Students in Whanganui UCOL's new three-year Bachelor of Design and Arts degree are loving the variety of it.

Six who chose to major in painting have their work on display at Whanganui's Community Arts Centre. Tomorrow is its last day. The show, called Big Painting, consists of six very large acrylic paintings in subjects of their choice.

Zoe Alexander, from Hawke's Bay, came to Whanganui because she had heard the art school was good. She wanted to develop her skills, especially in painting.

She chose to paint about space, and was convinced to add something other than galaxies and planets. She added colourful cartoony monsters.


She had thought of making a career in illustration or tattoo design, but is finding more possibilities.

"I'm finding it's helping me in other things as well - also in drawing and the way I view paintings and drawings."

She's loving spending time painting and drawing.

"At the moment I'm just going to enjoy what I'm doing and figure it out later."

Jodie McLay is from Whanganui and has been painting for years, showing her work in various ways. She wanted to improve her painting, but is now veering toward illustration - combining painting and computer input.

She has painted birds a lot in the past, but tried something different for this show. She said the course was fun and challenging.

"It's different having a teacher to doing your own thing in the art room at home. Getting feedback is actually really helpful."

UCOL lecturer Lorraine Webb said there were 21 students in the second year of the degree. Each has chosen a major and they get to try photography, sculpture and digital animation, and learn about art theory and history.

The six who chose painting were all women in their twenties or older. They started by doing small oil paintings of simple subjects.

Acrylic paint is easier to use and they faced the challenge of making their work big.