Reflections of the sea

Fine art screenprinter-painter extraordinaire Tony Ogle gives the Weekender’s Justine Tyerman a lesson in his artform.

Fine art screenprinter-painter extraordinaire Tony Ogle gives the Weekender’s Justine Tyerman a lesson in his artform.

Tony Ogle with his prints of Mitre Rocks at Tolaga Bay and Harataonga Bay on Great Barrier Island.
The vibrant colours of the Mitre Rocks print leap off the canvas.
Crisp, sharp definition is a feature of the Anaura Bay print.
IN PRINT: Top New Zealand printmaker Tony Ogle will run a printmaking workshop in Gisborne next month. At the workshop Ogle will outline his method of turning a painting into a print, and the workshop will cover the process from creating an image through the pre-screen stage to printing. Paint and paper will be supplied. Picture by Liam Clayton
Tony completed a radically different series at the end of last year featuring reptiles, water skiers, Buddhas and parrots.

When I walked into Tony Ogle’s studio, I literally took a step backwards. The visual impact of his work was staggering. The vibrant colours and the crisp, sharp definition of the images leapt off the canvas at me.

The realism took me by surprise. I got caught up inside the paintings, peering through the trees on the hill at the far end of Anaura Bay, our favourite camping spot; sitting amid the tussock, gazing out at the Mitre Rocks at Cook’s Cove; lounging on a couch in a window seat overlooking Harataonga Bay on Great Barrier Island.

Coastal landscapes have long inspired Tony who was born not far from the sea, at Castor Bay in Auckland, and grew up on the North Shore.

“My brother is a mad keen diver, Dad was mad keen on boats and I’m a mad keen surfer. Hence my association with the sea. So it seemed natural to reflect this in my work,” he says.

A highly-regarded screenprint artist and painter who has lived and worked on the east and west coasts of the Auckland and Northland regions for nearly 25 years, Tony and his Italian wife Elena and their two sons Jamie, 8, and Luke, 10, moved to Gisborne in 2009.

Returned to Gisborne for the surf

“I first came here when I was an 18-year-old graphic design student and then returned many times to surf.”

Tony introduced Elena to Gisborne in the summer of 2005 and they soon realised the place had a lot to offer. Not having to be based in Auckland for work, they made plans to move here.

“We live at Wainui now with the beach at our door step — everything we need is here.”

In March last year, Tony bought a 1923 villa in Rutene Road and set about converting it into a studio and gallery. The house renovation project took longer than expected but he now has a spacious gallery, a huge studio, a screen printing area with drying racks that hold 50 prints and ample storage for all his materials.

“The house was well-priced, well-located and had really good bones. It needed a lot of work but I got pleasure out of bringing the place back from its last legs. I might have an exhibition here one day,” he says.

Art was something Tony was strongly drawn to as a youngster. “I was not from an artistic family but I was always drawing as a kid, took all the arty options at high school and then attended a three-year tertiary graphic design course at A.T.I.”

After graduating in 1980, Tony had a brief stint in commercial advertising, and then set about teaching himself screen-printing, an art-form which has become his livelihood.

Screen-printing

“I love screen-printing because it’s very crisp and clean and produces art works that are affordable,” he says. “One of the benefits of screen-printing multiple works is that I can supply galleries all over the country and this has helped me to become a full-time artist.”

The screen-printing process fascinated me so Tony gave me a tutorial, using the Anaura Bay print as an example.

He spent a month painting a master copy of the artwork before transferring each of the 20 colours in stencil form onto clear acetate in readiness for the printing process. It’s a precision operation whereby every layer of paint (one colour per stencil printed individually) must line up perfectly with the colour before or the print is spoiled and rejected. Each colour is dragged across a fine synthetic mesh screen and through the open stencil shape onto the paper with a rubber squeegee, placing the wet prints on racks to dry between each colour application.

The process involved in the Harataonga Bay print was even more complex. To create the shading on the couch and the textured weatherboard walls, Tony applied a thin layer of black and brown paint called a glaze.

“This has a translucent effect which lets colour come through from underneath, creating depth and shadowing.”

There were many incarnations of the master painting before he refined the colours and form to exactly what he wanted to achieve. The result is captivating and the 3D effect had me touching the print to make sure it was in fact flat.

Tony has repeated this motif of the sunlight hitting a window seat or couch a number of times now and these works have sold well. It’s a highly-concentrated, drawn-out process but Tony likes the fact it’s “old-school” — all hand-printed not digital. The prints are limited editions so after 150 to 180 are made, the separations are destroyed.

Different themes

Looking ahead, Tony says he wants to explore some different themes.

“I’m well-known for my coastal landscapes so I won’t turn my back on that. It’s my bread and butter, but I’d like to push out in other directions.

"I completed a radically different series at the end of last year. I wanted to take a break from landscape work and explore some disparate motifs. So I collected some random things from my scrapbook — photos, postcards, pages torn from magazines — and did a series of reptiles, water skiers, Buddhas and parrots, combining screenprinting with hand painting. The prints are round instead of rectangular which is another departure from the norm for me. A gallery is interested in the water skiers so I’ll pursue that project this year.

“Portraiture interests me too, but at the moment I’m just pacing myself. I don’t want to commit to a big exhibition and not be able to follow through at this point in time.”

He is assisted by Elena, his right hand person, who deals with all the galleries and the administration work. This is a time-consuming task and frees up Tony to be productive.

Tony also does some paintings and private commissions “so people know I can actually paint”.

When I walked into Tony Ogle’s studio, I literally took a step backwards. The visual impact of his work was staggering. The vibrant colours and the crisp, sharp definition of the images leapt off the canvas at me.

The realism took me by surprise. I got caught up inside the paintings, peering through the trees on the hill at the far end of Anaura Bay, our favourite camping spot; sitting amid the tussock, gazing out at the Mitre Rocks at Cook’s Cove; lounging on a couch in a window seat overlooking Harataonga Bay on Great Barrier Island.

Coastal landscapes have long inspired Tony who was born not far from the sea, at Castor Bay in Auckland, and grew up on the North Shore.

“My brother is a mad keen diver, Dad was mad keen on boats and I’m a mad keen surfer. Hence my association with the sea. So it seemed natural to reflect this in my work,” he says.

A highly-regarded screenprint artist and painter who has lived and worked on the east and west coasts of the Auckland and Northland regions for nearly 25 years, Tony and his Italian wife Elena and their two sons Jamie, 8, and Luke, 10, moved to Gisborne in 2009.

Returned to Gisborne for the surf

“I first came here when I was an 18-year-old graphic design student and then returned many times to surf.”

Tony introduced Elena to Gisborne in the summer of 2005 and they soon realised the place had a lot to offer. Not having to be based in Auckland for work, they made plans to move here.

“We live at Wainui now with the beach at our door step — everything we need is here.”

In March last year, Tony bought a 1923 villa in Rutene Road and set about converting it into a studio and gallery. The house renovation project took longer than expected but he now has a spacious gallery, a huge studio, a screen printing area with drying racks that hold 50 prints and ample storage for all his materials.

“The house was well-priced, well-located and had really good bones. It needed a lot of work but I got pleasure out of bringing the place back from its last legs. I might have an exhibition here one day,” he says.

Art was something Tony was strongly drawn to as a youngster. “I was not from an artistic family but I was always drawing as a kid, took all the arty options at high school and then attended a three-year tertiary graphic design course at A.T.I.”

After graduating in 1980, Tony had a brief stint in commercial advertising, and then set about teaching himself screen-printing, an art-form which has become his livelihood.

Screen-printing

“I love screen-printing because it’s very crisp and clean and produces art works that are affordable,” he says. “One of the benefits of screen-printing multiple works is that I can supply galleries all over the country and this has helped me to become a full-time artist.”

The screen-printing process fascinated me so Tony gave me a tutorial, using the Anaura Bay print as an example.

He spent a month painting a master copy of the artwork before transferring each of the 20 colours in stencil form onto clear acetate in readiness for the printing process. It’s a precision operation whereby every layer of paint (one colour per stencil printed individually) must line up perfectly with the colour before or the print is spoiled and rejected. Each colour is dragged across a fine synthetic mesh screen and through the open stencil shape onto the paper with a rubber squeegee, placing the wet prints on racks to dry between each colour application.

The process involved in the Harataonga Bay print was even more complex. To create the shading on the couch and the textured weatherboard walls, Tony applied a thin layer of black and brown paint called a glaze.

“This has a translucent effect which lets colour come through from underneath, creating depth and shadowing.”

There were many incarnations of the master painting before he refined the colours and form to exactly what he wanted to achieve. The result is captivating and the 3D effect had me touching the print to make sure it was in fact flat.

Tony has repeated this motif of the sunlight hitting a window seat or couch a number of times now and these works have sold well. It’s a highly-concentrated, drawn-out process but Tony likes the fact it’s “old-school” — all hand-printed not digital. The prints are limited editions so after 150 to 180 are made, the separations are destroyed.

Different themes

Looking ahead, Tony says he wants to explore some different themes.

“I’m well-known for my coastal landscapes so I won’t turn my back on that. It’s my bread and butter, but I’d like to push out in other directions.

"I completed a radically different series at the end of last year. I wanted to take a break from landscape work and explore some disparate motifs. So I collected some random things from my scrapbook — photos, postcards, pages torn from magazines — and did a series of reptiles, water skiers, Buddhas and parrots, combining screenprinting with hand painting. The prints are round instead of rectangular which is another departure from the norm for me. A gallery is interested in the water skiers so I’ll pursue that project this year.

“Portraiture interests me too, but at the moment I’m just pacing myself. I don’t want to commit to a big exhibition and not be able to follow through at this point in time.”

He is assisted by Elena, his right hand person, who deals with all the galleries and the administration work. This is a time-consuming task and frees up Tony to be productive.

Tony also does some paintings and private commissions “so people know I can actually paint”.

Capturing the essence

Highly-regarded in art circles, Sharon Wilson, former owner of Flagstaff Gallery in Devonport, Auckland is one of many admirers and buyers of Tony’s work.

“Tony has an unerring ability to capture the essence of iconic Kiwi landscapes in compositions and colour that bring to life the rugged beauty of New Zealand’s coastal landscapes,” says Sharon. “His works are hung in homes and offices in many countries around the world — many bought by homesick expatriate Kiwis, but many purchased by visitors to this country who see Tony’s works as encapsulating the scenic delights of their travels here.”

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Samantha - 2 years ago
Beautiful work, as always! Tony's work makes any home look wonderful.

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