At first glance, Paula Petherick's artworks are moody, atmospheric paintings using flower imagery.

But it's not painting at all. Her artworks are actually photography.

The artist, who has been living in Waihi for two years, uses photography as a base to build her art. It's a technical process and a mindset inspired by a background in military photography training.

''It is working on layers of imagery,'' Paula says. ''I get to build a picture and it gives me more control — like a painter has.''

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She's influenced by the Renaissance art period of texture, light and drama and mainly use flowers as subject matter.

Paula explains her process as written on the gallery wall... ''by working with altered perspectives of composition I can construct an image which comes from multiple viewpoints'.'

She photographs common textured surfaces and using a digital darkroom interweaves these layers closeup to obtain a ''paintery feel''.

At school Paula gained a photography scholarship but found the course too ''airy-fairy'' so opted for the military instead.

''It was very technical. We learnt infrared photography, SAS mapping work, ultraviolet photography, portraiture, sports events, macro and production.''

Paula opened Paula Petherick Gallery late last year after moving to Waihi in search of a small town with an art vibe. She says she's received brilliant feedback from locals.

■ Paula Petherick Gallery on Seddon St has the Exhibition of New Works which opens on March 14 from 2-6pm.