The landscape surrounding Bee Doughty-Pratt’s home, which is perched high on the banks of the Otaki River, an hour north of Wellington, would inspire any artist and provides a marvellous setting for a studio. In 2014 the ‘Scape Sculpture Park opened on this 5 acre property featuring the wonderful outsize, outdoor sculptures of several well-known New Zealand sculptors.
Bee paints here full-time — producing vibrant works in demand from galleries and buyers throughout the country. “Mostly I paint abstract seascapes and landscapes in oils and inks — on large canvases usually at least one metre square and often much larger. I work on several canvases at once, coming back to each one repeatedly to continue the layers over a period of weeks until each is complete.”
“Water in some form or other features in virtually every canvas I paint … river water, lake water, sea water – all abstract water. This has to have something to do with life’s inevitable ebb and flow – sometimes overwhelmingly powerful, sometimes infinitely peaceful. I am also all about colour. I love colour and try to use it to capture the feelings or emotions behind these ‘scapes — the essence of the seascapes and landscapes, real or imagined, rather than the actual detail.”
Although Bee has had a lifelong interest in art, the route to becoming a full time artist has been a long one. From college art classes in the Manawatu to selling her early paintings in Wellington city, this interest was set aside in favour of a career in the computer industry. “Finally selling my business allowed me to refocus on painting. My studio is a revamped garden shed with plenty of light, a lot of white wall space and at least three easels in residence at any one time. When the roller door is up, it has magnificent river views right down the Otaki Forks river gorge and now of course the beautiful sculptures add something extra to this wild and wonderful landscape. It is freezing in my shed in winter but this doesn’t stop me. Every day painting is a pleasure – I even like cleaning my brushes.”
Bee’s artwork can be viewed at many galleries including Mobile Art Gallery, 23 Edwin Street, Mt Eden, Auckland.