Nicole Sutherland is following in her parents’ footsteps in multiple ways.
The 29-year-old has returned to her hometown of Oamaru after several years exploring the world. She and her fiance, Kyle Thompson-Connell, have bought a house to settle down in and are about to get married.
Ms Sutherland is working full-time with her father, Graeme, and mother, Raewyn, in the business started by her grandfather, Sutherlands Mens & Ladies Wear.
She has also set up the NJD art gallery next door, which sells works by herself and her mother.
Both women are largely self-taught artists. Mrs Sutherland said she “just mucks around” with painting, and finds it “relaxing”.
She has been commissioned to do some pieces but found herself painting things she would not otherwise have touched.
“I don’t want to do it again.”
Ms Sutherland took art at St Kevin’s College but did not study it at tertiary level “because I didn’t see a job at the end of it”.
“I’ve always played around with it, trying new things.
“It’s good for mental health.”
Whereas she used to work mostly in acrylics, she was now using inks and pencil.
“After a while, I get the urge to do something different.
“You can never get perfect.”
Digital enhancements of some of her images of Oamaru’s historic buildings are displayed in the window, thanks to experiments she has been enjoying with newly acquired technology.
New Zealand flora and fauna also feature in many of the pieces.
Pet portraits have become something of a signature for Ms Sutherland and demand for them is increasing.
However, that demand was “definitely not consistent enough” to allow her to give up her day job a regular income was needed.
“I would love it to be a full-time thing.”
Pricing the artworks was difficult, she said. They had to be cheap enough to be affordable for customers, yet lucrative enough to make it worthwhile for herself and her mother to put their time into them.
Ms Sutherland pops into the gallery, where the initials stand for Nicole Joy Design, whenever she can find the time.
“I often go there on a Saturday morning and have a bit of a draw.”