Above: New Zealand artist Vanessa Redfern with some of her paintings.
Vanessa Redfern has a way of capturing beauty with crystal clear precision. Her brushstrokes are blended so finely that they are often not discernible to the eye - yet her paintings glow with depth, softness and a gentleness of tone that is somehow very painterly.
This is local painting at its finest and it’s hard to believe that Vanessa only picked up a brush eight years ago. A Northlander from the age of ten, Vanessa dabbled in painting as a child but gave it up when she felt her efforts were ‘quite hideous’ compared to the beauty she longed to reflect.
‘It took me thirty-eight years to find my calling’, Vanessa shares in her quiet-spoken way, ‘It was actually there all along, I just didn’t know it’.
Some of her inspirations include the work of local palette-knife artist Nemesh, and internationally renowned Akiane Kramarik. Like Akiane’s paintings, Vanessa’s paintings have a spiritual grounding and resonance that is inescapable.
When asked how she learned to paint at the age of 38, Vanessa replies ‘The world would say that I’m self-taught, but the truth is God spoke to me while I painted and taught me how’.
In 2010, while working as a cleaner, Vanessa saw a lot of amateur art on the walls of people’s homes, and felt drawn to try painting. Unable to afford professional lessons, Vanessa called a friend who knew how to paint and did a casual garage lesson where she created a self-described ‘hideous’ painting of grapes. She then bought materials and carried on painting at home: ‘I applied paint to the canvas until it looked right’.
For the first two years of her painting journey, Vanessa used acrylics but grew frustrated because it was difficult to blend the fast-drying medium to achieve the effects she wanted. She switched to oils, took a class, and ‘went home with God to play’, allowing her spectacular style to evolve. When she’s fired up, some painting sessions last up to 10 or 12 hours a day; some paintings have taken around 100 hours to complete.
When asked what she wants people to gain from her work, she replies ‘I want my viewers to see light, glory and beauty at its highest level. My goal is to create the brightest, shiniest, radiant, most colour-filled painting ever’. Vanessa’s paintings often depict the stunning tones and shapes of nature – flowers, landscapes, sunsets. In addition to her realist paintings, she is also exploring a more surreal style with ‘prophetic art’ – depicting visions or impressions that God has given her.
As soon as she began this painting, the areas of Vanessa's life that had been devastated were 'starting to prosper' again.
Unsurprisingly, Vanessa cites her biggest inspiration as ‘God Himself...I want to capture what He has already created' - after all, 'Nobody paints a sky like God does.’ Vanessa’s encouragement to anyone following their dream is ‘We’re happiest being ourselves - our true self. Wherever our passion lies is where we’ll be the most fulfilled and where we’ll have the most impact in the world.’
To see more of Vanessa Redfern’s art, check out her Facebook page: Redfern Art or email her for queries: firstname.lastname@example.org. Some of her paintings are also featured in The Gallery and Cafe at Helena Bay Hill, 1392 Old Russell Road, Whangarei.
- Article by Alicia Leitch
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