Collette Fergus - Waikato Print


A long artistic heritage almost guaranteed Collette would have an interest in art and so it proved. Collette began painting young, at 11 she sold her first artwork, a watercolour of Mount Taranaki/Egmont. At 17 she had her first solo exhibition in Auckland.

Known for her modern, contemporary work, Collette has two distinct styles: her serious, abstract work, and a fun, contemporary range that includes an increasingly infamous character - the Boozehag. 

Collette works in acrylics, attracted by their quick drying properties and the ability to incorporate texture. She uses bright, funky colours on any subject that sparks her imagination. Texture remains important and Collette uses anything from pumice and black sand to artist quality texture mediums.

Picasso, Dali and Kandinsky have latterly influenced her style.
Her artworks sell worldwide, including in Britain, Germany, Russia, USA, Canada, Spain and Australia, as well as from galleries throughout New Zealand.

Collette finds painting extremely rewarding and puts her heart and soul into it. She finds it most satisfying to portray emotions and feelings on canvas in a visual communication. 

To view Collette's gallery page 
click here


Here are a few questions I asked Collette…

What factors in your life do you believe played a significant part in you becoming an artist?
I was lucky enough to live next door to other artists growing up and they helped nurture the artist in me. Although I had several artists in my extended family it wasn't considered to be a good path for me and I wasn't encouraged to pursue it as such so I believe I became an artist because of the burning desire to paint more than anything else.

What process do you tend to follow when creating a new piece of art? 
A Lot of thought intially goes into the creation of each piece, in fact I beleive more time is spent planning a work than actually creating it. I always carry a pad and pencil around so I can sketch things up quickly if an idea materialises. They dont always make it onto canvas and often some dont become paintings until much later on. I try to always have a selection of canvas's ready to go but as some tend to be special sizes its not always the case. If Im feelnig a bit uninspired I will gesso a canvas just to get into the flow, even if its not the one I intend on working on at the time! Mentally I need to be in the right head space to paint and usually prefer to work alone in silence.

Where do you seek inspiration for your art, what inspires you?
Inspiration comes from all around me, but I guess my main source comes from life experiences. Most of my art tends to have a hidden message or story about something that is on my mind at the time. I like to keep it sutle but sometimes it screams the message at you! I believe art should tell a story to some degree, after all it is our way (Us artists) of communicating as in visual rather than written for example.

What is your favourite colour and why?
I adore the colour red because I see it as passionate and vibrant, it sings to me and is bright and bold which I think reflects a bit of my personality. I did read somewhere that some red paints will fade to nothing over the years which explains the relative dullness in some really old pieces, it makes me a little sad that it happens as what do we miss from its disappearance in some art, and will it affect my message in years to come if it fades from my artwork?

What is your favourite creative tool?
Definitely the brush and usually a filbert, I like its shape because its soft and versatile, you can use it on its edge if you want a clean line or flat for softening. I know I should use other brushes and I do but sometimes when youre in the moment that's usually what Ill have in my hand!

What are the most interesting things you have done or that have happened to you that have contributed to your art career?
Having children and what they mean to me as a mother My own childhood and its trials and tribulations Going to see the Picasso exhibition in the early 80s, my skin virtually prickled and although working in realism at the time I became interested in Picasso's work and started in a new direction of painting. Meeting other artists who have inspired me and made me feel what I do and what I am is 'normal'

What do you love about being an artist?
Being able to 'talk' via my art and just that feeling you get when you are able to portray what you want to onto a canvas. Being an artist is not something i can control, I simply am and its like the need to breath, I need to paint and it makes my soul happy.

What exhibitions are you most proud of?
All my exhibitions make me feel proud, the sense of completion and the drive to get the artworks done. Being able to exhibit with other artists makes me just as proud as my solo shows but probably my latest show called 'It's all about Me.....ow!' which was all wacky cat portraits.

What professional and personal obstacles have you overcome to get where you are today?
 Learning the art of business was hard at first. i was lucky enough to find a course with the people I now work for today teaching other artists how to make their art a business, all that nbookwork, tax and accounting stuff has become second nature now. 

What essential lessons have you learned from any mistakes?
Dont sell every single pice of work you create and use good quality materials.

What training/education you have completed, and what did you gain from those experiences?
I learnt to paint from the two different neighbours who were artists however my dear Uncle Paul who  lived in Wanganui and who sadly passed away recently taught me how to look at things with a painter's eyes, I never forgot that lesson and I dont think he even realised what impact that on me, I was only about 10 years old at the time. I like to think of myself as predominantly self taught as most of my skills have been created by trial and error. Im still learning and find that working with other artists in the studio occassionally i pick up more tips! I did go to a night school class for painting as a teenager but that also was mainly about a group getting together and making time to paint, so we all bounced ideas off each other and helped each other with thnigs.

What associations are you associated with and in what ways? How does each organisation contribute to your art career or personal development?
I work for a company called Artsbiz Ltd, we teach artists business skills like marketing, career development and basic accounting skills etc. We work with Winz for the Pace programme where we teach artists on benefits, business skills and help them with their career choices. Keepnig my skills upto date and ideas fresh means I am always learning new stuff that helps me with my career. I also work an art gallery where I co manage and curate exhibitions for other artists, its a good way to learn new skills and meet influential people to my own career. I have learnt how things work on the other side of the business so it helps with my career in many ways.

How do you spend your time outside the studio, including hobbies, interests, sports, family?
I make wine as a hobby since my art is now my career! Its an added benefit in that I can supply my own shows with good quality wine for next to no cost! It doesnt take up too much time which is something Im always short on but its fun and has a great end result! I also have two beautiful teenage daughters who often appear in my paintings and a wonderful husband who i enjoy spending time with travelling and just simply having fun with! We are all close and great friends! My husband teaches martial arts which I did for many years but sport isnt a big interest for me these days, I go to the gym for fitness on a regular basis!

In what ways are you making a difference in people's lives?
I like to think I can help by teaching others how to avoid pit-falls that I learnt from! Being able to show others too that you can be an artist and a successful one is important also as there is still that stigma that art isnt a real job out there.

Why is art an important part of our everyday lives?
Funnily enough I just attended a lecture on this last week. Art is important in many ways that some people dont even realise, the best way to sum it up that  try to imagine the world without any music hpw bland it would be, never mind the paintings and sculptures etc. Art is everywhere just think of architecture for instance! 

What creative ideas and plans are in the pipeline for the next 12 months?
My art is going through a dark phase at present, I feel the need to talk about stuff I have been through as a child and how certain traumas affected me which still have repercussions to this day. I plan to exhibit the work in a solo show. I also will continue to enter competitions which is something i never really did before. As someone once said to me, 'you cant win if youre not in' so I hope to find some time to keep this up as thie past few months of donig so I have been lucky enough to make it into the finals for each one Ive entered and won 'highly commended' at one!

If you were not an artist, what would you be? 
I cant imagine being anything but an artist! 

Who is your favourite Artist, and why? 
Magritte. I love surrealism and I came across his work when I had written and drawn up a range of ideas, on checking the internet I was shocked to see he had already been there and done that with 90% of my ideas and he had done then so well at that! I admire anyone who paint something that isnt there as in able to use their imagination!

Do you buy other artists work? If so who?
Yes, but mainly swapping of work, I like to have others work on my walls so i cant sell it and end up with blank walls like I do with my own. I tend to buy local artists work and friends.

Why do you think people should buy your work?
I like to think people buy my work because it speaks to them. I think it a painting moves you you should buy it. Im not sure if people should buy my work because I would like them to, even if I never sold another piece it wouldnt stop me creating, the selling of it and making money is just an added bonus really.But in saying that I love the fact that people are inspired to buy it and Im humbled by thier appreciation of it.