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Wilson Owen’s lifelong interest in abstract art takes shape

11 Mar 2020

It was only after spending years as a journalist with TVNZ and the Seven and Ten Networks in Australia that Wilson Owen picked up a paint brush at 68 years old. 

“I had a lifelong interest in abstract art with work taking me to places like NYC, Los Angeles and London regularly. I always tried to take time out to visit the great galleries,” he shares. 

Finding himself having intense emotional responses when standing in front of the greats created by Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko and Helen Frankenthaler, it was clear to Wilson his heart was in the arts. 

“In retirement I found I had the time to have a crack at it and discovered people actually like my paintings and want to buy them, which came as a bit of a surprise,” he says. Starting with lessons at Estuary Arts Centre in Orewa, Wilson soon found success with his first solo exhibition in 2018, which sold about 60 per cent of his works – a gallery record for a solo show!

Inspired by Jackson Pollack and leading contemporary abstraction artists like Oscar Murillo and Gerhard Richter, Wilson’s works revolve around acrylic on canvas, highlighting the vivid landscapes and colours of the Hibiscus Coast where he resides. His natural talent for painting is evident through his bold and colourful works, created with Resene testpots. 

“I find they are superb for large abstract painting, offering an excellent colour range that are often more striking with better colour density. They’re also more affordable than some of the studio acrylic products available,” says Wilson.

After his first exhibit—an explosion of colour and emotion—became a hit, Wilson moved onto his next collection for a new show despite having less than four years painting experience. He just launched his second solo exhibition which feature works created using Resene paints. One of his latest pieces titled ‘Ponsonby Trash’ shows just how far passion, talent (and the right paint products) can get you. Featuring bold Resene Wham, Resene Turbo and Resene Astra, it’s an eye-catching abstract that demands attention. 

Speaking about his current Resene favourites, Wilson lists Resene Alabaster, Resene Quarter Bianca and Resene Lochmara – all heavily used throughout his collections. “I use Resene Alabaster all the time and I love Resene Lochmara for its solidity yet vividness that leaps off the canvas,” he says.

Wilson used a range of Resene colours for ‘Burst’ (left) and ‘1968’ (right), including Resene Jalapeno, Resene Alabaster, Resene Nomad, Resene Astra,Resene Witch Hazel, Resene Billy T, Resene Wham, Resene Turbo and Resene Lochmara. “I seal all my paintings with Resene Concrete Clear, which is acrylic based and works a treat,” Wilson says.

‘Mahurangi’ (far left) features a host of Resene colours including Resene Lochmara, Resene Anakiwa, Resene Jalapeno, Resene Alabaster, Resene Witch Hazel, Resene Billy T, Resene Glamour Puss and Resene Turbo. ‘Summertime’ (middle) features Resene Turbo, Resene Witch Hazel and blends of several Resene hues with Resene Alabaster. At the end of the wall, ‘Mellow Me’ uses blends of Resene Alabaster with Resene Turbo and Resene Witch Hazel. On the back wall, ‘Ponsonby Trash’ features Resene Alabaster, Resene Wham, Resene Turbo, Resene Astra and Resene Lochmara.

This piece titled ‘Ponsonby Trash’ features Resene Alabaster, Resene Wham, Resene Turbo, Resene Astra and Resene Lochmara.

images Wilson Owen