Posts Tagged ‘art’


Tuesday, September 12th, 2017

mrspants blog

Kia ora te reo Māori! We’ve got a sweet selection of goodies to celebrate Te Wiki o te reo Māori this week. Today, we’ve picked out this beautiful Harakeke print by Mrs Pants.

Harekeke is a common plant found in New Zealand, but many of the special forms that were cultivated by Māori for weaving were almost lost during the twentieth century. Luckily, a few collections of special flaxes were maintained over the years, and have sparked a revival in flax weaving over the last 20 years. Harekeke is also used in soaps, hand creams, shampoos, flaxseed oil and a range of other cosmetics.

Find out more about harakeke and the tikanga associated with it. (Courtesy of Christchurch City Libraries.)

Hutia te rito
o te harakeke
Kei whea, te kāmako e kō?
Kī mai ki ahau
He aha te mea nui
o tēnei ao
Māku e kī atu
He tangata, he tangata, he tangata.

When the heart is torn
from the flax bush
where will the Bell bird sing?
You ask me
what is the greatest thing
on Earth
My reply is
it is people people people.

A good turn: bringing out the beauty in recycled native timbers

Monday, August 14th, 2017

David Gillard of WoodgrainNZ is passionate about the manipulation of timber, creating interesting designs and revealing the natural beauty of New Zealand native and exotic timbers. In his Auckland workshop David handcrafts unique artistic and functional pieces that are predominantly created from recycled timbers sourced in New Zealand.

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What do you make?
Wood art, hollow forms, wall art and kitchenware.

How did you get into your craft?
I did a building course in 2011 and loved the finishing process and fine detail work with timber. And decided that building wasn’t really me, in that it wasn’t detailed enough. I started out making furniture and then moved onto kitchenware and I’m currently working on pushing the boundaries of wood and art.

I enjoy… taking a raw piece of wood, figuring out the best way to show it off and then seeing it all come together.

Do you have formal training or qualifications in your craft?
No. I am self taught with regard to wood turning and have gained knowledge and skill through planning, research, and of course trial and error.

Your favourite, tools and processes?
My favourite timber is Black Maire. I enjoy the process of planning what type of piece I am making and then taking a raw piece of wood, figuring out the best way to show it off and then seeing it all come together.

Tell us about some of the techniques involved in producing one of your pieces.
Milling timber is the biggest part of my work. A tree is cut down and then the centre pith of the tree is removed and cut into slabs. I then cut to rough blank, then the timber is sealed at the ends with wax so that the timber can be stored for 6-12 months. This prevents the wood from drying out and cracking.

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Then I cut it down on a bandsaw and roughly wood turn it down to its rough size and store it again for 6-12 months so that the wood can dry out to about 6% moisture content. This process reduces the piece moving and warping once made.

When I am ready to use the wood I turn it on the lathe to its finished size and apply finishing textures and colours. Finishings include a lot of sanding, gold leaf, colour dying, woodburning and applying a finishing coat of wax, stain or polyurethane. If I am creating a laminated piece, this will involve gluing and clamping different timbers together first before turning.

What inspires you?
Learning and finding new ways to do things that push me to make things that have wow factor.

Is there a philosophy behind your work?
Big time. Showing off our native giants that have been around for hundreds to thousands of years. They are a big part of New Zealand’s history and they shaped New Zealand’s landscape.


A little bit about my Remembrance Skull…
This skull represents our New Zealand native trees over hundreds of years being chopped down and made into things. A lot like the Mexican celebration that remembers the dead. This is my way of showing my appreciation of these old giants. I’m so lucky to be able to work and show these timbers off through my works and make them be appreciated again for many years to come.

As I mostly deal with recycled or rescued timber it’s nice to be able to take something that was or intended for floorboards for houses or, even worse, firewood and design it into a piece of wood art.

The skull has Pohutakawa and Kowhai flowers, a couple of types of our native ferns, our almighty Kauri tree leaves, and the four stars from the Southern Cross.

Lastly I’d like to say I do understand there will be people that will think the skull is a dark or negative symbol, but this was not designed as that but more of a positive symbol for remembering some of these ancient giants that were covering New Zealand and are now getting harder to find.

Special thanks to Geoffrey Kerr for taking my rough idea in my head and putting it to pen to paper – looks so awesome and I’m so proud of it. Again thanks mate.

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Describe your creative process?
Jump in with two hands and don’t be scared to make some firewood along the way.

Describe your workspace
Some people say that it’s like a hobbit workshop. Lots of little spaces and wood and sawdust everywhere which is how a wood working shop should be! LOL.

Five words that describe your mind
Determined, focused, striving, inventive, experimenting.

…it’s nice to be able to take something that was… floorboards… or, even worse, firewood and design it into a piece of wood art.

Your favourite feedback from a customer
“To David/Woodgrain NZ… Please don’t ever stop making these wonderful works of art. Everyone here in Haldensleben Germany who has seen them loved the design and colours. Cheers Steffen.”

What are you currently listening to?
Anything NZ, 1814, Fat Freddy’s Drop, Katchafire, The Black Seeds, Herbs, Electron etc.

What was your favourite childhood book and why?
Badjelly the Witch. It just always cracked me up all the funny characters. We had a book and the vinyl record.

What are you reading now?
Ellsworth on Woodturning: How a Master Creates Bowls, Pots, and Vessels by David Ellsworth and Newspaper Blackout by Austin Kleon.

A favourite quote
“You learn something everyday if you pay attention.”
“Don’t sweat the small stuff.”

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Tell us about your pets?
We have suburban chickens, brown shavers. These girls help me get rid of all the wood shavings I create in the workshop and they are pretty good at supplying us with eggs.

If you were a craft superhero, what would your name and superpower be?
What do you mean if I were a superhero! I am a superhero and my super powers are highly classified. (Of course. Sorry to put you on the spot there. -Ed.)

What would your advice be for those starting out in a crafty business?
Do you research into the market. Learn all you can about what it is you are wanting to do. Find people that you can bounce ideas off and test the market. Never forget the reason why you started and never stop telling your story.

What was the last handmade item you bought and what attracted you to it?
A beany hat from the local market. Had it custom made by two lovely older ladies. I wear it all the time when I can find it.

What’s in store for the rest of 2017?
Taking all the ideas and techniques that I have been working on and putting them all together and getting lost in my work. Keywords: 2017, onwards, new, big, amazing, out there.

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Prize draw!
David has generously offered an awesome prize for one lucky Felt reader of a stylish Kauri pepper mill, valued at $165.00 (see above). This gorgeous blue-green dyed, hand turned mill stands a smidge over 30cm high, making it a superb dining table statement piece.

To be in to win this great prize, simply leave a comment telling us what you loved about David’s story and his creations. The draw will be made on Friday 25 August and is open to New Zealand residents only.


Purchase from WoodgrainNZ’s Felt range here »


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New from DuvalSmith

Tuesday, June 20th, 2017

Night: landscape in atmospheric blues by DuvalSmith. An original work in acrylic ink on paper.

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Purchase from DuvalSmith now »


Tauhou tête-à-tête

Tuesday, June 6th, 2017

Hello there! This friendly pair of Tauhou or Silvereyes by Brooke Hartigan is available as an A4 giclée print on matt paper, ready to be framed.

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See more Art by Brooke here »


Birds, bush, and sea: the uniquely New Zealand art of Liz Abbott

Monday, June 5th, 2017

Working from her Blueskin Bay studio, full-time artist Liz Abbott draws inspiration for her original oil paintings, pastels and prints from the landscape around her. A well-known New Zealand painter, Liz’s regularly exhibited and award-winning art can be found in public and private collections throughout the world.

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What do you make?
I make pictures in a variety of mediums from woodcuts to pastels to oil paints.

How did you get into your art practice?
I grew up in Christchurch surrounded by large oil paintings hanging on the wall that were created by my great great Aunt Annie Elizabeth Kelly née Abbott (1877-1946) who was a leading NZ professional portrait artist during the 1920s and 30s, so it always seemed normal to me to pursue art as a career.

As a child I attended Saturday morning art classes at the CSA and when I left school I completed a Diploma of Fine Arts with Honours at the Dunedin School of Art, where I majored in printmaking and papermaking. Several decades later I gained a Master of Fine Arts, this time majoring in painting, from the Otago Polytechnic School of Art in Dunedin.

I developed my woodcut prints of New Zealand birds into a business as a way of supporting my other art practices. I make my woodcut prints an open edition which keeps them affordable, accessible, and easy to post – I like providing authentic original artwork that has been made here in New Zealand – this includes the harakeke paper from Whanganui that I print on and the mat boards and frames from Tauranga that I present them in.

What inspires you?
I have always been inspired by the birds, bush and coastline. In our own garden we have daily visits from pīwakawaka (fantails), kererū (New Zealand pigeons), tūī, korimako (bellbirds), riroriro (grey warblers), kotare (kingfishers) and even Australian eastern rosellas!

Blueskin Bay and Doctors Point beach are a five minute walk from home and Orokonui Ecosanctuary – a predator-free home to kākā, takahē and kiwi – is a ten minute drive away. Recently we were lucky enough to visit the northern royal albatrosses (toroa) with their chicks at Taiaroa Head, a half hour drive from Dunedin.

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Describe your creative process:
Most days include drawing and often I will take my sketchbook and pastels on my walks to work directly from nature. On wet days I will often just draw what is on the kitchen table… my 89 year old neighbour provides me with beautiful home grown flowers to draw. I also take photos of birds to use as reference for my woodcuts – I create several new designs each year.

Tell us about the techniques involved in producing a woodcut print:
I start with drawing and playing around with various compositions. I then simplify and scale down the drawing and transfer it on to MDF in reverse before carving the block and printing it on my locally made printing press. Sometimes I will make several carvings before I am happy with the end result. I hand-colour the finished woodcuts with several layers of watercolour so no two prints are exactly the same.


Describe your workspace:
Organised chaos! I am lucky enough to enjoy a large lined double garage with sea views over Blueskin Bay which is the hub of all my making – it is a busy creative space!

Who is your hero/heroine? Why?
I have many including my mother who inspires me with her exquisite felting, knitting, crochet and paua jewellery – she has been a prolific and accomplished maker all her life and her work room is a treasure trove of colours, textures and countless ongoing projects – more organised chaos!

Your favourite feedback from a customer:
I enjoy all the feedback I get – it is wonderful when people take the time to share their responses to my work!

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What’s your favourite childhood book and why?
One that stands out is The Borrowers by English author Mary Norton, which features a family of tiny people who live in the walls and floors of a house and “borrow” from the big people. I remember making a model of them for a school project and mum “knitted” some cotton on to pins for me!

What are you reading now?
David Copperfield by Charles Dickens and A History of Pictures by David Hockney and Martin Gayford.

What are you currently listening to?
Spotify – it is so much fun looking up favourite artists and discovering new ones. I work best with music!

Recommend an album:
Ernest Ranglin’s Below the Bassline always puts me in a good mood.

A favourite quote:
There were many favourite quotes in our family including: “To thine own self be true and it must follow as night to day thou canst not then be false to any man” (Shakespeare). My grandmother used to tell me “There is no such word as can’t” and that “Every little bit helps, said the old woman as she did wee wee in the sea”!


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Tell us about your pets:
My husband Rudie and I are the proud parents of Russell, a mixed terrier who accompanies me on my walks – he gets a little impatient when I bring out the drawing materials and is inclined to kick sand to get me to hurry up and throw sticks instead!

What would your advice be for those starting out in a crafty business?
Being a full-time self employed artist involves much more than making pictures. You have to be willing to build good working relationships with outlets and suppliers, market your own work, manage your accounts and fluctuating income as well as being self motivated, energetic and positive!

What’s in store for the rest of 2017?
Continuing making pastels and paintings and working on a series of designs featuring extinct birds such as the huia and moa, as well as developing other designs of Dunedin’s architectural attractions to accompany my recent woodcut of Dunedin Railway Station.


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Liz has very generously offered a prize for one lucky Felt reader of a $69 gift voucher (that’s enough for one of Liz’s gorgeous large prints) to be redeemed in her Felt shop. Awesome, thank you so much Liz!

To be in to win this lovely prize, simply leave a comment telling us (a) which New Zealand native bird is your favourite and why, and (b) what you like about Liz’s story and her art. We look forward to reading your responses! The voucher draw will be made on Friday 15 June and is open to New Zealand residents only.


Explore Liz’s beautiful artworks on Felt now »


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All by hand

Tuesday, May 9th, 2017

These beautiful native bird artworks from Liz Abbott Art are made by hand at every step of their creation.

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First Liz hand-carves woodblocks, and then she inks them up with oil-based ink, using a hand roller or brayer. The inked image is impressed with a hand-operated printing press on to textured paper, hand made from New Zealand flax (harakeke).

Finally, Liz hand colours each woodcut with watercolour – making every print a unique and original work of art.

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Purchase from Liz Abbott Art here »


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Caretaker of imagination: the creative world of Zee Southcombe

Monday, May 8th, 2017

Auckland writer and artist Zee Southcombe has published an astonishing 12 books in the last two years, and usually has a few creative projects on the go. Her works include children’s chapter books, a wordless picture book, colouring books, a children’s anthology, and zines, as well as her surrealist, emotive paintings. Her novels The Caretaker of Imagination and Lucy’s Story: The End of the World were both finalists for Best Youth Novel in the 2016 Sir Julius Vogel Awards.

Zee loves to share her passion for writing with others – especially young creators – inspiring them to follow their own dreams.


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What do you make?
I’m a writer and an artist, so I primarily make books and zines, but I also have a fine art practice specialising in painting.

My books are in the adventure fantasy genre and written for children – but are ‘adult friendly’. I also publish an annual anthology of stories and poems by children in New Zealand. A couple of years ago, I began illustrating colouring books, and fell in love with patterns and lines. It is from that, and a passion for the natural world, that led to mandala art. I held my first painting exhibition last year, titled Broken Beautiful, which reflected the theme of mental and emotional wellbeing. My paintings are very personal; they’re basically me on the canvas.

My zines explore the creative life, both my own and through the eyes of other creative women. I love how creative and experimental zine-making can be, and that they are a hands-on version of book publishing.

How did you get into your craft?
I’ve been drawing for as long as I can remember, and reading for even longer! Although I studied teaching, after working in schools for a few years, I realised that I missed my art practice. In 2013, I decided to follow my long-time dream of writing a children’s book – and I haven’t stopped since.

Your favourite materials, tools and processes?
I like to keep it simple – pen and paper are my favourite tools. Now that I’m illustrating more, I love my new gouache paint palette, which has every colour I could want and is travel-friendly.

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Tell us about what’s involved in producing one of your publications:
For my books, it starts with the idea, which I’ve usually been playing around with in my head for anything from a week to several years. I then pull the idea out into a story by getting a plan down on paper, and begin writing the draft. Sometimes I wish the words could just magically flow out of my head and onto the paper, but unfortunately the drafting is not the easiest bit for me!

Once I have the draft done, it goes off to beta readers, who ‘test’ the story pre-publication and give me their feedback. I then revise the story based on this, and send it to my editor, who gives me much more thorough, line-by-line feedback which I trawl through. It’s usually off to one final beta reader again after that, and then another revision by me. Finally, it goes to the proofreader. The editing process usually takes at least six months.

In between all of that are the illustrations, which I either contract out or draw myself, and at the end of the process is the formatting. This bit is about font choices, line spacing, page numbers, and cover design. The files are then sent to my Auckland-based printer, who prints and binds them for me.

For my mandala artwork, I first hand-draw the template (each one is started from scratch), and build a collection of symbols and shapes within a theme. For example, Moths’ Garden was inspired by flowers and leaves found in my garden. I then draw these freehand (usually while listening to a podcast) and erase the pencil. From there, I scan the drawing, touch it up digitally, flip the colours, and overlay it on one of my photographs. It’s then sent off to my local printer.

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What inspires you?
There is a lot that inspires me, but recently I have been more and more inspired by nature, especially in my visual art practice. I love tramping and exploring the outdoors. The mindful nature walking definitely shows its face in my work, as well as more obvious references to nature in my mandala art. I’ve also spent more time creating outdoors – be that drawing, writing, or painting – even in the colder autumn weather!

My fiction books are explorations of questions I don’t know the answer to – ideas such as divinity, the beginning of time, and fate – all wrapped up in fun (and sometimes scary) adventures.

Is there a philosophy behind your work?
Always. As a child, I hated when books or movies or conversations were simplified for me. I had big questions, too! My driving philosophy for my books are to never talk down to children. An interesting outcome of this philosophy is that my stories have appealed equally to children and adults.

In addition to that, I try to make my work as honest as possible, which viewers have described as ‘a kind of rawness’. Of course, I also try to only do projects that are fun!

My fiction books are explorations of questions I don’t know the answer to – ideas such as divinity, the beginning of time, and fate – all wrapped up in fun (and sometimes scary) adventures.

Describe your creative process:
Different every time. There is a lot of ruminating on an idea before it even begins to come to fruition, often during a walk, but other than that I don’t really have a set process. Some projects are solo, some are collaborative; some are started and finished within a week, others are still in process five years later. I enjoy the flexibility of my creative work.

Describe your workspace:
Not nearly as tidy as I would like it to be! I have a big desk with room for a candle and a cup of tea, a large wooden bookshelf, and boxes of art supplies. I either face the window, looking out at the monarchs, wax-eyes, bees and tui in the bottlebrush tree, or I face my wall of art, which is covered in work that inspires me.

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I’ll often go out to write, as I find that distancing myself from my house and computer (and all the chores that haven’t been done) is useful in helping me stay focused on the project at hand. At least once a week I’ll pop into a local cafe or library, and I regularly book mini writing retreats. The most recent one was in a cabin nestled among the trees and birds in native New Zealand forest.

Five words that describe your mind:
Full, questioning, distracted, curious, doubting.

Your favourite feedback from a customer:
How do I pick? Every piece of feedback is important to me – both for my artist’s ego and to continue improving my work. What touches me most is when a reader or viewer really connects with a piece of work, but I especially love it when adults buy one of my books for their children – and then can’t resist reading it themselves!

“To label this book merely as a children’s book would not do it justice. While this book is, indeed, a great read for children of all ages, many adults will be able to relate to the main character, John, who has lost all sense of wonder in his life and goes on a journey with his faithful cat to find out where the magic and imagination he knew as a child had gone.” – Paul Magnan, Amazon review.

What are you currently listening to?
I’ve dug out an oldie and am listening to a fair bit of kiwi band, Elemeno P. I have also needed a bit of a pick-me-up, so Disney classics have been on my playlist, too!

Recommend an album:
Elemeno P – Love & Disrespect. It’s fun, kiwi, and a great way to kick off your morning.

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What’s your favourite childhood book and why?
I have so many favourites that I always find it difficult to answer this question. A series that has had a significant influence on my writing is the Narnia Chronicles by C. S. Lewis, and I love all of Roald Dahl’s stories. At an older age, I got stuck into the Harry Potter series, and Tamora Pierce’s fantasy novels.

What are you reading now?
I’m reading The Old Ways: A Journey on Foot by Robert MacFarlane, a beautiful book about some of the old pathways – on land and sea – as research for my current work in progress, Ramble On. Before that I read a heart-wrenching and simultaneously comic children’s book called See You in the Cosmos by Jack Cheng. I highly recommend it to readers of all ages.

Tell us about your pets:
I have a cat called Shadow who, like most cats, is rather particular about her wants! Sometimes she’ll hang out with me in the studio while I’m writing or painting, and if it’s cold enough then I’ll have the privilege of her sitting on my lap.

What would your advice be for those starting out in a crafty/arts business?
I’ve only been in this business for two years, so sometimes it feels like I am still just starting out. Through trial and error, I’m slowly learning what works for me and which bits of advice are worth following. I would say be patient, and trust yourself; only you know what is best for you and your goals at the end of the day.

Something I’ve been thinking about more lately is the importance of having fun. I’ve seen too many people burn out (myself included) or become despondent. If you’re not enjoying the process, then make changes so that you are. There’s no point in success if it comes at the expense of your health.

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What was the last handmade item you bought and what attracted you to it?
Whenever I table at a craft fair, I try to buy something to support my fellow artists. Last weekend I bought some beeswax food wrap from Rematerialise. I’ve been eyeing it for ages, because I need something to pack my food for long tramps. It’s environmentally friendly and easy to use, so it’s a no-brainer. My favourite handmade purchase this year was a ceramic mushroom necklace from Little Life Workshop. I am in love with all of her creations!

What’s in store for the rest of 2017?
Right now I’m working on my first book for adults, Ramble On: A celebration of walking in New Zealand and around the world. It’s going to be a glorious mix of interviews, personal essays, hand-lettered quotes, and fun facts. The book will be fully illustrated. It’s a great way to bring my love of walking, drawing, and writing together in one project.

Because I’m enjoying the project so much, I’ll be making a series of zines around walking in New Zealand, just in time for Zinefest season. I’ve also got two collaborative projects lined up – one is about self-publishing in New Zealand, and the other is a collaboration with my (also crafty) mum.

You can meet Zee at Hamilton Zinefest on Saturday 13 May, Auckland Fair on June 18, and she’ll be speaking at Lexicon in June. After that Zee’s running the Auckland Half Marathon in October, to raise money for the Mental Health Foundation of NZ, a cause close to her heart. $8 from the sale of each of her digital prints will also be going to support the fundraising. Awesome stuff!

Inspired? Zee has offered a sweet prize for one lucky Felt reader and budding zine maker of one of her great DIY Zine Craft Activity Kits. The kit contains everything you need to make your very own mini zines – blank mini zines, felt pens, stickers, and Zee’s very own “Zine Idea Generator”. To be in to win this great prize, simply leave a comment telling us what you like about Zee’s story and her work. The draw will be made on Friday 19 May and is open to New Zealand residents only.

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Explore Zee’s Felt shop here »


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Retro cat

Wednesday, April 26th, 2017

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Check out these awesome cat artworks, available as prints – and now as a postcard set – from January & Co on Felt!

Each gorgeous image incorporates a hand drawn original feline portrait with a vintage wallpaper pattern, creating a very appealing and unique fusion piece.

See the whole range in January and Co’s Felt shop.

STOP PRESS! January & Co are offering 10% off for Mothers Day from now until May 14th! Get in touch with them using the “Contact this Maker” button in their Felt shop for details.

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Visit January & Co now »


Orca by Ana Aceves

Thursday, March 16th, 2017

A4 giclée print - Orca by Ana Aceves

Born in Zamora, Spain, Nelson artist and illustrator Ana Aceves has many strings to her bow, with a Bachelor of Arts in Music and a background in graphic design and art direction. Orca is an A4 fine art giclée print on watercolour paper of an original illustration, printed in Nelson and signed by Ana.


Buy now from Ana Aceves »


Nurturing creativity

Saturday, February 18th, 2017

Writer and artist Z.R. Southcombe (Zee) loves to share her passion with others – especially young creators – and we love her inspirational and educational books for youngsters who want to develop their creative ideas.

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I am a Writer, a collaborative project with seven kiwi authors, encourages, motivates, and gives practical ideas for young writers to explore creative writing and cultivate their unique voice. I am an Artist, which Zee worked on with six kiwi artists, likewise provides practical ideas and encouragement for young artists to find and nurture their unique artistic identity.

Both these fantastic books are available now on Felt, along with an inspiring range of Zee’s other creative projects.


Explore Zee’s work here »


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