Tania Dally

Kapiti abstract Artist

An evolving process creating original, abstract New Zealand paintings

I’ve been painting now since late last century, and my self-created process continues to evolve, as I hope I do : )

What is my work about? Essentially, I paint New Zealand landscapes, but I'm not trying to reproduce the landscapes as they are; instead create an interpretation that goes beyond representation directly to raw emotion. Rather than what it looks like, it's more about what it feels like.

To me it is not the shapes in the landscapes that are important, but the colours and textures. My paintings are made to be touched as well as seen!

In 2009 I visited the Sarjeant Gallery in Whanganui. In the gift shop was a brochure showcasing the work of James Robinson. There was this enormous mural - it must have been several metres high. To this day, no single painting has made such a dramatic impression on me. 

I was blown away at the creativity and raw energy that it contained. Way down near the bottom of the painting was an old wooden hand saw! This revelation completely changed how I wanted to paint, particularly the idea of reusing and revaluing items that others had no more use for.

Seeing James Robinson’s work gave me complete licence to try anything and use all manner of materials to get the story in my head onto canvas.

So I kept experimenting with techniques and materials, and sourced any manner of suitable (and sometimes unsuitable!) things to put on canvas and enjoyed looking at my environment in a slightly different way. 

My inspiration comes mainly from the physical environment, but also from galleries, art books - even Pinterest! I often take photos of scenes that inspire and move me and generally try to absorb and notice as much as I can. 

These random collections evolve into a story, consisting of the images, colours, textures, themes and emotions that the scene communicates to me on a personal level.

Once the story is clear in my mind, I know I’m ready to paint. I paint mostly outside and surround myself in the paint colours, pictures and images I draw on for my ideas. The pieces of work you see on the Art for Sale and Sold Art pages of this website are the result of this process.

Never before have we had at our disposal the plethora of images, colours and interpretations as we have now. Images can be photoshopped, cropped, re-organised and filtered in ways that we could never have imagined even 10 years ago. 

What can I possibly add or say that hasn’t been expressed, exposed or explored by someone else before? 

My interpretation. 

Essentially, that is what I do and what all artists do - filter reality through our imagination and interpretation. 

In the main I use acrylic paints, dyes, inks and varnish. I have used ash, charcoal, sand, salt, coffee and bark and old dried up paint scum in certain pieces. 


I use a good quality, heavy raw canvas I buy by the roll from a New Zealand supplier. I also enjoy experimenting with other media, such as old, iconic New Zealand car bonnets. As with the paint and materials I enjoy giving new life to these faded, but once beautiful and familiar objects, thereby resurrecting that beauty once more.

Whatever surface I am using for a particular piece I prepare it to maximise its longevity, before applying the paint and materials until such time as I decide the work is finished. 

Chance, nature and drying times play a considerable part in the composition of my work. If a moth or mosquito happen upon the surface of my painting, or sand and leaves blow across the surface and stick there, that’s all part of the process. 

I have used the heat of the sun to speed up the drying time and therefore crack the surface revealing other previously obscured colours. I’ve also let ice from a good frost affect the surface in another way. I like that nature plays a role in creating the end product.

In some senses at this point, my own agency as an artist takes a backseat to this studio alchemy; the processes run themselves and I become more of a facilitator of raw imagery.

I love working with others to uncover interpretations of what is special and meaningful to them and those they care about - and to use this process in the creation of customised commissions .

In recent years, I have been lucky enough to hold a number of successful exhibitions and have my work on display in a number of locations and galleries, including the New Zealand Academy of Fine Arts.

This field of work is ever changing and evolving - I consider myself blessed to be able to explore the myriad of possibilities open to me.




Tania  Dally