Through each of his artworks, Dave Kingan hopes to inspire people and evoke feelings of happiness and joy.
The changing landscape of the countryside, water quality, biodiversity issues and the unpredictable powers of nature inspire some of the Oamaru artist’s work, while other paintings are often just an exploration of paint, with flora, land and seascapes as his favourite subject matter.
“Even though a lot of my paintings do have a darker undertone about, I guess, the state of our environment and some of our social problems, I would like for people to take happiness and joy from them, because the world needs more of that,” he said.
“Sometimes I’m feeling so passionate about something that I want people to really question their choices, then on the opposite side I just want people to be brightened up from a bright colourful work.
“I also feel like problems can’t be solved on the level they’re created, and people can’t be told what to do – they need to be in a good place and be inspired to make change, or to be well in the world.”
Kingan (31) is an artist, an apprentice builder and a keen gardener, with a lifelong love of the outdoors.
He is one of several artists and creators welcoming people into their studios next week, as part of the Meet the Maker fundraiser tour for Fenwick School.
“I love making art, but it’s a very private and solitary act.
“It’s made to be shared, and I’m looking forward to letting people in to be part of the process.”
Kingan grew up in rural North Otago and has loved art since he was a child.
“I’ve always loved drawing, loved being able to create something out of nothing,” he said.
“Since I was a kid, I loved drawing horses, and animals and plants, and just life around me and my interpretation of it.”
At Enfield and Weston primary schools, he always looked forward to art classes, and he also took art as a subject at Waitaki Boys’ High School. He went on to study at the Dunedin School of Art, but dropped out in his second year.
“I got quite depressed during that year and just realised I wasn’t inspired at all,” he said.
His inspiration came from the outdoors, so he went on to work for the Department of Conservation, then in nurseries and gardens.
“Slowly my inspiration to create started coming back in full force,” he said.
After living in Nelson for seven years, he went travelling, and spent two years working in the UK.
“[I] also found it really inspiring for art, drawing especially, with the old buildings and the different mood of the weather,” he said.
When his mother and father wanted to start self-building their dream retirement house, he decided to move back to New Zealand to be part of the journey and start his building apprenticeship.
“I really value my dad’s creativity and practical skills, I thought it would be a really amazing opportunity to come back to Oamaru and learn from him,” he said.
“So I came back in September 2018, thinking that I would stay for a short while, do some building work with dad and then go travelling again.
“But almost as soon as I returned I realised how beautiful this area is and the connection I have to the place.”
He was welcomed back to the community by other “amazing artists and craftspeople”, and that connection had been critical in the development of most of his creative projects, he said.
“I feel very privileged to be part of a small group of amazingly accomplished artists and craftspeople who openly support each other and inspire.
“Everyone’s got something different to offer and everyone’s really strong in their opinions, and so supportive in that way, knowing what they know and not being afraid to share it.”
Kingan mostly uses acrylic on canvas, and loves playing with colour.
”A lot of my work is design-based. There’s the structured design, graphic focus there’s the more expressive work,” he said.
“And then there’s everything in between, and quite often a lot of my paintings are in between.”
At present, he has art for sale at Art on Tyne, and is also working on logo and mural designs for local companies.
“I generally always have something that I am working on. That might sit for a few weeks, or a month, even, while I’m distracted by other things, but making art is always part of my life.”
He has exhibited at Crafted in Oamaru’s Victorian precinct in the past, and will have art for sale next Saturday, for the Meet the Maker event.
He also posts images of his work online, mostly on Instagram.
“I love having the option to put up my work on an online platform and get it out there and get feedback and share the story of why I created it, because quite often that’s not initially visible, just by looking at the work.”
While he had thought about making art a full-time career, one thing he took away from his experience at the Dunedin School of Art was the importance of having a balance between physical work and creative art work.