Natural talent . . . Artist Phil Macgregor gets his inspiration for his work mostly from nature. PHOTO: ASHLEY SMYTH

Former art teacher Phil Macgregor is enjoying the “vibe” of Oamaru, after moving here to retire.

Macgregor finished teaching in Balclutha and Milton about three years ago, and this year has taken over the space upstairs from the Harbour St Collective Cafe, once occupied by fellow artist, and brother, Kit.

Macgregor was drawn to Oamaru in part because his brother was here, but also because “it’s an attractive place to come to”.

“It’s a bit drier than Clutha was, and there’s a good vibe – artistic, sort of.”

Part of the beauty of being above the cafe was easy access to the Tuesday morning drawing sessions Macgregor took part in, he said. A group of artists would take turns to draw each other and have a coffee at the same time.

“There’s quite a group of us. We take it in turns – sit about half an hour, and everybody 0else draws that person, and then somebody else has a turn.”

Fellow Oamaru artist Luzette Crossan, who shares the upstairs space, is also part of the group, and said Macgregor was generous with his knowledge of sketching. Predominantly an oil painter, Crossan was enjoying learning a new skill, without critique or judgement.

The upstairs space had been used by artists for a “number of years”, before the cafe was operating, Macgregor said.

“It is a good space. It’s got a good feel about it.”

There was a “reasonable” amount of natural light from the big windows, but the artist said he did not use the space “nearly enough”.

“I’m just trying to get into a routine of coming up here daily, but it hasn’t happened yet.”

Macgregor’s work adorns the walls of the upstairs space, and is available to buy.

He tends towards drawing and painting, but is also eyeing up a redundant press for some woodblock printing.

“I might get back into that again. It’s another direction to go in from drawing.”

Macgregor found most of the inspiration for his art from the natural world.

“Gardens in particular – botanical gardens.”

He was even thinking he might use a plant or two from his upstairs neighbour Vivian Lee’s Formosa Botanic as his next subject.