Our guest artist for this July 2020 letter was born and raised in Scotland but…
I’m delighted to bring you art that has a great sense of humour. I met Nicole Russell in 2016 when she walked into a monthly meeting of one of the art groups I belong to. We hit it off straight away and as we sat next to each other going through those ‘getting to know you’ questions we were astonished to find that Nicole, her husband and daughters had sailed their yacht across the Pacific at the same time as my husband, Rick was also doing that voyage on a friend’s catamaran. She gave me her contact details on the back of her boat’s business card, a common way for boaties to reconnect. It happened that very evening we had some other yachties from the same Pacific crossing visiting us so when I arrived home after the meeting I plonked Nicole’s boat card down on the table to cries of recognition when they saw its name. Don’t you just love the magic of such timings!
In ‘The Acrobatic Fantail’, Nicole has beautifully captured the darting movements of New Zealand’s native fantail, giving it a trapeze for added fun as it snaps up tiny insects from the air. Its Maori name is piwakawaka. These agile birds are notoriously friendly, flitting around us as we walk in the bush but actually, they’re just taking advantage of our stirring up the insects as we go by.
Before we get to the next artwork, I want to tell you a bit more about Nicole’s very busy life. She is currently President of Art Group Nelson, the largest of the districts several art groups. Nicole has exhibited in the United States and in New Zealand. Her paintings received 2nd Prize at the Art+Music 2019 Competition, Honorable Mention and People’s Choice recognition. She has been a guest speaker on different events and accepted several commissions.
In Annapolis, USA, Nicole was originally trained in drawing and watercolour painting, especially Watercolour Journaling. When she moved with her family onto their sailboat “Blue Raven” and started travelling from the USA to the Mediterranean and back through the Panama Canal to New Zealand, Watercolour Journaling was her favourite way of quickly capturing her experience on paper and has led to her popular Watercolour Journaling classes.
Nicole is an excellent teacher, her lessons well prepared and with follow-up notes. Check them out here https://www.nicolerussellart.com/art-classes/
First though, check out this delight . . .
Pukeko, the distinctive New Zealand version of the Moor Hen, have great character and Nicole has done them justice in this smile-inducing work she calls The Yoga Pukeko. She says of this painting, “Aren’t the Pukekos just the most fascinating birds with their striking colour and long legs? Eventually they had to be painted and a little fun had to be included.”
This is one of Nicole Russell’s earlier watercolours from her sailing life. The traveling home on the water has been replaced by a normal house on land and a boat on a trailer so the family can still get it’s time on the water.