teaching background, Wendy runs her own workshops in addition to painting from her studio. You may have seen her distinctively bright, rich and textural paintings here at The Little Gallery - we love the vibrance and energy Wendy's work brings to our exhibitions! We talked with Wendy to learn more about how she has come to be where she is today.
Tell me a bit about yourself and how you came to start making art.
Maybe I have always been a frustrated artist. Keen on art from a young age I was raised in an era when girls were ushered into becoming nurses, teachers (as in my case), office workers, shop assistants and heaven forbid housewives! Art was not considered a “real job” so when my children were off my hands I got going.
Your work is known for its strong use of mixed media - how did you get into working with mixed media, what do you love about it? What is your ‘creative process’?
My painting took a great leap forward when I was given the American artist Mary Todd Beam’s book, “Finding Your Creative Self”. I was hooked! Finally I had the opportunity to challenge myself so I followed Mary to her workshop in the Blue Mountains, North Carolina.
The workshop introduced me to acrylic mediums, especially those manufactured by Golden Paints, the forerunners to the acrylic medium. These mediums really inspired me and this workshop encouraged me to travel more. I consider my visit to Canyon Road (Santa Fe) a highlight of my art life, and an inspirational internet TED talk entitled “Do Schools Kill Creativity” by Sir Ken Robinson galvanised my path forward.
It made me challenge myself and become passionate about encouraging other people to be artists, sparking their artistic qualities to life. I believe that many people need help and support to rediscover their creativity after having it suppressed for years, and I draw upon my earlier experience as a school teacher to encourage others to find their own creative spark.
Tell me more about your Mixed Media workshops.
I encourage others to enjoy the road I have travelled. So then I came up with the “Big Idea” - why not take art to the people? So as well as my home workshops called “Give it a Go” and “Paint and Paste” I invested in a trailer, trolleys, good music and plastic flooring etc., and set off around the regions.
My “Give it a Go classes” have taken me to cities, rural towns, community halls, and boat sheds. I have become proficient at backing trailers, pushing trolleys up steps and ramps and called on my friends around New Zealand for a glass of wine!!!
How do you think your background in interior design influenced your art practice?
As a tutor in Interior design most of my work is revolved around colour so the crossover from domestic and commercial building paints to acrylic art mediums wasn’t difficult at all.
Do you have any upcoming projects or plans with your work?
My vision is to make Whitianga the art workshop of New Zealand. I see it as destination for New Zealanders and overseas travellers to experience an art workshop with various tutors while taking in all that is the beautiful Coromandel.
What do you love about living in the Coromandel?
Living on the Coromandel with the beach close at hand fills my days - hot summer ones and cold wintry weather ones, with all the colour and texture associated with the seasons. No two days are the same.
Since moving to Whitianga I have met interesting people from all corners. I have been especially grateful to other artists and I have appreciated the support from The Little Gallery and Mercury Bay Art Escape. For centuries artists have challenged the norm but the art form is forever changing with new ideas and mediums. I will continue my art journey, attending workshops and meeting more people and encouraging others to visit this wonderful place where we live.