NZ CRUISING WORKSHOP

On Feb. 7, Artists Greg Allan and Amanda Hyatt joined me on board the Sun Princess to take 60 painters on a cruising workshop around New Zealand.

I had never been on a cruise ship before and could not believe the scale and efficiency of this floating giant. With 2000 guests and 900 staff, I imagined long cues for everything , but I’d never seen anything run so smoothly!

We sailed from Sydney to the Bay of Islands then hopped our way down the East Coast of New Zealand, stopping at all the major ports.


Anchored in the Bay of Islands, we were ferried ashore by the ships tenders


Our first day painting ashore was in the small town of Russell in the Bay Of Islands. A sunny day under a shady tree with cafes and bakeries close by – what luxury!


Painting on board was in the large, plastic wrapped disco with panoramic ocean views.


On board demos took students through a number of techniques we would use once ashore.


On board Hawkesbury River demo, showing how to simplify a complex subject.


We found a busy boatyard on Auckland Harbor and spent a day painting there. They say Auckland has more boats per head of population than any other city in the world.


Napier was an interesting town – destroyed by earthquake in 1931 then completely rebuilt in the Art Deco style. It has been proudly maintained in that style ever since

We spent an afternoon painting in the central park, the interesting architecture and tall palms making great subjects

A warm sunny day greeted us in the beautiful city of Christchurch. This is the side door to Christchurch cathedral. It is hard to believe, just a week later the city was hit by a devastating earthquake. The cathedral spire crashing to the ground where we painted.


One of the few bad weather days on the workshop. Dunedin was overcast, cold and windy, but it somehow added to the character of this old tug and the jetty below.

Fiordland on the southern tip of New Zealand was spectacular in the early morning mist. Later in the day we sailed into Milford Sound. The clouds had lifted and the sun was shining. It looked amazing, but I cant help wondering what it would have looked like through mist and rain. Some things need lousy weather to look their best.

Milford Sound

For our final demo Greg, Amanda and I worked simultaneously on this large, three sheet painting. The finished work was auctioned for charity and the winning bidder kindly donated it to be hung on board the Sun Princess.

Life on board a cruise ship is pretty luxurious, good food, amazing service, lots of entertainment, bars and restaurants everywhere. Would I do another cruising workshop? You bet!

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24 thoughts on “NZ CRUISING WORKSHOP

  1. Looks like such a great time! So glad you guys were not sitting there painting when the church steeple came tumbling down. Such a sad thing. I love your painting of the church door. Funny I was just wondering the other day why I had not received any blog posts from you lately. Love your work so it’s always nice too see it. Linda

    • I echo Linda’s comment re not getting any blog posts. I wondered if you’d had probs with the shocking weather in Queensland (I got a lot of info from a friend in Brisbane), so it was a relief to get news of your latest exploits – although with the dreadful happenings in Christchurch it did seem to me that you’d almost gone out of the frying pan into the fire!

      Excellent fresh work as always – even in lousy weather.
      Arthur. Suffolk, England

      • Hi Arthur,
        Thanks for your comments and sorry about the gap in posts. We were lucky to miss the floods and cyclones here, and fortunately, were not in Christchurch a week later.
        Cheers
        John

    • Hi Linda,
      Thanks for the comments.
      Sorry about the gap in posts – I’ve been busy working on another project – nothing to do with painting – will put up details soon
      Cheers
      John

  2. Wow………..looks like it was an amazing trip………What can I say about the paintings…….Loveit Loveit Loveit………..
    How lucky you all must feel having seen Christchurch in all its beauty…….now after the devasting earthquake this week the painting of the church door must mean soooooooo much to us all…….
    Keep up the wonderful work….
    Cheers Tricia Ross Bridgetown Western Australia……..

    • Thanks Tricia,
      Yes, It was such a nice place and a great day painting – couldn’t imagine something like that would happen in a weeks time.
      Cheers
      John

  3. Your paintings are gorgeous – vibrant and lively. The cathedral window done in Christchurch is particularly affecting when you think about later happenings. I am so glad the workshop was successful and that you are all safe. And that you were able to complete such exquisite work while enjoying your students and the beauty of NZ.

    • Thanks Linda,
      Glad you liked the paintings. I’d love to spend more time in New Zealand, it really is a beautiful place.
      Cheers
      John

  4. Hi John,
    I’m so glad you posted to your blog once again. We read about the flooding up your way and hoped that you were spared. Now to read about your just missing the earthquake in Christchurch… you’ve been a lucky man.
    The cruise workshop sounds like great fun. I enjoyed seeing your photos.

    • Hi Jo,
      Thanks for your comments and concern – we have been very lucky to miss all the disasters going on around us.
      Sorry about the lack of posts lately. Ive been tied up with another project. Will post details soon.
      Cheers
      John

  5. I was thinking as I viewed the wonderful paintings you were gracious enough to share with us how great it was that you were able to paint in Christchurch before it was damaged. It is remarkable how the Lord works!

  6. Your work is FANTASTIC!! I love the simplicity and color of your work–each one brings the viewer right into the scene!

    You mentioned that you showed your students how to simplify a complicated scene. Any chance you would do a demo and post on Wet Canvas?

    I enjoyed your Italy trip, also!

    Thanks for sharing!

    • Hi Linda,
      Thanks for your comments. I will try and put something up on wet canvas sometime soon.
      I had trouble last time I attempted to upload an article, but will give it another go.
      Cheers
      John

  7. Thanks John for a most enjoyable week on the cruise ,i also loved every moment of it and would enjoy doing it again.Great pics and paintings.Will send photo by e-mail.

  8. Hi John, Interesting to read this post! I had met both Amanda and Greg at their workshops given at ‘Minya’ in Victoria when we lived there in 2001. We’re living back in Canada now. I’ll bet it was wonderfully fun to host a workshop with them both, you all are such excellent painters! Love the boatyard Auckland harbour, and the one of Napier. zingy and joyful.

    • Thanks Sally,
      It was a great workshop. The first time I had done one with two other artists and it worked out really well.
      Greg and Amanda are both really enthusiastic, so we all worked hard and had a lot of fun. Beautiful country too!
      Cheers
      John

  9. S’mores (microwave version): Layer graham cracker, marshmallow; heat 10 seconds; layer on chocolate, another graham cracker. Eat. (Per my daughter, Samantha.)

    Your workshop was a wonderful learning experience and a great pleasure. Looking forward to trying out a ‘roo brush!

    Tim (Dillman’s workshop)

    • Hi Tim,
      Pass on our thanks to Samantha – thats probably one of the most important comments I have received.
      If they don’t have Graham crackers in Australia I’m going to put the roo brush on hold and start an import business!
      Great to meet you and glad you enjoyed the workshop.
      Cheers
      John

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