Home' Greymouth Star : May 28th 2014 Contents Greymouth Star
West Coast Arts
Wednesday, May 28, 2014 - 7
ill Pontin came to the
West Coast about 10 years
ago from Christchurch
where she started in art
at school and then had a
job at Christchurch City
Council as compost manager.
“I learned about design and was drawing
cartoons for advertising, posters, diagrams,
and instructive pamphlets. I was designing
the art work and writing the words for all of
“ When I came to the West Coast, I worked
in the same sort of thing for the West Coast
Regional Council and in the waste industry.”
When she “semi-retired” she went along to
the Hokitika Art Club, “picked up a pen and
got going again”. She joined the Greymouth
Art Club as well and is still a member of
“Now I’m a volunteer at the Left Bank
Art Gallery in Greymouth and was for the
pop-up exhibition too. I exhibited at Art in
the Park this year, my work is around both
Greymouth and Hokitika cafes and I’ve sold
quite a few pictures.
“I like to work with lots of different
mediums and mix three or four compatible
mediums and see what develops. I let the
painting take over and speak for itself.”
She said she starts from a canvas rather
than having a picture in her head before she
“I have a canvas to put a picture on rather
than a picture looking for a canvas. After I
have got going I see faces and other forms
come out of the art work and that guides me
through producing the painting.
“Although I paint intuitively, I like it to
come out as quality work which is likely to
last so it is all treated and glazed to last at
least 10 or 12 years without any fading.”
Pontin has a great sense of fun and this
carries into her paintings.
“Those cartoons still keep coming out and I
love using bright strong cheerful colours.”
A fairly recent innovation for her has been
painting with an airbrush.
“It has given me good insight into tones.
I’m going to try encaustic (using beeswax)
next. It gives another dimension to pictures.
I’ll work in any medium and I like strong
colours. My pictures have been described as
‘ intuitive and very exuberant ’.
“In Europe, I saw very old pictures on
wooden boards and I became interested
in icons. For Art in the Park, I tried using
modelling plaster behind the pictures to get
the effect of wood and used wax pastel and
beeswax on canvas, to look like old paintings.
I want to study this more.”
She said her inspiration comes from all
“It could be on television. Ideas come along
so I take ‘mental shots’ of things and they
come out later in paintings. Mostly I just like
to experiment. I like to be ‘out there’ and ‘off
the wall’. I enjoy water soluble graphite, or
prints and airspray and so long as it can be
painted, I’ll use it.”
Pontin finds herself leaning towards a liking
for cool blues and purples right through
the tonal and hue range and loves the way
metallic paints give work a different look.
“There are so many artists’ mediums
available now, there is a lot to choose from.
Things like metallic watercolours, watercolour
canvases, pens with inks and paints.
“It ’s about choosing the right mediums and
canvas but if you don’t experiment you don’t
know what they can do.”
She admits she found the idea of an
exhibition entitled Red, being staged by
Westland Arts Incorporated, a “bit of a
challenge” but after beginning with three
backgrounds in shades of red, she settled in
to draw over the top and add some metallic
“There are other techniques I would like
to try. L earning encaustic will open up lots.
You can include scrapbooking and natural
materials and do it on wood.
“ You can cut out shapes and paint them up,
probably using oils or better quality metallic
paints, and I wonder, can you waterproof it
enough for garden walls?
“It will be fine for indoors but I will have to
test it in a hot place outside. I would love to
experiment more with garden art.
“My work has developed quite a bit already.
I started with acrylics, then decided I needed
to enhance my drawing skills.
“I went into watercolours and pastels.
I’ve learned about different mediums and
“Now I can confidently put them together
in art work in good compositional form.
“ You have to do what you want. I paint
for pleasure not to make money but I try
to cover the costs. If people really like
something I’ve painted I say, ‘make me an
offer’ and if it pays for the materials, I’ll give
it to them.
“I admire some of the old masters and their
marks, those who did those first paintings.
I’m interested in the dyes they used and the
work they achieved.
“Some used tempera (with egg yolk to bind
pigments) and I’d like to try that because
they got very interesting colours.
“I want to find out about old dyes, mixed
with clays and genuine earth colours, by
trying out different soils. That could be a
“My philosophy is to make my paintings
as accessible as possible and a challenge to
viewers, which someone will spend a lot of
time looking into.
“Many people just glance at pictures but
the longer you look at a painting and really
see its colours, the more you see in it,” she
“I would like to think that my pictures may
encourage someone else to have a go. When
people have told me they ‘can’t draw ’ I tell
them to shut their eyes and just do it on the
paper. Then they can see this and that in
their drawing. I love to encourage others to
make art. It will always be an expression of
Hokitika artist Gill Pontin says it was drawing cartoons about compost and other waste issues that led to her present love of art and still growing desire
to paint. Here she tells JO KEPPEL how that came about and where her art is taking her now.
Gill with some of her brightly coloured paintings.
Hokitika mixed media artist Gill Pontin’s cartoon character with “a head on a plate”. S he says it was drawing cartoons for instructive pamphlets that got her started in art.
This painting started from a discussion about tattoo design and ended up
including an airbrushed landscape as well.
The study of oriental painting led Gill to this painting.
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