Ron Esplin exhibits at Delicacy in Maori Hill - 3rd May 2014

Ron Esplin Delicacy Exhibition

Thirteen Watercolours on Display at Delicacy:

Thanks to  Alison Lambert of Delicacy in Maori Hill Ron now occupies one of the main rooms in the cafe with a display of thirteen of his more recent watercolours.

Images from Around the World:

Paintings represented include images of England and Scotland, Italy, Croatia, China, Turkey and other locations where Ron has travelled in recent times.
It is important to note that Ron feels he needs to make a direct connection to these locations in order to reproduce the feeling, as much as to reproduce the visual impression of the scenes he commits to watercolour on paper.
To that end he has used as his reference the many photographs he has personally taken at these locations around the World. If he has painted a scene, he has actually been there and experienced the atmosphere.

Populating his Paintings:

Lately Ron has more and more been populating his paintings with crowds of tourists and locals who are also visiting these iconic locations. look at "The Great Wall China" for instance and the painting is crowded with the usual hundreds of daily visitors. Similarly in "Hagia Sophia Istanbul" the long shadows cast by the visiting crowd become an important part of the composition. Another painting depicting the interior of Hagia Sophia uses the crowd of visitors to exemplify the dramatic lighting that exists there.
In contrast the painting of "Findochty" highlights the remoteness of the quiet Scottish fishing village where a solitary person is to be seen on the beach.

Put Yourself in the Picture:

Why not put yourself in the picture,  visit Delicacy at 595 Highgate in Maori Hill, enjoy a coffee and some of their superb cuisine, and spend time absorbing Ron's watercolour representations of scenes from around the world where you may well have been yourself, or are planning to visit yourself in the future.
All the work is for sale, and is priced in the bottom left hand corner of the paintings along with the title of each painting.

View this Newsletter and the accompanying photograph on the following link:
Ron Esplin exhibits at Delicacy in Maori Hill

Watercolour New Zealand publishes Ron Esplin's Article on Watercolour Skies - 4th Mar 2014

Watercolour New Zealand publishes Ron Esplin's Article on Watercolour Skies

Watercolour New Zealand:

Growing from a small group of artists in Wellington in 1975, Watercolour New Zealand is this country's only society dedicated to the appreciation and promotion of watercolour painting.

It carries on the long association New Zealand has with watercolour, starting with the work of prolific early surveyors and scientists recording scenes and information for employers in Britain. The strong pure light, unique culture, landforms, bush and relative isolation from the rest of the world, have combined to give a recognisable New Zealand character to contemporary watercolour works.

Members, both professional and amateur, number about 400 and take part in a yearly calendar of events including workshops, critiques, painting days and major exhibitions.

The society is based in Wellington but they welcome new members from throughout New Zealand and overseas.

Quarterly Newsletter:

Watercolour NZ publishes a Quarterly Newsletter that is beautifully produced. It features events and articles by and about members and they also run workshops with competent specialist tutors from New Zealand and Overseas.

Invitation to contribute an article:

I was delighted to be invited to contribute an article, and the chosen topic was my approach to painting skies.
I am pleased to include the article in this Newsletter and I hope artists among you find this of value in your own artistic endeavours.

Painting Skies in watercolour: Ron Esplin.

I find most artists I know do not stretch the paper by wetting it first. They use 300
gsm not pressed paper or heavier and either fix to a board using masking tape, or
they use paper that is purchased in a block with the edges glued to hold the sheet
Wetting the paper sometimes affects the absorption properties of the paper, and I
like to be able to move the water and pigment freely over the surface. At the end of
the day it still remains a matter of personal choice.

Use a big brush:

Use plenty of water and oodles of pigment and use a big brush which may be a
wash brush or a mop. I have a favourite brush that I recommend to the people in my
classes. It is an Art Spectrum T300 White Taylon size 20. and in many cases the
whole painting can be done with this brush alone.
Pure white paper left for lighting effect or clouds can often be too stark and
unrealistic so I will most often do a preparatory light wash of Raw Sienna and make
sure it is thoroughly dry before continuing, otherwise you will end up with a green sky!

Paint wet on wet for successful skies:

The most successful skies are painted wet on wet, applied quickly with expansive
strokes, and the paper is attached to a board that you can pick up and move around
so the pigment is able to flow. I prefer Cobalt Blue to Cerulean because in my view
Cerulean blue is a little insipid, but I will mix a range of colours and be prepared to
be adventurous.
Drop pure pigment onto the paper while the first wash is still wet, then let the painting
paint itself by swivelling the board. I have often propped the board up against a chair
on a diagonal and watch it almost paint itself!

Boldness is your friend;

Be bold and be prepared to take risks, as you water colourists are aware that the
colours will tone down as they dry.
Rain can be conveyed beautifully by allowing the paint to flow under its own steam
on a wet underpainting by holding the board diagonally and almost perpendicular.
A looming sky needs magenta and Cobalt blue mixed to a dark mixture, sometimes
with a touch of earth colour to darken it even more. This is then applied to the
underpainting after you have re- wet it. Cumulus seems to work best if you remove
the paint to reveal the paper beneath, but after the white bits are dry, re-wet them
and drop dark shadow into the bottom of the white clouds.
Hard lines in a sky sometimes work, but generally you can choose to soften hard
lines with a damp brush.
Clouds can also be dabbed out with a tissue while the first wash is still damp.
If you are not happy with the sky after your first attempt, you can go in again when
it dries, but make sure you wet the whole sky before you do. If you do not wet the
whole sky, you will risk ending up with those unwanted balloons and cauliflowers.

Some problems can be corrected:

Some aberrations can be unavoidable, such as unwanted collections of paint
leaking out from under the masking tape and drying with an unsightly mark on
your otherwise beautiful skies. Two solutions to this, one is to use a damp, not too
wet, stiff bristled brush in one hand and a tissue in the other and rub it away while
dabbing it dry with the tissue. The other solution is to crop the unsightly bit from the

Try to do your sky in one hit:

I try to do a sky in one hit, but am often dissatisfied after it dries, so I am quite happy
to go in again later. If there is a mark or speck on the paper, leave it until it dries,
and only then remove it. If the speck persists use the reveal or conceal rule and
turn it into something else, a bird for instance, and add a couple more to make them

Do your own thing:

Rather than slavishly trying to reproduce your sky from a photograph, try
manufacturing your own sky. I like to contrast the dark elements of the painting
against the light parts of the sky, and the light elements against darker parts of the
sky to provide some drama.
Skies are not necessarily blue but can play a major role as part of the composition
and also be part of the story that you are trying to convey, an angry sky is much
more interesting than post card cerulean blue. Actually it is amazing what a range of
colours you can incorporate in a sky, reds, oranges, greys, even greens!

Use photographs as a guide:

I collect photographs of skies and have a “Skies” folder in the “Art Subjects” file that I
maintain in my computer.
Examining these photos and real skies will teach you that clouds are bigger close at
hand and get smaller thinner and closer together into the distance, and that clouds
have shadows on the underside.
It is a good idea to paint a series of skies just to experiment and perfect your
technique. Using masking tape to divide your paper into four allows you to do four at
once as practice pieces.
I enjoy painting imaginative skies, but I prefer to leave sunsets alone, as no matter
how accurately you emulate a spectacular sunset, people seldom believe it, and your
paintings do have to be believable.
Why compete with nature, I believe it is up to the artist to portray the ordinary things
in nature, and to point out to the viewer how extraordinary they are.

The article including illustrations can be viewed by clicking on the following link.
Watercolour New Zealand publis ... s Article on Watercolour Skies

Ron Esplin publishes a new book "A Portrait of Southland" - 31st Jan 2014

Ron Esplin publishes a new book

Southland portrayed in watercolour:

After the success of Ron's book "A Portrait of Otago", Ron always had in the back of his mind to complete paintings of Southland and to publish a book showcasing this unique Region.
Southland as the name suggests is New Zealand's most Southern Region, it is sparsely populated for much of its area, and is famed for native bird sanctuaries and an untouched natural environment. A quarter of Southland's land area is protected as part of Fiordland and Rakiura National Parks.

Beautiful Lakes and Mountains:

As an artist there are urban areas as well as wild mountainous areas to attract the artist's eye. Beautiful lakes such as Lake Manapouri, Lake Te Anau, and the deepest lake in the country, Lake Hauroko. The Main towns include Gore, Mataura and Invercargill and there are also beautiful coastal towns and villages like Riverton, and the charming Cosy Nook on the Southern Scenic Route, and the pretty seaside town of Oban on Stewart Island.

Personally experienced the rugged nature of Southland:

I have worked and painted in all these places, and experienced the rugged nature of the Southland mountains, among other experiences observing the distant view of Stewart Island from Dolamore Park near Gore in the shadow of the oddly shaped Hokonui Range, and even running the 60 kilometre Kepler Challenge over Mt Luxmore from Lake Te Anau, along the tops overlooking the South Fiord to the Iris Burn, then down to Lake Manapouri and back alongside the Waiau River to Te Anau, not once, but five times!
I have encapsulated in this twenty page soft cover book my impressions of Southland and distilled those impressions into thirty four paintings with brief editorial to explain each image. 

Order from the website and get FREE Postage and Packing:

The book measures 200mm x 200mm, is a talking point on the coffee table, and hopefully stirs memories of your own Southland experiences or inspires you to extend them.
If you order the book from the website I will send it to you for the introductory price of $28 and include FREE Postage and Packing throughout New Zealand.

Follow the Link to see the image of the book cover "A Portrait of Southland":
Ron Esplin publishes a new boo ... book "A Portrait of Southland"

Watercolour Art Classes for 2014 begin again for the year with Ron Esplin: - 13th Jan 2014

Watercolour Art Classes for 2014 begin again for the year with Ron Esplin:

Watercolour Art Classes Begin Again for 2014 Monday 20 January:

I am still running classes in my "downtown" studio at 10H Jetty Street and we begin for the year again on Monday 20 January. It is a spacious area, and a relaxed atmosphere working alongside like-minded people of all ages enjoying their art.

Create and improve your watercolours:

Learn how to create, and improve by creating beautiful watercolours every Monday from 7PM to 9PM excluding long weekends and the Xmas holidays. The atmosphere is one of excitement every Monday night for the two hours of the class. The usual format is to paint for an hour and a half, then to watch an inspiring DVD for the last half hour.

What does it cost?:

I will give you tips to improve your watercolour technique, understand composition, and use the right materials for the best results. Your confidence will increase, and your enjoyment of creating competent work will increase with it. You can start as a beginner or improve your skills as a practicing artist.
It is $15 a night so you only pay on the nights you attend.

Where do I start?:

Come along to 10H Jetty Street on a Monday when the doors are opened at 7PM. Bring any work you have at hand, the materials you use at present, or just bring yourself and I can advise you on materials to purchase if you are just beginning.
Call me at home on 03 467 2164 or my mobile at 021 358 082.
Or email me at
See this Newsletter and accompanying photograph of the studio by clicking on this link:
Watercolour Art Classes for 20 ... for the year with Ron Esplin:

Ron Esplin returns from a South East Asian Odyssey: - 15th Dec 2013

Ron Esplin returns from his South East Asian Odyssey:

I have just returned from an exhilarating month travelling from New Zealand to Singapore, Nepal, Bhutan, India, Sri Lanka, and Manila.
The sights, the colours, the aromas, and the noise were the physical cacophony that our senses were assailed by, and I will tell you more in due course, but I did a couple of paintings of Nepal while away, and I am itching to share them with you. The dichotomy of peaceful places like Durbar Square, the subject of one painting, then the buzzing activity in the streets outside, the subject of the other painting, are indicative of that part of the world.

Dire Warnings:

Despite dire warnings about the water, the food, and the culture shock, we found that the people were welcoming and good humoured, and we survived without experiencing "Delhi Belly".
Their approach to visitors, is that the guest is God, and we certainly experienced the feeling that we were honoured guests wherever we went.

"Book it":

The people were the source of our most lasting memories, and I am indebted to a well travelled friend whom I asked before we decided to go. I asked him, "I am thinking about going to India, what do you think?" His reply was to the point, and good advice. "Book it!", and I am glad I did.

View the pictured by clicking on the following link: Ron Esplin returns from a South East Asian Odyssey:

Celtic Spirit Artworks Celtic Arts Festival 2013 - 9th Oct 2013

Celtic Spirit Artworks Celtic Arts Festival 2013:

An exhibition of contemporary Celtic Works from Ron Esplin, Chris O'Regan, and Pauline Bellamy opens at Bellamy's Gallery, Macandrew Bay on Sunday 13 October at 5PM.

All are welcome, Marcus Turner will entertain with Live Music:

There will be Live music by Marcus Turner, and work on show will feature watercolours, etchings and monoprints.
The Exhibition runs until 27 October.

Click on the link below for further details.

Celtic Spirit Artworks Celtic Arts Festival 2013

Speargrass Inn exhibits "In the Steps of my Father" - 19th Sep 2013

Speargrass Inn exhibits

"In the Steps of my Father" is an exhibition that reflects the World travels of a father and his son:

My late father, Tom Esplin, was a very successful painter in oils, and he painted subjects gleaned from his extensive travels around the World.
Apart from my sister Dot who was born in Dunedin, all of our family was born in Scotland, and we came to New Zealand to settle in 1954.

World travels documented in the "Esplin" book:

My father and mother travelled extensively Worldwide, Dad took many photographs wherever they went in order to use them as painting subjects when he returned home. My mother wrote detailed diary notes, and the combination of paintings and writings formed the basis of the book "Esplin" that my brother Clark and I published in 2007 and that has now sold over 3,000 copies.

The travel bug was contagious:

I inherited the travel bug from my nomadic parents, and have visited many of the countries and destinations that they did during their sixty years of marriage.
After returning home, I also painted the landmarks and landscapes I had seen and photographed, in the same way as my Dad. I mounted an exhibition with the title, "In The Steps Of My Father" featuring my paintings of the places and countries both my parents and I have visited over the years.

Speargrass Inn hosts "In The Steps Of My Father" exhibition:

In partnership with the management of Speargrass Inn Gallery, "In the Steps of my Father" comes to Central Otago as an exhibition opening at 6PM on Friday 20 September 2013 at the beautiful gallery in Fruitlands on Highway 8, Alexandra, and running to Friday 22 November.

About the book that accompanies the exhibition:

"In the Steps of my Father" is also in book form and features many more of the paintings of the places I have travelled to throughout the world, and I have included text that outlines the stories around many of the works.
The book will be available for purchase at $50 for the duration of the exhibition. It has a hard cover, and features 75 paintings and drawings of locations in 17 countries over 20 pages.

Click on the link to access the website page for illustrations.
"In the Steps of my Father"
Speargrass Inn exhibits "In the Steps of my Father"

Otago Access Radio Art Auction - 26th Jul 2013

Otago Access Radio Art Auction


You are invited to the Otago Access Radio Fundraising Art Auction, to be held at the Community Gallery in Princes Street on Thursday 15 August 2013 at 6 pm.
The Auction is being held to raise funds for development of the Community Radio Station's Youth Programme, a worthy cause.
It also offers you the opportunity to buy quality local art at reasonable prices!

A wide range of well known Dunedin Artists represented:

This Art Auction brings together more than 30 Artists of considerable calibre, to name only a few we have Pauline Bellamy, Ewan McDougall, Lindsay Crooks, Janet Weir, Emma Chalmers, David Corballis, Gay Webb, Janet de Wagt, Simon Kaan, Heather Dunkley, and Manu Berry.

Respected Dunedin Auctioneer to lead the bidding process:

We are very fortunate to have the services of Warwick Grimmer as our Auctioneer which should result in an enjoyable and entertaining event.


Check out the official invitation on my website by following this link:
Otago Access Radio Art Auction

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