Hawke's Bay is home to a host of talented artists and musicians. In this series, Summer Artscape, Linda Hall questions them about their work, lifestyle and plans for the future. Today we talk to Joshua Weeks.
First tell us a little about yourself:
I am 27 and I'm a painter, having recently spent four years in undergraduate visual arts studies at EIT Hawkes Bay and a year spent in Dunedin post-graduate studies in 2015.
I have an open studio and gallery upstairs at 27 Tennyson St,Napier, where I work, and I live on a little yacht in Ahuriri.
I'm a competitive sailor, and the Napier Sailing Club's learn-to-sail and racing instructor.
My influences in art combine my love of yachting, experiencing the natural environment and passion for storytelling, history, and my sense of place in connection to land and people.
Currently I'm painting commissioned works and working towards an exhibition at the Tennyson Gallery in February. These paintings are a series of depictions showing Napier moments and hours after the devastating earthquake in 1931.
What is your main medium?
I paint large landscapes in oils on stretched canvas
How is your personality reflected in your work?
My personality always has a heavy influence on how I see the world, no matter what other influences I have.
I'm usually open and friendly, finding relating to people rewarding and enjoyable, so I guess I angle my art to be that way too.
I hope it connects to people, where they can relate and enjoy.
I have been asked however, if a few of my apocalyptic and mostly painted in black past work have anything do with me being dark and moody.
I would honestly say that could be true. Life has ups and downs, and I'm proud to say my art can always be honest in reflecting that. Fortunately, current works feature bright and vibrant colours and big epic skyscapes.
What has been your most touching or amazing moment you've experienced as an artist?
I think watching how people respond to my art is amazing if it's overtly positive.
But one cool moment was last year. My studio space at the Dunedin School of Art was in a new building with floor-to-ceiling windows, and happened to be beside the main road to the stadium.
There was a Neil Diamond concert one night, and thousands of people were walking past.
It was very late and everybody was on their way home, but I'm guessing well over a hundred people coming and going stopped to watch me paint.
I was a grub, smelly and barefoot, no shirt and I had paint on my face. But seeing lots of people just happy to stand and watch on a cold night was very rewarding.
Policemen and families even came in to chat, and it was so encouraging for me that so many people are genuinely interested to see art, see how its created and talk to the grubby artist.
What has been your darkest moment?
My darkest moment as an artist happens rather frequently, and its quite simple. It's self-doubt arising from struggling through some difficult paintings, to the point where I question my life choices as being a creative.
It's doubt about my ability to create good work, which comes from my own critical analysis of the painting. It can be quite depressing and demoralising, and it definitely strangles my creative productivity.
This feeling also challenges me as a person, feeling untalented, delusional, foolish, and disliked. As hard as it can be sometimes, resilience in myself to rise to the challenge to make the painting work methodically, deliberately and to just keep going is how I get through.
How do you budget your time (in the studio and out)?
This admittedly is a rather large failing of mine. I always budget a big part of my day towards being in my studio, about eight to 10 hours.
However spontaneous coffee dates, and perhaps the embarrassingly late-morning tipple at Emporium with friends, often distract me.
Of course, four o'clock rolls around and others have finished work, so this conspires against me and consequently to achieve what I planned I often work late into the night. I also commit to a lot of work where I underestimate the time it takes, and I quite regularly pull all-nighters with copious amounts of coffee. I work seven days a week unless there is something else arranged or planned. I also work around regular coaching learn-to-sail and yacht racing programmes during the week.
What other artists do you admire?
I have quite eclectic tastes in art, and it's not often I admire particular artists as such, more individual pieces of art.
However, a few stand out who regularly create work that I admire and I get very frustrated and jealous about because of their amazing skills. Local artist Freeman White springs to mind, also my old EIT tutor Wellesley Binding. I adore 19th-century British painter J.M.W. Turner for his amazing skies, and impactful messages on contemporary topics of the time.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
Yachting is a huge part of my influence.
Living on a yacht and having the ability to be out in nature and the elements enables me to have an amazing library of experiences and influences.
I get to see unique views of the coast, experience the blue phosphorus sparkling in the water at night and illuminating the dolphins playing metres below the surface. I weather and survive storms at sea, and the best sunsets and sunrises happen on the ocean, with the most amazing skies day and night, uninterrupted by land, inspire most of my paintings.
What are your plans for the future?
I'd love to keep creating art, however I do grimly grip on to the moment now, relishing the fact that I can just paint all day.
I hope and pray this absolutely blessed situation lasts long enough for me to make a genuine career out of painting.
I have an exhibition at the Tennyson Gallery for my paintings of Napier in 1931, which will be showing in February.
Then I've planned a trip north to the Bay of Islands on my boat to finish the summer off.
I'm also planning a voyage further to the islands, Tonga, Fiji, Vanuatu in 2018.