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It's in the name . . . Jackie Bird has always been drawn to her namesakes and during lockdown is painting a bird a day. On days when a New Zealander dies from Covid-19, the paints a kiwi. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

Oamaru is teeming with artistic talent, often tucked away in solitary splendour with or without the lockdown, so we are prising open studio doors to meet the creative people inside. This week’s artist is Jackie Bird, who has moved from Nelson to Oamaru.

Q What sort of art do you create?

I try and paint what’s around me in nature. I’m more of a traditionalist than an abstract painter.

I prefer oils but also paint using watercolour and acrylic.

Q Do you have formal training or are you more self-taught?

Definitely self-taught.

Q How long have you been involved in this art?

I’ve been painting since childhood. But now that I’ve retired I’m enjoying being able to paint when I like. I have a studio in the back garden that has given me the freedom to paint whenever I want to.

Currently I’ve taken on a personal goal of completing a painting a day and putting it up on my Facebook page. This has helped keep me focused in this lockdown period and remembering that we all need to be kept positive. My chosen theme is watercolour paintings of birds on music paper, which is something I’ve been doing for quite some time.

Q What is its appeal to you?

What I like about these little paintings is that they have become a signature of Jackie Bird Artist. I’ve always been drawn to paint birds, nests, feathers, nature.

Sometimes we overlook the simple beauty that surrounds us.

Q Do you experiment with new approaches and techniques?

Yes, I love trying out new ideas and I like to have a theme running through my work, whether it is gold leaf with oils or painting on linen from the past that has been forgotten about.

I also love painting animals, especially dogs. I’ve painted our own dogs, plus I’ve been asked by friends to paint their loved pets, too. Just love painting dogs.

Q Are you planning to branch out into other artforms?

Watch this space. I have some great ideas that I want to try out.

Q How does your art fit into the rest of your life – is it purely for relaxation, do you earn income from it, are you aiming to make it a career?

My art is purely for relaxation and the joy of being able to create something that gives others pleasure. I have had bad health and that has made me realise how precious time is and we shouldn’t waste it.

So in short, art makes me happy and I feel lucky to have that ability to put my ideas into life.

Q How responsive is the local community to artists and their art?

I have been lucky to have joined the local North Otago Art Society and being part of this group, doing time in the gallery and talking to the people coming in, I now realise how much the tourists enjoy seeing what we do.

To have the gallery, the Customs House as our own, I know we are very lucky.

I also appreciate local outlets allowing me to showcase my work at their premises.

Q If you could design a perfect world, what role would art play?

I don’t know how to answer that but if my art gives joy – and at the moment with my daily paintings the comments I’ve received and calls from people telling me how seeing the daily posts on Facebook make them feel happy – well, that’s enough for me.

Making people happy and giving them joy; what more can one ask for. My job’s done, I’d say.