View Full Version : Oldies but Goodies: Rita Angus Sep19-Oct 2

09-18-2009, 09:21 PM
Hi Everyone ! :wave:

Posting a little early,as it's Anniversary #27 tonight, and Calgary"s annual Art Walk tomorrow & Sunday!:D

And what a better way to whet one's appetite for dinner tonight and the Walk tomorrow than introducing us to a most intriguing artist from New Zealand , RITA ANGUS

CASS ( 1936 )

In the spirit of FAIR USE and citing the use of this image as an important Cultural,Educational and Historical reference,WIKI Commons has uploaded this particular work by her as one representative of her style.
I follow their lead.

This oil painting was selected recently by the majority of her fellow countrymen in a national poll as her signature identifying work of portraying their beautiful and varied home country.

Angus was said to be influenced and inspired by the work of Byzantine, Cubist, Surrealist and Art Deco artists in various phases of her career. Her painting style, as mentioned in the Wikepedia citation below was precise, hard-edged and clear.

As a Canadian I was immediately struck by the seeming resemblance and precision of her brushwork to some of the more abstractionist-leaning members of The Group of Seven Painters, who all had as their main focus the recording of their impressions and visions of the many vistas of their country ......

Yet Angus painted this piece before actually viewing their work in a Tour of Contemporary Canadian Art sponsored by the National Gallery of Canada that came to New Zealand in 1938; 2 years after she completed the work. Her one and only visit to Art Galleries and Museums abroad was when she went to Europe in 1958.

The main concern of Angus was first and foremost to express herself as an artist; and although landscapes are amoung the work she produced; there are also many portraits ; including over 50 of herself, spaced over her lifetime.


The WIKI page refers to other very good sites about Angus , her life, and work.

Rita Angus: Life and Vision /Aug 2009-Nov2009
is an exhibit of her work currently at the National Gallery of New Zealand, TE PAPA.

The exhibition highlights the work of Angus through three distinct artistic periods:
Early Years: 1929-1939
Pacifist Visions: 1938-1958 &
Later Journeys: 1958-1970

The Estate of Rita Angus site
offers a more detailed chronology of the events in her life; and is the main contributor to the National exhibition. Many more works of Angus are displayed there; watercolours and drawings as well as oils.

I found this quote by Angus on the site:

"Art is essentially simple and an expression of emotion. The first duty of an artist is to find beauty in everyday life, to express this for the benefit of all mankind, which is the basis of all art."

One of the most interesting phases in her art was in what the National Gallery TE PAPA calls her Middle period, where she was interested in in the symbols and meanings of myth and womankind.
RUTU ( 1951 ) is a self-portrait of Angus as a mythological Goddess; shown , and briefly written about for us on this site:


What Makes Rita Angus Different?by Janet Paul
is an magazine article that discusses her pacifism during WWII, her individualism and her emerging Feminism from a certain author's point-of-view.

Assuming I read and understood her correctly, I found it particularly interesting that the author left out some salient facts from Angus' ( demonstrably heterosexual ) life......ie. a 4 year affair after her first marriage, and a briefer later liason that left her experiencing the pain of a miscarriage in 1942; ...facts that surely also contributed to her choosing to finally forego marriage &/or motherhood in sole pursuit of her art; philosophical/political convictions notwithstanding.

IMHO, of course!:angel:

09-18-2009, 11:22 PM
Thank you, Chris, for the introduction to this artist. Love her style - so vivid and vibrant! I could imagine dong them in soft pastel too.

Of all her works, I like her pasture lands and mountains the most. The burning shrub one is so good too!

Chris, this link is not working. I'll try it again later on.
http://www.art-newzealand (http://www.art-newzealand/)

09-19-2009, 06:15 AM
I first saw Rita Angus's work in NZ. I lived there for 13 years. I am looking forward to re-discovering her works. Many thanks for this project Chris.

We can do work in the style of....

09-19-2009, 07:13 AM
What a wonderful introduction Chris. I like this artist's style. I know next to nothing about the New Zealand art world, so Rita Angus should be a good start to explore further. :heart:

09-19-2009, 11:01 AM
Sorry for the mis-link!
( musta been delirious with hunger at that point)!


Try this one for The Estate of Rita Angus...just cut and pasted now from the Wikepedia article.

There is a small but varied collection of her work, work of artists influenced by her, and one who influenced her, along with some striking photographs of her ( 25 pieces) from the Auckland Art Gallery


I just agreed to the terms of studying and copying her work....for purposes of personal use or study and was immediatelly accessed into the collection when I just queried her name:clap: :thumbsup: :D

Lucky June!:)
I was only hitching around there for 2 months-long ago and far away- but would go back to see it again tomorrow, if I could!There's so much varied terrain in a short time & distance...a truly very beautiful country!

09-22-2009, 11:17 AM
Here is a real quicky from U-tube...only fifteen seconds.


09-24-2009, 11:17 AM
Read all the links, a very interesting artist.

Here is an inspired by Rita Angus painting in WC and acrylic done in my sketchbook.


09-24-2009, 03:39 PM
Lovely, Janet. I like the sweep of the landscape and the distant mountain range. It is very reminiscent of South NZ, even dowwn to the little buidling (church). Nice portraits too.

I visited the south island a couple of times, but lived in Auckland. The city gallery in Auckland is very good and has lots of touring exhibitions bringing famous artwork from abroad to NZ for viewing. I often wish I was back there acrually.

lovin art
09-25-2009, 07:21 AM
Yes thanks Chris for a look at this artists work, i must admit i have never heard of her, but her work looks very interesting, yes Janet very, lovely painting the colours are dreamy.


09-25-2009, 09:07 AM
Janet, very nice piece. It does have her style! Very descriptive landscape and the people are to.

09-25-2009, 10:21 AM

I hope the image appears..the uploader seems temperamental today.

This is my Rita Angus inspired painting. Its watercolour, 6 by 9 ins. 'June at One tree hill', which is an Auckland landmark. A volcano and the site of a Maori fortress in times past.

I tried to emulate her portrait style. :D

09-25-2009, 12:05 PM
Thank you Sandra and Sandra and June. I think it was a challenge to do her style, though in your painting June, you really captured Rita Angus and New Zealand. You look very happy in your surroundings. Hope you can get back there for a visit. :)

09-25-2009, 02:05 PM
Thanks, Janet. I think I need to practise landscapes, especially clouds in the sky. I coldn't figure out how to get the cloud in watercolour. Maybe it would look better in a heavy medium like acrylics or oils...but that would be such a lot of work. This tiny one took me all day.

I sympathise with Rita Angus when she said she took about 6 years to complete one of her portraits!!!:p

09-25-2009, 02:41 PM

I think I recognize those two portraits! Clever comination to have them together... your rolling landscape colours are so vivid; and that wee church, reminds me too, very much of the landscape there!


It seems in your self-portrait like you're referring to Angus' later period ; I"m reminded of the fine, subtle water-colour she did of herself, her house and other references...you look as contented as she!
Also remember reading how in her portraits she really liked to show, somehow, her subjects' close and important interests...like you showing yourself holding a journal/sketchbook! Serene but happy feel to this...


Apologies, everyone, for not commenting sooner...was 3 days off from work ( should have been 4 )!...with what I found out was quite a bad sinusitus attack/condition ( thought I was developing allergies crossed with a very bad cold )...now on anti-biotics after seeing my doctor and feeling much better!

Typing this from work...as soon as I get home, I"ll be seeing if I can figure out my computer finally, now that I"m up to it- which also lost it's internet connection the last two days!

Here's hoping !



09-26-2009, 12:50 PM
Chris, I'm glad you are back on your feet.

Okay, I'm doing the first piece here based on Sep 25 WDE's (http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/showthread.php?t=585100)photo. Lot of good references over there this week for her style.

5 mins. I have to run out now. When I have time, I'll do more sketches her style and do at least a couple of pieces in soft pastel.

65 lb black cardstock
8.5 x 5.5 inch
Cray Pas Junior Artist Oil Pastel


09-26-2009, 03:40 PM
Second piece. Fleshing out the clouds more. This one might be the one I'll do soft pastel on later for more coloring in her style. I notice she probably only uses a few colors and she mixes them to give a uniform color scheme. It's the same few I used for the first one but switched the blue with purple this time.

65 lb black cardstock
8.5 x 5.5 inch
Cray Pas Junior Artist Oil Pastel

5 mins

09-26-2009, 04:13 PM
Hi Sandra, I love the landscape. Black is good for the background as it lends great atmosphere! Must admit I haven't used OPs for ages. Love the cascading water in the first one. I do love the purples in the second one.:thumbsup:

Chris, hope you are feeling better now.:heart:

09-27-2009, 10:26 PM
:eek::D :thumbsup:
Congrats especially on tackling those impressive Shoshone Falls in the first; and the Snake River vista in the second...you're right-such very clear, detail in those photos to inspire one!
Both your colour schemes appeal and both your portrayals say arid ,rocky canyon land here...
Your observation on Angus' technique gels something in my memory about something she said at some point about using a limited palette to advantage,as well...I believe it was in conjunction with her perception of the strong effect of light on her NZ landscape..

Saw my own light reflection on water and falls on a hike yesterday in one of our Provincial Parks nearby...the trembling aspen is just turning yellow here in Alberta, and likely in Idaho as well!:)

09-28-2009, 02:34 PM
Thank you, Chris, June, for your comments. So she does use only a few colors at one go.

Yellow leaves in Alberta already? It must be beautiful. Wasn't there where Brokeback Mountain was partially filmed?

I haven't tried using the harsher outlines of Angus style yet. I'm wondering how it would turn out. I'm in the process of deciding whether to use oil pastel or soft pastel at the moment for the bigger piece. (Yeah, leave me out for watermedia. It's so taxing altogehter.)

lovin art
09-28-2009, 09:29 PM
Sandra, your landscapes are wonderful i love the feel and look of the dark one, the soft violet purple is a standout for me.

I haven't tried using the harsher outlines of Angus style yet. I'm wondering how it would turn out. I'm in the process of deciding whether to use oil pastel or soft pastel at the moment for the bigger piece. (Yeah, leave me out for watermedia. It's so taxing altogehter.)

I vote the oil pastel:) but thats because i love using them.


10-01-2009, 05:40 PM
Here is the first of the Southwest Challenge for October (http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/showthread.php?t=586147) and I thought it would be perfect in Rita Angus' style.

Yep, Sandra, I followed your advice and used oil pastels.

This the the first time I purposely put outlines on the shapes like her. It does look quite different. I also notice not only she uses a limited palette for each painting, she rarely has sharp lines. Most of her stuff has roundness to it so the grass, I rendered them in round shape.

Cray-Pas Junior Artist Oil Pastel
Strathmore Pastel Paper
Image size: 6.75 x 6.75 inch


Oil pastels is growing on me by the piece especially with this paper. No more inhaling of dust, no paint, no dried brushes. Just smudge with my finger and a stomp. Very liberating.

10-01-2009, 06:31 PM
Great blending of colours, especially like the cool greens and blues in the rounded trees/bushes
( Love to rub stuff with my fingers,too... usually always go back to vine charcoal when I want subtle shadowing...feels sculptural )!:)

10-01-2009, 07:03 PM
Thank you, Chris. Chris, do you use vine charcoal on top of oil pastel?

Here is the second one. I started off copying her color scheme and clouds but my drawing is very small and the clouds refused to cooperate so I started all over again with my own sky and interpretation.

Info same as above
4 x 6.75 inch


I keep forgetting to put outlines but I'm not sure how because this one, I've changed it into white outlines, sort of.

10-02-2009, 12:17 AM
Beautiful landscapes with the OPs. I love them.

10-02-2009, 12:21 AM

Bright and light-hearted!

A#1 Yup...
A fair share of Westerns shot up this-aways...
Brokeback MT, Legends of the Fall and Shanghai Noon....which my kids and I actually stumbled upon on the last shooting day...they'd set up near a historic ghost town we were looking on the back roads for and made a wrong turn onto the set!:)

A#2 I use 'em straight; usually for faces,nudes or plant/still life sketches.....haven't too much experience with oil pastels.
Would think, though, with workable fixative,you could go over an outline sketch with them fairly easily.

10-13-2009, 02:53 PM
I haven't managed to do the perfect smoke as Rita Angus does in her paintings and today, I gave it another try again.

The train is from a reference book on trains and the rest I improvised following Angus' style. I like the smoke but really not sure how to handle mountains and trains. Also not sure about the color green in the hills.

Strathmore Pastel Paper tan color
11x14 inch full size
Cray Pas Junior oil pastel


What if I put more purple and brown all over? This is a photoshopped copy.


10-13-2009, 04:23 PM
I added more dots and darker colors here and there.


10-14-2009, 12:09 AM
Sandra, this last one is good....unusual composition - the train is so linear and the surroundings so curvy and energized

10-14-2009, 06:51 AM
Sandra, you certainly put out a lot of work. I like it all but especially the first two dark landscapes and the trains (great skies)

I have a box of oil pastels that I've never used and I like to see what you do with them...maybe give me incentive to try. :heart:

10-14-2009, 11:27 AM
Thank you, Robin, Janet, for your comments. I'm glad Chris put this artist on because she is inspiring. I'm sure these could have been achieved with oil paint or acrylic too.

Oil pastels is handy and not too dirty. It washes off your fingers quick enough. Sometimes, after using a pencil or pen or brush for a long time, you just need to get your fingers more energetic and rubbing colors in is very therapeutic. That's probably why I like oil pastel more and more, to give my fingers a work out.