Mostar - In The Footsteps of My Father - 28th Mar 2013

The Mostar Bridge in Bosnia Herzegovina:

"We came to Mostar by bus, which is totally different from anything we expected. It is a much bigger industrial area and only one tiny area of picturesque nature, where the famous bridge and the tiny streets of old Turkish houses still remain. There are many mosques showing the Turkish influence. We at first wanted to come on to Dubrovnik, but decided against it as we wanted to make the journey in daylight. We were rewarded by being able to see the bridge floodlit at night" 

Destroyed in the Serbo - Croatian War:

So wrote my mother in October 1972, and little did she know that in November 1993 the bridge that had stood since 1557 would be destroyed in the Serbo-Croatian war.
The Old Bridge, or Stari Most spanned the Neretva River, and when it tumbled in pieces into the river, the mortar inside, which contained pink bauxite, turned the water red as it fell. Locals said their old friend was bleeding.

Rebuilding the Bridge and the Country:

It took longer to rebuild the bridge in the 21st Century, but in July 2004, at a cost of $13 Million, the new Old Bridge was inaugurated and now stands again as a symbol of reconciliation.
Mostar is still rebuilding, and bullet holes and destroyed buildings are ugly reminders of the scenes we witnessed in the nineties on the nightly news.

Following in their footsteps forty years on:

I had seen the painting of the bridge that my Dad, Tom Esplin had completed, and I was drawn to Mostar like a magnet. In October 2012 we were in Split and a day of rest presented the opportunity to take a bus ride the two hour journey to Mostar for a day trip. 
My camera and I finally found the ideal viewing spot from another bridge downstream and the precious photograph assisted me this month to complete a watercolour of the iconic scene, and gave me another chance to connect with the travels of my parents over forty years before me.

View images by clicking this link:
Mostar - In The Footsteps of My Father

A fun time at Early Childhood on Stafford - 10th Feb 2013

An invitation to do art with under fives at Early Childhood on Stafford:

When Rod Eales, an artist and early childhood teacher, suggested I came for a visit to do some art for the "over twos" at Early Childhood on Stafford I had never been to the centre before and I was uncertain what I could do that would amuse them or be a learning experience.

A combination of organization and chaos:

The hour and a half I spent there was combination of organization and chaos. Rod had previously taken the under fives to the Art Station where I had been the Artist in Residence at the time. They had crowded around while I was painting and showed the charming curiosity of the very young. Among the paintings I had on display was an acrylic of an over sized hamburger that amused both Rod and the children.
Because of their interest in this painting Rod had suggested a hamburger theme for my visit, and they already had pictures of hamburgers that had been printed off.

A painting of a giant hamburger: 

I decided a quick watercolour of a giant hamburger would hold their attention and we had heaps of fun deciding all the ingredients that would go into this fanciful food item. As they named the items I painted them, tomato, beetroot, cheese, lettuce. Then they started to use their imagination, a sausage, steak, bacon, even a tortoise went in much to their amusement.

Missing my grandchildren:

I have two grandchildren about their age in Chicago, and I am missing them growing up, so you can imagine my delight interacting with half a dozen or more with their energy and enthusiasm.
It was their turn to paint then, and some of the hamburgers they produced were wonderful. We then painted some daffodils in a glass vase, and a very quick sky and seascape, then a landscape with a little house with a red roof.

Who learned from who?

I was thrilled with the way the children were able to concentrate and maintain attention. I taught them how I paint, but they taught me how they paint and how they look at the world with fresh eyes.
I had hoped my visit would be a fun experience for the children, but I had not anticipated just how much fun I would have in the event myself.
My experience at Early Childhood on Stafford taught me that Groucho Marx got it right when he said: "A child of five would understand this. Fetch me a child of five."

Follow this link to see the photos of my visit to Early Childhood on Stafford.
A fun time at Early Childhood on Stafford

Our Wonderful Wet Coast Holiday - 12th Jan 2013

And did it rain!:

The rain started as we drove up the shore of Lake Wanaka towards the Haast Pass and I said to Julie "well it can't rain for four days". Our West Coast holiday was planned to take us South from Haast to Jackson Bay staying a night at Okuru, then back up the Coast to Hokitika for a three night stay before joining sister and brother-in-law Amanda and Russell in Ruby Bay near Nelson. 

But the rain stopped when it counted:

Well it pretty much did rain for the time we were on the West Coast, it rained for five straight days in fact, but it generously stopped whenever it counted. We had a break in the weather briefly at Jackson Bay, intermittently up the coast, at Fox long enough to take the short bush walk to the viewing point for the glacier, long enough to do the amazing Treetop walk near Hokitika, and the Pancake rocks at Punakaiki, and to cross the longest swing bridge over the Buller River in the Buller Gorge.

We were treated to the  true nature of the Coast: 

But the important thing to learn by the experience, was the grandeur of the area because of the reputation it has for wet weather. The rivers were spectacularly in flood, the waterfalls we saw everywhere were raging torrents, and the mountains were cloaked in cloud and mist showing the brooding mountain landscape peering out from behind the clouds.  Even the coastline showed it's wild side with waves crashing over the rocky shore flinging spray high into the air. At Punakaiki we experienced for the first time the booming blowholes in full performance mode. Yes the West Coast was wet, but experiencing that wildness was a privilege in itself.

Taking the rough with the smooth:

Yes it was annoying to leap from the car to have a host of sandflies converge on us and the vehicle, yes it was annoying to get soaked at times, and yes it was annoying to have drips over the camera lens. But the sandfly bites have gone now, we were soon warm and dry again in the car or motel, and some of the great photographs I did get represent the true nature of the region.

Compliments of the Season to you all:

I hope you all had a great Christmas and New Year and we can all look forward to 2013 with new vigour and enthusiasm after the holiday break.

Ron Esplin welcomes new gallery "Twin Oaks Gallery and Gardens" - 26th Dec 2012

Twin Oaks Gallery and Gardens

New Gallery "Twin Oaks Gallery and Gardens" now open:

"Twin Oaks Gallery and Gardens" is now open on State Highway One, Otaio, Timaru and occupies the former Otaio Schoolhouse and I am delighted to be one of their inaugural exhibitors.
Debra and John Cudworth have combined a unique variety of attractions to encourage you to break your journey South or North on State Highway One 24 kms South of Timaru between St Andrews and Makikihi.

A range of activities is available for all ages:

Besides displaying art work for you to purchase, jewellery and giftware are also available for sale.
If you are travelling with the family, John makes a mean Barista coffee so you can take a welcome coffee break, while if you have kids, they can play tennis on the tennis court and expend a bit of energy after being confined to the car during your journey.

Amazing HO Model Railway layout:

Young and old "kids" can see the amazing HO Model Railway layout that John has built. Realistic synchronised sound effects and hills and tunnels bring this amazing layout to life, and Dad's, Mum's and kids can even have a go at driving the locomotives themselves.
Plants including perennials, peonies, day lilies, and heuchera are also on offer to the visitor.
Art work by a number of artists including Ron Esplin, Sarah Deans, and Deb Cudworth herself who runs art classes at the Gallery for local art enthusiasts.

Contact details:

For more details contact Debra or John Cudworth at Twin Oaks Gallery ph. 03 612 6677. Email or visit their website at

See information and pictures on my website at by clicking the following link.

Ron Esplin welcomes new galler ... Twin Oaks Gallery and Gardens"

Ron's book "A Portrait Of Otago" is now available! - 10th Dec 2012

Ron's book

A long held ambition to publish a book of Otago Paintings:

For a number of years, as I have been painting a wide range of locations around Otago, I have thought about putting them into book form.
I have painted over 800 paintings, and it was a really difficult job to make a selection that seemed to represent the region in the best way.

The computer made the task achievable:

The computer played an important role as I keep a digital record of every painting I have done, so I created a folder named "A Portrait of Otago". and loaded in the most relevant images.
The task then was to retain the best of them, ensuring that I represented the whole of Otago.
In the book that has resulted, I have divided it into four sections, Central Otago, Dunedin City, Otago Harbour, and North Otago.

Twenty pages in a soft cover in full colour:

"A Portrait of Otago", subtitled "A Personal View of the Region", is a soft cover book, ideal for postage, and measures 20cm x 20cm, (8 inches by 8 inches if you prefer).
There are twenty pages in full colour and a there is a biography on the back cover.  I have refined the publication from my first edition, and this new edition is the 2013 publication. It is now available from the Art Station Shop in the Railway Station, directly from me through, or through the website at 
See the picture of the book on the News item in the website using the following link,  
Ron's book "A Portrait Of Otago" is now available!
The price is $28. p&p $5.
Our Online Store

Ron Esplin Paints Europe - 14th Oct 2012

Ron paints Europe:

As you can see in the photographs on the website, I have already started painting Europe. I made a start on the Colosseum in Rome and the beautiful town of Portovenere on the North West coast of Italy

Twelve day cruise on Celebrity Equinox:

We started our Europe sojourn with a twelve day cruise on the Celebrity Equinox which was outstanding. The cruise took us from Rome to Mykonos, Istanbul, Athens, Ephesus, Santorini, Naples, and back to Rome. We met lots of people, most of them very interested especially in New Zealand saying it was reputed to be beautiful and friendly. The only disappointment was missing the Amalfi Coast because of bad weather conditions, but we were taken to Sorrento and Salerno instead.

An Artist's Dream:

Santorini was an artist’s dream although I will have to buy more Cobalt blue paint.
Ephesus was the Turkish highlight, and it was special to sail past the Gallipoli monument in the Dardanelles. We bought Turkish delight from the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul.

Northern Italy by Rail:

When we disembarked in Rome we went by rail to Venice, Florence, and Cinque Terre. We visited the Colosseum in Rome, and we believe Venice should be named as one of the Seven Wonders of the World. Cinque Terre was fantastic, again an artist’s dream, and taking the boat round the coast afforded the best views of the picturesque towns spilling into the Mediterranean. Portovenere was lovely, but a little out of the way and the bus turned out to be a bit of a hassle. Florence deserves it's reputation as the Art Capital of the World, and how we enjoyed Italian dinners at authentic Italian Restaurants, favourite dishes were spaghetti with clams, and veal and mushrooms.

Piazza de Michelangelo Worth the Climb:

It was worth the uphill walk for the great views of Florence from the Piazza de Michelangelo and the photos should make great painting subjects. The train network in Italy, Trenitalia was fantastic, we were travelling at 260 km an hour between Florence and Rome.

From Rome to Split for a seven day cruise:

The last leg of our journey was to fly to Split in Croatia to join a seven day cruise of the Dalmatian coast.
We stayed in the most astonishing and stylish hotel room in Split, Trends and House and Garden all rolled into one, and we had the cheapest and tastiest Croatian burgers from the fast food place next to the hotel, plus a bottle of Sprite and four cans of beer for 9 Euros, $18NZ!

Like a Floating Backpackers:

The Croatian cruise was like a floating backpackers, but every day was 30 degrees, we swam in the Adriatic daily, and visited many beautiful towns on the islands of the Dalmatian coast. Dubrovnik, the spectacular walled city did not disappoint, terracotta roofs crammed into the confines of the walls, and the houses of the 1,000 residents separated by narrow winding streets. We enjoyed our succulent fish meal with wine in an alley in old Dubrovnik. We walked the one and a half hour trek around the walls and rewarded ourselves with a gelato which we devoured after climbing 800 steps to the top of the highest fortress.

The local buses were packed:

We survived the ride back to the boat in the bus which was jam packed with locals and tourists, having to squeeze our way out before the bus drove off. There were 43 other people of many Nationalities who bonded on the cruise, a few less than the 2,500 on Celebrity Equinox, but we have made many new friends on both.

The next job is to pick through 6,333 photographs for art subjects, not at all an unpleasant task, watch this space!

Photographs on the Website:

See some photographs on

"Four in the Frame" A Collaborative Exhibition Sept 11 - 19 Dunedin Community Gallery - 22nd Aug 2012

"Four in the Frame" Is "A Must See" Collaborative Exhibition:

Four artists who have inspired one another to stretch themselves and do something a little different will exhibit their work at the Dunedin Community Gallery in Princes Street Opening 5PM on Tuesday September 11 and running to 19 September.

And you are invited to the opening:

This is your invitation to attend the opening of "Four in the Frame" at the Dunedin Community Gallery in Princes Street Opening at 5PM on Tuesday September 11

Who are the four artists? 

Mauri Angelo, Pauline Bellamy, Manu Berry and Ron Esplin.  Pauline will be displaying “Large works from South Island Locations”, Manu a new series of harbour prints celebrating our wild life, and new prints celebrating the birth of his first child, Ron has produced a series of acrylic canvases of the staff of life entitled “Still Loafs”, and Mauri has exercised his multi media skills to portray the land in a new and exciting way.

Printmaking Demonstrations Thursday, Friday, and Monday:

Printmaking Demonstrations will be running on Thursday 13 September, Friday 14 September and
Monday 17 September. This is a great opportunity not only to see the prints that are on display, but also for you to see the process of producing the work. Pauline Bellamy and Manu Berry will be the artists demonstrating their printmaking skills in the Gallery.

See the poster that Manu has made to publicise this event at my website.

Thank you for your continuing interest, and I hope you can make it.

My work will be on display but I apologise for my absence at the opening as I am abroad gathering new ideas, my heartfelt thanks go to my colleagues who are supporting me in this initiative.

Ron Esplin

A sneak preview for you VIP's of Ron Esplin's new Series of watercolours - 25th Jul 2012


Don't you love the smell of the sea?

Edinburgh is my birthplace, but before coming to New Zealand my father Tom was Art teacher at Buckie High School on the Moray Firth in the North of Scotland. The smell of the North Sea left an impression on me, and I have always loved the sea and living close to it.
When we first came to New Zealand it was for a year, followed by another year in Scotland before returning for good as a family to settle here in Dunedin.

Two and a half times round the World in ships:

As a result I travelled one and a half times round the World by ship, then in 1969 I repeated the exercise returning to the UK for a two year OE, again circumnavigating the Globe.
With salt water running through my veins, it was a fantastic experience to return to Scotland in 2008 and revisit the many fishing villages along the East Coast of Scotland. I took as many photographs as I could, and had the satisfaction of often standing on the spot where one or other or both parents had sat to paint these very same scenes.

New series of Scottish Fishing Villages painted with love:

I know I am known for painting local scenes here, but I have started a series of paintings of Scottish fishing villages that you can now enjoy a sneak preview of.
Why don't you see if you can use Google to locate the first three, Findochty, Crail, and Portsoy.
I hope you like my renderings of them, they have been painted with love.

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