Chris Ashton



Besides being a painter with a passion for watercolour, I have been (and still am when the body lets me) a tramper with an equal passion for the New Zealand country side, especially our mountains. I wish I could do them justice.

My involvement with watercolour started many moons ago, when we were taught botanical painting in a Botany degree. Watercolour was the preferred medium, and that works well when tramping as it is very transportable. I always take a minimal pad and paints with me when tramping. It's a good excuse for a rest and takes longer than a photo. Those sketches are a basis for larger paintings, and, most annoyingly, are often better than the ones done in a studio with their spontaneity and feeling of immediacy.

I have no formal training, picking up methods and hints from some very good painters' workshops, reading and on line. I have been lucky enough each year to be invited down to join a group of splendid artists at a Canterbury high country farm. It is a wonderful learning and stimulating experience. I belong to the Auckland Watercolour Society (Treasurer) and the Mangere Bridge Art Group. Over the last ten years, I have sold at local art shows and the Auckland Easter Show with Merit awards and placings also.


Although there is nothing like the transparency and mobility of watercolour it is rewarding to explore other media and try mixed media. Of course canvases are more 'fashionable' and easier to sell, and I have tried watercolour on them. Not very successfully as there is nothing quite like rough good paper for interesting paint movement and colour-mixing on the paper. Wet on wet is so exciting, often with a mind of its own.

I tend to use transparent colours whenever I can (no ochre) The South Island palette is quite different to most of the North Island greens and blues. The following is a list of colours that work well:

Basic- raw sienna- Art Spectrum is good. Basic tussock colour Lemon yellow and/or aureolin

Cadmium or Indian yellow- and/or quinacridone gold

Raw Umber

Burnt sienna

Cadmium red


Cobalt blue

Ultramarine blue


Then the real Canterbury and Otago colours:- Australian Gold, Avignon orange,Dragon's Blood,Garnet Lake, Mars Transparent red (and brown) All of these are Maimere Blu brand of colours- mail order from Brush n Palette, Christchurch. Indigo, Windsor and Newton, is great for storm clouds and S.I. skies.

Cobalt blue needs a touch of raw sienna to tone it down for skies, raw sienna at the horizon.Daniel Smith has an interesting colour Moonglow also good for skies. Most of the greens I like to mix myself but again Daniel Smith does a Perylene Green perfect for fir trees. Cadmium yellow and blue with a little Payne's grey makes a good subdued green for the N.Z. bush.